6 Things to do in Rotorua

Rotorua is kind of famous because of its “rotten eggs” smell due to hydrogen sulphide emissions and has been nicknamed “Sulphur City”... and smelly is right.

The sulphurous vapour rises up your nostrils with each street corner you turn before you pause to ponder the familiarity of the stench, and the sulphorus smell from the rising steam molds itself into your perception of normality.

But don't let this thought turn you off from visiting New Zealand's coolest HOT spot. There's something special about this smelly place with enough adventure and relaxation to satisfy anyone's needs. Below are six activities to help you get the most out of your visit.

  1. Experience the Geothermal Pools

    Rotorua is known as ‘Nature’s Spa of the South Pacific' due its geothermal activity and location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present with skyrocketing geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools.


    If you're after some therapeutic indulgence or to be wowed by nature, places to visit include:


    1. The Polynesian Spa - an award winning centre perfect for couples and families to experience the hot springs, a therapeutic massage or mud wrap. There's an adults only area with seven hot mineral spring pools overlooking the lake, plus a family area with water slide and toddler pool. Who doesn’t love a hot tub if you're visiting in the cooler months?

    2. Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park & Mud Spa - Rotorua's most famous thermal attraction is a sacred Maori site boasting 50 acres of mud pools, geysers, hot springs and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot-water waterfall.

    3. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland - known as New Zealand’s most colourful natural volcanic area, including the world famous multi-coloured Champagne Pool, Lady Knox Geyser which erupts to heights of 20 metres, hot springs, and huge volcanic craters.

  2. The Redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest

    Just five minutes drive from Rotorua you can find yourself walking amongst giants - the towering Californian Coastal Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa Forest. If you prefer mountain biking over walking, the forest has some of the finest mountain biking trails in the world. And there's even horse riding on offer.


    Check out the visitors centre for guided tours or go it alone on one of the trails with supplies for a picnic and enjoy panoramic views over Rotorua City.

  3. The Buried Village

    Previous to the recent earthquake in Christchurch, the eruption of Mt Tarawera on the 10th of June 1886 was New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster with 153 people estimated buried under mud, volcanic ash and falling rock. It also buried villages and the spectacular pink and white terraces, a natural wonder of the world at the time.


    At Te Wairoa you can take a guided walk called the Buried Village Experience and learn about the Maori style small houses which were buried and where the old hotel and stores of the village once stood. There's wildlife viewing, a lovely walk through the forest to a waterfall, and for the kids there's an adventure playground and in the museum an interactive Children’s Discovery Room.

  4. Tamaki Maori Cultural Village

    The Tamaiki Maori Cultural Village is possibly the best ”touristy” cultural experience and show I've seen. It's a great place to learn about the Maori culture, and they really make you feel a part of the family as you rub noses (a Maori welcoming kiss) and learn how to do the HAKA (tribal war dance).


    After all the cultural performances and wandering the village there's a delicious traditional Hangi (meal cooked in the ground over hot coals) on offer.

  5. Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park

    Ever seen a real life “Kiwi” bird? At Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park you and the kids can get up close and personal with kiwi in their natural habitat. There's a nocturnal house or an outdoor enclosure for night-time viewing.


    Besides seeing "kiwis" this 22 acre family friendly park offers walk through free flight aviaries, hand feeding of wild trout, bird shows, and the Big Splash - a 9 minute journey through time as you explore the ecological evolution of New Zealand.

  6. Aquaduck Tour

    For something different and a fun way to explore Rotorua and its surrounds, jump on board the amphibious Duck Tour. You'll splash your way into lakes, blow the duck whistle, and get an educational and entertaining introduction into Rotorua’s rich history and a unique viewpoint of the beautiful scenery.

Rotorua Accommodation

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