Rotorua on North Island, Aotearoa New Zealand, is a tourist resort where Maori traditions are visible and ancient arts are taught. At the centre of a geothermal valley, Rotorua's main attractions are steaming geysers and mud pools around a lake within a collapsed volcanic caldera, and the Te Puia Maori cultural and ethnological centre.
Geothermal geyser, Rotorua
Thermal activity in the town has attracted visitors since the 1880s, to bask in soothing spa therapies or to be invigorated by hot mud wraps. An important part of the New Zealand tour experience, Rotorua boasts over 12,000 beds available to tourists, from backpacker hostels through motels to hotels, the largest of which has 250 rooms.
Entertainment and food
Several important Maori cultural performance groups living in the Rotorua area officiate at regular hangis, especially in summer (November to February).
A hangi meal consists mainly of meats slow-cooked outdoors over thermal heat. Generally served to large groups of tourists either at a Marae (traditional Maori meeting place) or in a hotel, this meal and the kapa haka performed afterward are the highlights of Rotorua's Maori entertainment.
The famous haka (a ferocious war dance with ugly tongue waggling) is performed, along with many more musical or more seductive dances.
Sights to see in Rotorua
Other activities around Rotorua include
- the Skyline gondola ride to the mountaintop, with optional luge ride and cable-lift
- the kiwi conservation centre at Rainbow Falls where a thousand of New Zealand's unique yet threatened bird species have been bred for release into the wild
- a visit to the Agrodome for an entertainingly performed history of New Zealand's sheep farming involving real sheep, sheering, lambs and dogs
Maori Folk Museum
Being the main attraction at Rotorua, the Te Puia folk museum forms the entrance to the Pohutu geothermal geyser. Photographs may be taken everywhere, steam allowing, and sitting on warm rock terraces is encouraged. The guide leads the group on an exploration of bubbling mud pools and steaming vents in hardened lava to the dramatic eruptions of hot water in tall plumes. The striking images of Rotorua are of the Maori statues, buildings, weavers and wood-carvers at Te Puia, another component of the New Zealand tourist experience.
Richard Smith, David J. Lowe and Ian Wright, 'Volcanoes - Caldera volcanoes and the Taupō Volcanic Zone', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,
Te Puia, New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute, Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, Rotorua, NZ
Dr. Val Williamson Visit to Rotorua, as at 01.04.2011