Rotorua sits on top of one of the world's most active volcanic regions. Below the surface the earth's crust grinds and moves producing heat and molten rock. Throughout the city and its surrounds the evidence of this is surprisingly common. Steam rising from cracks in the road, bubbling and hissing water in pools along the lakes edge and of course the strong smell of sulphur. The original Maori inhabitants recognised the great potential of this natural resource and applied it to cook their food and a plentiful supply of hot water to relax and bathe in didn't go unnoticed by the early European tourists.
Today Rotorua offers a myriad of activities for all to enjoy. Its compact city centre is ideal to stroll and enjoy the cuisine and hospitality. Government gardens provide a wonderful respite and in the centre the Rotorua Museum is a must see. A walk along the lake edge will deliver you to one of the country's oldest Maori villages at Ohinemutu or a float plane can whisk you over the craters of nearby Mt. Tarawera. Surrounding the city are thermal reserves such as Whakawerawera and Wai-O-Tapu, and here you can walk amongst bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and sulphur ponds. Just a few minutes from the town centre Mt. Ngongotaha and the Skyline Gondola and luge overlook the lake and a little further on the Agrodome centre is where you head for adventure and an adrenalin rush. Here you can ride the Zorb, travel at up to 100kph on a jet boat, simulate sky diving or take the plunge on a giant swing. An agricultural exhibition and show is also based here. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without experiencing Rotorua's original tourist attraction - a relaxing spa treatment.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, extending over 18-sq. km. Enjoy viewing unique volcanic features as you walk at your own pace along well-defined tracks. Relax in the first-class Visitor Centre, home to the Gift Shop and Café facilities. Visit the Mud Pool, the largest in New Zealand, it was originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920s. See the history and beauty of the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am every day. Lady Knox Geyser provides a unique opportunity to see an eruption to heights of 10 to 20 metres.
Only a short hop from the Rotorua township you'll find Te Puia, known as New Zealand's living Māori cultural experience. Sprawling across 60 hectares of volcanic land, it's home to the world-renowned Pohutu Geyser, a live kiwi enclosure and more than 500 geothermal wonders. Shrouded in a continuous haze of steam, Te Puia has a dramatic and ethereal air.
As you're guided along the wooden walkways, thermal springs and boiling mud pools surround you on either side, while native ferns and flax can be seen in the forest ahead. Te Puia takes pride in keeping Māori traditions and craft alive and it is home to the New Zealand National Carving and Weaving Schools. You'll have the chance to watch these unique craftspeople working as they share their skills with the next generation.
Journey back in time to a Pre-European lifestyle experience of customs and traditions. Enjoy the night's festivities with the people of Tamaki Maori Village as you are treated to a banquet of succulent foods cooked the traditional Maori way. Rediscover the Maori village as it comes alive to the sound and activities of tribal songs, dances, myths, and legends and browse throughout the largest after hours tribal marketplace in Rotorua. Includes a hangi buffet feast that has cooked slowly underground.
Set on a 350-acre working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle, the Agrodome gives its visitors a hands-on, live farming experience. The Farm Show stars a cast of talented animals – not just sheep! The remarkable farm dogs will amaze you, as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line. Then pop across to the herding area to watch a free live dog trial after the show! Explore the farm and learn the history of New Zealand agriculture on custom designed farm trailers. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn - and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. Explore the fruit orchard and olive grove and have the chance to taste natural kiwifruit juice and delicious sweet honey that comes from the farm.
In 1886, Mount Tarawera in Rotorua erupted, and destroyed the surrounding area. The eruption opened the earth along a 17km rift, splitting Mount Tarawera in two, exploding Lake Rotomahana to 20 times its original size, and forming the seven craters that today make up the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Within 15 years of the Eruption, the hot springs of the Waimangu Geothermal System were established within the newly formed craters, making this the world's newest geothermal eco-system. Plant life returned to the devastated land 30 years after the 1886 eruption. Today Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Lake Rotomahana are wholly protected as a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Refuge. Here you can enjoy a range of easy walking to advanced hiking. They also have a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana which can be added to the experience.
