Over a million visitors a year descend on Rotorua, a city where the distinct aroma of sulphur gives away its geothermal nature. Established as a spa town, Rotorua has evolved into one of New Zealand’s biggest hot spots, combining vibrant lakes, historic Maori villages and hair-raising extreme sports. To experience an extra buzz, visit during the Rotorua Bike Festival in February, or New Zealand’s only reggae festival, Raggamuffin.
Wherever you decide to stay around Rotorua, there will be a room or camping pitch to suit your needs. If you’re traveling with a tent or caravan, you’ll find plenty of scenic campgrounds, while budget travelers are looked after by a variety of hostels and ‘flashpackers’. Luxury resorts and lodges are also scattered across the region, often with an accompanying thermal spa – although you’ll find even some hostels are geo-thermally heated.
Whether you shop in Rotorua or search for souvenirs in Taupo or Mount Maunganui, there are plenty of local products to delight visitors. Rotorua’s markets are a must-visit, especially the popular Saturday Flea Market, with tasty artisan offerings, and Hot Lakes Craft Market – brimming with local artwork and handcrafted jewelry. Venture outside the city, and Taupo boasts art galleries and local garments aplenty, while Mount Maunganui is your boutique shopping destination.
Restaurants in Rotorua can satisfy any craving, whether you’re after cracking pub grub or more exotic flavors. Step away from the typical fast food restaurants that crowd the center and head to Tutanekai Street, Rotorua’s buzzing foodie plaza. If you fancy something a little different, try the north end of Fenton Street, where Korean, Japanese and Mongolian restaurants abound.
Like many areas of New Zealand, Rotorua offers a plethora of adrenaline activities, from bungy jumping to jet boating. However, be sure to check out Rotorua’s big three: raft the Kaituna River, mountain bike through Whakarewarewa Forest and climb into a giant inflatable ball for a zorbing experience. Fancy something a little more chilled? Discover the Maori traditions at Tamaki Maori Village, or fish the Tongariro River – a world famous angling spot.
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