As you arrive in Rotorua (pop 60,000), you’re bound to catch a whiff that may remind you of rotten eggs – that sulphurous smell will be with you the length of your stay in this enthralling city, thanks to geothermal activity that includes steaming hot springs, bubbling mud pools and even the odd spurting geyser.
35% of Rotorua’s population is Maori and this is your best place in the country to learn about the Maori people. There are cultural centres, Haka & Hangi performances and feasts (hangi), and local Maori, extremely proud of their heritage and culture, are happy to show and explain it to visitors.
The city itself may be a tad touristy, but it is at the southern end of gorgeous Lake Rotorua, complemented by another 17 lakes, the Whakarewarewa Forest and an attractive general environment.
Rotorua offers up plenty of accommodation, eating and drinking options and makes a living off visiting tourists. Head to “Eat St” at the lake end of Tutanekai St for a good selection of restaurants and watering holes.
Rotorua Airportis 9km northeast of the city and has flights and connections to all the major centres.