Rotorua sits on top of one of the world's most active volcanic regions. Below the surface the earth's crust grinds and moves producing heat and molten rock. Throughout the city and its surrounds the evidence of this is surprisingly common. Steam rising from cracks in the road, bubbling and hissing water in pools along the lakes edge and of course the strong smell of sulphur. The original Maori inhabitants recognised the great potential of this natural resource and applied it to cook their food and a plentiful supply of hot water to relax and bathe in didn't go unnoticed by the early European tourists.
Today Rotorua offers a myriad of activities for all to enjoy. Its compact city centre is ideal to stroll and enjoy the cuisine and hospitality. Government gardens provide a wonderful respite and in the centre the Rotorua Museum is a must see. A walk along the lake edge will deliver you to one of the country's oldest Maori villages at Ohinemutu or a float plane can whisk you over the craters of nearby Mt. Tarawera. Surrounding the city are thermal reserves such as Whakawerawera and Wai-O-Tapu, and here you can walk amongst bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and sulphur ponds. Just a few minutes from the town centre Mt. Ngongotaha and the Skyline Gondola and luge overlook the lake and a little further on the Agrodome centre is where you head for adventure and an adrenalin rush. Here you can ride the Zorb, travel at up to 100kph on a jet boat, simulate sky diving or take the plunge on a giant swing. An agricultural exhibition and show is also based here. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without experiencing Rotorua's original tourist attraction - a relaxing spa treatment.
New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, extending over 18-sq. km. Enjoy viewing unique volcanic features as you walk at your own pace along well-defined tracks. Relax in the first-class Visitor Centre, home to the Gift Shop and Café facilities. Visit the Mud Pool, the largest in New Zealand, it was originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920s. See the history and beauty of the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am every day. Lady Knox Geyser provides a unique opportunity to see an eruption to heights of 10 to 20 metres.
Only a short hop from the Rotorua township you'll find Te Puia, known as New Zealand's living Māori cultural experience. Sprawling across 60 hectares of volcanic land, it's home to the world-renowned Pohutu Geyser, a live kiwi enclosure, and more than 500 geothermal wonders. Shrouded in a continuous haze of steam, Te Puia has a dramatic and ethereal air.
As you're guided along the wooden walkways, thermal springs and boiling mud pools surround you on either side, while native ferns and flax can be seen in the forest ahead. Te Puia takes pride in keeping Māori traditions and craft alive and it is home to the New Zealand National Carving and Weaving Schools. You'll have the chance to watch these unique craftspeople working as they share their skills with the next generation.
Enter the world of Mitai and learn about the history of this area which was once flourished in villages. See fierce warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-Whiro stream and the story of the migration of Tamatekapua of the Te Arawa canoe to Aotearoa and the Māori Pacifica connection told in dance form.
The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!
Set on a 350-acre working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle, the Agrodome gives its visitors a hands-on, live farming experience. The Farm Show stars a cast of talented animals – not just sheep! The remarkable farm dogs will amaze you, as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line. Then pop across to the herding area to watch a free live dog trial after the show! Explore the farm and learn the history of New Zealand agriculture on custom designed farm trailers. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. Explore the fruit orchard and olive grove and have the chance to taste natural kiwifruit juice and delicious sweet honey that comes from the farm.
Take the Skyline Scenic Gondola ride up the side of the dormant volcano Mount Ngongotaha (487 metres above sea level) where you can experience spectacular views of the city and lake. At the top, you can choose to Luge, Mountain Bike, Zoom Zipline, Skyswing, check out the nature trails, shop at the INZPIRED Store or the Jelly Belly Store, enjoy Volcanic Hills wine tasting and dine at Market Kitchen or Stratosfare Restaurant.
In 1886, Mount Tarawera in Rotorua erupted, and destroyed the surrounding area. The eruption opened the earth along a 17km rift, splitting Mount Tarawera in two, exploding Lake Rotomahana to 20 times its original size, and forming the seven craters that today make up the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Within 15 years of the Eruption, the hot springs of the Waimangu Geothermal System were established within the newly formed craters, making this the world's newest geothermal eco-system. Plant life returned to the devastated land 30 years after the 1886 eruption. Today Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Lake Rotomahana are wholly protected as a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Refuge. Here you can enjoy a range of easy walking to advanced hiking. They also have a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana which can be added to the experience.
Join a tour through a real Living Maori Village, take a walk through the magnificent geothermal fields and watch a cultural performance. Experience how Maori have traditionally used the natural geothermal energy in daily activities, from cooking in the bubbling waters and steam, to heating their homes and bathing in the therapeutic and refreshing waters. This package is entertaining and informative with a focus on giving everyone an understanding of the Maori history, culture and the and how the villagers live in the challenging Whakarewarewa Geothermal field and the significance of protecting it for future generations.
Experience an eco tour with Elite Adventures witnessing some of the best sites in Rotorua on our full day tour! Our full day tour accommodates for small groups of no more than 12 people. Combine the morning tour with the afternoon tours for a full day!
Learn about our huge colourful hot springs, erupting geysers and active boiling mud pools, spectacular volcanoes and lush native forest.
*Please be aware, there are some departure dates where the Wai-O-Tapu may not be available due to reduced opening days.
Embark on a three and a half hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges, journey deeper into natural New Zealand than ever before with the Ultimate Canopy Tour. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it.
