Rotorua is a thermal wonderland in New Zealand where the attractions are also quite different! The Rotorua attractions are not only different, but they are also of great importance in the sense that such highlights are only confined to the scientists or other experts for study. But, as similar to the geysers of the Yellowstone, the steam vents and geysers here are also allowed to be seen by the tourists, but obviously with a great caution as these sites here are still active.
Expect a majority of the Rotorua attractions to be hot springs, big geysers, steam eruption sites, natural vents, steam outlets, hot pools, and private geothermal bores bathing and water heating in and around the city. You might happen to explore them with a scientist as many such experts come here frequently to research on them as to how since 100 years they have amazed the whole world with their peculiar features. If you just consider the basic fact that the city itself resides on an active geothermal terrain spot, you will come to know about the importance of research as well as tourism in this area. Now, the scope of tourism is not only confined to these geothermal attractions, but is extended further by the fact that Rotorua is located on the shores of Lake Rotorua and that it is flanked by several other lakes. With this, you can expect water activities such as boating increasing the things to do in the list of the Rotorua attractions. And yes, the city is amidst the active Taupo Volcanic Zone due to which you can also discover the four major volcanic calderas holding a myriad of lakes.
Above all, on the Fenton Street, visit the Tourist Information Centre so that you get a brief idea about the most famous as well as the most risky places. Now, start your trip from the most visited highlight – Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – as a one-day trip. In this exciting park, there are countless geothermal landscapes to marvel and several active volcano activities to experience. Above all, the top visited attraction here is the big Lady Knox Geyser that flashes water up to the heights of 10 to 20 m every day.
Similar is the Te Puia where you will encounter geysers, bubbling mud pools, and the geothermal Whakarewarewa Valley. Here, you need to take the entry for $40 and after that simply enjoy a free guided tour for discovering these geothermal sites, marae, and the Kiwi house. If you are willing to pay some more, you will get to see the Maori cultural dances as well as savor the traditional meals.
Next, the Rainbow Springs Nature Park with its scenically landscaped terrain, Kiwis, other animals, sculptured ponds of cuy fish, and cool gardens has become one more great attraction here. With $29 per person and an additional $2 for the Kiwi tour, the park has much to offer to the people of all ages. A bit different than this one is the Agrodome where you can see the shows, exhibitions, and farm animals revealing the country’s rural past and present. Believe me; the sheep shows as well as the farm tours are outstanding!
If you are adventurous, try out its Freefall Experience simulator regarded in the north as the highest bungee jump, jet boat ride, as well as Zorb for trapping inside a hot-air ball that is then kicked from a steep hill. If your full family is adventurous, go on an excursion of Waimangu Volcanic Valley that is only 115 years old and is yet a home of the great geothermal eco-system on the planet. Go for a self guided walk, hike on one of the safe trails, cruise the boat from 45 minutes to 4 hours, and spot the rare botany. To reach up to this dramatic volcano, you need to drive for 20 minutes from the city. And yes, if you are out of the city, do not miss to spot the Okere Falls at 20 km along with the Lake Rotoiti as the house of the 14 lakes facilitating rafting and dual kayaking.
Eating has to be via Hangi, the traditional Maori cooking implemented in several restaurants at the lower end of Tutanakei Street. However, come as early as possible here. For a budget traveler, Kiwi paka Backpackers Rotorua hostel is a good option or go for the All Seasons Holiday Park.
Best time to visit
Summer: December to April