Nestled within the Pacific Rim of Fire on its namesake lake on New Zealand's North Island, Rotorua is a town renowned for its shooting geysers, bubbling mud pools, and natural hot springs, and rich, fascinating Maori culture. The city boasts a wealth of attractions from soaking in thermal mud pools and watching the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser erupt to epic mountain biking, hiking through magical forests and along crystal-clear streams, and visiting a living Maori village to learn more about the traditions of the local culture.
1.Waimangu Volcanic Valley
The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley is a protected, hydrothermal system on the North Island of New Zealand that is home to the world's largest hot spring in lush natural surroundings. Formed in 1886 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Tarawera, the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley was so named for the black water that was thrown up by the Waimangu Geyser (Waimangu means black water in the Maori-language). The valley features several natural attractions, including Lake Rotomahana, the Waimangu Geyser, Frying Pan Lake, the largest hot spring in the world, and the steaming and spectacularly pale blue Inferno Crater Lake. The world’s youngest geothermal valley is home to a rare ecosystem that is packed with a diverse variety of fauna and flora and can be explored on a range of guided tours.
587 Waimangu Road, Rotorua 3043, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-66-61-37
2.Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
Wai-O-Tapu, also spelled Waiotapu, is an active geothermal area in New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone. Situated just north of the Reporoa caldera at the southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre, the whimsically named Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a series of brightly colored geothermal pools, explosive geysers, and smelly sulfur mud baths. The otherworldly geothermal park is a must-see attraction and sees visitors flocking to the park to experience the natural phenomena along with the active Lady Knox Geyser, the Devil’s Bathtub, and the Champagne Pool. A modern visitor’s center offers a wealth of information on the park, as well as well-signed pathways for visitors to follow at their own pace.
201 Waiotapu Loop Road, Rotorua 3073, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-66-63-33
3.Whakarewarewa, The Living Maori Village
The Living Whakarewarewa Maori Village is the home of the local Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people and offers visitors the opportunity to experience their traditional and unique way of life. The popular cultural attraction has been attracting visitors for over 200 years with a variety of Maori dance performances and a traditional cultural feast. Surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the natural geothermal landscape of the valley, the Living Whakarewarewa Maori Village was established to preserve and honor the rich and diverse culture and heritage of the Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people.
17 Tryon Street, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-49-34-63
Lake Rotorua is a 49-mile, 10-meter deep lake in the Bay of Plenty region and the second largest lake on the North Island. Named Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe (aka ‘the large lake of Kahumatamomoe’), the now tranquil lake has a violent history with massive volcanic eruptions around 200,000 years ago and continuing geothermal activity in and around the lake today. The high sulfur content of the water results in a magical green-blue coloration and is the setting for the famous love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. The island of Mokoia sits in the center of the lake and is a sanctuary to endangered birds and wildlife.
Rotorua District, Bay of Plenty Region, North Island
Mokoia Island is an island that lies in the middle of Lake Rotorua and is a sanctuary to endangered birds and wildlife. The 1.35-square-kilometer uninhabited island rises to 180 meters above the lake surface and is a rhyolite lava dome that was formed over 200,000 years ago and rhyolitic magma was pushed through the crack. The island is a protected home for many of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife and rare birds and is a popular gathering spot for private functions, weddings, team-building exercises, and school field trips.
Rotorua District, Bay of Plenty Region, North Island
6.Sulfur Bay Wildlife Refuge
The Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge is a 145-hectare section of water in the south-eastern corner of Lake Rotorua known as Sulphur Bay and comprises a wildlife refuge and sanctuary that is home to a wealth of local and rare bird species including the nationally threatened New Zealand dabchicks, black-billed gulls, and banded dotterels. The Purenga stream flows into the bay, which stretches from Motutara Point to Ngapuna and creates geothermal features such as natural hot water and steam and boiling mud pools. It also makes the water appear murky due to sulfur suspensions and causes high acidity, sometimes damaging the feet of the birds.
Bay of Plenty, Rotorua
The Government Gardens is a public park on the shores of Lake Rotorua in downtown Rotorua. Built by the government as a tourist attraction and partly laid out as beautifully manicured gardens, the historic gardens surround a Tudor-style spa bathhouse and a gorgeous Mediterranean-style public swimming pool and are one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions. Known initially as Paepaekumana, the Government Gardens were the site where many significant battles took place in the late 1800s and are a historically essential and legendary site to local Maori people. The Elizabethan Tudor-style bathhouses a world-class museum and an award-winning exhibition on baths and the geothermal pools that feed them.
