A travel guide to Rotorua, New Zealand providing Rotorua tourism and travel information with hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping, things to do and tours.
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Rotorua travel guide


The resort city of Rotorua is alive with thermal activity. All sorts of natural attractions abound throughout the region, but the best-known features are spectacular geysers, steaming cliffs, hot springs spurting from the ground, bubbling pools of boiling mud, and soothing hot mineral pools. Steam seems to waft out of every drain, crack in the pavement, and hole in the ground, and the ever-present but soon-unnoticed smell of rotten egg gas (hydrogen sulphide) permeates the atmosphere for many miles in all directions. Rotorua is an ideal base for exploring both the immediate thermal wonders and the surrounding area with its contrasting natural features: magnificent bush-fringed lakes, icy cold springs, crystal-clear trout streams, and ancient forests.

The Rotorua region is also a center of Maori culture, with a great deal to offer in the areas of New Zealand native art, architecture, song and dance and lively evening entertainment. Tourism is Rotorua’s principal industry, which makes this an expensive place to visit if you plan on seeing all the major sights. However, some of the natural attractions are still free, and despite the crowds, the unpredictable and volatile atmosphere that seems to seep up from beneath your feet sets Rotorua apart – this is one of the unique areas of New Zealand that should not be missed!

Rotorua is situated about midway along a volcanic faultline that runs from White Island in the Bay of Plenty to Mount ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. The most active thermal areas have been developed in the name of tourism, and these areas are safe as long as you stay on the well-defined footpaths (hold on to the kids at all times). Some of Rotorua’s natural thermal energy has been tapped through artesian-type bores and other methods for central and hot water heating by local hotels, motels, and some homes. The Maori continue to use it for cooking and heating as they have done for centuries, and you can see some of their methods at Whakarewarewa.

The best-known and closest thermal resort to the city, only three km south, even the locals who can pronounce the word just call it "Whaka."  Unfortunately, admission costs continue to increase each year, but its such an intriguing place that it earns a position on the "must-see-at-least-once list." The literal translation of Whakarewarewa is "to rise up, soar, or float." Originally the meanings referred to the uprising of a war party from Wahiao, but today its still appropriate in reference to the thermal activity of the area.

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