Flights to Rotorua: Geysers, mud and Maori culture
Rotorua is a city of extremes. Go bungy-jumping or jet-boating in the morning. Explore the steaming, bubbling landscape of geysers and mud pools in the afternoon. You'll soon get used to the rotten egg smell of sulphur. In the evening, be entertained by a Maori concert, with traditional song and lively dance. Wind down afterwards with a soothing thermal bath.
Back to nature
Flights to Rotorua descend into a sulphurous cauldron of boiling mud pools and hissing steam vents. In the geothermal valley with the tongue-twisting name – Whakarewarewa – watch for eruptions by Pohutu, a mighty geyser that frequently explodes more than 30m into the air. Cruise across Lake Rotorua to volcanic Mokoia Island, setting for the legendary Maori tale of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, a love story involving arranged marriages, flutes, and lifebelts made of gourds.
Hurl yourself into some of the world’s most extreme sports, most of them Kiwi inventions. We don’t just mean bungy jumping – although there's that too. Tried zorbing? Squeeze yourself into a giant plastic ball (with or without water inside) and rock and roll your way down the hillside. Or discover exactly what Swoop, Shweeb and Freefall Xtreme involve. Jet-boating will seem like a walk in the park after all that
Watch wood-carving craftsmen at Te Puia, and take their chiselled creations home as souvenirs of your Rotorua holiday. Learn how Maori cook their dinner in steaming thermal vents and pools. Finding succulent hangi food – pork, lamb and vegetables cooked on hot rocks in smoky pit earth-ovens – is as easy as asking. Head to Tamaki Maori Village for a crash course in Maori culture. Fearsome war-like haka challenges, poi dancing and a darn fine feed are all part of the mix.
Where? The steaming city of Rotorua rests on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua, in the centre of the North Island.
Population: Rotorua is the ancestral home of Te Arawa, one of New Zealand’s largest tribal groups. The city's population of 70,000 is about 36 per cent Maori.
Key dates: In 1886, Rotorua's Mt Tarawera erupted, killing 120 people and destroying the famous Pink and White Terraces, once considered the 'eighth wonder of the world'.
Did you know? Rotorua’s original Maori settlement was Ohinemutu. Here, St Faith’s Anglican Church features Maori artwork and a stained-glass window depicting Christ in a Maori cloak, 'walking' on the lake.
Gaze across the lake or over bubbling pools and geysers from your hotel window. Prance like a woodland pixie in 800-year-old forest at luxurious Treetops. Or enjoy warm Kiwi hospitality in a hip downtown B&B.
Our selection of Rotorua restaurants is as charmingly chaotic as Fat Dog Café itself. Dine fine at Bistro 1284 or bag a gourmet lakeside picnic at Capers. Crayons keep kids quiet long enough for you to enjoy your meal at Lime Caffeteria.
Shopping in Rotorua
Maori design – traditional and contemporary – dominates our shopping selection. Curvy carvings come in bone, wood and greenstone. Gifts inspired by nature (think indulgent skin care, jewellery and handmade stationery) make tangible memories to take home.
Te Po offers the ubiquitous Maori concert/dinner, though under-25s might prefer jelly-wrestling at the Lava Bar. At Rotorua Night Market, chill to local music and chat with the artists selling their wares. Or sink a sporting pint at the Pig & Whistle pub.
Ride sky high in a gondola, spin yourself silly in a jet boat, or come face-to-face with a real kiwi (the feathered kind) at Rainbow Springs. Face up to a Maori challenge (and cultural showcase) at Tamaki Maori Village.