Eco-friendly travel guide to Rotorua advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Rotorua, New Zealand.
- Air quality: 3.5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 4 / 5
- Parks: 3 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$15 - $1030
- Budget per day: US$60 - $1500
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
It has taken the name after Lake Rotorua on which the city is located. Situated on the south shores of the lake in the Bay of Plenty Region. Known for its featured geysers and geothermal activity, the city Rotorua is a part of the North Island of New Zealand. This city is one of the major destinations for both national and international tourists. To be more specific, Rotorua has the largest tourism industry in the district. This city is also the homeland for the living Maori Village. Hence, the city is popular for the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute along with the traditional wood carvings and weaving schools.
The bubbling mud pool in Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley and the Pohutu Geyser is a unique feature of the city. Rotorua is also known for its historical architecture and botanical gardens. The city has tremendous tourist attractions which include the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, the Tamaki Maori Village, Redwoods Treewalk, Waimangu Volcanic Village, the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and many others. So, planning a trip to Rotorua will give you plentiful memories along with the surprise of the magnificent beauty of nature.
- To fulfill your duty as a responsible tourist, you should opt to visit the local shops and restaurants to support the local economy.
- Make sure you do not cause any destruction to the historical architecture. Keep them well maintained by not writing or drawing on the walls.
- Prefer using public transport to scout the interior of the city. Roadways are well connected to the lanes of the city.
- Play your role as a responsible tourist by preserving and respecting the cultural sites that are remarked as the highlights of the city.
- Try to visit non-popular areas, as there might be something more interesting that other visitors are unaware of. Somehow, this will reduce the over-tourism in a particular area and will give you the chance to discover a new hidden gem of the city.
- Choose eco-friendly hotels for your stay in Rotorua. It will help you and the country to stay pollution-free.
- Make sure not to misuse the resources available in the city. Rather, try to preserve it for the future use of the locals of Rotorua.
- There are so many national parks which you can visit while exploring the country. You can enjoy the beauty of nature in a fresh atmosphere.
- Being a responsible tourist, you should always choose the methods that are helpful for the environment. Consider using buses, ferries, or taxis to scout all the major destinations in and around the city.
Air Quality and Pollution
The increased level of polluted air is a crucial thing that everyone is worried about. The harmful gases present in the air badly affects the flora and fauna of the city. The air quality of Rotorua is quite bad. Therefore, the governments have taken necessary measures to control the pollution in the region which is still on the list of poor air quality and high pollution level. The authorized body has taken the responsibility to measure and monitor the various types of automatic and non-automatic networks that are causing harm to the environment.
The government has also asked the citizens of the city to contribute their role positively to reduce the number of pollutants present in the air. For this, they are trying to omit the machines that generate harmful gases. These gases not only increase the pollution rate but also affects the health of human beings. Therefore, following certain effective steps will help them to ensure that the air quality level gets better as soon as possible. The country is persistently improving day by day. Somehow, the pollution level has decreased as compared to the past levels. So, you can plan your trip to Rotorua without any worries.
Respect the Culture
Besides being known for the mud pools, natural hot springs, and shooting geysers, the city Rotorua is also popular for its Maori culture. It experiences the traditional practices, beliefs, and customs of the Maori people. The inspiring and authentic Maori culture is still preserved by the city. The traditional performances give an amazing view of the historic traditions, art, lifestyle, mythology, and more about the past and present of Maori. The traditional spine-tingling welcoming ceremony called powhiri, the beautifully haunting call of the female elder known as kuia, the dance with poi, or performing the haka is some of the must-watch cultures of the city.
You can omit all your tensions and enjoy your day with your loved ones. These are considered the most delightful part of the Maori culture of the city Rotorua. Another tremendous form of culture of the city is paddling a stunningly carved traditional Maori canoe called waka along the shores of Lake Rotorua. This will help you know more about the local Maori of the Ohinemutu Village and further. In addition, you can even interact with locals during your tour to these places. Besides, this will also help you to understand the culture of the city of Rotorua better.
