Rotorua
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Rotorua Culture & History

  • Rotorua: The Buried Village of Te Wairoa

    1. 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 Smit...

    Absolutely loved learning about the history of the land we stood on and the stories shaped our future today. Honestly such an amazing place with interesting displays to accompany the stories as they are being told! Worth the price for sure!!!

  • 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.

    We had a great time, very relaxing. Don’t wear your own clothes, hire them or you’ll be sorry :)

  • 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, w...

    A lot of pools to choose from which was fantastic. I did enjoy going during the week as you have less people there and more time to soak in the pools which was really relaxing.

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

    4. 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 y...

    Our guide, Grant, was so full of knowledge!! He not only drove the van, but also was the tour guide. Because we were such a small group, he gave us a lot of individual attention. He was funny, and as hands-on, or hands-off, as we wanted him to be. We had a great time

  • From Auckland: Hobbiton & Rotorua Tour with Lunch at Te Puia

    5. From Auckland: Hobbiton & Rotorua Tour with Lunch at Te Puia

    Enjoy the magic of Middle Earth at the Hobbiton Movie Set and delight in Maori culture at Te Puia Maori Village in Rotorua on a day tour from Auckland. Travel in comfort with a small group and an experienced local guide in a late-model Mercedes or a similarly configured the vehicle to provide extra leg room and space for your comfort.  After the pick-up from your hotel, journey through gorgeous Waikato scenery to Hobbiton. On arrival, set off on an official 2-hour guided tour through the picturesque twelve-acre site. Learn fascinating details of how a beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-Earth. At the end of your tour, savor a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.  Climb back into the vehicle for the 55-minute drive to Rotorua. Arrive at Te Puia Maori Village where you will have a freshly prepared hangi lunch featuring traditional Maori ...

    Awesome tour for both. Drivers were amazing made the whole tour a seamless experience.

  • From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

    6. From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

    Get picked up from your accommodation or an agreed-upon meeting point in Auckland or Rotorua and set off for Hobbiton. Upon arrival, you'll have some time to get something to eat or explore the Shires Rest souvenir shop before joining a two-hour walking tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which includes a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.  Transfer to the movie set on one of the tour operator's buses and hear about how this set was used for all filming of both "The Lord of the Rings" and the "The Hobbit" movies. After the tour, take 15 minutes to relax in the Green Dragon Inn before traveling to Waitomo Caves. Between the two stops, you'll have time to enjoy your picnic lunch. At Waitomo Caves, join a group of up to 12 people on the Black Labyrinth tour, which includes cave tubing and caving in the river that runs through the bottom of the Ruakuri Cave. After arriving at the cav...

    Hobbiton was much larger than expected and the tour did not disappoint! Tubing through the gloworms at Waitomo was a great way to see them. The cave river is definitely cold but worth it. Nothing too scary or difficult! The pick up in Royorua and drop off in Auckland was perfect for us! Anne our driver was very knowledgeable about the area even with the detours for roadworks.

  • Auckland to Rotorua Small Group Tour & Activity Add-Ons

    7. 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 woul...

    One of the best travel experiences I had. Simon, the tour guide, was fantastic, knew everything about the different spots visited and was very friendly.

  • Rotorua: Tamaki Māori Village Cultural Experience

    8. Rotorua: Tamaki Māori Village Cultural Experience

    Experience the warmth of the Maori people with an evening of ceremonial rituals, cultural performances, storytelling, and hangi feasting at Tamaki Maori Village. Return transport provided from the Gathering Place in Tamaki. Warriors emerge from the forest by canoe to perform the powhiri, an ancient ceremony of welcome that allows visitors safe passage into the village. As you wander beneath the stunning forest canopy, the pre-European village is alive with sights, sounds & activity of days gone. See haka, poi, tattooing, carving, and arts of warrior training.  Watch as the earth is carefully scraped away to reveal baskets of food cooked beneath the ground. Enter the ancestral meeting house and enjoy a powerful cultural performance before dining on the traditional hangi buffet feast. The evening ends with the Poroporoaki (official closing ceremony) before you are returned to the Gatheri...

    It was such an awesome experience, loved the performances, the welcoming at the beginning was so good! The team had such beautiful voices. I tell you, there's only about 10-12 in the group but when you hear them singing....sound like a whole choir!! Amazing! The HANGI was deeeelicious, I swear this was the highlight of our stay in Rotorua and highly recommend it. #KIAORA

  • New Zealand: Wellington to Auckland 3-Day Tour via Rotorua

    9. New Zealand: Wellington to Auckland 3-Day Tour via Rotorua

    Day one of the tour begins with pickup from your hotel in Wellington and then heads across the north island towards Rotorua. Travel along the breathtaking Kapiti Coast, through the city of Palmerston North, and alongside the Central Plateau, home to several active volcanoes. The drive also takes you past the stunning Lake Taupo before arriving in Rotorua in the late afternoon. Get checked into your accommodation, the Millennium Hotel, and then spend the rest of the day exploring at your leisure. Wake up on the second day ready for an adventure in the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Following a morning of city sightseeing, head over to Te Puia and experience Rotorua's famous Maori culture. Then learn about the region’s unique geothermal activity with a tour of the neighboring Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, where mud pools bubble and boil and geysers shoot steam high into the air. Next,...

  • Rotorua: Kaituna Rafting & Mt. Tarawera Hiking Combo

    10. Rotorua: Kaituna Rafting & Mt. Tarawera Hiking Combo

    Take on a thrilling rafting adventure with experienced and local Kiwi guides. Navigate a wildly beautiful landscape while learning about Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and protection of the land. Snake through steep New Zealand bush-clad canyons. Be thrilled by fourteen rapids and tree waterfalls, including the world-renowned 7-meter Tutea Falls. Relive the rafting action through photos snapped by a professional adventure photographer along the way. Throughout the day, your guide will share the history of Mount Tarawera's eruption as well as local myths and legends. On arrival at the mountain base, begin the ascent to the crater's edge in an off-road 4x4 vehicle up through native bushland. After a quick stop at the solar-powered mountain base, continue up to the beginning of the track.  Admire stunning scenic vistas and 360-degree panoramic views as you enjoy the hike up. At the summit, ...

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What people are saying about Rotorua

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 346 reviews

Absolutely loved learning about the history of the land we stood on and the stories shaped our future today. Honestly such an amazing place with interesting displays to accompany the stories as they are being told! Worth the price for sure!!!

Great experience, so many activities to do - worth the price. Please note although they say duration is 3 hours, you are able to spend as long as you want.

Was an awesome experience. Our Tour guide was funny and made the experience more enjoyable.

Awesome tour for both. Drivers were amazing made the whole tour a seamless experience.

Amazing experience, my first time and hopefully not my last!