Destination Guide

Rotorua, New Zealand

If you're looking for relaxation with a bit of exhilaration thrown in to boot, look no further. The city of Rotorua has it all, with world-renowned spas and thermal baths to soothe those stubborn muscle aches.

But that's not all Rotorua's got to offer. You'll also find great fishing, Maori culture, and adventure options from mountain biking to jet boating. All of this is located smack in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand, only a three-hour scenic drive from Auckland and about five hours from Wellington.

For those interested in geology (we know you're out there!), Rotorua is a must-see. And while you may have heard something about the peculiar smell of the "Sulphur City" don’t fret: it’ll be the last thing on your mind only minutes after first encountering the incredible sights of this geothermal gem.

Getting in and around Rotorua

Rotorua Airport

Rotorua's Airport services flights from a variety of destinations within New Zealand, with connections to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. That means that you can easily fit Rotorua into your vacation schedule as a quick stop before heading on to the South Island. The airport is approximately 10 kilometres from the centre of the town.

Rotorua Transport

Most people find their way to Rotorua via car, bus, or train. InterCity operates buses with connections to the major population centres of the North Island (along with many tourist attractions). The main train is the Geyserland, running from Auckland to Rotorua once each day.

The town centre itself is compact, and pleasant to explore on foot. Most likely, you'll be able to walk from your hotel or hostel to the restaurants or bars. If you do hire a car, and are coming into New Zealand from another country, take care with the roundabouts: the two or three in the town centre are a tad confusing, and locals tend to think they have the right of way!

Rotorua Car Hire

For many, the best option for seeing the sights of Rotorua is hiring a car. The attractions within the town are set relatively far apart. If you'd prefer not to drive yourself, tour companies operate both inside and outside of Rotorua, and can generally be booked through the Tourism Office or your hotel or hostel.

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Rotorua accommodation

You'll find accommodation in Rotorua, whatever level of service you're looking for. There's no shortage of motels, hotels, and hostels.

  • The Princes Gate was Rotorua's first hotel, built in 1897. This hotel truly maintains its distinctive, quaint feel.
  • Blarney's Rock Backpackers is one of the most popular accommodation choices for backpackers. This hostel is located right in the thick of things.
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Things to do in Rotorua

  • Taking a cruise on Lake Rotorua is one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Traditional paddle-wheel style boats ply the waters of the Lake, steps away from the centre of town.
  • Skyline Skyrides offer a 900-metre long ride from the base to the top of Mount Ngongotaha. At the summit, enjoy any number of fun activities, including mini golf, fine dining, and a luge to rival any other in NZ!
  • Polynesian Spa. With gorgeous views of Lake Rotorua, this is one of the most relaxing spots in New Zealand. With over 25 pools, there are enough secluded spots and public areas for everyone at the Spa.
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    Day trips in and around Rotorua

  • Tamaki Maori Village. You'll be blown away by Tamaki Maori Village. Before entering this example of a classic "pre-European" Maori village, you'll be entertained by Powhiri, a formal welcome dance. From here, the tour continues with exhibits of classic Maori warriors. Evening tours include dinner cooked in the hangi (an underground oven).
  • Te Whakarewarewa. Come check out the incredible collection of thermal springs and bubbling mud pools that is Te Whakarewarewa. The grounds also include a traditional Maori village. A full gift shop provides souvenirs for friends and family back home.
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