Feel the heat in New Zealand’s Rotorua! Rotorua is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand’s North Island. Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, the region offers some of the world’s most active geothermal activity. It is a volcanic wonderland with extraordinary landscapes and incredible geothermal attractions, each with their own unique features.
Rotorua has earned the nickname, “Sulphur City” because of the hydrogen sulphide emissions from the activity which gives it a “rotten eggs” smell, but it’s a natural part of life in Rotorua. Explore amazing geysers, thermal springs, crater lakes, boiling mud pools, and more, on your New Zealand vacation.
Geothermal Activity Anyone?
Thermal activity is definitely at the heart of much of Rotorua’s appeal. Whakarewarewa is one of Rotorua’s most popular geothermal sites. It boasts some excellent geothermal activity as well as a traditional Maori village. With approximately 500 hot springs, the terraces and pools are known as a Living Thermal Village. Here you will be suitably amazed at the legendary Pohutu Geyser. It erupts up to 20 times a day to a height of 30 metres/100 feet, and once erupted non-stop for more than 250 days!
Another exceptional thermal wonderland here is Wai-O-Tapu, with its large number of mud pools, geysers, and sulphur pools. It includes the Lady Knox Geyser, named after Lady Constance Knox, the daughter of the 15th Governor of New Zealand, and erupts daily at 10:15am. Amazingly, it is artificially induced but it produces a jet of water reaching up to 20 metres/65 feet, and can last for over an hour depending on the weather. The ominous sounding Hell’s Gate is actually Rotorua’s most famous thermal attraction. It is also a sacred Maori site with a wide area containing mud pools, geysers, hot springs, and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot-water waterfall. Waimangu has geysers and bubbling mud pools, hot thermal springs, and the Buried Village (Te Wairoa) – named after it was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption. One more to add to the list is the wonderful sounding Craters of the Moon. This is actually a geothermal walk which features mud craters simply steaming with geothermal activity.
Something you might also consider is to take a scenic flight to White Island (New Zealand’s only active marine volcano) or over the gaping red crater of Mount Tarawera (now dormant). There are more geothermal sites, but the above should be enough for you to realize the enormity of the underground activity in Rotorua.
Other Reasons to Visit Rotorua
Rotorua is a region rich in Maori history and folklore. It has a rich history and the city’s heritage is visible all around you. If you walk around the city, following the information on the walking trail signs, you will come across stories about the area and its history, including black and white photos from the past to provide a stronger sense of Rotorua’s historical identity. Government Gardens, close to the lake shore at the eastern edge of town, is sacred to the Maoris as it has a fascinating past as a battle and burial ground. The Rotorua Museum of Art and History is housed in a large Tudor style bath house building, together with the Art Deco style Blue Baths, noted for their embrace of mixed sex bathing in the 1930s, and remain open today. It contains the history of the Te Arawa people, the original inhabitants of Rotorua. Other galleries host a rich program of local, national, and international art exhibitions and shows.
You can journey back in time at a Maori village. In the depths of a forest, you can gain a picture of Maori lifestyle and traditions, together with singing, dancing, and a traditional hangi feast. At the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, part of the Te Puia Maori cultural centre, you can view and learn about traditional Maori arts and speak with expert carvers and weavers and learn the history and processes involved with these arts.
Te Puia Steambox
Rainbow Springs is the place for a look at New Zealand’s iconic kiwi birds and to learn more about nature on the water ride, “The Big Splash”. Also, you can experience an action-packed farm show featuring trained rams, sheep dogs, sheep shearing, singing, dancing, a Haka war dance, and delicious Maori food.
For something different, head to Skyline Rotorua and enjoy a gondola ride to the top of Mt Ngongotaha, which offers spectacular views of the Rotorua region. Here you can even take a ride on a luge with full instruction from a guide.
There is so much to enjoy in Rotorua – be it for adults or families. You are highly unlikely to exhaust all the possibilities available here, so make it a part of your New Zealand vacation.
Why not enjoy Rotorua as part of our 8-Day Best of New Zealand – Holiday of a Lifetime. This is a first class, escorted, small group vacation designated as part of our Goway Holiday of a Lifetime series. It is our promise of something special. On arrival in New Zealand, the vacation starts in attractive Christchurch, known as the Garden City and often described as the most “English City” outside of England. An overland drive brings you to Queenstown, a lovely resort on the South Island and from which you will take a day trip to the magnificent fiord-like Milford Sound, where you will enjoy a cruise. Then, fly to the North Island to explore Rotorua, with its natural geothermal activity including boiling geysers and mud pools. You will enjoy a traditional Maori evening and an exhibition of sheep sheering. To cap off this incredible holiday of a lifetime, travel to Auckland, where you stop on the way to see the glowworm caves in Waitomo. Auckland includes a harbour cruise on which a “Farewell to Downunder” dinner will be experienced. This vacation is fully inclusive of accommodation, most touring, 14 meals, a Goway Tour Director, local guides in select locations, and more.