Rotorua
New Zealand
By Kristen A. Grose

Rotorua, located in the heart of New Zealand's North Island, is a tourism hub for both domestic and international visitors alike.  The locals call it "Rota-Vegas" - or just "Vegas" for short, a quirky name of endearment branded by the kiwis to describe the sundry collection of motels and spas dotting the town's main thoroughfare.  Rotorua may not possess the glitz and glamour of the famous Las Vegas Strip, but instead is noteworthy for its unusual and fascinating geothermal activity.  For this reason, it would more aptly be compared to Yellowstone, but Rotorua is really like no other place on Earth. One thing is for sure - like the famous Nevada city - Rotorua is undeniably a New Zealand hotspot.

Getting to Rotorua is pretty straight forward.  From Auckland, the country's gateway city, it is a leisurely 3 hour drive south.  Or a quick hop by plane, should you want to connect directly through from you international flight.  From the Capital City of Wellington, it's about a 6 hour drive. The lovely little resort town of Lake Taupo is only a 45 minute drive south, making Rotorua a great day trip destination, should you be lucky enough to secure a timeshare property there.  Daily flights link Rotorua to most major cities, as well as an extensive network of bus and coach routes.  If you are coming from the other side of the Tasmen, there are also direct flights straight out of Sydney, making Rotorua easier to access than ever before.

WhatsCheaper.com invites you to book your next vacation to Rotorua. The city can be frequented through Rotorua International Airport (ROT). Vacationers can click this link (https://www.whatscheaper.com/flight.php) to get started on your search. WhatsCheaper.com can also assist with booking your hotel reservations; just click here (https://www.whatscheaper.com/hotel.php) to utilize our hotel finder.
 
Tourists flock to Rotorua each year to see the bubbling mud pools and geysers, as well as to soak in its natural hot springs.  These geothermal wonders have been drawing visitors for over a century, giving international acclaim to New Zealand when ailing residents of the Northern Hemisphere would travel great distances to be treated in the magic healing waters, or the rich to the dubbed fountain of youth.  The famous "Bath House" can still be visited today as it now houses the Rotorua Museum, boasting a great collection of New Zealand art and history.  With everything to see and do in Rotorua, it may be hard to justify a trip to a Museum, especially on a lovely spring day.  But WhatsCheaper.com encourages you to at least pop your head in.  Noteworthy are the displays telling the story of the great Tarawera Eruption of 1886, which devastated the landscape and those living on the mountain's doorstep.  A visit to the nearby buried village of Te Wairoa, is also highly recommended.  The evacuated village tells the story of both the Maori and European settlers; how they lived, and unfortunately how they perished, by chronicling the traumatic events of that night.  It offers a fascinating glimpse into New Zealand life at the turn of the century, and showcases the legacy of the settlement by honoring its people.

After a morning spent learning about the area's volatile past, switch things up in the afternoon by blowing off some of your own steam. Head out to the Whakarewarewa Forest and hit up some of the best mountain bike track in the country.  Grab a rental bike or BYO - and get lost on the vast network of trails that meander under the looming Redwoods. 

An adventurous afternoon in Rotorua also wouldn't be complete without a visit to the flagship Zorb site.  Zorbing is the human version of rolling around in a hamster ball.  Yup, leave it to the crazy Kiwis to invent the sport of rolling down a hill in a large inflatable globe. You can choose a harnessed "dry" option or the slipperier hydro" version to utilize; both are best experienced on an empty stomach.  

Little Vegas - has its own version of evening entertainment.  You won't find Cirque du Soleil, but you will find topless dancers.  And by topless, I mean burly bare chested Maori men performing the great Haka.  The Haka is a traditional war dance that has been made famous by the All Black's, New Zealand's Rugby team.  It is always showcased in the Hangi & Concert experiences, made popular in Rotorua.  Learn about Maori ceremonial culture, while enjoying a feast that has been slowed cooked underground in a "hangi" pit.  Think of it as Kiwi Dinner Theatre.

Rotorua has a lot to offer, but there is a catch; this town stinks! Literally.  Hot volcanic pools are high in sulfur content, releasing the smell of pungent rotten eggs.  It's no joke that if you are driving to Rotorua that you will smell the town, before you see it. No worries though mate; the smell does begin to fade the longer you are there. How else would approximately 60,000 people bear to reside there?  Sulphur is a non-toxic remedy, and the hot pools have long been used to treat everything from skin conditions to arthritis.   It really is a Catch 22.   Well, what are you waiting for?  Go check out this smelly Sulphur Pit for yourself!  Just make sure to give your clothes a good wash, before moving on to the next town.  

MUST SEE IN Rotorua LIST:

  • 1. Waimangu Volcanic Valley
  • 2. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools
  • 3. Red Woods Whakarawarewa Forest
  • 4. Rotorua Museum
  • 5. Te Puia
  • 6. Zorb Rotorua
  • 7. Rotorua Duck Tours
  • 8. Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland
  • 9. OGO Rotorua
  • 10. Lake Rotorua

Rotorua EVENT CALENDAR:

  • 1. Federated Farmers Farm Day - March
  • 2. Rotorua Festival of Colour - March
  • 3. Magma Short Film Festival - April
  • 4. Rotorua Wedding Show - June
  • 5. Off-Road Winter Multisport Festival - June
  • 6. Rotorua Rhododendrom Festival - November

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