Enjoy an evening adventure kayaking out over one of New Zealand’s most stunning water ways, Lake Rotoiti. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, abundant birdlife, and learn the myths and legends linked to the area, before kayaking over to the stunning Manupirua Hot Pools. Adventure out to the magical glow worm cave as the sun goes behind the hills to learn the life cycle and legends of the glow worms.
On the way back see how the lake is transformed by the moon and the twinkling stars above, with the night sky being the perfect end to the adventure.
Enjoy the Rotorua Lakes as the sun sets at the twilight hour on an amazing stand-up paddle board scenic tour as you are guided to an incredible cavern home to a galaxy formation of glow-worms. This paddle-board experience you will never forget. This experience starts with a short drive of approximately 15 minutes leads you past the iconic Redwood and Whakarewarewa forest before you descend to the lake to begin the adventures. Once at the Lake your friendly, professional local guide will unload all the equipment for your group and get you kitted-out for the paddle boarding experience. Sound safety and instruction briefings follow as you learn to paddle board or hone your existing skills. No paddle board experience is required - most tour members have never paddle boarded before but with the quality and skill of the instructors most people are standing up and paddling within 15 minutes; there is always the option to paddle sitting or kneeling on the board if this is more comfortable. An amazing time then ensues stand-up paddle boarding on the lake as you soak in the natural surroundings as the sun goes down. Once the sun goes down you will search for the hidden caves, once in the cave, you will be amazed at the incredible glow worms that number in the thousands and appear like a galaxy above you. If you are lucky with a clear sky, the return paddle will continue your sense of awe and wonder with amazing stars lighting the sky.
Based in the sacred Te Takinga Marae in Rotorua, Kahukiwi Experiences offers a never before seen window into the landscapes, ways of life and heritage of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe. Explore the untouched, sacred land of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe in this intimate 4WD experience. Guided by a local and highly knowledgeable Māori guide, you’ll explore a stunning marae (a communal and social gathering place), landscapes and never-before-seen views that look over Rotorua’s lake district. En route, you’ll learn the myths and legends of local people, rich history and fascinating ways of life.
This comprehensive 1-hour guided experience is a truly unique opportunity to learn about the world-renowned kiwi hatchery conservation program. You are invited to step ‘behind the glass’ for an immersive experience to join the hatchery team in a staff-only area to learn about the incubation and chick rearing techniques from global experts. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person! Afterwards, take more time to learn in the interactive kiwi burrow and see adult kiwi roam and forage in our purpose-built Nocturnal house.
On this tour, you will visit 27 locations that best represents Rotorua's historical, geological and cultural identity. Your local guide will share with you their amazing history, take you to the best photo spots and show you Rotorua from a local point of view. This tour is perfect for people of all ages.
The Rotorua Glow Worm Kayaking Tour is one of the most unique and magical ways to see New Zealands glow worms. Explore the shoreline and embrace the weather conditions of the evening as you follow your guide around the lake edge as night sets in. Once its dark, discover your adventurous side as your guide leads you inside incredible hidden caves home to galaxies of glow worms. Take ample time to enjoy the magical moments inside the caves before returning along your course in the dark. If it is a clear night the magic continues as the stars come out and the cloudy appearance of the milky-way fills the sky. Upon returning to the base you will feel like you have been in another world for the past few hours and will likely have made some new friends through the wonder of this experience.
Strap yourself in to an impressive v6 Monster 4x4 and hold tight while you experience the ultimate thrill ride. Accelerate deep into the bush and up and down steep tracks and near-vertical slopes including the 'Window Maker' and 'Loggers Long Drop'. Hold a white knuckled grip as the 4x4 twists, bucks, swerves and tilts.
This is the ultimate 4WD adventure, deep in the New Zealand bush. The terrain is rugged and remote, making this journey challenging and thrilling. Buckle in and share the driving in one of Off Road NZ’s 4WDs. Your professional guide, up ahead, gives you instructions while your heart is racing with anticipation. Traverse unbelievably steep climbs and descents; tight, twisting bends; deep, muddy holes; the 4WD rocks and pitches. Fly past foliage and maneuver across a creek with a bridge of poles. Suddenly, experience the luge: a six metre-high controlled slide down a near-vertical 80-degree slope. Take a leap of faith on this adrenaline pumping experience!
Feel the rush of adrenaline as high powered engines blast you over the water up to 85 km/h, and experienced drivers throw the boats into 360° spins. Visit iconic landmarks around Lake Rotorua, and learn the history of the area, the people, and the events that have shaped this special place into the cultural capital of New Zealand.
Explore the amazing scenery of Lake Rotomahana on this spectacular guided kayaking tour. Watch the steam rise from the steaming cliffs as you are immersed in the wonders of worlds youngest geothermal system. Along the way you will learn the story of this incredible valley as you paddle your way past geothermal features exclusive only to this beautiful part of New Zealand.
The Tarawera Falls are just a short drive through forest and bush from the small town of Kawerau. The river disappears underground and reappears gushing out of the rock face at the falls. A short walk through bush along the river delivers you to a viewing area.
Take a journey with a local guide in the footprints of the Maori tribe “Tuhourangi”. The afternoon is spent learning about the history of the pink and white terraces and the great 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera that destroyed both the tribal village and the terraces. To bring the story alive visits are made to The Buried Village, Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village, Lake Tarawera, Lake Tikitapu & Lady Rotokakahi (Green lake), and views of Mt. Tarawera Volcano.
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