The centre of the North Island is a hotbed of geothermal activity, originally promoted as a spa destination in the 1860s but now synonymous with bubbling mud, gushing geysers and, well, a rather unique sulphuric smell. It is also known for its strong Maori heritage and some of the most accessible Maori experiences take place here. Located at the southern end of Lake Rotorua the town is a base for a superb range of attractions such as Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Te Puia Geothermal and Maori centre, the Polynesian Spa, the Agrodome, Tamaki and Mitai Maori Villages, Rainbow Springs Nature Reserve and Te Wairoa buried village, to name but a few.
It is a busy little town but there are also some lovely peaceful spots nearby: picturesque Lake Tarawera, the impressive Blue and Green Lakes, nearby Whakarewarewa Forest with its stand of Californian Redwoods and great walking trails and places to kayak and raft. Of course, with all this geothermal activity comes hot springs and Rotorua remains a great place to simply relax for a few hours and enjoy nature’s very own mineral spa.