Find out more about Rotorua before you visit.

You'll see why we are New Zealand's premiere tourist destination.

CLIMATE

Rotorua enjoys a pleasant climate; plenty of sunshine in summer with crisp, clear days in winter. Rotorua averages more than 2000 sunshine hours and just over 140cm of rain annually.

TEMPERATURES:
  • Summer (Dec – Feb): Daytime 22 – 26ºC
  • Autumn (Mar – May): Daytime 15 – 26ºC
  • Winter (Jun – Aug): Daytime 10 – 16ºC
  • Spring (Sep – Nov): Daytime 13 – 21ºC   

 

NEW ZEALAND'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY

New Zealand is seen as clean, green and 100% pure, and staying true to that Rotorua has been voted New Zealand’s most beautiful city six times in the 11-year history of the Keep New Zealand Beautiful competition. Along with stunning floral displays, perfectly manicured gardens and litter free streets, sustainability also has a crucial role to play in Rotorua being perceived as a ‘beautiful’ destination. We are still the current holder of this award.

One of the things that strikes most newcomers (other than the distinctive sulphur smell that is noticeable for the first day or two) is the high quality of both private and public gardens and the standard of maintenance of most homes and other buildings. It’s a mark of the pride that we, the people of Rotorua take in our city and our community

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

However small, what each individual does during a visit to the Rotorua region makes a difference. It is vital that visitors play their part by acting responsibly to preserve and protect the region’s natural environment so that everyone may continue to enjoy the magnificent natural resources and scenic beauty on offer.

Key steps are recycling / disposing of rubbish thoughtfully and not damaging fragile geothermal eco-systems. By choosing to support tourism activities, attractions and businesses that opt to make a difference, visitors make a difference too.

Rotorua was the first region in New Zealand to form a Sustainable Tourism Charter group in 2001. Many of the Rotorua tourism businesses are already members, and recently the Charter has been extended to include all businesses, many of which have signed up, as they can all influence the city’s sustainability as a destination. For more information visit www.sustainablenz.com*INCLUDE Rotorua Sustainable Business Charter shield*

 

SIZE OF DISTRICT & ENVIRONMENT

The total size of the Rotorua district is 261,906 hectares. This consists of 41% forest, 43% agriculture and 8% lakes. Rotorua’s central business district (CBD) is located on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua.

The city is nestled in a huge, ancient caldera 20km across at its widest point and 16km at the narrowest, with Lake Rotorua nearly 300 metres above sea level.

The region includes:

  • 18 lakes
  • 800 hectares of parks, gardens and reserves free for public use
  • 3 Major rivers
  • 7 geothermal fields with hot pools and spectacular steam eruptions,
  • > 100,000 hectares of native and exotic forests - with the largest commercial plantation forest in the Southern Hemisphere
  • > 100,000 hectares of farmland
  • 120 wetlands
  • Stunning volcanic landscapes with Mt Tarawera, Rainbow Mountain, Mt Ngongotaha and Mokoia Island as local icons
  • Hundreds of kilometres of walking, cycling and mountain biking tracks.

The forests, coupled with extensive trees and gardens in the city, suburbs and parks, support a rich and varied bird life, both native and introduced. Some of New Zealand’s rarer birds, such as the formerly endangered kokako and the spectacular native falcon, karearea, thrive in the district.

 

History

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 and 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 also relate some of the city's history and offer directions to visitors exploring the city on foot.

Learn more.

 

Population

Rotorua is a multi-cultural district of 78,900. This includes 68,900 residents and 10,000 daily visitors. The resident population is projected to grow to 74,000 people by 2016. The major ethnic groups are European (72%), Maori (36%), Pacific Islands (4%) and Asian (3%). An international tourism icon, Rotorua is renowned as the heartland of Maori culture.

In summer, the collective resident and visitor population peaks at 100,000. Rotorua has a modern infrastructure and services capable of supporting an additional 20% population capacity. This includes 14,000 beds catering to every style, budget and preference.

Rotorua has 3.3 million visitors per annum.

 

ECONOMICS

Rotorua has a diverse economic base ranked 9th out of 66 territorial authorities in New Zealand with four priority drivers of economic growth: Forestry and wood processing, tourism, geothermal (including energy) and agriculture.

Rotorua is New Zealand’s pioneer in tourism and forestry, boasting world class services and globally renowned profiles. Forestry and wood processing contribute 14.7% of the local economy and is the district’s second largest employer. The Central North Island area contains 30% of New Zealand’s plantation and produces 45% of the annual total New Zealand wood harvest. Rotorua is home to a number of leading companies including Red Stag TimberLockwoodPF OlsenTimberlands and Verda.

