Rotorua Accommodation

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Exploring Rotorua

The city of Rotorua lies on the shores of Rotorua Lake, 230kms from Auckland and is known worldwide as the thermal wonderland of New Zealand’s North Island. Naturally, tourism is its main industry due to the hot springs, thermal vents and volcanic scenery within and around its borders. The entire city lies directly over a geothermal hotspot in the Taupu Volcanic Zone, with new eruptions of boiling mud, steam and heated water constantly taking place in locations across the area.

The four major calderas in the zone all have lakes, and there are several more active volcanoes scattered around the region. Rotorua Lake’s scenic promenade gives great views of Mokoia Island, and Sulphur Bay on the edge of town boasts pathways past sulphur vents and geothermal hot springs. Posted warnings to visitors to stay on the pathways aren’t joking, as the heat makes the earth’s crust thin and fragile, and the world’s newest volcano, formed in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley as a result of Mount Tarawera’s huge 1886 eruption, is a dramatic destination for its stunning geothermal activity and unique ecology.

Sights nearby

Rotorua’s sights are mainly of the natural wonder variety, demonstrating the power of nature to us mere humans. Back in the city, the restorative mineral warmth of the numerous hot spring baths and spas demonstrates there are two sides to every story.

- Agrodome

This is a fun combination of agricultural park displaying rural life in the country and exciting theme park specialities including bungee jumping and a freefall simulator. It’s a great day out for families, with the farm tour and sheep show loved by all.

- Rainbow Springs Nature Park

A refuge for rare, indigenous wildlife including New Zealand’s unique kiwi bird, the nature park has beautiful landscapes and ponds stocked with koi carp.

- Okere Falls Scenic Reserve

Stunning Okere Falls lie in a forested area just 20kms from the city on Lake Rotoiti, the watershed for all Rototua’s lakes. The falls and rapids are a hub for white-water rafting, sledging and kayaking, with Tuteas Fall the highest commercially-rafted fall on earth for its seven-metre drop.

- Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The world’s most recently-formed geothermal ecosystem, Waimagu came into existence following the massive eruption in 1886 of Mount Tarawera. Hikes, walks and boat cruises across the dramatic scenery all show the unique features of the region.

- Rotorua Lake

The promenade along Rotorua Lake, the largest of 14 lakes in the volcanic region, fronts the city and gives fine views across the waters to Mokoia Island and across nearby Sulphur Bay with its vents, geothermal hot springs and many bird and animal species. Walkers are advised to stay on the marked paths as the earth’s crust is dangerously shallow here.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Rotorua offers a unique dining experience in the

- hangi, a traditional Maori feast involving an ‘earthen oven’ in which meats and other foods are buried until baked by the heat, giving an utterly delicious, earthy, smoky flavor. For conventional dining, the best of the rest is found in the major hotels, with the Novotel's and Rydges Hotel's in-house restaurants both popular options. For independent eateries, an early evening visit to Tutunakei Street, locally known as Eat Street, will satisfy most hunger pangs. For food on the run, the usual culprits offer pizzas and burgers, and pubs serve pub grub at lunchtime and in the evening. Maori greenstone carvings are the memento of choice, with Rotorua’s flea market, two craft markets and a night market giving plenty of choice. Authentic Maori arts and craftwork are found in galleries and at the regular Sunday Craft Market, and Rotorua’s central district has malls, boutiques and specialist stores.

Public transport

Auckland International Airport is three hours’ drive away although Rotorua has a small facility offering domestic flights to Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown and flights to Sydney and other major Australian centres. Bus and coach services run from Fenton Street bus station around Rotorua and on several longer-distance routes, and the comparatively expensive taxi service is provided by four private companies. A sightseeing bus operated by GreatSights New Zealand takes tourists around attractions including Te Puia, the Agrodome and the Rainbow Springs Nature Park. If you’re staying in a lakeside hotel such as Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, public transport is no problem.

Rotorua travel guides

Rotorua travel guides