Rotorua Attractions and Culture in 1 Day

Surrounded by lakes, forests, geysers and hot springs, Rotorua attractions are a must see. There are a range of activities on offer in this tourist destination, from adventure (white water rafting, tubing, Zorb, Luge) to cultural to geothermal and at a range of costs. One day in this city will enable you to experience a bit of all the Rotorua attractions!

Rotorua Attractions: Redwoods

While you are fresh and energetic, head to Whakarewarewa Forest on the edge of the city. This beautiful forest covers approximately 5600 hectares and offers a range of well signposted walking and mountain biking tracks, varying in length and difficulty. Although it is best known for its huge Californian Coast Redwoods, there is a range of native trees.

Shroud Toilets in Whakarewarewa Forest
Shroud Toilets in Whakarewarewa Forest

As a tourist destination there is of course a small tourist office on site where you can find maps and souvenirs plus a coffee cart and one of the new added Rotorua attractions – Shroud Art toilets! These modern facilities are built from steel and designed to replicate tree trunks. Scattered randomly and joined by a boardwalk, the designs fuse traditional Maori patterns with bird imagery and are quite unique., plants and wildlife to see, including New Zealand’s’ iconic Silver Fern.

Silver Fern
Silver Fern

Lake Rotorua – boats, planes and helicopters

Only 10 minutes from the Whakarewarewa forest is the city centre with its array of tourist shops and cafes.

At the lakes edge is the Polynesian Spa which offers all the usual spa treatments plus tranquil bathing and lake views in warm mineral water rock pools as well as geothermal heated recliners – a perfect way to relax after a long walk or bike ride. At the end of the main street is the magnificent Lake Rotorua and a view of the historic Mokoia Island.

Being the second largest lake in the North Island, with Lake Taupo being the biggest, Lake Rotorua is now home to many Rotorua attractions. For those wanting to be on the water, there are jet boat rides, para-gliding, kayaks, peddle boats and the Lakeland Queen, a specially built paddleboat offering lunch and dinner cruises. For those wanting a birds’ eye view there are seaplanes and helicopters to show you the sights from above. The flight over the volcanic craters and geothermal activity is not to be missed.

The waterfront café provides a peaceful spot to relax and take in the view while watching the black swans glide casually across the lake in front of you.

Black Swan on Lake Rotorua
Black Swan on Lake Rotorua

Natural Wonders

Being a geothermal wonderland there is an abundance of opportunities to see cauldron like mud pools, geysers and hot pools. Throughout the region the steam pours out of the ground in back yard hot pools, filling the air with a sulphurous odour. A great way to combine the natural wonder with some Maori history and culture is to visit Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village at Te Puia, one of the most popular of Rotorua attractions.

Whakarewarewa Living Village
Whakarewarewa Living Village

Located about 3 kms from the city, the village offers hourly guided tours amongst the traditionally carved houses which have been home to Maori on this site for over 700 years. Your guide gives an insight into the culture, history and traditions of the Maori people.

Pohutu geyser at Te Puia
Pohutu geyser at Te Puia

Twice daily cultural performances feature Maori songs, movement and dance as well as a chance for all the men in the audience to come on stage and learn a ‘Haka’.

Rotorua Attractions and Culture
Maori Dancing

Throughout the village there is ample opportunity to see geothermal activity up close with hot mud, pools and geysers. If you choose to, you can enjoy a traditional ‘Hangi’ meal of meat and vegetables cooked in a pit of hot stones (check website for booking and times ).

Hot mud in Rotorua
Hot mud in Rotorua

Want to see more Rotorua attractions? There are plenty of these around Rotorua including Hell’s Gate, Waiotapu and Waimangu.  If you are heading south towards Taupo, stop at The Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako which is only accessible by boat and has been hailed “possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand”.

About veronicab1

Coming from English and Italian heritage, I grew up on the south coast of England before moving permanently to New Zealand 6 years ago.

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  1. Drive New Zealand’s Thermal Explorer Highway | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] with some of the Maori rituals as well as the area’s arts and crafts traditions. You can experience a lot in just one day. Make sure you try a traditional hangi for […]

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