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An Introduction to Rotorua New Zealand

Rotorua, New Zealand is famous for:

  • Geothermal attractions
  • Maori cultural heritage
  • Outdoor adventures

Alive with geothermal geysers and bubbling mud pools, rich Maori culture and thrilling forest canopy adventures, Rotorua is one of the top destinations on the North Island.

This must-visit geothermal hotspot is packed full of diverse terrain. For example, this includes redwood forests, jewel-colored mineral springs, tranquil lakes, and narrow canyons.

Most notable among Rotorua’s many highlights are its geothermal attractions, Maori heritage, and outdoor adventures.

Geothermal Attractions in Rotorua New Zealand

rotorua hot springs
Te Puia Rotorua

Situated right on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Rotorua sits above a very thin layer of the earth’s crust. Where that layer is thinnest, minerals and hot water bubble up from underground, creating a wonderland of geothermal features.

Rotorua, New Zealand is one of the world’s most fascinating geothermal areas. Its features include rocketing geysers, brilliantly-colored mineral pools, silicate formations, gushing steam, bubbling cauldron-like mud pools, and warm waterfalls.

What can a tourist see and do at Rotorua’s geothermal area?

  • Watch geysers erupting (Te Puia and Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland)
  • Lather up in a mud bath (Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve)
  • Walk past colorful pools, bubbling mud, and unique formations (Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Orakei Korako, Hells Gate, Te Puia)
  • Jet boat to a geothermal reserve (NZ Riverjet to Orakei Korako)
  • Walk up a geothermally heated slot canyon (NZ Riverjet’s “The Squeeze”)

And the Rotorua hot springs are therapeutic as well as beautiful. The region boasts countless thermal spas, from mud baths to secluded sulphur springs.

hells gate new zealand
Hell’s Gate Rotorua

To lather your skin with silken mud in the best Rotorua mud pools, visit Hells Gate Rotorua. This geothermal reserve also boasts a fascinating array of deadly mineral springs and burbling mud ponds.

For a stroll past gushing steam and among vivid green, orange, and blue mineral pools, visit the stunning Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

And if you want to combine adventure with geothermal wonders, take a ride on the New Zealand Riverjet. Enjoy “The Squeeze,” an exciting walk through a warm-water slot canyon to a geothermally heated waterfall. Alternatively, alight at Orakei Korako, often touted as one of the world’s most impressive geothermal reserves.

Maori Cultural Experiences in Rotorua

maori village rotorua
Te Puia Rotorua

Participating in a Maori cultural show, a living Maori village Rotorua tour, or a traditional Hangi meal provides a hands-on look at the thriving Maori heritage. And these experiences also support the schools that pass on Maori language, art, and culture to the next generation.

Many historic Maori settlements sprang up around geothermal reserves. Consequently, at a number of Rotorua attractions, visitors can tour both geothermal features and a Marae (traditional meeting grounds).

Te Puia Rotorua is one of the best destinations for an immersive cultural experience combined with geothermal attractions. Firstly, participate in a welcoming ceremony, Secondly, learn famous dances such as the haka. After that, indulge in a hangi dinner cooked underground by heated rocks. And finally, watch the dramatic eruption of the Pohutu Geyser.

To experience a living Maori village, Whakarewarewa offers an up-close look at the traditional way of life. For example, you will find Hangi cooking demonstrations, song and dance, and numerous historic landmarks. This Maori village is also a geothermal reserve, with mud pools, steam vents, and colorful springs.

Outdoor Adventures in Rotorua

gondola rotorua
Skyline Gondola Rotorua

Rotorua’s many outdoor adventures take advantage of its natural beauty, including lush forests and clear lakes.

One of the adventure highlights of the region is the Skyline Rotorua. This gondola provides access to mountain biking tracks, the luge Rotorua, and a stunning dining experience with views over the town.

zipline new zealand
Rotorua Canopy Tours

The redwood forest and native forest in Rotorua are home to a host of exciting activities. Rotorua Canopy Tours provides thrilling and immersive zipline Rotorua adventures. Meanwhile, the Redwoods Treewalk has created an enchanting tree-canopy walkway through the redwoods of Rotorua. At night, this treewalk is lit by lanterns, a magical experience.

Other outdoor adventures around Rotorua include rafting, mountain biking, and kayaking.

Plan your Rotorua New Zealand holiday

new zealand riverjet
New Zealand RiverJet

Located in the central North Island, less than three hours from Auckland, Rotorua is easy to add to most New Zealand itineraries. Our most popular holiday packages including a visit to Rotorua New Zealand are:

1. The 14 Day New Zealand Family Holiday Package

Rotorua is a great family destination for kids of all ages. This classic New Zealand family holiday itinerary begins with Auckland and Rotorua before contining south.

2. The 7 Day Loop the North Island Holiday Package

The North Island is easy to see in a week. Rotorua is a highlight of this short loop, which packs in diverse scenery that ranges from volcanos to beaches.

wai o tapu
Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

3. The 10 Day Loop the North Island Holiday Package

This extension of the 7-day North Island loop is an equally popular itinerary that packs in a few extra must-see destinations.

4. The 10 Day Iconic New Zealand Holiday Package

This jam-packed itinerary hits the highlights of both islands in just 10 days, with a flight between the two islands to keep the pace easygoing and enjoyable. Rotorua is among these must-see highlights, of course.

5. The 14 Day Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Holiday Package

Rotorua is not far from two major Lord of the Rings filming destinations: the Hobbiton Movie Set and Tongariro National Park (where Mordor was filmed). This popular 14-day itinerary hits both the Lord of the Rings filming highlights and the most memorable New Zealand destinations, stopping in Rotorua along the way.

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