A relaxed drive from Auckland of approximately three hours gets travellers to the leading international destination of Rotorua. Known world-wide for its unique thermal activity and attractions, Rotorua is situated on the edge of a major lake, Lake Rotorua, and is also able to offer water-based activities, trout fishing, adventure sports and great golf courses.
The first Maori settlers were the people of the Te Arawa iwi, who are still prominent in city affairs and in tourism. The first Europeans arrived around 1828 and a mission was established at Te Kouto in 1835. This was abandoned within a year and a second mission was established in 1838 at Mokoia Island. The shore of Lake Rotorua was a prominent site of skirmishes during the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s.
Co-ordinated efforts to promote Rotorua’s potential as a spa began. The town was eventually connected to Auckland with the opening of the Rotorua branch railway in 1894, resulting in the rapid growth of the town and tourism.
In 1886, Rotorua and its surrounds suffered from a violent geothermal explosion as Mt Tarawera erupted, completely burying the village of Te Wairoa. Over 150 people were killed, the famous Pink and White Terraces were destroyed and the glow in the sky was seen as far away as Auckland. Now peaceful and settled, Lake Tarawera and the mountain are notable attractions. The ruins of Te Wairoa at the Buried Village offer visitors a unique insight into life in the region.
Rotorua offers some fine opportunities to enjoy entertainment and education on Maori culture. The Tamaki Village which is only a few kilometres out of the city is a leading example of Maori culture at its best.
There are numerous opportunities to view the intriguing thermal activity that characterises Rotorua and its surrounds. Bubbling mud pools, geysers, steam vents and hot water pools are on display at various venues, at Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, Hells Gate and Te Puia, where thermal activity and Maori cultural activities are on display.
Rotorua also provides visitors with the opportunity to experience New Zealand rural activities with displays of sheep farming, shearing and local animals at the Agrodome.
Rotorua’s lakes and the rivers provide fantastic trout fishing and numerous guides offer trout fishing safaris and excursions. A magnificent view of trout and their development is available at Rainbow Springs and Fairy Springs both set in beautiful native bush and only a few kilometres drive from the city.
Adventure sports and tours abound in Rotorua with rafting, a great Duck Tour and Volcanic Air Safaris being available year-round. Cruising the lake and visiting historic and mysterious Mokoia Island is another essential activity.
Rotorua is centrally situated in the North Island and is easily accessible with good roads, great scenery on the way and a user friendly transport system. Great accommodation options exist including bed and breakfast, motels and top hotels such as the world-recognised Millennium.
Rotorua is an essential destination for all visitors to New Zealand and its various attractions and activities ensure each visit will be enjoyable and memorable.