Take the Skyline Scenic Gondola ride up the side of the dormant volcano Mount Ngongotaha (487 metres above sea level) where you can experience spectacular views of the city and lake. At the top, you can choose to Luge, Mountain Bike, Zoom Zipline, Skyswing, check out the nature trails, shop at the INZPIRED Store or the Jelly Belly Store, enjoy Volcanic Hills wine tasting and dine at Market Kitchen or Stratosfare Restaurant.
Embark on a three and a half hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges, journey deeper into natural New Zealand than ever before with the Ultimate Canopy Tour. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it.
Join a tour through a real Living Maori Village. Experience how Maori have traditionally used the natural geothermal energy in daily activities, from cooking in the bubbling waters and steam, to heating their homes and bathing in the therapeutic and refreshing waters. This guided tour is entertaining and informative with a focus on giving everyone an understanding of the Maori history, culture and the and how the villagers live in the challenging Whakarewarewa Geothermal field and the significance of protecting it for future generations.
Enjoy an evening adventure kayaking out over one of New Zealand’s most stunning water ways, Lake Rotoiti. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, abundant birdlife, and learn the myths and legends linked to the area, before kayaking over to the stunning Manupirua Hot Pools. Adventure out to the magical glow worm cave as the sun goes behind the hills to learn the lifecycle and legends of the glow worms.
On the way back see how the lake is transformed by the moon and the twinkling stars above, with the night sky being the perfect end to the adventure.
The ultimate 4WD adventure. Rugged and remote, the trail ahead disappears into thick native NZ forest. Prepare for a journey that is full of unknowns. Buckle in and share the driving in one of Off Road NZ’s 4WDs. Your professional guide, up ahead, gives you instructions while your heart is racing with anticipation. The terrain is like nothing you’ve encountered before and the challenges come thick and fast! As you traverse unbelievably steep climbs and descents; tight, twisting bends; deep, muddy holes; the 4WD rocks and pitches. Foliage brushes past… you come to a bridge of poles over a creek – how can you possibly get across that? And suddenly the luge: a six metre-high controlled slide down a near-vertical 80-degree slope. Adrenaline pumping, you try not to look down. Follow instructions and take a leap of faith!
See it all, the ultimate volcanic and geothermal Rotorua Tour. Learn about the huge colourful hot springs, erupting geysers and active boiling mud pools, spectacular volcanoes and lush native forest. All on a fully guided day tour in Rotorua. Departing daily, you'll travel through forestry and farmland to NZ’s largest boiling mud pool and a series of colourful hot springs at Wai-o-tapu. Then see the Lady Knox geyser erupt. Next a short drive to the Waimangu Volcanic valley where your guide will explain the Mt Tarawera eruption which blew open this spectacular, bush covered, geothermal park. Later in the afternoon, take a journey with a local guide in the footprints of the Maori tribe “Tuhourangi “. Learn more about the history of the eighth wonder of the world, the pink and white terraces and the great 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera that destroyed both the tribal village and the terraces. To bring the story alive, you'll visit: The Buried Village, Whakarewarewa Living thermal village and Lake Tarawera, Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) and Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake). You'll also get to enjoy the views of the Mt Tarawera Volcano. The tour also includes a beautiful native bush walk to a waterfall and Lake Tarawera lookouts.
On this tour, you will visit 27 locations that best represents Rotorua's historical, geological and cultural identity. Your local guide will share with you their amazing history, take you to the best photo spots and show you Rotorua from a local point of view. This tour is perfect for people of all ages.
