Rotorua, a tourist paradise nestled on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua in New Zealand, is a land of geothermal wonders. The name Rotorua means two lakes or second lake in the Māori language. The landscape resembles a painting, the canvas being filled with steaming geysers in the backdrop of fluorescent greens and oranges.
The air in Rotorua has a whiff of sulphur to it. The canopy is filled with the sounds of rare birds like kokako, tuis and bellbirds. The waters of this land bubble and seethe. According to Māori folklore, the Earth mother Papatuanuku and her unborn son Rūaumoko are thought to be the source of this thermal energy. After exploring, you might feel this deep connection to this incredible region too.
Rotorua is an adventurer’s dream. There is so much to do—mountain biking, hiking or what Kiwis call tramping, zorbing (rolling in a gigantic plastic ball), horse riding, white water rafting, luge riding and heli-touring.
Psychedelic landscapes at Waimangu volcanic valley
Rotorua is a geothermal marvel, complete with steaming geysers and warm mud pools. The landscape is unique- check out the acid-yellow hued steaming silica terraces, the huge crater and seething mud ponds.
The eighth wonder of the world, lost at Te Wairoa
The pink and white terraces were known as the eighth wonder of the world. However they were buried under by the Mount Tarawera eruption in the late 1800s. Head to the Buried Village to see the archaeological site where the stories of the past come alive. There is plenty to see here, so spend time and learn about the rich history of the area.
Tribal stories at Rotorua Museum
On the shores of Lake Rotorua, there is an unusual Tudor style building that houses the Rotorua museum. The Nga Pumanawa o Te Arawa gallery tells the story of the Te Arawa Māori Tribe. You also get to witness the architectural history of the building. As at June 2019, the museum is closed for earthquake repairs, but some programs are still running and you can still take a photo of this iconic building in it’s beautiful location.
The way of the Māori at Whakarewarewa
The Whakarewarewa geothermal area is filled with geothermal vents and geysers. It is the only living Māori village in New Zealand. The Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao tribes share their culture by performing the traditional Māori Haka. If you stay overnight, you can partake of hangi – food cooked beneath the earth.
Steaming geysers at Te Puia
You can’t miss the Pohutu Geyser at Te Puia, the largest geyser (sprays water up to 30 metres for a few minutes) in the southern hemisphere. You can come up and close with the nocturnal kiwi bird in Te Puia park. Another attraction is the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.
The shining lights at Waitomo glow worm caves
Every trip to Rotorua should include a visit to the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre. This is the only Speleological Museum in New Zealand, a museum where you learn about caves and caving history. The Waitomo caves are limestone based and filled with stalactites and stalagmites that glow with the light of the Arachnocampa Luminosa – the glow worm.
There are boat tours that take you through the subterranean passages and it’s a magical experience. Visit Ruakuri for black water rafting into the cathedral like caverns.
The Tarawera trail and Whirinaki forest trail
Rotorua is filled with tramping opportunities. The 15km Tarawera trail follows the shoreline of Lake Tarawera and stops at Te Rata Bay, where there is a hot spring- a relaxing break for tired hikers.
The 55,000 hectare Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park Forest, a prehistoric rainforest, is a testament to New Zealand’s unique biodiversity. The fantastic trail takes you through the canopy of distinctively New Zealand trees like rimu and totara. The only land mammals here are bats.
While going on any hiking trips, stay safe. The geothermal springs are hot and the sulphurous fumes could be toxic if inhaled in large amounts. Make sure you stick to the tracks.
Explore Rotorua, the tourist’s dream destination
Rotorua Canopy Tour
The best way to explore the unique Rotorua forest is to do the award-winning Canopy Tour that takes you on a journey through the ancient forests of New Zealand. It’s an adventurous tour catering to all age groups, done in groups of ten. Children 15 years and under need to be accompanied by an adult, but if you can climb a ladder, you can do the tour. You get to explore New Zealand with Kiwi guides who will show you the true beauty of this country.
You will find yourself walking through the canopy of the forest, high above the forest floor. Navigate over swing bridges, take thrilling zip-lines over the tree tops, and see NZ native birds eye-to-eye.
With so much to do and so many opportunities, tourism in Rotorua is amazing. You’ll find alien landscapes of boiling mud, some of the best nature encounters in the world and adventures like no other. Plan your unforgettable holiday today.