Located in the Bay of Plenty region, Rotorua is a city on the Southern shores of Lake Rotorua which it takes its name.
As a city that was built in the 1880’s, Rotorua is unusual in that is was neither a port, nor a farming community and has always been a town built for tourists who visited the lakes.
As such, tourism still remains a huge part of Rotorua’s economy both internationally and domestically and is the largest industry in the district.
An estimated 3.5 million tourists visit Rotorua each year. Although over half of those figures were made up of international visitors prior to Covid, the economy is slowly recovering with local tourism.
With so much to see and do in Rotorua, the first port of call is to check out the lakes and rivers that bring so many visitors to the city.
LAKES AND RIVERS
With over 18 lakes, three major rivers and a host of ways in which to enjoy them all year round. Swimming, fishing, paddle boarding and lakeside picnics are just some of the options available.
For all adrenaline junkies, why not try the exhilarating 30 minute Katoa jet boat ride. With a V8 engine you’ll zip across Lake Rotorua at 85km and experience 360 spins and turns.
If something more relaxing is on the cards, have a go at paddle boarding and get the most out of it by doing an evening glow worm tour located only 15 minutes outside of Rotorua.
If exploration and relaxation are the only things on your mind, then you can’t go past the number one tourist attraction of geysers, hot pools and bubbling mud.
Hells Gate is one of Rotorua’s most visited active geothermal attraction and New Zealand’s only mud spa complex. With options of a guided or self-guided tours, you’re free to then indulge in its thermal wonderland of mud and sulphur waters followed by spring fed waterfall and cold plunge pools. With three types of therapeutic options it’ll be an unforgettable experience day or night.
For some family sightseeing, why not visit Te Puia, the world famous Pohutu Geyser where you can experience a guided tour and learn of its history and stories. Day and night time tours are available.
Kuirau Park should be a must on the list too as a free thermal park where you can check out geothermal action located a short walk from the city centre. Several walkways take you to crater lake, mud pools, hot springs and a free thermal foot bath! Set in a stunning manicured backdrop it makes a great spot for a picnic or barbeque too.
REDWOODS & LAKE OKATAINA
Time spent in Rotorua wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the mighty Redwood forest and is hands down the most popular attraction for tourists but also locals. With only a five minute drive from the city centre its home to stunning Californian redwoods intermixed with native fern and bush, the perfect activity to take the kids to, mountain bike, take a casual stroll or walk the dog through. With 5,600 hectares of forest, its bike park is the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Entry to the Redwoods is free but there are options to pay for varying Redwood experiences such as Redwood Tree Walk, and Nightlife suspended high above the forest floor or zipline through the forest’s canopies.
FOOD & DRINK
If all that activity has worked up an appetite, then you’re in for some culinary treats in Rotorua. Known as foodie city there is everything from fine dining, artisan cafes and restaurants to pub grub and everything in between.
EAT STREAT: With the bustling hub of a dozen restaurants and bars, a nightclub and an iconic ice cream parlour, you have to experience this hub in all its glory. Let the smells entice your senses pick your cuisine from whatever takes your fancy.
FAT DOG CAFÉ: If you’re after something more specific, say a breakfast or brunch then look no further than this popular joint that serves hearty portions of classics and has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too. Great coffee and general hot drink choices here too but get in early, its popular for good reason.
ARTISAN CAFÉ: Another popular haunt with fantastic organic coffee and an impressive menu selection and cabinet treats. Great service and generous portions.
With a host of cool farmers markets and night markets weekly, Rotorua is a great hub when looking for entertainment not to mention the host of some cool world class events of performing arts, sports and culture.
There is so many activities for the whole family rain or shine from go karting to the famous luge and gondola rides, cycle tours and the popular Amazeme maze.
MOTION ENTERTAINMENT: One of the most popular places for all ages under one roof. This jam-packed entertainment mall has everything from Escape and VR rooms, interactive rides, ten pin bowling, Timezone, mini golf and so much more. Stay for a few hours or the whole day.
SKYLINE ROTORUA: The best way to take in all the sights and although incredibly busy all year round its easy to see why its so popular.
Skyline Stratosphere Restaurant and Bar: open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner options and home to award winning cuisine.
THE LUGE: Part Go Kart, part toboggan, the luge is popular for all ages and a great way to test your skills amongst friends and family with three luge track options.