Take the Thermal Land Shuttle to Wai O Tapu thermal wonderland. This thermal area around 30 kilometres south of Rotorua has many walking tracks to take you through this strange landscape. Bubbling mud pools, simmering waters rising from the depths and colourful sulphurous pools make this a fascinating insight into the geothermal activity that goes on below Rotorua's surface. Lady Knox Geyser can be seen erupting at 10:15am daily, shooting water up to 10 metres into the air. There are 3 well signposted walking tracks and an informative brochure tells you about each feature. A gift shop and cafe are also on site.
Enjoy the Rotorua Lakes as the sun sets at the twilight hour on an amazing stand-up paddle board scenic tour as you are guided to an incredible cavern home to a galaxy formation of glow-worms. This paddle-board experience you will never forget. This experience starts with a short drive of approximately 15 minutes leads you past the iconic Redwood and Whakarewarewa forest before you descend to the lake to begin the adventures. Once at the Lake your friendly, professional local guide will unload all the equipment for your group and get you kitted-out for the paddle boarding experience. Sound safety and instruction briefings follow as you learn to paddle board or hone your existing skills. No paddle board experience is required - most tour members have never paddle boarded before but with the quality and skill of the instructors most people are standing up and paddling within 15 minutes; there is always the option to paddle sitting or kneeling on the board if this is more comfortable. An amazing time then ensues stand-up paddle boarding on the lake as you soak in the natural surroundings as the sun goes down. Once the sun goes down you will search for the hidden caves, once in the cave, you will be amazed at the incredible glow worms that number in the thousands and appear like a galaxy above you. If you are lucky with a clear sky, the return paddle will continue your sense of awe and wonder with amazing stars lighting the sky.
Based in the sacred Te Takinga Marae in Rotorua, Kahukiwi Experiences offers a never before seen window into the landscapes, ways of life and heritage of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe. Explore the untouched, sacred land of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe in this intimate 4WD experience. Guided by a local and highly knowledgeable Māori guide, you’ll explore a stunning marae (a communal and social gathering place), landscapes and never-before-seen views that look over Rotorua’s lake district. En route, you’ll learn the myths and legends of local people, rich history and fascinating ways of life.
Experience the white-knuckle rush of a 30 minute jet boat tour on Lake Rotorua. Feel the rush and power as our V8 engine boats push you through the water, reaching speeds up to 80km/hr.
This cruise is perfect to take an evening break, enjoy a delicious meal and drink and see the changing scenery as you cruise Lake Rotorua's unique thermal wonderland. Take in the views of the misty, picturesque peak of Mount Tarawera, the beauty of Kawaha Point and Mokoia Island. See the sparkling lake and Rotorua town from an entirely new angle while enjoying the commentary from the Captain. The elegant Lakeland Queen was built in New Zealand in 1986 specifically for cruising the waters of Lake Rotorua. The Lakeland Queen is a stern wheel paddleboat that is perfect for a scenic cruise in the shallow waters of Rotorua's iconic lake.
Enter the world of Mitai and learn about the history of this area which was once flourished in villages. See fierce warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-Whiro stream and the story of the migration of Tamatekapua of the Te Arawa canoe to Aotearoa and the Māori Pacifica connection told in dance form.
Meet the monster. It’s huge. It’s loud. It roars with V6 Power. Hold on tight for the ultimate thrill ride! Your helmet and protective gear are on. Your driver has strapped you in securely. High up on the Monster 4X4’s back you feel your adrenaline begin to pump. With a roar and utilising its massive suspension, it accelerates into the bush and tears up a steep track. The 4X4’s unique 4-wheel steering mechanism helps to power through New Zealand native bush, up and down near-vertical slopes tackling the ‘Widow Maker’ and the ‘Loggers Long Drop’. Your knuckles are white as trees brush past. It twists; it bucks; it swerves; it tilts – every part of your body will be holding on tight.
The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!
The Tarawera Falls are just a short drive through forest and bush from the small town of Kawerau. The river disappears underground and reappears gushing out of the rock face at the falls. A short walk through bush along the river delivers you to a viewing area.