Rotorua travel guide

Rotorua Tourism | Rotorua Guide

You're Going to Love Rotorua

Rotorua on New Zealand's North Island, known for its geysers and hot mud baths, is a draw for those seeking adventure as well as rest and relaxation.

A hub of Maori culture, the region allows you to immerse yourself in the history of the Te Arawa, the first inhabitants of Rotorua, with art exhibitions and performances.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rotorua

1. The Geysers

A hotspot for geothermal activity, the daily eruptions of the Lady Knox Geyser and the Pohutu Geyser are a sight to behold.

2. The Mud Baths

Luxuriate in the Hell's Gate mud baths, as well as Maori Mirimiri massage and mud treatments at Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort.

3. Maximum Adventure

Fly fishing in Lake Rotorua, mountain biking in the Whakarewarewa Forest, and white water rafting on the Kaituna River are just a few of the options available to thrill-seekers in the region.

4. Learn about Maori Culture

Attend a traditional hangi feast in the Rotorua forest, see traditional Maori art at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, or visit Mokoia Island to relive the love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

5. Delicious Food

Eat at the award-winning Mokoia Restaurant, which serves traditional beef and lamb dishes, or hop on the Maori Food Trail to sample Pikopiko, Horopito, or Kawakawa.

What to do in Rotorua

1. A Public Park Like You'Ve Never Seen

As the center of New Zealand's geothermal activity, Rotorua is filled with hot springs, but when you arrive your first stop should be Kuirau Park. A public park doesn't sound like a great start to a romantic-sounding spa vacation, but if you want to get your first (free) glimpse of the hot springs, then this is the place to be. Complete with picnic tables and foot baths, Kuirau Park has swirling steam everywhere you look and bubbling mud that makes an odd but satisfying sound. Located right in the center of Rotorua, there's no reason to miss it.

2. Best Place To See The Glowworms

It's no secret that New Zealand is famous for its glowworms, a sight that is breathtaking. If seeing the glowworms is on your bucket list (and it should be because it's stunning) then Lake Rotoiti in Rotorua is one of the perfect places to do so. You can go on kayaking tours, which are recommended because you're guided to the best places to see the glowworms. In the darkness, accompanied by the sounds of birds and rushing water, you'll glimpse these little green lights in such dense profusion you won't know where the ground ends and the sky begins.

3. The Redwood Forest

Hamurana Springs is a quiet conservation reserve that seems pretty well hidden if you aren't looking for it. What makes Hamurana Springs so unique is the small redwood forest that runs alongside the stunning, crystal blue water. Towering high above - a gift from California - are these stunning trees. Having wandered through them, you'll come out at the springs, which not only look like solid glass because they're so clear and still, but some will be bright blue. When the sun is high in the sky it really enriches the colors of the spring bed, bringing out incredible colors, including shades of blue. The water takes an unbelievabe 70 years to reach the springs.

4. Traditional Culture

It's impossible to visit New Zealand and not experience some of the traditional local cultures. This Maori village will give you a taste of what this culture is like, how they celebrate, and provide you with some history as well. See Maori dances, music shows, eat traditional Maori food and bring yourself closer to this indigenous people.

5. Hot Springs Galore

You already know Rotorua is home to some pretty large geothermal hot springs and if you want to see the largest one in the world then you've come to the right place. The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley was created in the late 1800s by the eruption of Mount Tarawera and today offers a spectacular panorama of geysers and bubbling water. It's also got that incredible rainbow color palette of bright oranges and fiery reds that you usually find around large hot springs.

1. A Public Park Like You'Ve Never Seen

As the center of New Zealand's geothermal activity, Rotorua is filled with hot springs, but when you arrive your first stop should be Kuirau Park. A public park doesn't sound like a great start to a romantic-sounding spa vacation, but if you want to get your first (free) glimpse of the hot springs, then this is the place to be. Complete with picnic tables and foot baths, Kuirau Park has swirling steam everywhere you look and bubbling mud that makes an odd but satisfying sound. Located right in the center of Rotorua, there's no reason to miss it.

2. Best Place To See The Glowworms

It's no secret that New Zealand is famous for its glowworms, a sight that is breathtaking. If seeing the glowworms is on your bucket list (and it should be because it's stunning) then Lake Rotoiti in Rotorua is one of the perfect places to do so. You can go on kayaking tours, which are recommended because you're guided to the best places to see the glowworms. In the darkness, accompanied by the sounds of birds and rushing water, you'll glimpse these little green lights in such dense profusion you won't know where the ground ends and the sky begins.