People here are very helpful and understanding. This city experiences both domestic as well as an international crowd of travelers. Other than commonly speaking the Te Reo Maori language, the English language is also spoken as the main language in the city Rotorua. This will make your communication with the locals much easier and comfortable. Further, you will be able to enjoy the trip even more engagingly.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Every year more than thousands of tourists visit the city of Rotorua. Nowadays, it is one of the best cities in New Zealand where you will get a nice holiday experience. If you are wondering about which attractions you need to visit in this city, then here are some of the common ones given below.
- Mount Tarawera - A volcano where you will get multiple lava domes that were creviced down during a huge eruption that took place. It was back in the period of the 18th century, which gives you a very brief history of that incident.
- Lake Rotorua - This lake is beautiful, and here you would get the sightings of some ducks and ducklings. They become a point of attraction for both tourists and locals
- Mitai Maori Village - It is a small village in the city that attracts a lot of tourists every year. The best thing that makes this village special is the unique Maori culture and traditions. If you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of the famous traditional dance
- Paradise Valley Springs - It is a wildlife park that is famous for some native animals. You can explore the wildlife or take part in bird watching to get a very good experience of nature
- Tarawera Falls - This is one of the best waterfalls in the city and in entire New Zealand. The waterfall is more than 65m tall and flows down to Lake Tarawera. Also, the waterfall flow near the rhyolitic lava flow of Mt Tarawera that is erupted more than 11,000 years ago
- 3D Trick Art Gallery - If you are fascinated by 3D paintings, then this place will make you jaw-dropped. Here you will get the most fabulous paintings that are available in 5 different themed galleries. Around 50 trick artworks are available in the gallery that makes the gallery a must-visit
- Lake Okataina - Located on the far north side of the city, this is the largest among the small 4 lakes that lie between Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotorua. The lake is very popular for short walks and scenic beauty. The local people of the city also call this lake "The Lake of Laughter"
- Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve - Without any doubt, this is one of the best spots to witness the scenic beauty and landscapes. You can also take part in trekking and other outdoor activities. The adventurous aspect of this place attracts people from different parts of the world to visit here.
- Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre - This place is heaven for all the bird lovers out there. Here you can see some of the rare species of owls, hawks, and many more like them.
- 3d Maze - For all those people who want to experience a thrilling adventure, this is the right place for them. If you are in love with games and adventures, then taking part in this maze will help you to spend some time and get a good memory
Your whole experience of traveling to Rotorua depends on the exploration. So, you have to visit all the attractive places like city parks, national parks, beaches, landmarks, and museums. Here are some details about these places given below
- Kuirau Park - This is a perfect park where you can sit on a bench and spend your leisure time getting a very close encounter with nature. If you love outdoor games, then it also has a playground where you can play cricket, football, and other games
- Centennial Park - The ambiance of this park is calm, and here you would get a nice serene feeling. This is a great place to relax and enjoy the nature
- Redwoods Forest - As the name suggests, it is a forest that allows you to explore the woods. On our way to the woods, you can find some pine trees and shrubs.
- Mount Ngongotaha Scenic Reserve - If you want to take part in some outdoor activities, then this national forest is ideal for you. From ropeway to trekking, you will find a lot of activities available in this reserve. Also, the wildlife experience of this park will help you to get a very good and memorable time
Unfortunately, you would not find any beaches in the city of Rotorua as it is known for its lakes. So if you are willing to feel the presence of water for swimming then, you have to try the lakes.
- Skyline Rotorua - An excursion center where you will get an experience of a ropeway to see the whole city. In other words, it is a view of the entire region from the sky that will leave you awestruck.
- Rotorua Museum - This museum is known for promoting the cultural heritage of the city. If you are a history lover, then you have to explore it vividly to find some interesting stories
- Te Amorangi Trust Museum - This place was made as a tribute to those engines, which played a very crucial role in the early ages. You will get a vast collection of engine models from the past with other exhibitions
Being a part of New Zealand, Rotorua is popular for the Sichuan cuisines. The land serves a variety of food items such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken. It is also rich in herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The authentic traditional dish is a Maori cuisine named Maori Kai, which includes the sweetcorn on the cob, Hangi Pie, and Geothermal Hangi meal. They are prepared using different techniques and unique cooking styles and are popular among the locals. The flavors infused with the variations of the foods attract the tourists to the local restaurant and traditional local shops.
