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Things to do in Rotorua

Things to do in  Rotorua

Welcome to Rotorua

Widely considered one of the top attractions in New Zealand’s North Island, the town of Rotorua is a landscape of rolling hills, dense forests, and beautiful lakes located a three-hour drive south of bustling Auckland. Delve into a world of bubbling geothermal pools, colorful sulphur formations, and steaming geysers on tours through the volcanic valley Waimangu or Wai-O-Tapu, with its Lady Knox Geyser (arrive in the morning to view it erupt); or take to the skies by helicopter for a sightseeing flight over White Island, an active offshore volcano. Learn of Maori heritage and tradition at the Mitai Maori Village, Te Puia, or Whakarewarewa. For more on indigenous culture, book a guided experience involving a Maori “hangi” dinner, cooked over hot pools and steam vents, which can be combined with a cultural performance. Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” can't miss a visit to Hobbiton, the filmic home of Bilbo Baggins, on a guided tour. Visitors heading to Rotorua in search of adrenaline-pumping adventure can challenge themselves against the swirling rapids on a rafting tour of the Kaituna or Rangitaiki rivers, or perhaps strap in for a jet-boat ride through Tutukau Gorge—home to hidden waterfalls and thermal pools. For something a little more relaxing, take to Lake Rotoiti by kayak to visit glowworm caves and watch as the sun sets on the horizon.

Top 15 attractions in Rotorua

Te Puia

Te Puia, located in the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at the edge of Rotorua features Pohutu Geyser and is home to the impressive New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Visitors can tour the bubbling mud pools with a local Maori guide and choose from among myriad activities.More

Lake Rotorua

The Rotorua area boasts dozens of lakes, but Lake Rotorua is larger, deeper, and older than its neighbors. Geologists believe that Rotorua, the second-largest lake on the North Island, dates back more than 200,000 years, while most of the region’s other waterways were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886.More

Mitai Maori Village

The Mitai Maori Village—just outside Rotorua—offers Maori cultural performances and interactions, such as waka (canoe tours, a traditional hangi meal, song and dance shows, four-wheel-drive adventures, and more. The Rotorua area is rich in Maori culture and history, and visiting the Mitai Maori Village is a convenient way of learning more about this while enjoying some entertainment and activities.More

Government Gardens Rotorua

The Government Gardens in central Rotorua are so bountiful, they resemble an old picture postcard from the English countryside. If not for the telltale scent of sulfur from the nearby thermal springs at Sulphur Point, visitors might forget where they’re standing, given the Edwardian architecture and dignified landscape.More


Experience Rotorua’s indigenous history and culture at Whakarewarewa, the Living Maori Village. Built around Te Whakarewarewa Valley’s geysers and hot pools, the Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao tribe have welcomed visitors for more than 200 years. Enjoy hangi, a meal cooked in the valley’s thermal vents, and traditional song and dance (waiata and haka).More

Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa

The Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa is a popular mountain biking, horseback riding, and walking area close to central Rotorua. As well as native New Zealand trees and flora, as the name suggests it contains a stand of spectacular Californian Coast Redwoods in a 13,800 acre (5,600 hectare forest.More

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The Waimangu Volcanic Valley, on the North Island of New Zealand, offers one of Rotorua’s largest zones for exploring geothermal phenomena. Called “the world’s youngest geothermal valley,” Waimangu features boiling lakes, bubbling mud pools, and mountains bathed in steam. The surrounding beauty of the native bushland is just a bonus.More

Mt. Tarawera

Mt. Tarawera’s claim to fame is its historic 1866 eruption that destroyed the recognizable Pink and White Terraces. Today, it's the center of a geothermal wonderland and a compelling attraction in its own right—take a guided tour to the mountain’s peak, or visit the many valleys and lakes carved out and altered by the 19th-century eruption.More

Te Pā Tū (Tamaki Māori Village)

Visit Te Pā Tū, previously known as Tamaki Māori Village, to experience Maori culture and society as it existed in pre-European New Zealand. Through performing arts, you’ll see, hear, and feel the Tamaki brothers’ vision for an immersive tour into the traditional Maori way of life. Live the stories, travels, battles, and rituals of the Maori as New Zealand was settled.More

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland showcases New Zealand’s geothermal topography at its most dramatic and colorful. Located along the Reporoa Caldera within the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the park’s lava-sculpted landscapes are punctuated by hissing geysers, swirling sulfur lakes, and bubbling mud pools.More

Polynesian Spa

Treat yourself to a day at the luxurious, award-winning Polynesian Spa in the North Island town of Rotorua, known for its bubbling mud pools and spurting geysers. With more than 20 pools fed by natural springs, the spa offers a menu of treatments designed to address various health and wellness needs.More

Buried Village of Te Wairoa

Take a short drive out of Rotorua and explore a village trapped in time. The Buried Village of Te Wairoa is a remarkable relic of Victorian-era New Zealand, preserved by volcanic ash from the 1886 Mt. Tarawera eruption. Walk around the village and marvel at this portal to the past, nestled in the Bay of Plenty forest.More