9 Queens Drive, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
The Redwoods Treewalk is a popular recreational walk through the magnificent 115-year-old Redwood Forest. Located a short drive from downtown Rotorua, the 700-meter-long ecological walk is an award-winning tourist attraction that rests 20 meters above the forest floor and features 28 suspension bridges connecting 27 ancient Redwood trees, offering visitors the opportunity to see and experience nature at its best. The walkway features a uniquely constructed New Zealand-first technologically designed sling suspended from the Redwood trees that was specifically designed and built to preserve the trees, plants, and the surrounding natural environment. Informative storyboards along the walk educate visitors about the local fauna and flora.
Long Mile Road, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-2-75-36-10-10
9.White Water Rafting at the Kaituna River
© Leah-Anne Thompson/stock.adobe.com
Established in 2011 to provide the best white water rafting in New Zealand, Rotorua Rafting offers spectacular white-water rafting adventures on the world-famous Kaituna River. Home to several magnificent waterfalls, including Okere Falls, Kaituna Falls, and the world-renowned Tutea Falls, which is the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the Kaituna River is a short drive from Rotorua and promises an adrenaline-rushing experience. Rafting trips are guided by certified river instructors with internationally recognized qualifications and cater to all skill levels of paddlers. All safety equipment is provided.
761 State Highway 33, Okere Falls 3074, New Zealand
, Michigan beaches
10.Te Ara Ahi - The Thermal by Bike Trail
The Pathway of Fire Trail (Te Ara Ahi) is a guided bike trail that visits ancient Maori cultural sites, hot springs and geothermal wonderlands, along with other must-see attractions. Dubbed Thermal by Bike, the bike ride begins near Rotorua’s lakefront and comprises three continuous sections ranging from easy to intermediate, passing four geothermal areas, historical Maori cultural sites, beautiful lake and mountain views, and plenty of cafés for water breaks. Adventurers can also take a detour and explore Rotorua’s world-famous Redwoods Mountain Bike Park.
11.Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar
© Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar
Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar is an elegant restaurant with beautiful traditional interiors, charming outdoor terrace seating, and spectacular views. Located just a short stroll from the tranquil Lake Rotorua, the restaurant boasts richly polished wooden floors, vibrant décor, and a large patio, and serves global contemporary cuisine for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant offers seasonal specials and early-bird dinners, and the full-service bar offers fine wines, craft beers, and seasonal cocktails made with high-end spirits. Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
1096 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-39-85
12.Abracadabra Cafe & Bar
© Abracadabra Cafe & Bar
Abracadabra Cafe & Bar is a casual, contemporary café and bar that draws inspiration from Spain, Mexico, and North Africa to offer an unrivaled North African and Mediterranean dining experience. Boasting comfortable, eclectic décor and a warm and welcoming ambiance, the restaurant is a magical cave of spicy delights, offering a menu of traditional dishes such as chicken enchiladas, beef-and-apricot tagine, prime Moroccan seasoned sirloin steak, and double Tunisian spiced lamb shank. Guests can dine outdoors on the front deck or enjoy tapas and local craft beers on the terrace at the back of the restaurant or savor an exceptional range of wines from around the world in the cozy dining room. Abracadabra Cafe & Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
1263 Amohia Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-38-83
13.Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar
Based in the Skyline Rotorua atop Mount Ngongotaha, Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar is an award-winning restaurant and bar with spectacular panoramic views over Lake Rotorua. The restaurant boasts elegant contemporary décor and a refined ambiance with low lighting and serves a menu of highly-acclaimed cuisine prepared with the highest quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Guests are taken on a gastronomic journey with signature dishes from steamed fresh mussels straight from the tank to 24-hour slow-cooked roast beef and Wagyu Angus cross fillet steak. The cuisine is accompanied by a range of globally-inspired wines, craft beers, and seasonal cocktails made with high-end spirits.
