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Rotorua travel guide, things to see and do — attractions

Rotorua everybody knows something about the place. It stinks of sulphur, it is wall to wall motels and camping grounds, everything is expensive, visitors are charged to go anywhere, it is full of large mass transit tour buses.

Out of the geothermal energy Rotorua has developed an array of visitor experiences. The majority of these experiences have admission fees. Polished, world class entertainment and visitor interaction means visitors to Rotorua are not disappointed with the calibre or quality of the experience.

Currently this travel guide is not going to list experiences as the future is uncertain for some due to the heavy dependence on mass tourism.


  • Zip lining through native forests, canopy tours
  • Visiting the buried village
  • Rotorua farm experience (for urban dwellers)
  • Geothermal spa/soaking/treatment
  • Themed entertainment venues where fun is part of the ticket price
  • Water based activities such as white water rafting

All of the above can be described as, the air has a distinctive odour of sulphur, of the earth discharging gases as the heated core meets the surface, there are numerous accommodation options available to suit any budget and location is not an issue, there are geothermal areas where the entrance fee supports the upkeep of the area rather than being simply a commercial enterprise and large mass transit tour buses are not on the horizon for foreseeable future.

Young woman having a spa in outdoors hot pool in Rotorua

And why is the place so popular in the first place? Rotorua is where the earth’s core introduces the power and might to the surface.

The earth rumbles, it boils water and sends fountains into the air as superheated steam. The earth melts rocks and forms weird molten shapes out of compressed rock particles. The earth liquidises mud and slowly bubbles mud pools into goopy pools of steaming mud. The earth vents in places such as car parks and people’s backyards without warning. The earth puts us on notice we are not in charge of the display cycles, it is up to the elements when and where spectacular displays of power and might will eventuate.

Mud pool in Whakarewarewa Thermal village, Rotorua

The geothermal potential for tourism and visitor experience has created:

  • Pools to blissfully soak in
  • Pools as a basis for spa treatments
  • Pools as a theraphic medium
  • Mud for cosmetic products
  • Mud for facials and massage
  • Geothermal displays to view
  • Landscapes created by the elements to view
  • A sense of adventure, of the ‘thrill’ of viewing potentially dangerous core & surface activity
  • A source of energy for electricity and cooking
  • A source of pride that New Zealand is part of the Pacific ring of fire
  • A source of revenue inviting visitors to have fun, to enjoy the spectacle
  • A source of cultural pride in the harassing of the elements by people for over 800 years, how people interacted and live with the unpredictability of geothermal activity
Rotorua Pohutu Geyser Landscape


Cultural stronghold based on links carved out of 800 years of co-existing with the geothermal world. A powerful contemporary experience is narrated in an entertaining manner and, most importantly fabulous hangi (steamed in earthen oven) meals accompany a Maori immersion experience. Not to be missed by locals and visitors alike.
Maori carvings in Rotorua
Earth tones, black, charcoal, burnt orange have imbued Rotorua architecture with a building landscape that is uniquely Polynesian / Maori in tenor.
Maori house in Rotorua
Geothermal marvels are extraordinary. Visitors are memorised by the challenge of the earth’s core and all that boiling, super-heated stuff going on. You can’t beat nature when it’s on full display. Which is everyday of the year in Rotorua.
Rotorua thermal pools
Water is everywhere in lakes and rivers, freezing cold, gently warm, super-heated, blue or deep emerald green. Fishing enthusiasts have plenty of reasons to visit Rotorua.
Sunset on Lake Rotorua with a black swan and a kayaker
Adventure tourism galore, water and rapids, water water rafting, zip-lining through native forests, mountain biking on designed tracks and stupendous walks taking all the landscape has to offer.
Naturally hot steaming waterfall, Near Rotorua
Rotorua is handy anywhere you are travelling. If you want to visit a great beach, it’s only just over an hour away in Mt Maunganui. Then you want an urban centre with its cafes aplenty, Auckland is less than 3 hours drive. Rotorua is the ideal location, making the place a great hub to explore the central north Island.
Mt Maunganui
Geothermal therapy, soaking in mineral dense water, slathering on glorious warm sulphur infused mud or indulging in a spa treatment is in Rotorua for the picking. The products are the original natural thing, no chemicals, sustainable and have been tested on people for hundreds of years.
Boiling mud venting out at pressure
Family focused entertainment and child friendly is part and parcel of Rotorua’s cultural heritage which makes for a great visitor experience for all age groups.
Rotorua Bathhouse museum
Rotorua has hospitality and the welcome mat rolled out ready for action. Rotorua is friendly and well practiced in all aspects of creating a great visitor adventure. Visitors will feel as though their experience is personalised and crafted for them.
Lake Tarawera view from jetty across lake
Rotorua has a personality fused out of Maori cultural practices and New Zealand contemporary society. The permanent residents have created an identity that is Rotorua and all visitors are invited to share and participate in the lives of the locals. A local welcome in Rotorua is a given.
Maori cultural tour participant
Maori hangi food preparation


Visit the official website for Rotorua tourism and enjoy choosing what to see and do.

Rotorua NZ | Visit Rotorua New Zealand


The journey is worth it.


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