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Rotorua

Culture & History

Our most recommended Rotorua Culture & History

Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet

1. Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet

Enter a Maori village in a natural bush setting and learn about their customs during an immersive cultural experience. Following pickup from your Rotorua accommodation, if option booked, get a warm meet and greet from a beautiful Maori maiden dressed in traditional attire. Learn the guidelines to enter the sacred site and select a chief from your group to represent those visiting the village. See warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe down the Wai-o-whiro stream and marvel at glow worms in their natural habitat. Be captivated by the songs and dances of an entertaining concert, complete with the spine-tingling haka war dance. Watch as the hangi feast is removed from the earth-cooked oven, explore the art of ta moko (tattoo) and more.  Feast on a hot selection of succulent meats and poultry, vegetables and fresh salads, topped off with tempting desserts.

Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience

2. Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience

Enjoy a therapeutic mud bath and sulfur spa at Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve, located just a 15-minute drive from central Rotorua. A round-trip shuttle service option from Rotorua is also available. Soak in the thermal mud and acidic, sulfurous waters as the local Maori have done for over 800 years. Apply the natural geothermal mud to your skin while relaxing in the warm sulfurous waters for 20 minutes. Follow the mud spa with a cool shower before relaxing in the hot sulfur mineral spa. The warm geothermal mud opens and cleans the skin’s pores, and the sulfur spa provides a gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing.

Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+

3. Geothermal Mineral Baths Experience: Pavilion Pools for 12+

Relax and unwind at the Polynesian Spa, a world-leading, natural mineral bathing and luxury spa retreat in Rotorua. Geothermal waters nourish the skin and relieve tired muscles, aches and pains, while decadent therapies rejuvenate through ancient and modern techniques. This ticket provides access to the premium bathing area, the Deluxe Lake Spa, which includes a range of mineral rock pools at various temperatures. Using both alkaline and acidic mineral springs, the Deluxe Lake Spa is the ultimate geothermal bathing experience. The therapeutic waters at this spa come from two different natural springs. The Priest Spring is named after Father Mahoney, a Catholic Priest who was "cured" of his crippling arthritis from bathing in the waters in 1878. The slightly acidic water from the Priest Spring relieves tired muscles and aches and pains. The Rachel Spring is a source of alkaline water, which features the antiseptic action of sodium silicate nourishing the skin. It was historically said that those who bathe in the waters of the Rachel Spring are blessed with ageless beauty. The combination of these two types of mineral waters is only found at the Polynesian Spa. This spa was built on the site of historic bath houses, which originally made the city world-famous in the 1800s. It continues to evolve and focus on health and wellness, introducing passive and active bathing experiences for increased immunity and greater energy levels. In the Pavilion Pools, elements of early buildings and baths have been carefully retained and the site is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath & Sulphur Spa

4. Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath & Sulphur Spa

Experience the best of Hells Gate Geothermal Park with a self-guided geothermal walk and historic spa experience. The park is located approximately 15 minutes drive from the town's centre.  Discover the geothermal features using a self-guided map or join a guided tour. Learn about the history, features and uniqueness of the geothermal area. After learning about the unique healing muds of Hells Gate, experience New Zealand’s historic spa experience for yourself! Soak in unique thermal mud and acidic sulfurous waters that have been used by the local Maori for more than 800 years. The warm geothermal mud opens and cleans the skin’s pores, while the sulphur spas give your skin a gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing.  Note that a complimentary shuttle service picks up from central Rotorua three to four times a day (seasonally) with scheduled return services.

Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk

5. Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk

Discover the Hells Gate/Tikitere Geothermal Reserve, one of the most active in New Zealand.  Enjoy a self-guided walk of the spectacular reserve, located approximately 15-minutes drive from central Rotorua. Hells Gate boasts New Zealand's largest active mud volcano, the Southern Hemisphere's largest hot water falls, and even examples of land coral. See boiling hot pools and erupting waters with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius. Discover steaming fumaroles, hot water lakes, sulphur crystals and deposits. Learn about Hells Gate’s extensive history independently or join an interactive guided tour, available daily at 10:30 AM or 2:30 PM. A complimentary shuttle service picks up from central Rotorua three to four times a day (seasonally) with scheduled drop offs.

Auckland to Rotorua Small Group Tour & Activity Add-Ons

6. Auckland to Rotorua Small Group Tour & Activity Add-Ons

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Rotorua. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. As you drive, pass through the pass through the unique town of Tirau, the corrugated iron sculpture capital of the world, and the stunning Fitzgerald Glade. Upon arrival in Rotorua, enjoy a guided tour of the city’s most famous and historical sites including Lake Rotorua, The Government Gardens, Blue Baths, Thermal Springs and Polynesian Spa. From here enjoy the option to add on up to two of Rotorua's most popular activities and attractions (additional cost). Please add on the activities or attractions you would like to include during the booking process. Maybe head to the famous geothermal park and Maori cultural village of Te Puia, bathe in the geothermal waters of the Polynesian Spa, experience some farm culture at the Agrodome Sheep Show, or ride the gondola at Skyline! Or you can simply choose to explore the city at your own pace before your return to Auckland.

Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua and Wai-O-Tapu Day Tour

7. Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua and Wai-O-Tapu Day Tour

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Hobbiton. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. After the drive, arrive at Alexander Family Sheep Farm and Shire's Rest, the entrance to Hobbiton, and marvel at the thousands of sheep that live here. While you’re here, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, or enjoy an ice cream to cool off while your guide collects your tickets to the movie set. Next, hop on board one of the big green Hobbiton buses to depart on your two hour fully guided tour of this amazing 12-acre movie set with a professional Hobbiton guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit. During your tour trip into the lush pastures of the Shire, visit 44 hobbit holes, see amazing gardens, hear secrets and stories about the making of the movies and finish your LOTR experience with a cold beverage at the famous Hobbiton pub, The Green Dragon Inn. After your LOTR experience, it’s time to continue southwards towards the active geothermal area of Rotorua. During the drive, pass through the unique town of Tirau, the corrugated iron sculpture capital of the world, and the stunning Fitzgerald Glade. Upon arrival in Rotorua, enjoy a guided tour of the city’s most famous and historical sites including Lake Rotorua, The Government Gardens, the Blue Baths, Thermal Springs and Polynesian Spa. Take some time to rest for lunch and then head to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland considered one of the most surreal places on earth. Here, admire the Champagne Lake, Devil’s Bath, local mud-pools, geothermal craters and other geothermal wonders before a fully guided trip back to Auckland and the end of your tour.

Rotorua: The Buried Village of Te Wairoa

8. Rotorua: The Buried Village of Te Wairoa

Located just a 15-minute drive from Rotorua, the Buried Village of Te Wairoa features an interactive museum, scenic walking trails, and a look at the devastating effects of one of New Zealand’s greatest natural disasters: the Mt. Tarawera volcanic eruption of 1886, which wiped out a natural landmark known as the Pink and White Terraces. The award-winning museum sheds light on the hardships suffered by this once-bustling European and Maori village settlement.  Expect to spend at least 1 and a half hours at the site to get the most out of the experience, which includes audio guides, living history tours, and talks by costumed guides scheduled throughout the day. Gain firsthand insight into the chaos of the night that Mt. Tarawera erupted and destroyed Te Wairoa, a village of Maoris and missionaries excavated under the Kaitiakitanga of the Smith family for nearly 90 years. Refresh at Smith & Co, the onsite cafe offering delicious scones with whipped cream and jam, Kiwi's favorite selection of pastry pies, and Devonshire tea. Take the opportunity to dress up in Victorian style clothing. On the waterfall trail, learn about the native flora and fauna and experience the beauty of a land recovering from violent destruction. Experience the Te Wairoa Falls in a special way as you stand in the mist of the waterfall. At the end of the day, check out the wide range of goods at the gift shop and bring home a special memento.

Lake Rotorua: Jet Boat, Speed, Spins and Adrenaline

9. Lake Rotorua: Jet Boat, Speed, Spins and Adrenaline

Book a 30min Jet Tour on Lake Rotorua and experience the excitement and exhilaration of one of the area's most popular adventure activities. Feel the rush of the high-powered engines pushing you through the water at approximately 85 km/hr, while professional drivers thrill you with speed, spins, and adrenaline.  Visit iconic landmarks such as Kawaha Point, Mokoia Island, and Sulphur Bay and learn the history of the area, the people, and the events that have shaped this special place into the cultural and event capital of New Zealand.  You will be provided with spray jackets to keep you dry and warm and fit you with a life jacket to ensure you are safe on your blast around the lake. Suitable for almost all ages from the very young through to the most experienced. The service operates every day in all weather so you don't have to worry about availability. This is the very best way to experience the thrill of jet boating whilst learning all about this world-famous tourist destination.

Rotorua: Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour

10. Rotorua: Whakarewarewa Village Guided Tour

Experience the warmth of our Legacy Guided tours through NZ’s iconic living Maori village. Our village guides are direct descendants of early Māori guides, who have shaped tourism in New Zealand for generations. Their insights, knowledge and legendary hospitality (manaakitanga) adds depth and richness to the experience you’ll have at Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village. On the Whakarewarewa Guided Tour, you will explore an authentic Māori village, where people use natural geothermal resources to cook, bathe and heat their homes as they have for centuries. Learn what it’s like to live in the challenging geothermal plateau where daily life includes cooking in the bubbling pools and steam vents, and bathing takes place in the refreshing therapeutic waters. You will view the geothermal wonders of Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, including the world-famous Pōhutu geyser, boiling mud-pools, steam vents and bubbling pools. Take in our various historic landmarks and buildings, including an active Marae (meeting grounds and focal point of Maori communities), our WWII Memorial Archway, historic churches, and tapu (sacred) burial grounds.

Frequently asked questions about Rotorua Culture & History

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Other Sightseeing Options in Rotorua

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What people are saying about Rotorua

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 346 reviews

The tour is fabulous! Visit several of New Zealand's North Island's top tourist attractions with engaging commentary from your guides. The staff of the company is most charming! If there is any problem on any of the days of the tour with any of the activities that are planned, they reorganize it so that you can enjoy each of them. In addition, they make your vacation as easy as possible by picking you up and dropping you off wherever you ask them! Regarding the tour itself, transportation is in very comfortable minibuses. The accommodation is in a wonderful hotel, with all the comforts you can expect (it even has a spa, although it is not included in the tour). Each and every one of the activities that are included are unforgettable experiences and I could not keep just one. Spectacular landscapes and adorable people! In general, many incredible emotions running through your body at the same time! One of the best tours I've booked in my entire life!

Mark our guide was brilliant at the history facts and knowledge about the geothermal activities plus life support from the natural resources. Further he was jovial and made humorous comments that were exciting Would recommend this to any traveller

Due to Wai O Tapu was closed, we end up doing just the Hobbiton Town. The tour was fantastic, prompt pick up, the driver was really friendly n we all had a wonderful tour.

What a great experience!! Easy to get changed and showered. Lovely helpful staff. Even doing it in winter, was worth it !’

Loved the tour and was a great treat to get hot spring boiled sweet corn.