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A local's travel guide to Rotorua

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Last updated 08 May 2013


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Introduce me to Rotorua, NZ

Rotorua's famous boiling mud

Rotorua's famous boiling mud

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    Rotorua or more commonly referred to as Roto-vegas is the North Island’s main tourist town. You’ll come here to see boiling mud pools, geysers, coloured lakes and soak in the hot pools. It’s also great for swimming, walks and mountain biking and extremely popular with families. As the name “Roto-Vegas” suggests it can be a little tacky with tourist buses everywhere but the actual underlying draws, all the volcanic and thermal activity make it worthwhile; and because of the regular influx of tourists there are loads of accommodation and masses of additional attractions beyond the thermal ones.

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    What does being on a or volcanic plain or thermal activity really mean? Ironically it means that it’s kind of smelly. All this heat and gases under the ground (namely sulphur) needs to find ways to escape, so Rotorua’s other name is Sulphur City, which is a polite way of saying it smells like rotten eggs. The only advantage is that you get used to it and will hardly notice after your first day. It also means that driving through the streets you’ll often see steam rising from the drains and one of the local parks has boiling mud as a feature (fenced off). Although they have to keep adding & moving the fences; and occasionally some poor resident in this suburb gets a new ‘feature’ to their backyard.

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    With loads to do, both free natural activities and tonnes of paid attractions, many with a family focus, Rotorua is the type of place most New Zealanders have been at least once, usually as kids and is a stop on nearly every tourist bus. Whilst this might put you off visiting or visiting again, there really is so much going on here that’s it no surprise that it’s popular and should be.

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    As the North Island version of Queenstown, Rotorua has developed an adrenaline edge to it. This is the sort of place you can roll down a hill in a bubble or see the native bush via high wires (aka flying fox) but it also means that many of attractions can be expensive, which is why we have a great list of the free things to do in Rotorua.

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    The name Rotorua actually means 2 lakes, but there really loads of lakes, some of which are swimming and boating lakes, others trout fishing, others tapu (off -limits). What makes the main lake, Lake Rotorua, quite unique is that it’s really shallow. The other key aspect of Rotorua is Maori Culture, there is a strong Maori community, and Maori style to the city, which you’ll notice just hanging out here. However there are also numerous culture shows, places to see Haka’s, visit a Marae (meeting house) and partake in a hangi (traditional) dinner. Which if you’re a local you’ll probably ignore, but makes this a great place to bring visiting friends and relatives to show off NZ.

Rotorua Accommodation

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Highlights of Rotorua

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    Boiling Mud

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    Geyser’s (steam volcano’s)

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    Adrenaline activities

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    Loads of free things to do like the Redwood forrest and Kurai Park

Downsides to Rotorua?

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    The smell. If your not used to it, it can be a little arresting to be confronted with rotting eggs smell.

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    It’s a tourist town, so attractions are expensive.

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    Being a tourist town, it attracts a little more crime than you might experience elsewhere in NZ. Don’t leave valuables in your car, especially in more remote locations.

Where to stay in Rotorua

There is tonnes of accommodation all over town.


How long to go for

Loads of tourist manage to see heaps of Rotorua in a day or a weekend. However being a tourist mecca their is stacks here. You would equally be happy staying 7 days or more.

Shopping in Rotorua

The Rotorua town centre is not looking as fab as it was a few years ago with the local shoppers being drawn to the mega shops area just beyond Amahou St with a Warehouse, Countdown and Farmers. Head here for if you need something.


Getting around in Rotorua

There are buses, but most people drive. Nearly all the major attractions are driving distance from the city, some 15-20mins away.


Key tourist streets

Fenton St
The main drag of Rotoua

Amahou St
The area north of this street to the lake is the main township of Rotorua

Memorial Drive
The little street the runs along the lakefront and village green.

Last updated 08 May 2013

Travel guide brought to by [Name] from [Business]

Rotorua in Pictures Images by panoramio

Official Tourism Tourist information, buses, trains, etc

Rotorua Information

Rotorua accommodation reviews - where to stay in Rotorua

Around Rotorua

Rotorua Weather

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