Tourism contributes 10.5% of GDP, and is the district’s largest employer. Rotorua is globally recognised for its geothermal, Maori culture and adventure outdoor experiences. More than one third of all international visitors to New Zealand visit the Rotorua District.

  • Rotorua is New Zealand’s centre of excellence for mountain biking
  • Rotorua is New Zealand’s centre of excellence for Maori arts, craft and culture
  • Rotorua is New Zealand’s centre of excellence for forestry and wood processing
  • Rotorua boasts a Crown Research Institute. Scion has a proud heritage of providing leading science and innovation to the forest industry.

 

FAQS

Answers to our most frequently asked questions.

WHAT ARE THE FREE ACTIVITIES IN ROTORUA?

Redwood Forest, Kuirau Park, Government gardens, lakes, Mountain Bike trails, forest walks, markets

 

WHERE CAN WE FREEDOM CAMP?

There is no freedom camping within the city and at lakeside locations. However, there are a number of full-service Holiday Parks.

 

WHAT WALKS CAN WE DO IN THE ROTORUA AREA?

Visit the i-SITE for info on all the free walks in the region

 

WHERE CAN WE SEE A GEYSER?

Te Puia, Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu

 

WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUNG CHILDREN?

Rotorua Museum, Paradise Valley Springs, Rainbow Springs, Agrodome, Skyline, Duck Tours & Polynesian Spa.

 

DO ANY RESTAURANTS SELL HANGI?

No, however we have hangi and concert experiences during the evening.

 

WHERE CAN WE SWIM IN THE HOT SPRINGS?

Polynesian Spa, QE Spa, Waikite Valley Pools, Hells Gate, Manupiria Hot Springs, and the Blue Baths are all managed sites and an entry fee is required. Kerosene Creek, Butchers Pool, Hot Water Beace and Hot & Cold are free and not managed.

 

WHAT CAN YOU RECOMMEND ME TO DO IN ROTORUA?

Rotorua is Famous for Maori Culture, Geothermal Wonders, Mountain Biking, the large number of lakes and rivers and also its fun activities.

 

WHERE CAN WE SEE A KIWI?

Kiwi people you are able to see almost anywhere. The Kiwi Bird can be seen at Te Puia and Rainbow Springs.

 

WHERE CAN I SEE THE HAKA?

Te Puia, Whakarewarewa, are day time experiences and Mitai, Tamaki, Pohutu, Matariki, Sudima, Millennium are night time experiences.

 

HOW CAN WE WALK ON MT TARAWERA?

You can’t. Tour by helicopter only at this stage

 

WHERE CAN I BUY AN AUTHENTIC MAORI CARVING?

Te Puia, Rotorua Museum, Whakarewarewa, souvenir shops and Ohinemutu Village.

 

CAN YOU RECOMMEND SOMEWHERE FOR ME TO STAY?

We have a selection of Motels, Hotels. Visit the i-SITE for some tips on where to stay.

 

WHERE CAN I VISIT A LAKE?

Lake Rotorua is a 5 minute walk from the centre of town and the other 17 lakes are about 20 minutes driving from the city.

 

WHY DOES ROTORUA SMELL?

Due to the thermal activity underground.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO IN THE RAIN?

Rotorua Museum, Agrodome, Drift kartz, Kiwi Encounter and other activities if you don’t mind getting wet. The i-SITE Rotorua has a free list for visitors.

 

WHERE CAN WE DRIVE TO GET A VIEW OF ROTORUA?

Either drive up Mt Ngongotaha along Mountain Rd or you can get a nice view from the Gondola at Skyline.

 

HOW SAFE IS ROTORUA?

New Zealand is one of the safest countries to visit in the world. Crime is low in Rotorua and problems can generally be avoided by using common sense.

 

HOW DO I KNOW THE SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES WILL BE OF A HIGH STANDARD?

Wherever you see a Qualmark® you can rest assured you’re in for superior service. Accommodation is graded between one and five stars within its category.

Activities and Transport are endorsed based on meeting safety standards within their category.

 

WHICH SIDE OF THE ROAD DO NEW ZEALANDERS DRIVE ON?

The left. So if you’re American, European or Asian, a bit of adjustment is required whereas the English and Australians will feel right at home.

 

IS IT SAFE TO SWIM IN THE LAKES AND RIVERS?

With 18 lakes and three major rivers Rotorua is a haven for water babies.

However, there are some areas that can be a little dangerous (rivers with rapids) and lakes that are tapu (sacred) to Maori so if you’re ever unsure, see what the locals do and follow their lead. When taking a dip in natural hot pools, it’s advised you keep your head above the water.

 

 

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