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Perched on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Rotorua region is best known for its geothermal marvels and thriving Maori heritage. Visit the Bay of Plenty, where Rotorua is located, for its unparalleled beauty and natural wonders that include bubbling mud springs, spouting geysers, and an abundance of naturally heated baths that draw travelers from around the world. While you're not exploring volcanic calderas, walk through dense forests, sit by the shores of Lake Rotorua, or immerse yourself in indigenous Polynesian culture in the Maori villages that dot the area. With innumerable things to do, from spa visits to hikes around volcanic craters, you can make your vacation in Rotorua one to remember.
The Rotorua region combines nature and history, its cities and Maori villages surrounded by volcanic mountains and flourishing forests. Spend your time exploring both, getting to know the character of New Zealand's northern coast.
Whakarewarewa - Often shortened to just Whaka by locals, Whakarewarewa is a literal hotspot of geothermal activity and living Maori culture. The area is dotted with impressive geysers like the famous Pohutu Geyser, as well as natural wonders like the Parekohuru hot springs and Te Werenga pools whose mud contains healing properties. Take a tour of the Maori village, immersing yourself in their heritage and seeing firsthand how the Maori people use geothermal activity to their advantage. Be sure to watch a performance of traditional song and dance and learn about local legends.
Tikitere - Tikitere is Rotorua's most active geothermal area. Commonly called "Hells Gate" for the boiling pools of sulfuric water that cloud the area with steam, the 50-acre (20-ha) geothermal park of Tikitere is ripe for exploring. See the steaming Kakahi Falls and dramatically named boiling pools like "Devil's Bath" and "Sodom and Gomorrah." The area also features a mud spa where you can treat yourself with an exfoliating, mineral-rich mud bath and soothing massage treatments performed by professionals.
Hamurana - Located north of Rotorua city, Hamurana is best known for its ethereal Hamurana Springs Reserve. Take a walk through a dense grove of towering Californian Redwood trees, following the Hamurana Stream until you reach the still, crystal-clear pools of fresh turquoise water that the area is famous for. Watch the Dancing Sands, named for the effect of water bubbling up from below the spring's sands.
Rotorua is filled with fascinating things to see, from displays of modern and Maori culture to glassy lakes and volcanic mountains. Visit the Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, which is housed in the iconic Rotorua Bath House, to learn of the city's past and see galleries of works by national and global artists. The Rotorua region is also home to 17 lakes known collectively as the Lakes of Rotorua, many of which surround Mount Tarawera-the volcano responsible for the cataclysmic eruption in 1886. The unique, jagged landscape created by the eruption is a popular spot for hikes and flights, with trails leading down into the crater itself.
With a rich combination of deep history and incredible nature, Rotorua has no shortage of exciting adventures and things to do. Its position in the Volcanic Zone means there are countless fascinating geothermal areas to explore, including the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, world famous for its vibrantly colored, bubbling Champagne Pool. Another way to experience the region's natural thermal advantages is through bathing, and Rotorua is famous for its hot springs, like those at Hells Gate. Many spa treatments take influence from Maori traditions, incorporating native herbs and Maori techniques. The Rotorua Mud Festival also celebrates the mineral-rich mud produced in the area. Discover more of Rotorua's incredible biodiversity at parks like the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, a conservation center for kiwi, tuatara, and other endemic animal and reptile species. Rotorua is filled with many thriving examples of Maori culture, and you can educate yourself about the indigenous Polynesian people in villages like Te Puia and Mitai, discovering how Maori heritage and traditions have helped shape modern New Zealand as much as Western settlers.
There's fun for all the family wherever you wander in Rotorua. Here are some family friendly experiences you can enjoy together that will make your getaway memorable:
Sightseeing on a lean budget in Rotorua? Spend time instead of cash on great experiences.
Waimangu Cauldron - Spend a while by the water to unwind and recharge.
Rotorua Night Market - Widely known among the locals, this site is worth dropping by.
Haiku Pathway - You're bound to reconnect with Mother Nature at this stunning place.
Government Gardens - Organize a picnic and enjoy a relaxing walk around the trees and shrubs.
Make the most of the weather (and get a little exercise at the same time) with some of these popular outdoor activities:
If it's wet outside and you're searching for something to do, throw your umbrella down and join a Freefall Xtreme Flying Ride.
If you're vacationing on a budget, be sure to add the following affordable tours and activities to your agenda:
You'll hardly have time to take your wallet out of your pocket with so many fantastic free things to do: