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Rotorua Travel Essentials


4.3 /5 Rate This Destination


Ideal duration: 3-4 days

Best Time: March to May Read More

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"Amazingly, Relaxingly, Adventurously Rotorua"

Rotorua Tourism

Considered to be an epitome of the flourishing Maori culture, this charming town is set with the backdrops of volcanic landscapes and enveloped in stunning mountain peaks, meandering streams, dense woods, mesmerizing waterfalls and several freshwater lakes. Popular as a ‘geothermal wonderland’, it is home to several bubbling mud pools and hot water springs. These natural hot springs are perfect for taking a dip and relaxing and are a highlight here at Rotorua.

Known as the "Nature's Spa of the South Pacific", Rotorua is lately being called the international resort in the country for its surreal landscape. It is located towards the end of Lake Rotorua on one side and Lake Taupo on the other. The city is synonymous with the scent of sulphur because of the mineral hot pools, mud springs and other geothermal activities. Popular geysers are Waimangu and Wai-o-Tapu. Silica terraces are also covered in shades of pink and white, attracting tourists since immemorial. The bounteous nature surrounding the place makes it a haven for nature lovers and wanderers.

Must Know Before You Travel to Rotorua

1. Rotorua is small enough to be travelled across by walking. Tourists can also purchase the Bee Card (prepaid card) for NZD 5 to travel on public buses. This way, one-way fares on the buses are reduced to NZD 2.24

2. The weather can be unpredictable. Even though it might look like a cloudy day, it can quickly turn sunny, making it easy to get sunburnt if not careful. Make sure to pack sunscreen and protective sunglasses, and headgear.

3. New Zealand follows the left-hand drive system. Tourists must learn the basic rules before renting a car.

4. Internet access is not widely available in New Zealand, especially in the regions outside of major towns and cities. Sometimes cafes or other public spots might not offer WiFi or have weak coverage. It is recommended to bring along or subscribe to a cellular plan with strong internet coverage in the country.

5. Budget hotels are relatively few and expensive in Rotorua. It is recommended to book accommodation early or consider staying in hostels and in an AirBnB.

Top Hotels In Rotorua

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Nightlife in Rotorua

Rotorua has a vibrant and booming nightlife. However, the night activities and shenanigans are mostly restricted to two areas- Tutanekai Street and Eat Street. There are several decent bars and clubs at this place where you can wine and dine, both at budgeted costs and also lavishly. The cluster of these cafes, bars and pubs has something for everyone. Among the most famous places are Brew Bar, Pig & Whistle Pub, Sobar and Ponsonby Bar etc.

Shopping in Rotorua

  • Rotorua has a number of galleries, flea markets and big brand stores that also make the area one of the top places to shop.
  • You can head to the city centre to find the majority of shopping places. The art galleries and the boutique stores sell products and valuables inspired by the Maori art culture and history.
  • You can also purchase some antiques and artefacts from the old vintage shops downtown. Ahu Boutique is one of the live examples which creates apparels and garments inspired by the Maori culture.
  • The gallery of Maori sculptor and carver Joe Kemp have wood and stone products.
  • Among the art galleries, Elim Art Gallery tops the list, which focuses on creativity and craftsmanship of the workers. Helium is another art gallery that is known for its contemporary art displays.
  • In addition to this, there are several gift shops and souvenir stores from where you can pick up little somethings, random knick-knacks and choose from several collectables to take back home for your kith and kin.

Travel Tips for Rotorua

1. Using a campervan to explore and sleep nights is a great way to save money. New Zealand is camping-friendly and is mostly free to camp anywhere except for private properties and restricted areas.

2. Drinking water is expensive when bought from stores. Therefore, it is recommended that a reusable water bottle be carried at all times to fill up at public drinking water taps and hotel taps.

