Rotorua sightseeing tours
Rotorua sightseeing tours: Want to join us on our Rotorua sightseeing tours? Would you like to soak in hot pools, walk on the crater edge of a volcano, see geysers rising up 20 m into the air or enjoy a traditional Maori meal, while watching Maori song and dance performances? All this is possible in and around Rotorua. So don’t just spend a single day here on your New Zealand camper van vacation, but plan to stay at least for two or three days!
Rotorua Museum and Polynesian Spa
We think the day of your arrival in Rotorua is best spent by getting to know a little bit more about the history and geology of this unique volcanic area. A visit to the Rotorua Museum is an excellent way to do this. One of the highlights of the museum is the film about the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. This eruption made entire villages disappear under the ash and mud and killed about 150 people. The film in the museum really tries to let you experience what a volcanic eruption is like. Another highlight of the museum is the original Bath House, that used to be a famous spa resort in the first half of the 20th century.
A fantastic way to finish your day is by relaxing in the Polynesian Spa, located very close to the museum. It has thirty-five mineral hot pools to choose from and offers all kinds of therapies (like massages, body wraps, facial treatments, body scrubs, et cetera). The Polynesian Spa is open everyday till 11.00 pm, so there’s no need to hurry.
Rotorua sightseeing tours:
Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve,
Mt Tarawera tour and Maori Hangi & Concert
For your second day in Rotorua, drive up to Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, a few kilometers south of town. Some years ago, the reserve has been split in two, so you’ll first have to make up your mind about which part you like to visit (or visit both of course).
The smallest part of the thermal reserve features the Maori Village of Whakarewarewa. This is a living Maori village, where you’ll get a unique chance to see how the villagers use the steam vents to prepare their food, and how they use the thermal waters for bathing and washing. The village also has some shops and a cafe. Around lunchtime, there’s a free cultural performance with traditional songs and dances. You don’t have access to the famous Pohutu geyser from this part of the reserve, but you can still admire it from a viewing platform.
The other part of the reserve is owned by theNew Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. The Institute itself shows you everything about traditional carving and weaving techniques. However, the main feature of this part of the reserve is the Pohutu geyser, which nowadays rises almost continuously to a height of more than 20 m. The geyser is surrounded by boiling mud pools, silica stalactites and sulphur springs. And last but not least, there’s a traditional Maori village to admire on the grounds of this part of the reserve.
If you have decided to visit just one part of the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, it might be a good idea to spend the other half of the day participating in a guided tour to the edge of the Mt Tarawera crater. There’s only one company that is allowed to take you there: Mt Tarawera Volcano Tours. One of their pickup points for their half day tour is conveniently located at the New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute. (By the way, they also offer shorter helicopter flights to the crater.)
Finally, a Maori hangi and concert (a hangi is a meal cooked in traditional style), with Maori tribal songs, dances, myths, and legends would be a perfect end to this second day of your Rotorua sightseeing tours.
Rotorua sightseeing tours:
Wai-o-ta-pu thermal wonderland
For your last day in Rotorua, we suggest you visit Wai-o-ta-pu thermal wonderland , located about 30 km south of Rotorua. Even if you have spent the whole previous day at the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, this is still something to recommend, because of the fabulous colours: especially those of the Champagne Pool (a large, bubbling spring) and the Artists Palette (a multi coloured silica terrace). Wai-o-ta-pu is also known because of its Lady Knox geyser. It erupts once every day (at 10.15 am), in reaction to the soap powder thrown into it.