Among these, Hangi pie is the most famous Maori dish that is enjoyed by both the locals as well as visitors. This lip-smacking dish is made by combining two food items, and are cooked using the hangi method. Other must-try food items include crispy mozzarella risotto balls, Quattro Formaggi, burrito, classic margarita, ginger sesame fried chicken, and a variety of Mexican or Eastern style dishes. Not in savory dishes, also Rotorua is famous for the desserts that are true delicacies of the city. The variety served in this city are part of ancient times.
Full of flavors and cooking techniques gives it the touch of enrichment in the texture. Some of them include Thai Mango Custard, Rice pudding, a variety of ice cream, and other sweet items. All the food items including the savory dishes and the sweets are available in almost every corner of the city. The price is not much. Not only the locals but tourists love the taste and flavors of the food items. So, when in Rotorua, do opt for trying on the mentioned special dishes served by the city.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Stratosfare Restaurant – This is one of the well-known traditional restaurants located at Fairy Springs Rd Skyline Rotorua. Known for serving local cuisine, grill items with flavorsome tastes, this place is very popular in the city. They serve some fine buffet menu along with a splendid view of the scenic atmosphere. You will get variations in the food items like lamb chop, variety of kai, seafood, pasta, and salads. The staff is polite and well mannered. It is worth visiting this place if you are in Rotorua.
- Mamma Rosa – This restaurant is located on Pukaki Street in Rotorua. It offers everything on the menu including Mediterranean, Italian and European dishes. Some of its popular dishes are a variety of pizzas and salad, kombucha, bruschetta, and other super delicious dishes that would make your day. Being a traditional restaurant, its ambiance was ideally represented with a relaxed atmosphere. This place serves quality foods to blend with the lip-smacking flavors. The price is quite reasonable.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Steam - This is a pure Indian vegetarian restaurant located on Hinemoa Street. It is famous for serving tandoori delights, poppadoms, and sizzlers that are flavorsome dishes with complete vegetarian options. With the ambiance of beautiful calm and restful indoor sitting, this place offers great food quality that is freshly made. The taste and flavor are highly considered while preparing the food. This restaurant offers a variety of north Indian, south Indian, and Chinese dishes. The service is really commendable and the price is reasonable for the quality of food they offer.
- Delhi Hut – This is one of the popular restaurants that serve the best vegan dishes. Located in Pererika Street, they offer a variety of vegetarian options to munch on. They serve quality Indian and Asian foods. Famous for serving delicious food with the colour complicated presentation that would make your mouth watery. Investing your time here to eat their servings are worthy of it. The ambiance is calm and cozy. This place also offers takeaway options.
While exploring the city, you will come across the street food market. The diversity of the foods available in the city is well-liked by the tourists as well as the locals. The street foods of Rotorua mainly include foods that are made with a lot of cream sauce, cheese, and a variety of meat. These delicious foods are worth trying as it will give you the feel of enriched flavors combined together.
Snacking on these street foods will help you to gain a new experience of eating food in comparison to the restaurants. You will get variations in the food, starting from the hot dogs and burgers to the traditional cuisine of Maori culture. The cost of the food is affordable. The money invested will support the economy of the country, hence, will also help you to play your role as a responsible tourist.
Drinks are considered to be the best companion for any tourist. Exploring a new place along with the drinks offered by the city is something travelers look forward to. Amazingly, every city has its flavor when it comes to foods and drinks. So does this city, Rotorua too. The city serves locally brewed crafted beer and wine.
The quality and the smoothness in the taste of wine have a freshness that is indulged with the aroma of the flavor. You can enjoy it with delicacies or can drink it before dinner. Apart from alcoholic drinks, you will get a variety of non-alcoholic drinks such as tea, coffee, juices, and milkshakes. These are commonly available in the city. Therefore, tourists love to enjoy both cocktails and mocktails depending on their preference.
The water quality of Rotorua is safe to drink. Locals here refer to use tap water for a drink and other purposes. Chlorine treatment is used to disinfect the water supplied. But being a tourist, you might not be assured about the water quality. So, consider asking the locals about the quality of tap water that flows in different regions of the city. Due to chlorination, the water might taste a bit different. Hence, you can prefer bottled water available across the city. Further, every hotel and local region provides a tap water facility. You can fill your bottles anytime during the tour in the city.
- Artisan Café – This café is located on Tutanekai Street. With great ambiance, this place is set with live music played by a local artist. This is one of the best cafés in the city and serves amazing coffee. You can feel the essence of the roasted beans blended and can enjoy the menu options wholeheartedly. Besides, this café also serves some vegetarian and gluten-free delicacies. It is also a good place if you want to munch on some vegan snacks.
- Fat Dog Café – This café is known for its fresh and healthy serving of breakfasts. Located in Arawa Street, this place has a quirky décor of wooden chairs and tables. You will get wide options in the menu that are tasty. The flavorsome snacks will give you the best feeling. Can also prefer this place for lunch and brunch. The quality of food is highly rated. The staff are friendly and perform their duty well. Don’t forget to sip the freshness of the coffee served here.
- Brew – This popular brewery located at Rue Louis Blanc in Rotorua serves the best beer in the city. The bold aroma and complex flavor are liked by the locals as well as by the tourists. With a great selection of crafted beer, this place gathers amazing crowds from the city. This brewpub offers happy hour every Friday. It offers a balanced taste of beers along with delicious servings of a variety of food items. The prices are reasonable and the quality is remarkable.
As mentioned previously, Rotorua is a city of attractions and sceneries that depicts the Maori culture of the city. These famous attractions are part of ancient history, preserved with complete care and management. You can explore the region to witness the historic Maori village, traditional customs, and historic locations throughout the city. The Hell’s Gate is the active geothermal park in Rotorua. You can enjoy relaxation in the geothermal muds and sulfur waters. The Kaituna River offers another way to experience the adventure. You can do river sledding with Kaitiaki here.
Visiting the picturesque Government Gardens and the Ohinemutu Maori Village will help you to know about the history of the land. Also, you can enjoy the scenic trip down the Waikato River through the Tutukau Gorge. The stunning scenery and wildlife would be an amazing experience along with hearing the stories of the Maori tribes. You can opt for the cultural and geothermal tour to Te Rata Bay along with a natural hot pool soak. Further, you can experience the Magic of Te Puia, cultural performance, sacred freshwater spring, and warrior canoe. Besides, you can visit Hamurana Springs which is known for its beauty.
Yoga and Retreats
During the duration of your stay in the city and touring the popular sites, you might get tired and restless. At times like this, getting a calm and peaceful break to get peace in mind, you can join the yoga retreats offered by the yoga centers in the city. The authentic yoga and the meditation performed will help you to restore your energy. Practicing yoga also helps to keep your body active and gives relief from tiredness. Therefore, consider visiting the yoga centers in the city to get a fresh start.
Accommodation is the essential thing one considers while traveling to different parts of the world. Getting a place to stay is very important. As the city remains crowded with tourists, the accommodation facility is highly maintained. You will find accommodations ranging from expensive to reasonable ones. Therefore, you can choose accordingly. The options of accommodation include green hotels, apartments, hostels, and guest houses.
Green Hotels are very much in demand, especially among eco-friendly tourists. The facilities provided by these hotels are the same as average hotels. The positivity of these green hotels is connected with the betterment of the environment. The cost of these hotels can be low in comparison to the normal hotels, where others depend on the advanced amenities provided by them. Here are some of the green hotels you can opt for staying in.