3. Rotorua is a small town. Therefore, walking and exploring the town is more cost-effective than hiring private taxis.

4. There is a lot to do and see outdoors in Rotorua. It is best to avoid the rainy season for a pleasant experience.

5. Dial 111 for any kind of emergency.

Food in Rotorua

  • Rotorua is considered a hub of gastronomical delights. From freshly brewed coffee to world-class craft beer, delicious Hangi and other cuisines, the tiny town has got it all.
  • “Eat Street” is a newly renovated street in Rotorua which is flanked by several fine dining restaurants, upmarket stores, funky nightclubs, quirky cafes and artisans markets etc.
  • And the place boasts of several cuisine options which include Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian among many others. Because of this ‘Eat Street’, the city has also come to be called Roto-Vegas; the name is inspired by the club culture of Las Vegas.

Geothermal Activities Around Rotorua

  • Rotorua is a hotbed of geothermal activities. Bustling with mineral hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and natural geysers, the city is known as an international spa destination. The volcanic landscape experienced its most major outburst in 1886 when Mount Tarawera erupted and in the process, the village of Te Wairoa (also known as ‘The Buried Village’) got destroyed. It is now desolate and deserted. The region to the west of Rotorua, in and around Kuirau Park is peppered with gushing hot mud pools. The tourists are encouraged and invited to soak their feet in here and relax and unwind.
  • The city is also called ‘Rotten-rua’ because of the rotten eggs like smell that predominate the area. The smell is the outcome of the Hydrogen Sulphide emissions fizzing out from the natural hot springs. Another nickname is also ‘Roto- Vegas’, which is inspired by Las Vegas like restaurants and nightclubs flanking the roads.
  • In addition to that, the area is replete with freshwater lakes which are an important spot for not only for trout fishing but also for other exciting activities like angling, swimming etc. There is also the Waimangu Volcanic Valley which was created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera, where you can see astonishing geothermal activities.

Culture of Rotorua

The culture of Rotorua is predominated by the ancient Maori traditions and customs. You can best witness the traditions and culture of the region in the villages of Te Puia, Mitai Village and Tamaki Village etc. and also around the forests with a tribal history of their own. The villagers greet every tourist with entertaining dance, music and folk performances which are combined with sumptuous Maori food.

In Whakarewarewa village, you can learn the uses of geothermal waters in bathing, cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. There are other villages where you can find the relics of the ancient culture- stunning meeting houses which are intricately carved, Tudor style church adorned with Maori decorations.


The first existence of Rotorua can be traced back to the 14th century when it was first occupied by the Maori tribes of the Te Arawa Iwi. There is evidence that in the 1820s and 1823, there were several wars and battles fought between the Maori and the other tribes. These wars were eventually won by the Maori who ruled the area single-handedly for a long time. The first European to cross the area was Phillip Tapsell who came to trade from the Bay of Plenty in 1828. In the 1860s, the Rotorua district was caught in several skirmishes due to the New Zealand Wars.

Eventually, in 1883, the potential of the town as a spa resort destination was acknowledged. It was connected with Auckland and the first railway branch was started in 1894 which was called Rotorua Express train. And this led to the commencement and the beginning of the booming tourism industry. Soon it was declared a borough in 1922, a city in 1962 and finally a district in 1979.

Best Time to Visit Rotorua

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Mount Tarawera

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FAQs on Rotorua

What are the places near Rotorua?

The top places near to Rotorua are Auckland which is 194 km from Rotorua, Gisborne which is located 164 km from Rotorua, Whakatane which is located 68 km from Rotorua, Tauranga which is located 50 km from Rotorua, Hastings which is located 175 km from Rotorua

What are the things to do in Rotorua?

The top things to do in Rotorua are Orakei Korako, Blue Baths Pool, Kerosene Creek, Paradise Valley Springs, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Mount Tarawera. You can see all the places to visit in Rotorua here

What is the best time to visit Rotorua?

The average winter temperature can go down to 0 degrees while the average summer temperature can shoot up to 20 degrees celsius making it extremely hot and humid. Therefore, the best time to visit the place is between the autumn months of March and May. The pleasant weather and the temperate climate attracts the most number of domestic and international tourists. Other than trekking and other activities, it is also the best time to explore the geysers and mud baths
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