Culture & Community

Rotorua is a place for everyone

Rotorua is a multicultural city with around 150 ethnicities represented in our community, workplaces and schools. The latest figures say that approximately 3.3% of the world’s population lives outside the country they were born, and that figure rings true of the wider Bay of Plenty population, which includes Rotorua.
Immigrants who choose to live in Rotorua consistently and reliably contribute to our economy, they are incredibly committed to participating in community events, and embrace New Zealand culture while sharing their own with Kiwis. This enriches our city and our individual lives.


In 2017 Rotorua was officially declared the first city in New Zealand to become bilingual, meaning that both te reo Māori and English are fully supported. You’ll see this reflected in the city’s commitment to bilingual road signs and the range of community learning resources.



Rotorua’s story began in the mid-1300s, when the Arawa canoe arrived at Maketu on the Bay of Plenty coastline. A young Te Arawa man, Ihenga, is said to have discovered Rotorua. He was out hunting for delicacies for his pregnant wife, when one of his dogs disappeared chasing a kiwi. The dog returned some time later with his coat wet and regurgitated a meal of half-digested fish. Ihenga realised he was near water, so he searched until he discovered Lake Rotoiti (the small lake) and later, Lake Rotorua (the second lake).


A culture of manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness)

Local Māori have hosted visitors as far back as the 1800s, when people from all over the world came to see the Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana. Known as the eighth wonder of the world because of the elaborate beauty of these natural sinter formations, the Pink and White Terraces were destroyed in 1886 when Mount Tarawera erupted.
The loss of 150 lives and devastation of the surrounding area meant the people of the nearby villages moved away to rebuild their lives. The people of Whakarewarewa invited them to settle in the geothermal valley where they continued to host and guide visitors. Both their descendants and the people of Rotorua continue this proud tradition today.


Sport and recreation

Rotorua is one of the best places to enjoy the healthy, outdoor lifestyle that New Zealand is so well known for. The lakes, rivers, forests, farmlands and geothermal resources in our backyard support some of the most diverse and accessible recreational activity in the country.
This exceptional natural environment makes Rotorua the perfect destination for annual international sporting events such as the Tarawera Ultramarathon and Crankworx.
There are also more than 110 reserves, gardens and parks free for public use around the city and more than 100 recreational clubs for locals to participate in.

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