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Rotorua

Rotorua boils both literally and figuratively. Travel to Rotorua if you’re seeking to experience Maori culture, geothermal wonders, spa rejuvenation or thrills and adventure.

The region boasts such diverse outdoor assets as 16 lakes, some of the world’s best mountain biking trails, fantastic trout fishing and a myriad number of forest walking trails.

The city, on the Volcanic Plateau, has one of the world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity. Skyrocketing geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools all tell you that this place sits squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire. This thermal activity is sourced to the Rotorua caldera, on which the city lies.

Rotorua is located on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region and is in the heart of the North Island, just 50 miles north of Taupo and 140 miles southeast of Auckland.

Rotorua is the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled here more than 600 years ago and their presence offers the visitor numerous cultural experiences. You can attend a hangi feast, where your food is cooked in a steaming underground oven, take a tour of an authentic pre-European Maori village or treat yourself to an indulgent spa therapy.

One of the best ways to understand and absorb Maori culture is with a visit to Te Puia. Listen to legendary stories that resonate within the hearts and minds of the Maori people as shared by those who guide you around. The spirit of the land can be seen, felt and heard within the unique geothermal environment of Te Whakarewarewa. Silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and unique vegetation sets an awesome backdrop to the world famous Pohutu Geyser (NZ’s Old Faithful). 

For a bit more cultural immersion, stay overnight at Tamaki Maori village where you’ll sleep in a beautifully carved wharemoe (lodge).

If you ever wondered what Dante’s Inferno was like, look no further than Hells Gate, Rotorua’s fiercest thermal area and largest active mud volcano with adjacent mud baths and spa. It has the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. And just 18 miles south of the city, Waiotapu is one of the best thermal parks in the region. The highlights here are the multi-colored Champagne Pool and the daily (10:15am) eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser.

The Polynesian Spa, New Zealand’s leading international hot mineral springs’ spa, has been recognized by Conde-Nast Traveller Magazine as one of the top 10 Medical/Thermal Spa’s in the world. 

For an aerial perspective, try the thrill of Volcanic Air’s helicopter or the elegance of the floatplane to view some of the most dramatic geothermal scenery and activity New Zealand has to offer. Or take a leisurely ride up Mt Ngongotaha aboard Skyline’s gondola and then come down the infamous luge run.

You can jetboat down the Waikato River through the spectacular Tutukau Gorge and see abundant bird life, pine forests, steaming volcanic river banks and trout feeding areas on your way down to Orakei Korako, one of New Zealand’s most popular geothermal attractions.

It takes a certain kind of person to jump out of an aircraft into thin air – is this you? With NZone, you’re harnessed to an experienced tandem master as you step out of the aircraft door and for some 45-seconds plummet towards the ground at 120 mph.

If that’s not enough, live life on the edge at Agroventures and take on New Zealand’s most diverse and unique array of adventure activities – Agrojet, Swoop, Rotorua Bungy, Freefall Xtreme body flying, and Shweeb, all located within the realm of the world famous Agrodome, just 6 miles north of Rotorua City. Nearby is Off-Road NZ, competitive road challenges perfect for incentive groups.

For one of the whackiest thrill rides in your life, it’s 45-seconds on the ZORB, a great place for you to get your adrenaline fix. Great fun for people of all ages, as there are a number of ride and track options for the giant, rolling balls. 

A more relaxed approach would be to cruise aboard The Lakeland Queen, New Zealand’s only stern-driven paddle vessel or attend the Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park that has been a favorite destination since 1932. 

Our recommended accommodations are the luxury Treetops Lodge and Wilderness Experience as well as the centrally located Millenium Rotorua Hotel. Others include the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside and The Springs B & B.

From hangi to haka or geysers to g-forces, you can see why Rotorua is the “not to be missed” destination on your New Zealand itinerary.

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