Rotorua Museum (Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa)

The Rotorua region is steeped in New Zealand's history, from the days of the Maori settlers to the advent of European explorers. At the Rotorua Museum(Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa), you'll get an in-depth view of the city's past, seen through cinema, galleries and historic locales.Spend some time in the Te Arawa and Tarawera galleries, the former of which houses an extensive collection of ancient Maori art and artifacts, as well as treasured antique photographs from the European colonial era. The latter is dedicated to the eruption of Mt. Tarawera and the destruction wreaked in 1886.After you've explored the galleries, check out the Bath House, an architectural icon of yesteryear known for its supposed curative therapies. Guests were once encourage to bathe here in various types of mineral waters during the health craze of the early 20th century.Please note: The Rotorua Museum is currently closed for earthquake assessment.More

Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)

It’s tough to decide which is more beautiful: the cobalt hue of the aptly named Blue Lake sparkling in the midday sun, or the deep green of the Whakarewarewa Forest that hugs the shore of the lake. Either way, the natural beauty is what makes Lake Tikitapu an ideal place to connect with nature.More

Hell's Gate Geothermal Park

There are plenty of places in Rotorua to find bubbling mud and steam vents, but the geothermal activity at Hell's Gate Geothermal Park is the most pronounced. Explore the landscape in this valley and you’ll notice that the steam is a bit thicker; the mud gurgles, a bit louder. The earth here is powerfully raw, which is precisely what makes the attraction so alluring.More

Trip ideas

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

How to Spend 1 Day in Rotorua

How to Spend 1 Day in Rotorua

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Recent reviews from experiences in Rotorua

Exhilarating experience
Ian_H, Mar 2023
Ziplining Forest Experience - The Ultimate Canopy Tour Rotorua
Great was to see some of Rotorua's and New Zealands forests.
A beautiful trek
Josh_K, Dec 2022
Nocturnal adventure Glow-worm tour
Trekking through the bush after sundown to see countless glow worms was an experience of a lifetime.
Excellent tour by local guide
Linda_H, Nov 2022
Thermal Path Tour
We enjoyed a lovely relax in the thermal springs at the end.
It was amazing to have a...
Sudaporn_H, Sep 2022
The Hell's Gate Experience
There was a rainforest with waterfall situated within this property and trees around there were vibrant and colour full.
Totally recommend
Renee_T, Jan 2022
Katoa Jet Boat tour on Lake Rotorua
Highlight of recent trip to Rotorua (in terms of activities) so fun and loved the storytelling eg Hinemoa and Tūtanekai - very rich history in the area and told with a sense of humour.
Horse Trekking
Deana_Q, Mar 2020
Guided Horse Trekking from Rotorua
Although it was windy, the guide took us up to see all of Rotorua.
Interesting and great views
Marie_M, Mar 2020
Rotorua Small Group Morning Tour Waimangu and Wai O Tapu
Rotorua in general was a nice town to visit.
Nice trio grom Rotorua to Taupo
Radoslaw_W, Dec 2019
Taupo Day Trip with Orakei Korako from Rotorua
If you want to visit Orakei Korako from Rotorua it is reasonable to take this trip as it allows you to take a look at Huka Falls and Taupo lake/town as well, although last ones are not so fascinating as the rest of places in the area.
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People Also Ask

What is Rotorua known for?

Rotorua is best known for its bubbling mud pools, hot water geysers, geothermal parks, and Maori culture. It’s in the geothermally active central North Island, which has been a hub of Maori culture for centuries. Hell’s Gate, Whakarewarewa, and Wai-O-Tapu are among the most famous attractions.

What are the main things to do in Rotorua?

The main things to do in Rotorua revolve around the geothermal features and Maori culture. See bubbling mud pools, spurting geysers, and colorful boiling pools at geothermal parks including Hell’s Gate, Whakarewarewa, and Wai-O-Tapu. Learn more about Maori culture at a dance performance with a hangi meal.

Is Rotorua a city in New Zealand?

Yes. Rotorua is a city in New Zealand. Rotorua is also the name of the lake upon which the city sits.

How do I spend a day in Rotorua?

Spend one day in Rotorua by visiting one or two geothermal parks to be wowed by the forces of nature, including mud pools, geysers, and colorful rock formations. Rest and rejuvenate at a spa fed by naturally heated waters, and enjoy an evening Maori cultural performance and traditional hangi meal.

Is Rotorua safe to visit?

Yes. Rotorua is generally a safe city to visit. Unfortunately, Rotorua has one of the highest crime rates among New Zealand cities, so take regular precautions with your valuables and when out on foot at night. Rates of violent crime and petty theft targeting travelers are still very low.

What is there to do in Rotorua for free?

You don’t have to spend money for a good time in Rotorua. Wander around the free Kuirau Park, with geothermal attractions. Bathe in the hot waters of Kerosene Creek or the swimming hole at Wai-O-Tapu (beyond the ticketed park). Walk or cycle through forest parks and around Lake Rotorua.


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Frequently Asked Questions
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