Stratosfare Restaurant 178 Fairy Springs Road, Fairy Springs, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-47-00-27
14.The Regent Room
© The Regent Room
Located within the award-winning hotel Regent of Rotorua, the Regent Room is a gem in Rotorua’s culinary crown. Specializing in award-winning New Zealand cuisine of the highest quality, the Regent Room is an exquisitely designed restaurant with elegant interiors, designer décor, soft lighting, and a romantic ambiance. Diners can savor mouthwatering dishes of Wagyu Angus, fresh local seafood, New Zealand lamb, and organic vegetarian plates, accompanied by world-class wines from around the world, domestic and imported craft and draft beers, and innovative cocktails and high-end spirits. The Regent Room also serves delectable tapas in the lovely outdoor courtyard area in the summer, and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
1191 Pukaki Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-40-79
© Mokoia Restaurant
Mokoia Restaurant offers an unforgettable and definitive exceptional dining experience featuring an award-winning menu of contemporary and creative Pacific Rim cuisine and fine wines from around the world. The beautifully-appointed restaurant has designer décor and fine linens, dim lighting from soft candlelight, and an intimate, romantic atmosphere and serves a menu of world-class cuisine featuring prestigious New Zealand beef and lamb, indigenous herbs and spices, and other unique New Zealand flavors. The a la carte fine dining menu is accompanied by a range of highly-acclaimed New Zealand wines and creative cocktails, which can also be enjoyed at the Manary Bar before or after your meal. Mokoia Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
77 Robinson Avenue, Holdens Bay, Rotorua 3012, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-43-51-00
© Rafael Ben-Ari/stock.adobe.com
Established in 2007, Sabroso is a Latin-American restaurant that serves classic Caribbean dishes in a warm, intimate atmosphere. Tucked away in downtown Rotorua, the cozy 30-seat restaurant serves a rustic menu of traditional dishes from the Caribbean, Central, and South America with signature dishes like spicy prawn stew, calamari with chipotle cream, or the chef’s daily seafood selection. A hand-curated selection of wines from New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile are available, along with craft and draft beers, and seasonal sangria, signature margaritas, and mojitos.
1184 Haupapa Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-49-05-91
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© Pizzeria Imperfetto
Located just off the beaten track in central Rotorua, Pizzeria Imperfetto is a family-friendly pizzeria and restaurant with a cozy atmosphere that serves mouthwatering, wood-fired pizza with a variety of toppings. Using authentic Italian ingredients with fresh locally sourced produce, pizzas are made with hand-kneaded dough and artistically hand-tossed before being cooked to perfection in wood-burning ovens and served with a selection of fresh salads, sides, and garlic bread. Tuck into delectable Italian desserts and sip casual wines, craft beers, and seasonal cocktails made with high-end spirits from Europe. Pizzeria Imperfetto is open for dinner only, seven nights a week.
1176 Pukaki Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-47-78-51
© Capers Epicurean
Capers Epicurean is a contemporary café that serves wholesome food, house-roasted coffee and loose-leaf teas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and takeout. Established over ten years ago, Capers Epicurean is a warm and welcoming spot for business breakfasts, languid lunches, and weekend brunches, and serves a fresh seasonal menu of farm-to-table fare such as homemade soups, fresh salads, Spanish-style tapas, hearty entrées of meat and fresh seafood, and vegetarian options. Capers Epicurean offers a unique T2 tea boutique concept with a selection of teas from traditional favorites like French Earl Grey to edgy blends such as Banana Bake, along with brewing tools and tea wares. Capers Epicurean is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-88-18
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© Picnic Café
The Picnic Café is a charming café on Whakaue Street near Rotorua’s War Memorial Park that is an excellent spot for an early morning coffee, plate of eggs, or freshly baked pastry. The cozy café has warm décor, comfortable seating, and plenty of natural light and serves a menu of fresh, farm-to-table fare such omelets, eggs, sandwiches, wraps, fresh salads, and vegetarian options. Freshly brewed coffee, tea, fruit juices, and other drinks are offered, and the café is open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
1174 Whakaue Street, Ohinemutu, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-43-92-39
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20.Third Place Cafe
© Third Place Café
The Third Place Café is a homey, family-friendly café that offers a relaxed, laid-back spot for breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea, and dinner. Boasting beautiful views over Lake Rotorua and the Maori Village, the welcoming 100-seater café serves traditional homestyle food such as hearty breakfast plates of eggs, omelets, sandwiches, wraps, and toasts, along with entrées of fresh seafood, meat plates, vegetarian options, fresh salads, and delectable desserts. Freshly brewed coffee, tea, fruit juices, and other drinks are offered, and the café is open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
35 Lake Road, Ohinemutu, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-49-48-52
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21.Market Kitchen Cafe - Skyline Rotorua
Boasting breathtaking views over Rotorua, the Market Kitchen Café is a country-style restaurant that serves farm-to-table fare in a spectacular setting. Based on the Skyline Rotorua atop Mount Ngongotaha, the Market Kitchen Café uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create and prepare delicious, healthy dishes ranging from fresh seafood and fish and prime grass-fed beef and lamb to gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads, and delectable desserts. The restaurant offers seasonal specials and early-bird dinners, and the full-service bar offers fine wines, craft beers, and seasonal cocktails made with high-end spirits. Market Kitchen Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
178 Fairy Springs Road, Fairy Springs, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-47-00-27
© Artisan Café
The Artisan Café is an independent coffee shop that serves an impressive selection of breakfasts, brunches, and lunches made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from regional farms and producers in a casual and laid-back ambiance. The café caters for meat-eaters, vegans, and sweet-tooths alike with an array of beverages including organic, free-trade coffee, loose-leaf teas, fresh fruit juices, craft, and draft beers, casual wines, and creative cocktails. Desserts range from freshly baked cakes, scones, and muffins to melt-in-your-mouth pastries. The Artisan Café is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, seven days a week.