- Regal Palms Resort
- Regent of Rotorua
- Holiday Inn Rotorua
- Bella Vista Motel Rotorua
- BK’s Rotorua Motor Lodge
Hostels and Guest Houses
If you are planning to stay for a few weeks then choosing hostels or guest houses would be more suitable. These lodging systems are reasonably priced and provide almost every facility that you would get in an average hotel. You can make reservations through online platforms, after comparing. Here is a list of some of these lodgings you can consider for your stay.
- Nature’s Hideout on 33
- Kiwi As Guest House
- Comfy Home Guest House
- Rotorua Central Backpackers
- Funky Green Voyager Backpackers
Apartments are usually recommended for the ones who are visiting the city for study or business purposes and are opting to stay for a few months. Therefore, booking an apartment would be more beneficial for them. These apartments are available on a rental basis and provide all the necessary amenities. You will get all the facilities required. Some rental apartments are:
- Quest Rotorua Central
- East-West Studio
- Sleepout Hideaway
- Rotorua Eastside Apartments
- The Heart Of Rotorua
Couchsurfing is the best way to get accommodation if you are planning to spend less or you are worried about your low budget traveling, then. As an eco-friendly tourist, this will also benefit you to interact with the locals and understand their way of living. Though it is cheap, it will help you to live in the city at a low cost. With nearly all facilities, this means of lodging assists you to scout the unique features of the city.
Camping is another effective way to experience adventure in the city. There are some camping sites in the city where you can enjoy the essence of Mother Nature. The open sky and the excitement of picturing the night view are truly remarkable. You can enjoy various activities while camping. Some camping grounds in the city will help you to admire the beautiful site.
How to Get There
Being the popular tourist city of New Zealand, Rotorua is reachable connecting with various modes of transport. To get to the city, the most convenient way is by plane or train. If you are coming from other nearby cities to Rotorua, then you can prefer roadways or bus lines.
Traveling by airways is the fastest. You can reach any part of the world within a certain time limit. Rotorua Regional Airport in the northeast of the city center is the main airport of the city. The price of the tickets ranges from high to low depending on the airline you opt for. Air New Zealand gives daily turbo-prop flights that run between Rotorua and Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.
If you are traveling from nearby cities, then the bus route is considered to be the best one. The local bus services run in 11 routes under the Bayland brand that serves the urban areas at every half-hourly interval. Being low in cost as compared to the plane, this means of transport is most effectively used.
Rotorua is well connected with railway networks by the Rotorua Branch line from Putaruru. While traveling from a nearby city you can prefer using the railways to get in the city. The cost of the ticket is easily affordable and using this mode of transport will save your time as compared to the bus.
This method of reaching your preferred destination is being practiced in many cities across the world. Taking a lift from any person passing through the same lane helps people to adopt the means of transport. Though hitchhiking is free of cost, some might ask you to pay a certain fare to drop you at a particular location.
Other modes of transport to get in the city through rental cars or ferries, based on the route you opt for. You can rent a car or bike to scout Rotorua. Make sure to book it beforehand due to high demand. Bike racks and road highways can also be considered if you want to reach the city. This will give you a whole new experience.
The public transportation services provided by Rotorua are well-linked. It is considered an effective way to explore the city. You can use helicopters, bus lines, float planes to visit the popular attractions in the city. You can use bee cards for the fare while scouting via bus. The cost of tickets is reasonable. You can also opt for touring by taxi or bike.
As an eco-friendly tourist, walking through the lanes and streets of the city is one of the best ways to explore the city. Walking on the roads will make the directions familiar to you. Besides, it will keep the city clean and pollution-free. Further, it will also help you to scout the nearby markets of the cities without letting you miss anything. Hence, you will be able to observe city life closely.
As an eco-friendly tourist, you can prefer riding a bike to cover short distances. Therefore, this will assist you to keep the environment clean and free from pollution. This will allow you to explore the nearby localities a bit faster than walking. You can ride the bike for your own fun as well. At the same time, you can burn out your calories that you have gained after eating various delicacies that the city offers.
