On your trip around the North Island, New Zealand there are many places to visit of both geographical and historical interest.
Rotorua is New Zealand’s geothermal capital, here you can visit the stunning Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland (pictured), the geysers at Te Puia and one of the most active thermal parks, Hell’s Gate.
If you stay in Rotorua (and I’d recommend it), you will get used to the constant smell of sulphur, clouds of steam and regular volcanic activity. They are all part of the way of life in Rotorua.
Things To Do In Rotorua
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Top of the list of Things To Do In Rotorua is the experience of the mud baths and sulphur spas. Hell’s Gate is the place to go for this.
The feeling of sinking into a warm, outdoor mud bath is quite bizarre and great fun. I went with a group of four people and we decided to go on a geothermal walk to see all the weird and wonderful Rotoruan landscape to start off our adventure. Then, as our “reward” we went to the mud baths and sulphur spas to relax after a busy day.
We ended our day with silky smooth skin from the mud and then sulphur spa and so relaxed we were almost horizontal! I’d definitely recommend this!
Rotorua is also a great place to learn about Maori culture. There are several places you can visit to soak up the Maori way of life, Te Puia, Mitai Village, Tamaki Village and Whakarewarewa are the main ones.
We visited Te Puia to see the Pohutu geyser and went to the Maori cultural centre at the same time.
The food was delicious and cooked in traditional Maori style.
As an added bonus, there are kiwis (the birds, not the fruit!) to see there too.
We then moved on to Tamaki Village where you can see warrior performances.
(Think the world famous haka that the New Zealand Rugby Team perform at the beginning of every match).
Rotorua is the mountain biking capital of New Zealand and if you enjoy off-road biking, then you will love the options available here. The best place to head to is Whakarewarewa Forest, where all of the biking trails are free to use and they cater for all abilities. My mountain biking skills are what I would call “gentle” – I like to feel safe and relaxed on a bike, but enjoy doing a bit of downhill too.
My friends persuaded me to head for the Skyline Gravity Park. This is a gondola-assisted bike lift and it takes you and your bike up into downhill mountain biking terrain. Once you get there, the downhill trails have loads of options for all abilities AND the best thing is you don’t have to do the uphill hard slog to start with!
Is Rotorua worth visiting?
A resounding yes, from my experience. There are so many more Things To Do In Rotorua than I’ve mentioned above, you can go on a zip wire forest canopy tour, see the views whilst doing a luge, visit a plethora of museums and galleries. The choices are endless and whatever you choose, there will always be that background smell of sulphur! We stayed for three nights and could happily have stayed a week or two, with plenty of sights still to see.
There are plenty of things to do a short trip away from Rotorua too, check out my article on Black Water Rafting at the Waitomo Caves. These glowworm caves are just under two hours from Rotorua.