Need Tips for Rotorua

Nov 4th, 2007, 06:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Need Tips for Rotorua

We will have 2 nights and a full day and 1/2 in Rotorua on our trip to NZ in March.

We are looking for tips on how/where to:
* see cultural performances and Maori art
* partake in a traditional Maori feast
* visit geyers & bubbling mud pools
* take in a thermal pool (the more private, the better) or massage

Is the region small enough where we can do all these things within a day and a half? Would we need a car to get around to these places?

Also, suggestions for mid-range lodging would be appreciated (we may not be renting a car until the end of the second day).

Thanks for the input. I appreciate all you Fodor-ites out there sharing your knowledge!
Sproketz is offline  
Nov 4th, 2007, 08:04 AM
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Posts: 49

After posting my questions above, I was trying find more traveler reviews of Rotorua. I wasn't really able to find anything, and now I'm wondering if it might be best to skip Rotorua altoghther, and add two more days to other places (like Nelson and Queenstown).

Any comments?

Sproketz is offline  
Nov 4th, 2007, 05:16 PM
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Try doing a search on "rotorua" and "rotorua trip report". I'm sure you will find something.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 4th, 2007, 07:55 PM
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Go to a Maori Hangi, where you will see a dance performance and a traditional dinner. There are a couple of choices around Rotorua - we thought that the one run by the Tamaki brothers ( was better than the one Mitai Hangi.

There are geothermal features at Whakarewarewa (, along with cultural performances and a Hangi that, in my opinion, is inferior to the choices above.

You can get a private spa pool at Polynesian Spa (

You can easily do all of these in a day-and-a-half. The Hangi is at night, and a charter bus will take you there from various Rotorua locations. The Polynesian Spa and Whakarewarewa are both 'in town'. You won't need a car, but might want to use a taxi a couple of times.

Whether or not you should to to Rotorua sort of depends on what you like to do. I found all of the above a little too 'touristy' to my taste, but the rest of my family loved these attractions and more (Agrodome and the Buried Village, to name two).

Can't help much with accomodations, as the two times we passed through Rotorua, we used our campervan or stayed in a B & B.
ALF is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 01:10 AM
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Whether to skip Rotorua and spend more time in Nelson/Queenstown probably depends on what you like to do. I didn't much like Queenstown (you might!). But there are some fabulous places roundabouts. How many days will you have in Queenstown if you stick with the Rotorua plan?

I'd never seen boiling mud, geysers, any sort of geothermal activity so I was glad I went to Rotorua. I did skip Whakarewarewa, though, cos it looked very 'packaged' and went to Wai-o-Tapu instead. But the place I liked best was Waimangu. Much more laid back; far fewer people, and a gorgeous walk.


chimani is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 06:37 AM
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Posts: 5,546
We enjoyed Rotorua, and I would suggest your seeing it. Report at:

Part 9.

We did not enjoy the private pool at Polynesian Spa.
Jed is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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I second the recommendation to go to Wai-o-tapu and Waimangu. In addition, there are boiling mud pools within Rotorua itself (at Kuirau Park), which you can view for free. They're not colorful, but they sure are interesting (if only because this isn't exactly what you expect to see in an ordinary city park!).

As far as getting around, you don't absolutely need a car - you can book guided tours to many of the thermal sites (I went on a full-day tour with Elite Adventures -, and as I recall, there's also a tourist bus service to and from Wai-o-tapu and Waimangu (check with the Rotorua iSite to see if this is still running). And you can easily walk to Kuirau Park. Having a car, though, allows you more flexability; you can view the sites at your own pace instead of a guide's, and without being strictly tied to a bus schedule.
Moongoddess is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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We went to the evening concert and hangi at Te Whakarewarewa, which we enjoyed very much. They have a small bus which picked us up at our hotel; I believe Tamaki does the same thing, so you won't need a car.

We went to Waiotapu, which was really interesting.

I have a trip report here, which you can find by clicking on my name and searching. You can also see our pictures at

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Nov 5th, 2007, 07:18 PM
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Thanks for all the responses!

I guess we mostly want to experience the Maori art, cultural performances, and a hangi.

Are there other places where we can do this (Queenstown, Te Anau, Franz Josef, Nelson, Waitomo or Auckland)?

I came across a place in Queenstown called Haka Pa Maori Village that has a show and hangi meal. Haven't been able to find any feedback for this one.">

We would love to add another day to Nelson (currently we have 2 nights scheduled with time spent in Abel Tasman, wineries, and the town of Nelson.) It would also be nice to add one more day in Queenstown (2 nights right now for possible bungy, gondola, parapenting, RungWay) for another day trip in the surrounding area.

Of course, if Rotorua is a "must-see"...
Sproketz is offline  
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