A city since 1962, and home to a diverse range of nationalities, Rotorua’s human history began in the 14th century when Kahumatamomoe, the son of the captain of the Te Arawa waka (canoe), and his nephew Ihenga discovered Rotoiti then Rotorua.
Ihenga named the lakes Te Rotoiti-kite-a-Ihenga (the small lake seen by Ihenga), and Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe (the second great lake belonging to Kahumatamomoe).
Over time, the lakes were settled by the descendants of Kahumatamomoe, Ihenga and others from Te Arawa waka said to have made landfall at Maketu in 1350AD. Drinking water, fertile soil, rich food sources (koura and eels), as well as geothermal waters for bathing and cooking, attracted settlement principally at Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa.
Rotorua's European influence dates back to 1830, when a Danish flax trader began doing business in the area, followed by a church missionary five years later. The city's tourism industry took off in 1870 following a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh.
The city's heritage is visible all around the city, especially in the beautiful Government Gardens Waahi Tapu area - which has a fascinating Maori past as a battle and burial ground.
It is now home to the Rotorua Museum (previously the Bath House opened in 1908), the Gardiner's Cottage (1899), the Band Rotunda (1900), Prince's Gate Archway (1901), Te Runanga tearooms (1903), the Croquet Pavilion (1907) and the stunning Blue Baths (1933). City signboards relate some of the city's history and offer directions to visitors exploring the city on foot.
Learn more about Rotorua's fascinating history.