Key Facts


Discover more about Rotorua city and the lakes region - take a look around our website, find answers to frequently asked questions and if you can't find what you are looking for contact us with your questions.


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



Rotorua enjoys pleasant weather; plenty of warm sunshine in summer with crisp, clear days in winter. Rotorua averages more than 2000 sunshine hours and just over 140cm of rain annually. Regardless of the weather, make sure you pack some togs/bathers as on a sunny day the lakes are refreshing to swim in and when it's a bit colder the geothermal spas are the perfect way to warm up. 

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



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.



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.



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 Timber, Lockwood, PF Olsen, Timberlands 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.



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.



Tourism in New Zealand started in Rotorua with the famed pink and white terraces - considered one of the eight wonders of the world.

Tourists came from around the world to see the wonder once found on the shores of Lake Tarawera.

Unfortunately they were reclaimed by Mount Tarawera when it erupted late in the 19th century.

The grief was terrible for the Tuhourangi and Ngati Rangitihi people who guided tourists on the lake – they lost family members, their livelihood and the bones of their ancestors in one terrible night.

Many of the survivors were offered land at Whakarewarewa and Ngapuna – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley became the new home for many and the tradition of guiding continues in the thermal area today.

Since then Rotorua has been, and continues to be New Zealand’s premiere tourism destination.



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

Rotorua Sustainable Tourism Charter


Visitor Industry Statistics
  • Every year Rotorua hosts 3.3m visitors. 
  • In summer, the collective resident and visitor population of Rotorua peaks at 100,000.
  • Rotorua Airport is the gateway to the Bay of Plenty (BOP) and the wider Central North Island (CNI).
  • Rotorua has over 14,000 beds catering to every style, budget and preferences.
  • 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.
  • Ten international hotel chains (including Accor, Holiday Inn, MCK and Clarion) have invested in Rotorua.
  • Auckland is Rotorua's single largest source market – it accounts for approximately 25% of total visitor days (ie. visitor nights plus day visitors). Other key domestic markets for Rotorua are Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
  • Australia is Rotorua's largest international market – it accounts for approximately 7% of total visitor days. Other key international markets for Rotorua are United Kingdom, USA, South Korea, Germany, China and Japan.