Rotorua offers some incredible sights and experiences that rival many of their more famous counterparts in other areas of the world. Here’s our list of ways to see the best parts of the world right here in Rotorua.
Yellowstone National ParkRather than heading to the United States to see the hot springs, boiling mud pools and erupting geysers in this famous nature reserve, you can experience the awe-inspiring geothermal activity at Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Te Puia.
Te Puia covers 60 hectares (148 acres) of natural bush, geysers and mud pools is home to Pōhutu (which translates to “big splash”), the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. It erupts up to 20 times a day, shooting hot water up to 30 metres (100 feet) high.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the world’s youngest geothermal system, having been created only about five generations ago when Mt Tarawera erupted, burying the famous Pink and White Terraces while creating craters, hot springs, a new lake, and the world’s largest geyser, Waimangu (black water), which erupted for four years before ceasing in 1904.
Californian RedwoodsAnother famous US feature that you can experience right on your doorstep is a grove of Californian Redwood trees. While they may be native to the northwest coast of America, we’ve got a beautiful grove of these majestic trees right in the centre of Rotorua. Come to the Whakarewarewa Forest, and enjoy the trails by bike or foot or take a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from Redwoods Treewalk.
Grand CanyonYou don’t have to go all the way to the Grand Canyon to be wowed by Mother Nature’s awesome power. And don’t just take our word for it - Stuff travel journalist Brook Sabin called Rotorua’s Mt Tarawera the Grand Canyon of New Zealand when he recently visited.
When Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886, it left in its wake a volcanic valley with a rift 17km long. The volcanic red soil, the deep crater and the spectacular views from the top make this one of the country’s ‘must do’ experiences.
The summit of this historical mountain is private land so you can reach it one of two ways: by air with a Volcanic Air helicopter or via 4WD with Kaitiaki Adventures Aotearoa.
Zambezi River near Victoria FallsWhile rafting fans might be hankering for a white water experience on the “Slam-bezi”, there’s an equally awesome bucket-list item right here in Rotorua. Take an adrenaline-fueled trip down the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall with expert guides who run trips down the beautiful Kaituna River. The trip’s highlight is the 7-metre high Tutea Falls at the end.
This is a favourite winter training spot for paddlers from the Northern Hemisphere but while they can’t get here this year, we can make the most of the stunning scenery and adventure all year round. Best of all, you’ll find a source of craft beer and one of Rotorua’s best burgers at the end of your trip at the eco-friendly Okere Falls Store.
Dead SeaRather than hankering for a mud bathing experience in the Dead Sea, try New Zealand’s only mud spa at Hell’s Gate just outside of Rotorua.
For centuries the Te Arawa people have been benefiting from the healing properties of the geothermal mud and sulphur mineral water and now visitors can enjoy the unique experience too. Cover yourself from head to toe in the warm, silky mud as it gently exfoliates the skin and relaxes the body. And best of all, you get to do it right in the middle of one of the world’s most spectacular geothermal landscapes.