Best things to do in Rotorua
Find out more about those top places in Rotorua
Rotorua is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. This North Island hidden gem is the country’s smelliest city with hydrogen sulfide drifting up from deep below the earth’s surface through a myriad of geysers, air vents and mineral pools. The most impressive of the town’s geysers is the must see Pohutu, which erupts around twenty times a day sending boiling water thirty meters skyward. What is more, in central Rotorua is the volcanic Kuirau Park, certainly one of the few public parks in the world where mud boils in the lakes. Beyond the town’s geothermal thrills, Rotorua is also one of New Zealand’s most historic Maori towns with Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa villages showcasing the country’s famed indigenous culture.
Rotorua’s Maori Arts and Craft’s Institute undersells itself. While the center does host the National Wood Carving and Weaving School, which are key Maori crafts, it is also built around one of the New Zealand’s most active geothermal areas. On site is the powerful Pohutu, known in English as Big Splash, geyser that sends water 30 meters skyward alongside a host of smaller geysers. Guided tours run throughout the day and are timed to coincide with eruptions.
Whakarewarewa is one of New Zealand’s foremost hubs for Maori culture and still maintains the culture’s traditional village way of life. Tours of the village are conducted by the residents themselves who tell you about the region’s history and enchanting folklore before concluding at another of Rotorua’s spectacular geothermal areas.
Kuirau Park is not your usual green space in the middle of a bustling city. Instead, the park, which can be explored at your leisure, is home to sizzling steam vents, boiling pools of mud and eruptive geysers making it one of the city’s most thrilling experiences – all the more so since it is located in the heart of the commercial district.
Home of Rotorua’s most active geothermal zone, the Hell’s Gate Reserve is one of the city’s most spectacular – and relaxing – attractions. Amongst the volcanic cinder cones you can soak in mud baths and take a dip in sulfurous waters, as has been Maori tradition for the past millennia. The various treatments on offer help open your pores, exfoliate the skin and ease joint pains.
One of Rotorua’s most exhilarating experiences can be had on the Kaituna River, where you can take part in adrenaline-pumping rafting tours. Suitable for all levels of experience, the tours take you over white water rapids, through narrow ravines and end dramatically by plunging over the 10 meters Tutea Falls.
For breathtaking views of Rotorua’s geothermal landscape, take the city’s flashy gondola to the summit of Mount Ngongotaha where you will catch a glimpse of the bubbling springs around Lake Rotorua and the verdant coastline of the Bay of Plenty.