3. The Redwood Forest

Hamurana Springs is a quiet conservation reserve that seems pretty well hidden if you aren't looking for it. What makes Hamurana Springs so unique is the small redwood forest that runs alongside the stunning, crystal blue water. Towering high above - a gift from California - are these stunning trees. Having wandered through them, you'll come out at the springs, which not only look like solid glass because they're so clear and still, but some will be bright blue. When the sun is high in the sky it really enriches the colors of the spring bed, bringing out incredible colors, including shades of blue. The water takes an unbelievabe 70 years to reach the springs.

4. Traditional Culture

It's impossible to visit New Zealand and not experience some of the traditional local cultures. This Maori village will give you a taste of what this culture is like, how they celebrate, and provide you with some history as well. See Maori dances, music shows, eat traditional Maori food and bring yourself closer to this indigenous people.

5. Hot Springs Galore

You already know Rotorua is home to some pretty large geothermal hot springs and if you want to see the largest one in the world then you've come to the right place. The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley was created in the late 1800s by the eruption of Mount Tarawera and today offers a spectacular panorama of geysers and bubbling water. It's also got that incredible rainbow color palette of bright oranges and fiery reds that you usually find around large hot springs.

Where to Eat in Rotorua

The Abracadabra Cafe Bar combines Mexican and Moroccan cuisine, serving delicacies such as beef and apricot tagine and king prawn fajitas. Entrees average NZ$25-30. The Stratosfare Restaurant specializes in locally sourced fish and meat with NZ$69 dinner specials.

When to visit Rotorua

Rotorua in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 112
1 night at 3-star hotel
Rotorua in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 112
1 night at 3-star hotel

Though Rotorua has a temperate climate, the weather is best during the summer months, December to March.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Rotorua

Plane

Access to the Rotorua Regional Airport (ROT) for international travelers is via Auckland Airport. Rotorua also receives flights from Wellington and Christchurch. A bus to downtown is NZ$2; a taxi is approximately NZ$21.

Car

Rotorua is a three-hour drive from Auckland. There are two travel options: on State Highway 1 and then State Highway 5 at Tirau, or through Matamata on Route 27.

Bus

The Naked Bus runs several times a day from the International Terminal at Auckland Airport. Fares average NZ$18.

Airports near Rotorua

Airlines serving Rotorua

Etihad Airways
Good (308 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (320 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (178 reviews)
Air New Zealand
Excellent (74 reviews)
Air China
Poor (4 reviews)

Where to stay in Rotorua

Downtown - Downtown houses the Government Gardens, which offer bowling, petanque, croquet, and golf, as well as the Rotorua Museum, the Polynesian Spa, and the Blue Baths hot springs.

Popular Neighborhoods in Rotorua

Ohinemutu - a Maori village on Lake Rotorua, Ohinemutu has guided tours of the landscape and geothermal hotspots.

Te Puia - Te Puia, home to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and the Pohutu Geyser, is the center of Maori culture and geothermal activity.

Where to stay in popular areas of Rotorua

Most booked hotels in Rotorua

Rydges Rotorua
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 160+
Prince's Gate Hotel
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 161+
VR Rotorua Lake Resort
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
C$ 97+
Novotel Rotorua Lakeside
Good (7.8, Good reviews)
C$ 174+
Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Good (7.5, Good reviews)
C$ 163+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Rotorua

Public Transportation

Rotorua has an extensive public transportation system. The airport is 10 minutes from downtown with regular bus service all day.

Taxi

Rotorua taxis operate 24/7 and provide business cars, hybrids, vans, and airport transfers. Fares start at NZ$3.83 with an additional NZ$3.35 per mile.

Car

On-street parking downtown is free for up to an hour and NZ$1 for each additional hour up to three hours Monday to Friday from 9 to 5, and 9 to 12 pm on Saturdays. Evenings and Sundays are free. Car rentals start at NZ$36 a day.

The Cost of Living in Rotorua

Shopping Streets

The Rotorua Central Mall on Amohau Street houses popular stores and a trendy food court. The Rotorua Night Market on Tutanekai Street, open from 5 to 9 pm, features local arts, crafts, and an array of international cuisine as well as live music.

Groceries and Other

Rotorua has three major supermarket chains: Pak'nSave, Countdown, and New World. All three sell staples as well as take out. The cost of living in Rotorua is fairly expensive. A gallon of milk costs NZ$6.63 and a dozen eggs is NZ$3.47.

Cheap meal
C$ 17.36
A pair of jeans
C$ 98.50
Single public transport ticket
C$ 2.34
Cappuccino
C$ 4.33