Adam A Flower Shop Owner Wants To Drive Phone A Travel Guide to Rotorua, New Zealand

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A Travel Guide to Rotorua, New Zealand

Travel to Rotorua

This article is a basic tour guide for traveling to Rotorua highlights and assessing the main sites in the district.


If you have only one day in New Zealand’s North Island, and you ask me where to go that day, I will say Rotorua without hesitation.

This article is my personal guide to Rotorua which I have visited more times than I care to remember and will visit again if given the chance. This article is non-commercial and for general information.


Rotorua is approximately 2.5 – 3 hours south of Auckland. Head south via Hamilton and Cambridge or for a faster route via Mata Mata. Turn left shortly after Cambridge and take the number 5 which will take you right to Rotorua. On your way up from Wellington head towards Lake Taupo and take the number 5 to Rotorua. Train and bus routes also serve Rotorua.


Rotorua is a gem of the North Island, with geothermal wonders, a center of Maori culture, parks, lakes, natural history and numerous modern day attractions. Most visitors comment on the smell upon arrival. It’s hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas) and while different at first, you’ll get used to it no matter how long you stay and hardly notice it.

Geothermal Parks

The main geothermal parks in and around Rotorua include Whakarewarewa Thermal Area, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Waitapu Thermal Wonderland, Orakei Korako Geyserland and Hell’s Gate. All these required payment.


A visit to this site used to be standard fare on any visit to Rotorua. Unfortunately the park is now split into two parts and I personally don’t believe either site is good enough to stand alone. So what you get for the price of one entry is now the price of two (be warned). At the Hemo Road entrance is the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute with its main carvers. Also included is a weaving house, a Kiwi house and a Maori meeting house. Pohutu (Big Splash) and Prince of Wales Geyser are also on this side. (Prince of Wales Geyser is so named because the 3 directions the geyser ejects resemble the wings on the crest of the Prince of Wales). At the Tyrone road entrance you will find another meeting house where cultural events are held, a village, shops and some hot pools etc. Also outside of school hours you will find local Maori children willing to jump off the bridge into the stream. Chase down your loose change by throwing in the same.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley:

Numerous hot pools, lakes and a nice walk along the valley floor with the Warbrick Thermal Terraces at the end of the track – multicolored silica terraces, probably the most colorful terraces in Rotorua. If you have already visited some of the thermal parks and want more or prefer a more extensive tour, you can link to a boat tour. (See the gallery for some photos courtesy of Waimangu’s website). Before the 1886 eruption, pink and white terraces existed in this area.

Waitapu Thermal Wonderland:

My personal favorite, about 20 min. South of Rotorua towards Taupo. Be prepared to walk a bit. Numerous rainbow pools, huge champagne pools, artist palettes, sulfur vents, boiling mud and a huge silica terrace. If you arrive early in the morning, before 10, a short drive will take you to Lady Knox Geyser which closes with a soap feed once a day, which is included in your admission (adults are $25). Also on this road is a natural mud pool which is the best display of boiling mud I’ve ever seen and it’s free.

Orakei Korako Geyserland:

Closer to Lake Talpo than Rotorua on a side road connecting Route 5 to Main Route 1. To start exploring the park you need to catch a ferry across the lake. As with most parks a good track requires you to walk to see mud ponds, a large cave, emerald terraces and the largest silica feature in the country. Well worth a visit if you are passing that way.

Gates of Hell:

A thermal park with lots of hot stuff like Adam’s frying pan, a mud volcano, a hot waterfall and one of the few places I’ve found where I can buy multi-colored sand in glass containers (so cute). It was once visited by Mark Twain who said he would have gladly paid not to go there. I have to disagree; I think it’s worth a visit.

Maori culture

Rotorua has many Maori based attractions. This includes the Tamaki Maori village (I haven’t visited yet). NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (already talked about), The Buried Village and numerous hungi and cultural performances.

The Buried Village sounds like a half-buried village. Many local Maori were buried in the mud during the 1886 eruption. Parts of the village have been excavated and rebuilt to give tourists an idea of ​​a Maori village.

I haven’t been to Tamaki Maori Village so can’t give a review.

If you really want to experience the food and hospitality of Maori culture, book one of the many banquets and concerts hosted by local hotels. Food, music and friendship are always top rate.

Other attractions

Rainbow Springs Park:

A nice park with trout fish in the middle, beautiful clear running water and bush above. Beautiful walking tracks and you can eat fish. Also a farm show is attached.

Skyline Skyrides:

The main reason to take this ride on the gondola is not just to get to the top for the view, but to ride the luge. Great fun, until you fall. They have a small chairlift so you can ride the luge as long as your budget allows.


Everything you ever wanted to know about sheep. The show is interesting and entertaining as it wonders about sheep and farming in NZ.

Rotorua Museum of Art:

The first building in NZ built solely with tourists in mind. Originally built as a bath house and hot water treatment center it has now been converted. Good museum but the highlight is the film on local history, make sure to sit and hold on – a total multimedia experience. should be determined. The building itself is one of the finest examples of Edwardian design and is a work of art in itself. The surrounding gardens are always well maintained.

Nature’s miracle

Many things are absolutely free for nature lovers.

Huka Falls:

Just north of Lake Taupo on the M1 is Huka Falls and the world famous Huka Falls Lodge (for the nouveau-riche of the world). Huka Falls itself is free for all. At the start of the mighty Waikato River (NZ’s longest river) it is not the height of the falls but the volume of water forced through it that is so impressive, very few people have gone over the falls and survived. For those who want a different perspective, boat trips are now run to the base of the falls.

Whakarewarewa Forest Park:

On Blue and Green Lake Road. There are beautiful stands of redwood trees, walking and horseback riding tracks. Redwood trees are relatively young for trees, but they are already very large in size.

Government Parks:

Outside the Rotorua Museum are laid out flower beds, rose gardens, bowling greens and more.

Kuirau Park:

Opposite the main hospital on Kuirau Road is Kuirau Park with several boiling pools and geothermal activity. There is a children’s park with a few foot bridges and a small railway to ease your sore feet. On my last visit there was a large crater in the ground, and several trees blown down or covered with mud by a local explosion. It’s a reminder that the entire area is geothermally active and has the potential to be dangerous.

Blue and Green Lakes:

Past Whakarewarewa Forest Park is the Blue Lake, great for swimming or boating, clear water with a pumice bottom, next to which is a weed problem. Continue along the road to see Mount Tarawera. Green Lake is off limits and tapu (Maori for cursed, sacred, special) and should not be entered.

Mount Tarawera:

For true adventure lovers. Take the back road and climb Mount Tarawera. Enter the pit and run to the bottom at full speed. The eruption of June 10, 1886 created a large crater that destroyed the Pink and White Terraces and buried several villages.


The lakes are too numerous to mention. Great for trout fishing, boating or picnicking. Some lakes have black volcanic glass and/or pumice stone lying on their shores.

Hamurana Springs:

If you want to see a beautiful spring fed stream, this is the one to see, clear blue water flowing over a white pumice bed. There’s also a nice stand of redwoods and I’d be surprised if you didn’t see trout in the stream (no fishing allowed, sorry).

This list is by no means exhaustive and like any tourist destination new places are opening up all the time. I hope this provides you with a basic to-do list when visiting. Go to the website in the resource box below to view the pictures.

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