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  • Pohutu Guyser – Rotorua
  • Maori Warrior – Rotorua
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Life & Style

There is a special spirit in Rotorua – and you will walk away knowing exactly what we mean. It’s like no other place on Earth

Rotorua, the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture.

Enveloping warmth, a proud spirit, a deep sense of history and a quick humour – you’ll find all these qualities in your experiences with Maori culture.

Opportunities to come face to face with Maori culture abound in Rotorua – in performances and in expertly conceived displays, and in your encounters with the descendants of the original Te Arawa tribes who made Rotorua their home.

The Te Arawa people of Rotorua were New Zealand’s first visitor guides, leading the way to the natural wonders that have been part of their home for more than 600 years. Their welcoming tradition has been carried on from generation to generation – and you’ll find it expressed in Rotorua with true warmth and energy.

Here you’ll be spellbound by stories relayed through song, dance and art. Legends passed on through the years transform the handiwork of two sisters of the spirit world, carrying fire to their frozen and dying brother, into the geothermal energy that abounds in Rotorua today. The 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera, now a sleeping giant, is steeped in fascinating and mysterious tales. Stories of overpowering love, of tragedy and of the mythical taniwha will enchant and thrill you.

Maori Hospitality

As the spiritual home of New Zealand’s tangata whenua (original people of the land), Rotorua is the ideal place to experience some of the many facets of Maoridom.
Experience an overnight stay on a marae (Maori gathering place centred on a wharenui ‘meeting house’), sample Maori culture, share of hongi (the pressing of noses to signify the exchange of ‘the breath of life’), say “Kia Ora” (an informal greeting) and try food cooked hangi-style.

Hangi is the name for a Maori earth oven which traditionally used hot stones to create steam. Old-time local Maori utilised Rotorua’s natural geothermal steam resources to cook their traditional hangi feasts, and their descendents still do today!

Experiencing a Maori concert performance is an essential part of a Rotorua visit. There are many venues from hotels to marae to a purpose-build Maori village. There are also non-traditional options offering a more theatrical style that combine the best of traditional with a contemporary twist.

Action and Activities

There are a number of ‘must see and do’ experiences – attractions and adventures that have become synonymous with Rotorua – for that matter New Zealand.

Sightseeing takes new meaning in Rotorua – there is so much to see and do in such close proximity to the city centre. Within minutes of town – you can be in a giant Redwood grove – on a farm – amidst native forest, Trout sanctuary or wildlife reserve

Rotorua also has plenty of free things to do. Among them: several playgrounds including the Lakefront Volcanic Playground, 26km of city walking trails as well as forest and bush options, some of the world’s best mountain biking trails, a chain of beautiful lakes, the Redwood Grove in Whakarewarewa Forest, and thermal activity in Kuirau Park.

There’s no better place to experience unique ‘kiwi farm culture’ than Rotorua. Feed the lambs, calves and other farm critters – either by staying overnight on a working farm – or taking in the action of an entertaining farm show. Or get wet and wild at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre with its spray park, water canons and bikes, lazy river, inflatable toys and outdoor spas.

Spa and Wellness

Rotorua’s reputation as a spa destination goes back more than 160 years to when The Pink and White Terraces were considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. Visitors travelled from the other side of the world to marvel at the beauty of two immense silica formations, and to bathe in the natural therapeutic waters caught in the basins within them.

Sadly the terraces were destroyed in 1886 during the eruption of Mt Tarawera. Despite this Rotorua’s standing as a spa and visitor destination continued to grow, and plans were drawn up for a “great spa of the South Pacific” – the gracious Tudor-style Bath House – which opened in 1908.

People came from all over the world to ‘take the waters’ at the Bath House. Now home to Rotorua’s award-winning museum, the building utilised thermal water and mud for a variety of bathing, mud and massage treatments. The remnants of those treatments can still be seen today at the Rotorua Museum.

Wining and Dining

Whether looking for breakfast or brunch, coffee or snack, dinner or late night supper, a glass or two of New Zealand’s award-wining wines or just a quiet beer, Rotorua has an impressive array of coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs.

They offer top quality food, wine and entertainment from all over the world (including New Zealand, French, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Indonesian and Turkish) to tempt the palate and the senses. Don’t forget to try a hangi meal, the traditional Maori feast, and sample traditional Maori culture.

New Zealand produce is some of the best in the world so be sure to try our Kiwi specialities like lamb, venison, Nelson scallops, whitebait, Bluff oysters, South Island salmon, kumara (New Zealand sweet potato), kiwifruit, tamarillo and pavlova when eating out. Our range of fish is also great! Nothing beats a casual meal of hot, crispy fish and chips eaten out of newspaper while watching the sun set behind Mt Ngongotaha from the lakefront.

Night Entertainment

Rotorua offers plenty of traditional evening entertainment like dozens and dozens of cafes, restaurants, wine bars, pubs, clubs and bars to eat, drink and be entertained. But there’s more!

Rotorua’s after-dark options include a line-up of traditional Maori cultural concert and hangi options, plus contemporary Maori theatre style options.

Alternative options include things like night luging at Skyline Skyrides, twilight barbecue and lake cruise with Duck Tours, enjoy a cultural Island cruise to sacred Mokoia Island on the centre of Lake Rotorua, a hot soak and massage followed by a café meal at the Polynesian Spa, or a twilight paddle and picnic on one of our many scenic lakes with Kayak Adventures.