Rotorua Travel Guide

Rotorua, on the North Island’s Volcanic Plateau, is an internationally-famous city on the shores of a lake of the same name. It is 80 kilometres north from Taupo and 60 kilometres south of Tauranga, and draws visitors from near and far through its breathtaking geothermal attractions.

The Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley includes some 500 hot springs, 65 geyser vents, and the country’s biggest geyser, the Pohutu Geyser, which blasts hot water up to 30 metres into the air, up to 15 times a day.

In the valley, visitors can see fascinating displays of the way the Maori people, who have called Whakawarewa their home for seven centuries, interacted with their environment. There are tours of Te Puia, with traditional carved houses, and displays of the indigenous way of life to be enjoyed and learnt from.

Other educational must-sees include the Rotorua Museum, a world-class interactive experience, and with illuminating stories about the history and geological uniqueness of the region. It is open 9 am - 5 pm in winter and 9 am - 8 pm in summer.

Rotorua is also renowned for its mountain biking possibilities, with over 90 kilometres of trails through its forests. Whakarewarewa Forest is one of the most popular locations to ride in New Zealand, and the experimental forest, established in 1901, has over 170 species of tree - including a collection of majestic California redwoods at one of its groves - and numerous exotic types of fauna to be admired.

For those wanting to combine geothermal sightseeing and biking, the Thermal By Bike Trail cannot be looked past. The 74-kilometre trail through four geothermal fields starting at Queens Drive, Rotorua, takes in Whakawarewa Thermal Reserve and much else during what is recommended as a two-day trip.

Only 20 minutes along the Thermal Explorer Highway out of Rotorua is the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the country’s best-loved attractions. It includes guaranteed activity at its bubbling mud pools.

The region has an elevated altitude and a pleasant, temperate climate. The average maximum and minimum temperatures in January are 23 and 12.7 degrees Celsius, and 12.1 and 3.1 in July.

Rotorua hosts a number of annual events showcasing its unique environment, including the Blue Lake Rowing Regatta and related events in January, Rotorua Marathon in May, N-Duro Winter Mountain Bike series in July, and the Ekiden Relay in October.

Rotorua’s airport is served by New Zealand Airlines (from Auckland, Queenstown/Christchurch and Wellington).