The facility of the electric vehicle is available in Rotorua, New Zealand. The city offers the service of this transportation facility. Some of the mainly used electric vehicles include BMW i3, Tesla Motors Model S, Nissan Leaf, and others. There are charging stations in different regions of the city.
The public bus that runs around the city provides good services. The city serves Intercity and Skip buses to several parts of the North Islands. These buses are used by the tourists to scout the local tourist attractions of the city. You can use a bee card for fares. Being cheap in cost, many visitors prefer this mode of transport.
Tram, Train and Subway
Rotorua had the facility of passenger trains in the city. These passenger trains used to run from Auckland to Rotorua through Hamilton daily using Silver Fern railcars. This route terminated north of the town center at Koutu. But currently, this line is disused.
Buying something from the place you visited is likely to be the memory that you want to preserve and remember. Therefore, shopping is very important. Rotorua provides a variety of gift items and unique things that you can purchase from the markets of the city.
Rotorua Night Market is the high-end type of market in the city that sells locally made products. You will get items such as coffee and wine, olive oils, artisan pasta and cheeses, mussel fritters, and alpaca scarves and wraps. Another market includes the Dutch Market, which is held on one Saturday or Sunday of every second month starting in January. Here, you will get to taste the traditional Dutch food like Oliebollen or croquettes and salted herrings. Located in the Dutch Club Building in Neil Hunt Park at the Outdoorsman Headquarters, this place is a must-visit if you are in Rotorua.
The Kuirau park flea market operated by the Rotary Club of Rotorua North is held at Kuirau Park off Ranolf Street in Rotorua city is a popular market. This market is held weekly every Saturday morning and is famous for selling great breakfast dishes. Here you will get freshly made food like Maori foods and Rewena bread. Other products ranging from jewelry to second-hand pan and pots, fruits and vegetables, and clothing are also available in the market.
Second Hand Stores
There are many thrift stores in Rotorua. These stores are known for selling second-hand items at reasonable prices. Some of the known second-hand stores are Hospice Shop Rotorua, Salvation Army, M & S Trading Company, St Luke's Church Centre Shop, Frock of Ages, and others. As an eco-friendly tourist, you should opt for purchasing items from these stores. These stores often run for charitable purposes.
Nowadays sustainable clothes are very much in demand. The use of raw materials extracted from organic plants, natural dyes, etc. to manufacture clothes keeps the environment eco-friendly. They use organic plant-based raw materials that can be regrown. These products do not harm the environment because of their chemical-free ingredients. Many fashion brands are opting for eco-fashion
Controlling pollution to a certain level is very important. It helps to keep the atmosphere pollution-free. Rotorua Recycling Centre takes necessary measures to get rid of recyclables by working on the collection of recyclable items. This will keep the city free from impurities.
To gather wastes and dispose of them is an essential way to manage the wastes. These wastes are harmful to nature. Some wastes can also be recycled after monitoring. Therefore, Rotorua is working on minimizing the waste and maximizing waste management to provide the people of the city with fresh and green life.
Work and Study Abroad
The Universities and colleges of Rotorua provide various studying options. Therefore, many students from all over the world come to this city to obtain various courses and get their further degrees. Further, the job opportunity is also widespread in this city. Hence, many people visit the city for working purposes as well.
The exchange student program is popular worldwide. Therefore, the various universities of Rotorua provide numerous special courses under the facility of this program. These courses are offered to the foreign students of the partner cities and universities. They even offer scholarships to their top students. This helps the students to develop their skills and learn about new cultures.
Being the most common means of earning a living, the au pair option is widely available in the city. It is a kind of helper job which provides living to the people who are new to the city or have visited the city to earn money. Basically, in this, an individual works for a host family in the foreign country as a caretaker, babysitter, etc. In return, he/she gets a place to live and monthly charges for personal use.
Volunteering programs are held in Rotorua where people participate as a helping hand for the benefit of the atmosphere or the place. Volunteering can be done as a lifeguard, at an animal shelter, at local libraries, and others. Therefore, as an eco-friendly tourist, you should take part in this program and contribute positively.