One of the top destinations for those interested in Maori culture is Rotorua New Zealand. Rotorua is sometimes known as the “Sulfur City”, due its wealth of geothermal areas, and the area is also characterized by 11 main lakes. Hot springs, geysers and mud pools are common in the area, and overall, the setting is quite agreeable. There is a rich sulfur smell that permeates the air here, giving testament to the region’s volcanic activity, and there is little you can do to avoid it.
However, Rotorua nonetheless manages to be a popular destination, offering a myriad of delights. As you might guess, spas and bathhouses have sprung up over time to capitalize on the area’s rich geothermal advantages, and new Rotorua attractions and adventures have recently been added to keep things exciting. Rotorua tours are a dime a dozen, so you might take advantage of one or more to better enjoy your time here.
Rotorua New Zealand is found on the North Island, about 135 miles southeast of Auckland.
The city is set on the banks of Lake Rotorua, which is found in the Bay of Plenty region. The Maori of the Te Arawa tribe were the first to settle the Rotorua district, doing so in the 1300″s. They came by way of boat from the Bay of Plenty, and upon arriving, they soon took to exploring the region. The name of the city, Rotorua (or Second Lake), comes from the Maori language, with “Roto” meaning “lake”, and “Rua” meaning “two”.
The Te Arawa would eventually see other tribes enter the region of Rotorua, and tribal wars would be common for the next several hundred years. It wasn’t until the 1870″s that European settlers first began to arrive, and they often sought the area waters to cure whatever ailed them. Before Mt. Tarawera erupted in 1886, Rotorua New Zealand was home to what many considered to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World. The Pink and White Terraces, which was a natural land formation created by silica deposits, fell victim to the Tarawera eruption, but that didn’t seem to slow tourism down much.
In the early 1900″s, other Rotorua attractions began to really draw visitors in. The Bath House was built, giving rise to the city’s label as the “Great South Seas Spa”. Rotorua New Zealand continued to grow, not only due to tourism, but also because of the city’s agricultural and manufacturing pursuits. Of course, the beauty of the town’s setting is largely responsible for its tourism success. In 1999, 2000, and 2002, Rotorua was voted the most beautiful city in the country, which should give you an idea of how agreeable to the eye it really is. One of the top Rotorua attractions would have to be the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. You can learn all about the city’s history here, and to make things more interesting, it is set in the famous Bath House.
Another great Rotorua museum can be found at the Buried Village of Te Wairoa. Recently renovated and upgraded, the Buried Village offers guided tours of the Maori excavated sites found here. Just 15 minutes outside of town, the Tamaki Maori Village & Realm of Tane is one of the Rotorua attractions that you’ll want to consider. You can tour a re-creation of a pre-European settler Maori village, and at night, the Maori performances are about as authentic as they get. The Realm of Tane is actually located back in town, and it involves a 1-hour show that gives insight to how the Maori first arrived to New Zealand. You’ll likely want to hit the Realm of Tane before you head out to the Tamaki Maori Village.