24 Hours in Rotorua

Arts & Culture Inspiration

Hairs stand on edge and your heart race as tattooed Maori warriors perform a traditional dance.

Transcribing from the Maori name, Te Rotoura-niu-a-Kahumatamomoe; ‘the second great lake of Kahumatamomoe’, Rotorua is a geologist’s playground. Built upon an active geothermal plateau, the city has been attracting travellers since the late 1800’s with over 3.2 million visitors each year today.

Taking a deep breath while walking around town and you will inhale the essence of Rotorua. The geothermal activity around town gives the city a very unique sulphur scent, giving Rotorua a character like no other city in New Zealand.

There is so much to do in Rotorua; from exploring the city’s geothermal attractions to experiencing the Maori culture at one of the best known cultural centres in the country. It’s difficult to fit everything in for just a day visit, but here is what we think is the best way to spend 24 hours in Rotovegas.Skyline Rotorua8:00am. Soak Up The Heat

There is no better way to start the day than a bit of light pampering. Thanks to the natural heating underground, many pools and lakes in Rotorua are warm all year around, sometimes too warm! Kick start the great day ahead by heading down to the world-renowned Polynesian Spa overlooking Lake Rotorua and relax in one of the 26 naturally heated pools. Visitors can ease their way into the day by dipping into the perfectly balanced geothermic acidic and alkaline water which is sure to have a host of therapeutic properties.
9:30am. Take A Deep Breath!

Following your morning cleanse at the spa, take a short walk down to Sulphur Bay to admire the amazing geothermal activity. Here at the southern point of Lake Rotorua, you can find some of the best examples of what is going on beneath the surface. The bay is one of the most popular stops along the Rotorua Walkway, a fantastic network of paths and trails highlighting some of Rotorua’s most scenic areas. The nature of the environment means that the area is a hotbed for many native birds. Avid bird spotters will be lucky enough to spot around 60 different species in the protected wildlife reserve.

10:00am. Look Back In Time

Continue your walk around the lake from Sulphur Bay to Government Gardens. These beautiful gardens have some great views over the Lake Rotorua and include the Kwaqiulth Totem Pole and the restored Blue Baths. While you are here don’t miss Rotorua Museum where you can discover the captivating history of Rotorua. Inside lie the answers to many questions about the geothermal area and also the Maori culture the city possesses. While inside the museum don’t forget to head to the top of the building for some fantastic panoramic views across Rotorua.Rotorua Museum11:00am. Get Your Adrenaline Fix

They say you should do one thing every day that scares you, it wouldn’t be New Zealand without some kind of adrenaline activities! Head across town to the bottom of Mount Ngongotaha and catch the terrific Skyline Gondola to the top. On the scenic ride up you will catch some fantastic sights across town and once at the top, the full view of the lake and Rotorua will be before you. On a clear day you will be able to see for miles.

Once at the top there is a great range of activities to do and the best way to get started is to get involved with a luge ride. Three different courses are on offer with 4 kilometres of track to explore. You can choose a relaxing ride down the scenic route or, test your skills as you race your 3-wheeled luge down the advanced track through tight corners, tunnels and undulating dips.
If you are after even more of an adrenaline fix then the Skyswing is for you. This ride shoots you 50 metres into the sky at up to 120kph with your feet dangling beneath you.

Once you have got your breath back and worked up a healthy appetite, head over to the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar and enjoy a meal while admiring the incredible views over the lake from the top of the mountain.

1:30pm. Geology Rocks!

Following an exciting time up on the mountain, head back down to town to see some of Rotorua’s most spectacular volcanic wonders. The smell of sulphur in the air is almost as overwhelming as the environment you are surrounded by. Both Te Puia and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village allow you fantastic views of the southern hemisphere's largest geyser, Te Pohutu. Both attractions also offer opportunities to immerserve yourself in Maori culture with live shows and guided tours to explain the fascintation history and traditions. 

3:30pm. Embrace The Inner Hippy

Once the amazement of one natural phenomenon has settled, it’s time for another. On your drive back to Rotorua, make sure you stop off to see the famous Redwoods. The beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest is full of Californian Redwoods which seem to grown endlessly into the clouds above. Here you can enjoy a leisurely short walk around the huge redwoods, weaving your way in and out of the various paths. If you are looking for something more exciting, there are some great mountain bike and horse trekking trails for you to enjoy.

6:00pm. Ka mate, ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

With one of the most unique and fascinating traditional cultures in the world a visit to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete with experiencing the history of the Maori culture. Rotorua is known to be one of the most culturally significant areas in the country. The best place to get a taste for it is at the superb Tamaki Maori Village. Inside the award winning centre, you can see how the Maori people live and take part in authentic rituals. You can not only watch but take part in the world famous Maori war dance, the Haka. Feel the hairs stand on edge and your heart race as tattooed Maori warriors perform traditional dances only metres away.

Once you have been accepted by the tribe you will be welcomed in to explore the village. After you have walked around the village, you will then be invited in to have an incredible meal cooked in the traditional Hangi method. Eat as much as you can and enjoy the perfect end to a perfect day in the wonderful city of Rotorua. 

Maori Village Photo Credit: Tamaki Maori VillageTamaki Maori Village