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Rotorua (New Zealand)

Practical information on Rotorua

  • Spa and massage
  • Volcano
  • Lake
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Essential
4 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
1hr by car from Tauranga and Taupo
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Rotorua

Floriane Seasoned Traveller
37 written opinions

Sitting by a lake in a region steeped in Maori culture, this town is a hive of geothermal activity.

My suggestion:
Put on your swimwear and lay back in one of Rotorua's numerous spas; the perfect way to relax during a vacation in New Zealand.
My review

The first thing that struck me when I arrived at Rotorua was the smell of sulphur. It reminded me of rotten eggs and it permeates the town. Signs of volcanic activity are everywhere - hot springs burst through the ground and mud pools bubble. Take a stroll around Government Gardens, strewn with flower beds and thermal pools.

A walk around Lake Rotorua is also enjoyable and easy on the legs. It's a colorful place, thanks to the intense geothermal activity around it. You'll see lots of warning signs, so make sure you stay on the paths and avoid dangerous zones. Bearing in mind the extreme environmental conditions, I was surprised to see magnificent black swans on the lake.

Another defining characteristic of Rotorua is its Maori cultural heritage. Go to the Ohinemutu side of the lake and visit St.Faith's Church. You'll see an image of a Maori Christ who appears to be walking across Rotorua's water, as well as several edifices and Maori sculptures.

It's also worth noting that there are some interesting geothermal sites outside of Rotorua, as well as numerous spas. Unfortunately their prices were too prohibitive for my limited budget.

View over Lake Rotorua
Emmanuelle Bluman Seasoned Traveller
157 written opinions

The South Island may have Queenstown for activities and adrenaline, but the North Island has Rotorua! Best known for its geothermal and volcanic phenomena, it is a dynamic city, and the Maori cradle of culture. 

My suggestion:
Visit one of the geothermal parks and attend a performance in a Maori village; it's touristy, but nevertheless interesting. 
My review

What's most fascinating about Rotorua, are the volcanic phenomena. Wai-O-Tapu is perhaps the best-known and most visited site, but the landscapes remain fascinating, except for Lady Knox geyser, which was a big disappointment for me and isn't worth the wait!

Otherwise, there are other parks to discoverin the vicinity, and my favorite is Waimangu Volcanic Valley. But Rotorua is also home to the Zorb where you go down a hill in a huge pastic ball! And going down while rafting or on a jet boat. Not to mention natural hot water spas and mud baths to recover from a day of adventure.

Finally, the city has a large Maori population and several shows help you discover a little of the culture and traditions of these people, folksy, but likeable. 

Geothermic site in Rotorua
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