By Karen Shelford

About Rotorua, New Zealand

General Information

Rotorua, New Zealand, attracts visitors from around the world. If you plan on paying a visit take some time to orient yourself somewhat first. This page has some general information to address that, and links to other pages that will also help.

Daybreak Rotorua, New ZealandDaybreak over Rotorua from the Trigg (above Whakarewarewa geothermal valley)

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Where is New Zealand?

Many people have never heard of New Zealand, let alone Rotorua! It's often the first question that comes up when we travel overseas.  "Where is New Zealand? Oh, that's right. Isn't it part of Australia?" Yah! Do not swear at us! That's what we think of that statement. Actually, there's quite an intense rivalry between the two countries, and a lot of good-natured jesting. They taunt us and we return it right on back. When we run into an Australian overseas though you'd swear we were best friends. Weird, right?

Getting back on-topic, New Zealand is a small island country located in the Southern Pacific ocean. It is situated to the bottom-right of Australia. (See map below.)

When we refer to New Zealand we're actually talking about three islands. The North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) and Stewart Island (Te Punga o Te Waka a Māui).

Rotorua view from Aorangi PeakView from Aorangi Peak over Rotorua one scorching summer

Where is Rotorua?

As for Rotorua, it's located on the shores of Lake Rotorua in the central North Island, about 2½hrs south of Auckland city.

Auckland is a major inbound link to New Zealand, as is Christchurch in the South Island, and Wellington at the bottom of the North Island.

The map below shows Rotorua's proximity to the major centres of New Zealand. Zoom in and out to get more detail.

Just zoomed out on the map myself and we don't seem to be that far from the Antarctic. Brrr, no wonder it gets so cold here.

View Larger Map of Rotorua, New Zealand.

What is Rotorua, New Zealand, Famous For?

Rotorua is famous for a number of things. Top of the list in my view has to be the geothermal activity. It led to the beginning of tourism in New Zealand. Next would be the deep-rooted Māori culture in this city. Out of all the cities in New Zealand I would say it's strongest here. The abundance of lakes is also a draw-card for recreational purposes.

Pohutu Geyser, Te Puia, Whakarewarewa ValleyPohutu Geyser can be viewed at Te Puia

In more recent times Rotorua has gained an international reputation for being one of the top places in the world for mountain biking. That's joined by outdoor events like multi-sports, marathons - be it standard or ultra types, and water based events. Some of the terrain the events pass through is absolutely stunning.

Then there's all the attractions that have sprung up around everything else that happens. Hooning down mountains on luges or zorb balls, riding rapids with whitewater rafting, we have a ton of activities to keep a body tied up for days.

That's not all, take a look at the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Rotorua for more.


Results of the 2018 Census put Rotorua's population at 86,148. Europeans are the largest ethnic group at 59,608 (64.5%), with those of Māori ethnicity at 32,277 (37.5%) - based on cultural affiliation, not ancestry. This is followed by the next largest group being Asian at 8,736 (10.1%), Pacific Peoples at 4,422 (5.1%), and the balance of ethnicities under 1,000 each. 

Not the largest of cities, I grant you. For all that, reading about what we're famous for will have clued you in that there is something unusual about the place. :)

Source:  and Rotorua Electoral Profile 2020 - .docx download

History Of Rotorua

Although young in years - compared to the likes of Europe that is - we've had our share of high drama. Rotorua History sets out some of the events that have shaped who the people of this area are today.

Many descendants of original settlers, both Māori and Eurepean, still live locally.

Getting Around Rotorua

The city is compact so it is easy enough to get around. No vehicle, no problem, our local buses are the way to go. They're reasonably modern and not uncomfortable. You can't miss them with their distinctive bright green colour.

Rotorua Weather

There is nothing worse when travelling than turning up with the wrong clothing for the weather. Our weather has its own peculiarities - check it out with the link.

If you have questions that haven't been addressed on this page let me know and I'll add them.

While you're at it, take a look at some of the activities you might like to add to your bucket list.

Bucket List Ideas for Rotorua, New Zealand

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