Rotorua takes its name from the lake on which it’s situated. At 79.8 square kilometres, it is the second-largest lake in New Zealand. Surprisingly, its average depth is only about ten metres, which makes it considerably smaller in terms of water volume than nearby Lake Tarewera.
Rotorua could almost be considered the Lake District of the North Island, with its 16 separate lakes. Swimming, boating and picnicking are all popular pastimes, as is fishing. There are three types of trout in the lakes – Brown, Brook and Rainbow – and they’re all delicious.
Walking through and around some of the geothermal sites in Rotorua is like stepping through a curtain of time, back to when creatures were only just pulling themselves from the primordial soup.
Whakarewarewa, Waimangu, Waiotapu, Orakei Korako and Tikitere – or the demonically and ominously named Hell’s Gate – are the five main areas of geothermal activity that can be visited.
Whakarewarewa is a living village where you can still see local Maori people making traditional carvings and weaving. It is also the site of the largest geyser in the country and about 500 hot springs.
Hell’s Gate is one of the most popular and the fiercest of Rotorua’s geothermal attractions. Among other things it has the largest hot water waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a geothermal celebrity!
For a great excursion, head to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Relax in the warm waters among the ferns and native trees.
Wai-O-Tapu is New Zealand’s most colourful geothermal attraction, and showcases the country’s stark natural beauty.
There are unique sites around every corner in this part of the country. And you’ll soon get used to the smell.
The Rotorua area will leave your eyes, ears and nose reeling.
There are several companies that will take you on unbelievable whitewater rafting, kayaking or sledging trips.
Get the adrenaline levels jacked up on the Kaituna, Wairoa, Rangitaiki and Tongariro Rivers.
There are rafting and kayaking experiences for all levels. If you’re feeling particularly daring, why not head down the seven-metre Kaituna Waterfall?
Come rain or shine, each of the 16 lakes has its charms.
There are plenty of ways to get around the lakes, whether you want to go for a solo kayak or take a pleasure cruise on the Lakeland Queen.
Tongariro National Park is another nearby natural feature that deserves some serious exploring.
It is the oldest national park in the country. It is also, amazingly, the fourth oldest national park in the world.
There are plenty of walks and hikes in Tongariro National Park, for all levels of fitness.
Get lost in the native treetops.
On a good day, why not hire out a jetski, find yourself a deserted lake and let rip?
Rotorua is definitely worth a visit. The lakes in particular, during the summer, are a fantastic way to whittle away a week or so. If you’re a nature-lover then swing by and throw your watch away.