Things to do in Rotorua

Things to do in  Rotorua

Blow off some steam

Visitors traveling to Rotorua overland know they’re getting close by the pungent smell in the air: That’s the whiff of sulfur seeping out of the earth. The central North Island city is best known for its spurting geysers, bubbling mud pools, and colorful mineral terraces, and many things to do in Rotorua revolve around its dramatic geothermal parks. The region is also a center of Māori culture, and it’s easy for visitors to Rotorua to meet and learn more about New Zealand’s Indigenous people in a fun, friendly, authentic setting.

Top 15 attractions in Rotorua

Te Puia

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Te Puia, located in the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at the edge of Rotorua features Pohutu Geyser and is home to the impressive New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Visitors can tour the bubbling mud pools with a local Maori guide and choose from among myriad activities.More

Lake Rotorua

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The Rotorua area boasts dozens of lakes, but Lake Rotorua is larger, deeper, and older than its neighbors. Geologists believe that Rotorua, the second-largest lake on the North Island, dates back more than 200,000 years, while most of the region’s other waterways were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886.More

Government Gardens Rotorua

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The Government Gardens in central Rotorua are so bountiful, they resemble an old picture postcard from the English countryside. If not for the telltale scent of sulfur from the nearby thermal springs at Sulphur Point, visitors might forget where they’re standing, given the Edwardian architecture and dignified landscape.More

Te Pā Tū (Tamaki Māori Village)

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Visit Te Pā Tū, previously known as Tamaki Māori Village, to experience Maori culture and society as it existed in pre-European New Zealand. Through performing arts, you’ll see, hear, and feel the Tamaki brothers’ vision for an immersive tour into the traditional Maori way of life. Live the stories, travels, battles, and rituals of the Maori as New Zealand was settled.More

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

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Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland showcases New Zealand’s geothermal topography at its most dramatic and colorful. Located along the Reporoa Caldera within the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the park’s lava-sculpted landscapes are punctuated by hissing geysers, swirling sulfur lakes, and bubbling mud pools.More

Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa

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The Redwoods Forest Whakarewarewa is a popular mountain biking, horseback riding, and walking area close to central Rotorua. As well as native New Zealand trees and flora, it contains a stand of spectacular Californian Coast Redwoods in a 13,800 acre (5,600 hectare) forest.More

Mitai Maori Village

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The Mitai Maori Village—just outside Rotorua—offers Maori cultural performances and interactions, such as waka (canoe tours, a traditional hangi meal, song and dance shows, four-wheel-drive adventures, and more. The Rotorua area is rich in Maori culture and history, and visiting the Mitai Maori Village is a convenient way of learning more about this while enjoying some entertainment and activities.More

Whakarewarewa

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Experience Rotorua’s indigenous history and culture at Whakarewarewa, the Living Maori Village. Built around Te Whakarewarewa Valley’s geysers and hot pools, the Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao tribe have welcomed visitors for more than 200 years. Enjoy hangi, a meal cooked in the valley’s thermal vents, and traditional song and dance (waiata and haka).More

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

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The Waimangu Volcanic Valley, on the North Island of New Zealand, offers one of Rotorua’s largest zones for exploring geothermal phenomena. Called “the world’s youngest geothermal valley,” Waimangu features boiling lakes, bubbling mud pools, and mountains bathed in steam. The surrounding beauty of the native bushland is just a bonus.More

Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia)

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The Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia) was established in the 1920s to protect the traditional arts of carving and weaving. Today Te Puia is a thriving educational institute and a unique experience of Maori culture: here you can watch students learn their craft, enjoy traditional cultural performances, and explore a rugged geothermal valley.More

Mt. Tarawera

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Mt. Tarawera’s claim to fame is its historic 1866 eruption that destroyed the recognizable Pink and White Terraces. Today, it's the center of a geothermal wonderland and a compelling attraction in its own right—take a guided tour to the mountain’s peak, or visit the many valleys and lakes carved out and altered by the 19th-century eruption.More

Hell's Gate Geothermal Park

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There are plenty of places in Rotorua to find bubbling mud and steam vents, but the geothermal activity at Hell's Gate Geothermal Park is the most pronounced. Explore the landscape in this valley and you’ll notice that the steam is a bit thicker; the mud gurgles, a bit louder. The earth here is powerfully raw, which is precisely what makes the attraction so alluring.More

Polynesian Spa

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Treat yourself to a day at the luxurious, award-winning Polynesian Spa in the North Island town of Rotorua, known for its bubbling mud pools and spurting geysers. With more than 20 pools fed by natural springs, the spa offers a menu of treatments designed to address various health and wellness needs.More

Buried Village of Te Wairoa

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Take a short drive out of Rotorua and explore a village trapped in time. The Buried Village of Te Wairoa is a remarkable relic of Victorian-era New Zealand, preserved by volcanic ash from the 1886 Mt. Tarawera eruption. Walk around the village and marvel at this portal to the past, nestled in the Bay of Plenty forest.More

Lady Knox Geyser

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Every morning, a rocky grey vent called the Lady Knox Geyser spews water for a captive audience. Far from a strange local ritual, the geyser is one of the star geothermal attractions at Rotorua’s Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. It erupts without fail—after being induced with soap—to heights of 30 to 65 feet (9 to 20 meters).More

Trip ideas

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top Hot Springs in Rotorua

Top activities in Rotorua

Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua
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Rotorua Glow Worm Kayaking Tour
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Rotorua Glow Worm Kayaking Tour

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Hell's Gate Mud Bath & Spas

Hell's Gate Mud Bath & Spas

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Cultural Experience & Seasonal Māori Cuisine at Te Pā Tū
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Twilight Kayak Glow worm Tour
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Twilight Kayak Glow worm Tour

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Rotorua Eco Cultural full day tour (Wai o Tapu, Waimangu,Te puia)
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Rotorua Eco Cultural full day tour (Wai o Tapu, Waimangu,Te puia)

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Te Puia -Te Rā Guided Tour

Te Puia -Te Rā Guided Tour

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All about Rotorua

When to visit

Rotorua is a year-round destination because the geothermal parks and Māori cultural attractions are not weather- or climate-dependent. Located inland, at an elevation of 945 feet (288 meters), Rotorua’s climate is somewhat colder than coastal areas on the North Island, which can be a surprise if you’re traveling from Auckland or Tauranga. However, the hot springs can be more pleasant for bathing on a cold day than in the heat of summer.

Getting around

Like much of New Zealand, unless you’re on a guided tour, it’s better to have your own vehicle to make the most of your time in and around Rotorua. If you don’t, there is a local bus with routes that travel to some tourist attractions, such as Te Puia and The Redwoods (Whakarewarewa Forest). Central Rotorua is walkable, with some small geothermal parks near the center.

Traveler tips

Rotorua is often nicknamed the Adventure Capital of the North Island, so stick around for a few days if you’re interested in exploring beyond the typical geothermal parks and Māori cultural shows. Go mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa Forest, zorbing down the longest tracks in the world, white-water rafting down the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfalls, and more.

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People Also Ask

What is Rotorua known for?

Rotorua is best known for its bubbling mud pools, hot water geysers, geothermal parks, and Maori culture. It’s in the geothermally active central North Island, which has been a hub of Maori culture for centuries. Hell’s Gate, Whakarewarewa, and Wai-O-Tapu are among the most famous attractions.

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What are the main things to do in Rotorua?

The main things to do in Rotorua revolve around the geothermal features and Maori culture. See bubbling mud pools, spurting geysers, and colorful boiling pools at geothermal parks including Hell’s Gate, Whakarewarewa, and Wai-O-Tapu. Learn more about Maori culture at a dance performance with a hangi meal.

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Is Rotorua a city in New Zealand?

Yes. Rotorua is a city in New Zealand. Rotorua is also the name of the lake upon which the city sits.

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How do I spend a day in Rotorua?

Spend one day in Rotorua by visiting one or two geothermal parks to be wowed by the forces of nature, including mud pools, geysers, and colorful rock formations. Rest and rejuvenate at a spa fed by naturally heated waters, and enjoy an evening Maori cultural performance and traditional hangi meal.

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Is Rotorua safe to visit?

Yes. Rotorua is generally a safe city to visit. Unfortunately, Rotorua has one of the highest crime rates among New Zealand cities, so take regular precautions with your valuables and when out on foot at night. Rates of violent crime and petty theft targeting travelers are still very low.

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What is there to do in Rotorua for free?

You don’t have to spend money for a good time in Rotorua. Wander around the free Kuirau Park, with geothermal attractions. Bathe in the hot waters of Kerosene Creek or the swimming hole at Wai-O-Tapu (beyond the ticketed park). Walk or cycle through forest parks and around Lake Rotorua.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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