The first thing you notice when you arrive in Rotorua is its distinct scent. The hot pools and the volcanic activity in the area leaves a sulfurous smell in the air, however a couple hours later you soon forget it is even there. I only had the pleasure of a day and a half in the area, but I still managed to tick off many of the below activities! Rotorua is lots of fun and a great place to visit for the whole family.
1. Hot springs/baths: Rotorua has hot springs aplenty, perfect for resting tired muscles and easing aches and pains, and even the mud is used in some cases for the skin. Some of the more popular baths include: Hells Gate Spa, The Blue Baths and The Polynesian Spa. You can also visit warm pools and streams such as Kerosene Creek for a more natural experience.
2. Agrodome: A farm experience like I have never seen before! This farm is dedicated to educating tourists in the New Zealand way of farming. It includes farm tours, sheep working demonstrations, and their famous live show featuring some very well trained sheep!
3. Zorbing: A novel activity that has taken off in recent years. You are put in a giant inflated ball (sometimes with water too) and pushed down a hill. Loads of fun and very popular with kids with an adventurous side!
4. White Water Rafting: Rotorua is very popular for their whitewater rafting. This is definitely an activity for the more adventurous after the thrill. There are many companies operating out of Rotorua, just be careful to choose a reputable operator and you are good to go!
5. Rainbow Springs: A wildlife park that features many native animals, and even includes a Kiwi exhibit! Rainbow springs is very proud of their Kiwi breeding program and you can even sponsor a Kiwi for the naming rights! Other attractions include bird shows, playground and even a splash ride.
6. Te Puia: For a taste of Maori culture, Te Puia is the home of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, live cultural displays, Kiwi enclosures, the Pohutu Geyser and other geothermal sites.
7. Skyline Park: The Skyline Park at Rotorua is a day out by itself! Featuring a Gondola ride to the top of Mt Ngongotaha, where you can take in the spectacular views! One at the top there is much to do, including having a meal at the Stratosfare restaurant, tasting some wine from the Volcanic Hills winery or even a special astronomy night tour. Other activities are heavy on the thrills, with 3 luge tracks to choose from, zip lining, a sky swing and even mountain biking available.
8. Whakarewarewa Village: Take a tour among a living Marie village and experience the culture of the Tuhourangi/Ngati people. See a live cultural performance, and maybe even a Haka. You can also have a meal cooked with the heat of the geothermal activity.
9. The Redwoods: Primarily a plantation forest, this forest is open to the public, featuring walking, biking and horse riding trails and a tree walk. Consisting of mainly Californian Redwoods, this forest is a stunning day out.
10. Hobbiton: This probably should be number 1 on my list, however as it is about an hour drive from Rotorua, I demoted it to number 10. The movie set used in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies is open to the public and can even be used for special events. Take a tour and learn all you need to know about the set, the movies and the production. Before going home, make sure you stop by The Green Dragon, Hobbiton’s pub, for a microbrewery beer, stout or cider and a hobbit inspired lunch.