Rotorua is a fun little town known for it’s geothermal activity. People travel here to witness geysers, steaming rivers and mud pools. However the town itself is worth exploring, as the downtown has lots of cool shops and stores. We were lucky enough to end up here on a Thursday night, when the main street was blocked off for the weekly night market. There is also a fair bit of adventure activities to do there, and though we did not get to do them, you should check them out! Come for the geothermal activity, but stay to enjoy the cute New Zealand town.
How to Get There
We arrived from Waitomo, and it was about a 2 – 2.5 hour drive (hard to give an exact time as we stopped to take a lot of pictures). We also travelled between Rotorua and Taupo, and that drive took about 1.5 hours.
Where to Stay
- The Backyard Inn – Super basic, and not as nice as it’s description on booking.com. However it had everything we needed in a double room, including towels, a good heater and free parking. The bathrooms were clean and were located close to the rooms. A double room cost $60 NZ. If you’re coming for the “Thermal Pool” don’t get your hopes up, it was really gross looking and we skipped it. The Backyard Inn was a short walk from the center of the city, and it backed onto Kuirau Park which had some mud pools in it. You can book at The Backyard Inn here.
What to Do
- Te Puia Geothermal Park – As part of our Super Charged Trilogy Package, which was $289.68 NZD taxes included, we were able to visit Te Puia, an awesome geothermal park (as well as Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves). If you do this without the package, it costs $52 NZ per adult, $26 NZ per child 5-15 or $141 per family (2 adults and 2-4 children). Our experience started with a Maori cultural show, where we were welcomed into their house. We were lucky enough to experience some Maori singing, dancing and explanations of their customs. After that we met up with our guide and went to set up our thermal lunch boxes. We chose what food we wanted (included chicken, stuffing, potatoes, corn and more) and packed it into a foil container which was taken away and put over a natural steam vent to be cooked while we toured the park. The order of the tour is completely based on when the Pohutu Geyser goes off, but it consists of a few cools things. This included the bubbling mud pit, flax weaving, craft store tour, a visit to the kiwi house, the Pohutu Geyser and of course lunch. The geyser was amazing, our tour guide was very informative and after a long active morning the geothermal steamed lunch was delicious! Check out more about the experience here.
- Night Market – The weekly night market takes place on Thursdays on Tutanekai Street, between Haupapa and Hinemoa Streets, from 5-9pm. If you happen to be in Rotorua on a Thursday night you absolutely have to check it out. Tons of food and crafts to browse, and it’s all fairly cheap. We split honey pork kebabs and bacon poutine for $7 NZ each. The poutine wasn’t quite up to our Canadian standards, but the food was amazing nonetheless.