The smell of sulphur in the air is the first sign that you’ve arrived in Rotorua.
The second is the wisps of steam that you notice escaping out of vents, grates and holes in the ground virtually everywhere. Don’t worry – you soon get used to the smell!!!
Rotorua is the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled there over 600 years ago and their presence today offers visitors many different cultural experiences. One third of Rotorua’s population is Maori, making it the cultural heartland of New Zealand and indigenous art, music, food and legends are an integral part of the city. Te Puia is New Zealand’s living Maori cultural centre, located just minutes from central Rotorua. It has fantastic cultural information and a show to watch some of the traditional dances and music that has gone through from generation to generation. The kids will enjoy watching that!
The lakes and hills around Rotorua also provide first class conditions for white water rafting. The Grade 5 Kaituna river has 4 rapids and the world’s highest commercially raftable waterfall at 7m high. Rafting on the lower Rangitaiki River is available to families with kids as young as five.
Rotorua’s walking and cycle trails are so good they regularly make headlines around the world and – even better – entry is free. Just five minutes from the city centre, the stunning 5600ha Whakarewarewa Forest (“The Redwoods”) has around 130km of continually evolving cycling trails. Whether enthusiastic amateur, family keen to get your kids exploring the forest on their bikes for the first time, or expert looking for the next big thrill. The trails cater for all levels of ability and fitness ranging from the kids loop through to grade 6 (expert), and are all well marked.
In the heart of 350 acres of lush farmland, yet only 10 minutes from Rotorua, you’ll find New Zealand’s Agrodome. For over 40 years, visitors from all over the globe have witnessed the world famous Farm Show – starring a cast of talented animals. You can also take a Farm Tour to explore a real working farm, hand-feed loads of friendly animals, and sample delicious kiwifruit juice and honey. There’s also the Nursery, with baby animals available for cuddles and photos all year round (kids will love that), and our Woollen Mill and Shearing Museum.
With its stunning lakes and forests, Maori heritage, geothermal wonders and taste for adventure, Rotorua’s diversity makes it the perfect playground for families. It is a place of fascinating Maori culture, hot springs and boiling mud pools. No visit to New Zealand would be complete without stopping here and seeing all of the things to do and experience.
The city is also a great place to base yourself from for trips to the wonders and highlights of the middle of the North Island. Mt Maunganui, Whakatane, Taupo and Hamilton are all only an hours drive away.