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Rotorua, in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, is the heart of New Zealand’s most active thermal area and one of the world's most spectacular geothermal wonderlands

Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs. Geothermal activity seeps from cracks in the streets, steams from hot pools, bursts from geysers, and bubbles from cauldron-like mud pools, with a distinctive "boiled-egg" scent of sulfur.

Multi-colored lichens, moss and salt structures mix with the green nature and crystal blue lakes. Silicate and mineral formations rise from and mold into a landscape sculpted by the region's turbulent volcanic activity for thousands of years, and the resulting natural terraces, valleys and lakes are incredibly beautiful.

Rotorua is also the heartland of New Zealand’s Māori  culture, and is the best place for visitors to experience and discover the unique traditions and history of the Māori  people in the region.

There are many interesting things that visitors can experience in Rotarua, including:

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Geyser, Rotarua,

​It is very easy to spend a day in Rotarua. There are regular buses from Auckland which take approx. 3 hours 30 minutes travel time. It you travel by car, the travel time is approx. 2 hours 45 minutes. There are also daily guided tours.

Whakarewarewa (Te Puia), the "Living Thermal Village", is only 3 kilometers from Rotarua and there are daily guided tours. 

Lake-Tarawera (Hot-Water-Beach)-Photo courtesy of Destination Rororua and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

Geothermal mud pools, Rotorua (worldwide

Geothermal mud pools, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Adam Bruce and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Champagne pool, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Graeme Murray and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Hell's Gate, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Fraser Clements and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Champagne pool, Wai-O-Tapu,

Taupo volcanic zone, thermal water, Rotarua

Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland, Rotorua:

Visitors can enjoy the world famous Champagne Pool, watch Lady Knox Geyser erupt up to 20 meters every day at 10.15am, view huge volcanic craters, sinter terrace formations, hot springs and the bubbling and erupting mud pools.


Visitors can relax in bubbling mud pools and hot springs, or spend time at a thermal health spa.

Hell's Gate thermal pools, just outside the city of Rotorua, contains 50 acres of steaming, bubbling and multi-colored natural attractions. You can slide into a warm sulfur mud bath or soak in the warm natural outdoor pools.


Gently heated by geothermal springs, a few of Rotorua's mud pools are known to be safe for bathing. The therapeutic mud baths provide all-over skin care while soothing tired muscles.

The Buried Village of Te Wairoa, Rotorua:

New Zealand's most visited archeological site, the village was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Mount Tarawera in 1886. The village is open to the public and shows the excavated ruins of the village, and recovered relics on display in The Buried Village Museum.

At The Buried Village Museum, visitors can also discover the fascinating history of the eruption and the legendary Pink and White Terraces. In the 1800's, the Pink and White Terraces on the shores of Lake Rotomahana were considered to be the 8th natural wonder of the world and attracted tourists from all over the world. The terraces were layered natural formations, resembling giant staircases, created over a period of approx. 500 years from the flowing of silica-rich water down the hillside from boiling geysers and the subsequent cooling and crystallizing of the water. People used to bathe in the warm waters on the lower levels of the Pink Terrace. When Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886, Lake Rotomahana also erupted and the terraces as well as other smaller villages were destroyed, and the landscape was dramatically changed. Until recently, photos and paintings were all that was thought to have remained of the terraces. However, since 2011, significant parts of the Pink Terraces and smaller remnants of the White Terraces have been rediscovered submerged under 60 meters of water in Lake Rotomahana. 

Information courtesy of:

Buried village pic, to credit please see
Pink Terraces, 1886, Auckland, by Charle

Pink Terraces, 1886, Auckland, by Charles Blomfield. Acquisition history unknown, 1943. Te Papa (1943-0009-1)

Pink Terraces, 1882, by Charles Blomfiel

Pink Terraces, 1882, by Charles Blomfield.

Gift of Sir Guy Berry, South Africa, 1960. Te Papa (1960-0003-1)

Te-Puia-Rotorua (worldwide use, please c

Te Puia, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Destination Rotorua and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Traditional Māori cooking, Te Puia, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Adam Bryce and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Traditional Māori Performance, Te Puia, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Adam Bryce and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

Whakarewarewa (Te Puia), the "Living Thermal Village":


Whakarewarewa (Te Puia), the "Living Thermal Village", is the most visited of the geothermal areas and is a fascinating place to experience local Māori culture. To this day, it is a living traditional Māori village. 


It was originally the site of the Māori fortress of Te Puia, which was first occupied around 1325, and was known as an impenetrable Māori stronghold. Māori have lived here ever since, using the geothermal activity in the valley for heating and cooking.


Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley has around 500 pools, most of which are alkaline chloride hot springs, and at least 65 geyser vents, seven of which are currently active, set around distinctly colorful sinter terraces. Pohutu Geyser, the largest geyser in New Zealand, erupts up to 15 times a day and shoots hot water to heights of up to 30 m (98 ft).


You can walk around the traditional carved houses in the Pa (Māori village), enjoy corn on the cob cooked fresh in the steaming waters of the hot springs or try a traditional Hangi meal, cooked in a pit of hot stones and layers of flax and earth using steam coming out of the ground, visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, experience a traditional Māori cultural performance, and even stay overnight at the traditional Māori village.

Adrenaline Activities in Rotorua: 

  • White water rafting at Tutea Falls on the Kaituna River, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. Tutual Falls has an exhilirating and frightening seven meter drop

  • ride some of the world’s top mountain biking trails, including down-hill mountain biking

  • high octane jet boating, bungy jumping, sky-diving, luging, helicopter rides over a volcano, scenic horse rides, fishing

  • Zorbing is the latest craze! A Zorb is a large inflated plastic ball, with another ball inside in which you roll down a hill reaching speeds of  up to 30-50 kilometres per hour. Thrill seekers may be offered the option of being wet or dry, or having more than one person in the Zorb ball at a time. This is safe as there is a cushion of air between you and the ground. To this day, Rotorua remains the ONLY location in New Zealand where you can experience this amazingly fun and bizarre activity.

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Tutea Falls, Rotorua

Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

Tongariro National Park:

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area, recognizing both the park's important  Māori  cultural and spiritual associations and its volcanic features.

The park has 3 active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings" films) and Ruapehu with its ski slopes.

Walk along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This 17 kilometer volcanic trail rises to 1600 meters above sea level, leading you over ancient lava flows, up Mountain summits, along scoria slopes and through craters. 

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail passes the Emerald Lakes and boiling mud pools, culminating at the still-active Red Crater. 

Tongariro National Park is located in the central North Island. It is easily accessed by road, and is only a 4-5 hour drive from Auckland, and a 2.5 hour drive from Rotarua. 

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Tongariro National Park, Alpine Crossing, Blue & Emerald lakes,

Waitomo Glowworm Caves:

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Tongariro National Park, Alpine Crossing, Blue & Emerald lakes (Ruapehu)

Photo courtesy of Graeme Murray and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

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Mount Doom (LOR), Ngauruhoe volcano,

Explore the ancient Waitomo Glowworm caves with your local guide and see the wonderous formations sculpted over thousands of years including Stalactites, Stalagmites and lime Columns before descending even further underground for your Glowworm experience. Listen to the stories of discovery and create your own to take home while you enjoy the serenity of the ancient limestone chambers. Easily accessible: Day tours departing from Auckland, the drive is around 2 hours 30 minutes

Waitomo (worldwide use, please credit Sh

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato

Photo courtesy of Corin Walker Brain and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

Hobbiton Movie Set, near Matamata:

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Hobbiton (Matamata, Waikato)

Photo courtesy of Sara Orme and the Tourism NZ Visual Library

Discover the real Middle-earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata on the North Island of New Zealand, where you can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogy in a fascinating guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and can be seen as it appeared in the films.

There are regular day tours departing from Auckland, the drive is around 2 hours.

Adrenalin Forest:

Adrenalin Forest Park is situated approx. halfway between Tauranga and Rotorua (20 minutes drive from Tauranga or Rotorua). Its multi-level aerial obstacle courses are great fun and an adrenalin rush.

There are a variety of courses to discover:

Start at Discovery Path, where obstacles are less than two meters off the ground, or Adventure Path, which is slightly higher off the ground.

If you are looking to really get your heart pumping, there are the Excitement, Thrill and Adrenalin Paths. These are more challenging and up to 17 meters off the ground. At the end of the Adrenalin Path, there is a high speed flying fox ride.


The toughest obstacle course is the Adrenalin Max Path, which includes the Adrenalin Max jump, the steep Nepalese bridge and the hanging loops. Just before the end of this course there is a 20 meter high, 90 meter long, very fast flying fox.

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Aerial Obstacle course

Photo courtesy of

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Aerial Obstacle course

Photo courtesy of

There are many day tour variations leaving from Auckland which often combine sites such as Rotorua, Te Puia, Tongariro National Park, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hobbiton Movie Set, and Adrenalin Forest.


For more information about tours, sites, activities, & getting around, you can visit the Official site for Tourism New Zealand at:

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