1149 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-00-57
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© Urbano Bistro
A trendy café by day and a stylish bistro restaurant by night, Urbano Bistro caters for all tastes with a contemporary menu of farm-to-fork fare made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Opened in 2007, the café-cum-bistro boasts sleek décor and naturally-lit interiors by day and an elegant ambiance by night and serves a menu of delicious dishes ranging from French toast and toasted maple muesli in the morning to moussaka, prime steak, fresh salads, and vegetarian dishes in the evening. The restaurant offers seasonal specials and early-bird dinners, and the full-service bar offers fine wines, craft beers, and seasonal cocktails made with high-end spirits. Urbano Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
289 Fenton Street, Glenholme, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-49-37-70
24.Ciabatta Cafe and Bakery
© Ciabatta Café and Bakery
Ciabatta Café and Bakery is the best spot for excellent morning coffee and mouthwatering pastries, as well as light lunches with business colleagues and friends. Bright, naturally-lit interiors have tables cleverly made from the map of New Zealand where visitors can sit at the Bay of Plenty in one room or the Banks Peninsula in the other, and cozy dining nooks are perfect for secret liaisons or romantic trysts. The menu features gourmet sandwiches made with freshly baked bread and delicious fillings, fresh organic salads, and sweet treats like cronuts, filled tarts, croissants, turnovers, and streusels. The café serves a variety of house-roasted coffee and specialty coffee drinks, teas, fresh fruit juices, craft beers, and is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, Monday through Sunday.
38 White Street, Fenton Park, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-48-33-32
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© Sequoia Eatery
Formerly the Old Office Café, Sequoia Eatery is a casual restaurant that is famous for serving healthy, hearty homestyle fare in a family-friendly atmosphere. The eatery has charming indoor and outdoor dining areas with a children’s playroom and serves a menu of delicious house-made meals, along with gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Signature dishes include pulled pork baguettes, bagels with various toppings, French toasts, and a range of brunch options and a variety of house-roasted coffee and specialty coffee drinks, teas, fresh fruit juices is available. Sequoia Eatery is open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
10 Tarawera Road, Lynmore, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand, Phone: +64-73-45-92-27
25 Best Things to Do in Rotorua, New Zealand
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Photo: magann/stock.adobe.com
- Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, Photo: Sorang/stock.adobe.com
- Whakarewarewa, The Living Maori Village, Photo: Anupam/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Rotorua, Photo: Joppi/stock.adobe.com
- Mokoia Island, Photo: Janice/stock.adobe.com
- Sulfur Bay Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Sebastian/stock.adobe.com
- Government Gardens, Photo: Joppi/stock.adobe.com
- Redwoods Treewalk, Photo: romanslavik.com/stock.adobe.com
- White Water Rafting at the Kaituna River, Photo: Leah-Anne Thompson/stock.adobe.com
- Te Ara Ahi - The Thermal by Bike Trail, Photo: Halfpoint/stock.adobe.com
- Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar, Photo: Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar
- Abracadabra Cafe & Bar, Photo: Abracadabra Cafe & Bar
- Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, Photo: imagesetc/stock.adobe.com
- The Regent Room, Photo: The Regent Room
- Mokoia Restaurant, Photo: Mokoia Restaurant
- Sabroso Restaurant, Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/stock.adobe.com
- Pizzeria Imperfetto, Photo: Pizzeria Imperfetto
- Capers Epicurean, Photo: Capers Epicurean
- Picnic Cafe, Photo: Picnic Café
- Third Place Cafe, Photo: Third Place Café
- Market Kitchen Cafe - Skyline Rotorua, Photo: lcc54613/stock.adobe.com
- Artisan Cafe, Photo: Artisan Café
- Urbano Bistro, Photo: Urbano Bistro
- Ciabatta Cafe and Bakery, Photo: Ciabatta Café and Bakery
- Sequoia Eatery, Photo: Sequoia Eatery
- Cover Photo: NMint/stock.adobe.com