Rotorua is both home to New Zealand’s most active geothermal zone and considered a sacred place for the Maori people. Here’s how to visit from Auckland to see geysers and bubbling mud, then visit Maori cultural centers for dances and traditional feasts.
Many full-day tours to Rotorua visit the Whakarewarewa geothermal area in time to see the Pohutu Geyser spring to life; walk among the multicolored hot pools, steaming fissures, and bubbling mud; and stop at a Maori cultural center for dance performances, concerts, and traditional hangi feasts. Other highlights include the Waitomo Caves—illuminated by thousands of glowworms—and the Agrodome, where travelers can watch sheepdogs and sheep shearers in action.
A longer tour of Rotorua allows time to further explore this fascinating region. In addition to seeing the steaming features at Te Whakarewarewa Valley, many tours also stop at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland for more colorful geothermal action. On a multi-day tour, you can also check out the subterranean glowworms at the Waitomo Caves, view “Lord of the Rings” movie sets on a visit to Hobbiton, learn about native culture on a visit to a real Maori village; hit the highlights of Rotorua’s city center, or take a spin on a jet boat on Lake Rotoiti.
Things to Know
Rotorua is located about 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Auckland.
Tours typically include travel by bus, which takes about four hours one way, or via a short flight between Auckland and Rotorua.
Full-day tours generally last around 13 hours, departing early in the morning and returning to Auckland in the evening.