Rotorua

Follow your nose to Rotorua (Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe), the steaming centre of New Zealand's North Island.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the renowned thermal activity in this geothermal hotspot. Follow the edge of bubbling mud pools, watch geysers spurt and steam by night, kayak over the buried Eighth Wonder of the World, or eat steamed pudding cooked in a hot spring.

Adventure seekers will find plenty to love on and around the region's 17 lakes, from rolling downhill in giant inflatable balls to ziplining through the forest canopy and shooting down rapids.

See the buried settlement where locals lived before New Zealand's largest-ever eruption, or visit a living Māori village to learn how the thermal waters are put to practical use. And then, take your pick from natural hot springs - in the heart of the city, via floatplane ride or by hidden beyond a narrow rock formation.

See & Do

Walk between geysers and hot springs in a volcanic valley, visit New Zealand's biggest kiwi hatchery and unwind with a sophisticated spa experience.

A magical living walkway

The best family fun in Rotorua is in the trees. The Redwoods Treewalk is a 700-metre suspended boardwalk through the city's much-loved Whakarewarewa Forest. You enter the walk up a spiral staircase, then step on the first of 28 suspension bridges. The walk starts around six metres off the ground, and eventually ascends to 20m on one platform - giving a birds-eye view of the rest of the boardwalk. The greatest experience is by night - when the forest turns into a lantern-lit fairytale thanks to an elaborate series of lights. Read more

The tree walk is suitable for all ages, including kids. BROOK SABIN

The tree walk is suitable for all ages, including kids. BROOK SABIN

Insider tip: You can't miss a walk through Kuirau Park - the country's only free geothermal park. There you'll see a crater lake, hot springs, steaming fissures, mud pools and even get to enjoy a free thermal foot bath.
Brook Sabin, travel journalist

You can land pretty close to the edge. BROOK SABIN

You can land pretty close to the edge. BROOK SABIN

The Grand Canyon of New Zealand

The only way up the sacred Mt Tarawera is by helicopter or guided walk. Setting off from Lake Rotorua's waterfront, Volcanic Air offers guided tours right to the peak, where the dramatic landscape extends in every direction. What happened here more than a century ago is beyond comprehension – unless you’re up there – where the evidence of New Zealand's largest-ever eruption is chillingly apparent. You’ll get some free time to explore Mt Tarawera and take in the many valleys. Read more

Rotorua Canopy Tours boasts 1200m of ziplines. BROOK SABIN

Rotorua Canopy Tours boasts 1200m of ziplines. BROOK SABIN

High-flying forest fun

Dansey Road Scenic Reserve forms part of 5% of virgin forest left in New Zealand. By far the best way to enjoy it is up close, on a zipline tour through the canopy. Rotorua Canopy Tours offers 1200m of ziplines - the longest stretching 400 metres - as well as swing bridges, unfenced platforms high up in towering rimu trees, a 50-metre-high teeter around a cliff face and an 18-metre controlled abseil. The Original Canopy Tour, a three-hour experience across six ziplines, has been named among the world’s best experiences. Read more

Rotorua's spectacular night show

Under a cloak of darkness, walk up to the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere. Te Puia's Geyser By Night experience takes guests through the Rotorua geothermal wonderland after dark, past bubbling mud and boiling hot pools to reach the geyser Pōhutu, with a kaleidoscope of colours bouncing off the steam. Sample steamed pudding cooked in a natural hot spring, feel the mist of the geysers on your skin, while hearing about the legends of this incredible site, that was 200,000 years in the making. Read more

You can walk or be shuttled around the park. BROOK SABIN

You can walk or be shuttled around the park. BROOK SABIN

A magnificent geothermal safari

The eruption of Mt Tarawera saw the creation of the youngest geothermal system in the world, including the largest hot spring and the largest geyser-like feature. The enormous Frying Pan Lake at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley looks like one giant smoking pan, heated by a magma chamber just two kilometres below the surface. The self-guided walk through the valley winds past the vast hot spring, geysers, streams and dozens of other bubbling features like the cobalt blue Inferno Crater. At the bottom of the valley, a boat awaits, where you can explore Lake Rotomahana's steaming shores and fumaroles. Read more

The Whakarewarewa Loop was awarded Great Ride status in May. BROOK SABIN

The Whakarewarewa Loop was awarded Great Ride status in May. BROOK SABIN

Our newest Great Ride

Rotorua’s 33-kilometre Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is the latest cycle trail to be awarded Great Ride status. The trail alternates between native blocks and redwood forest as it slowly climbs, culminating in a magnificent view of Lake Rotorua. The beauty begins the moment you start, as you enter a path of almost mythical native bush and pass a bubbling mud pool. It weaves past pieces of Māori art and down towards Lake Tikitapu, also known as Blue Lake and Lake Rotokākahi, also known as the Green Lake. Read more

Where to see baby kiwi

Rotorua's National Kiwi Hatchery is a pretty remarkable place to visit. You’ll get a behind the scenes glimpse into the kiwi hatchery – and if you arrive for the 10am tour – could see a host of chicks undergo their daily weigh-in and health check. The hatchery is New Zealand's biggest and has been instrumental in helping increase the survival rate of newborn kiwi. Eggs from sanctuaries around New Zealand are brought to the centre to be incubated, then hatched. If a kiwi is born at the hatchery, around 95% will make it to the one-kilogram mark, and be released back into the sanctuary they were taken from. Read more

Bloom, the kiwi named after Dr Ashley Bloomfield. BROOK SABIN

Bloom, the kiwi named after Dr Ashley Bloomfield. BROOK SABIN

Hula, haka and hāngī

People pining for a trip to tropical Polynesia, need look no further than Rotorua. Mitai Māori Village brings Polynesian song and dance to Kiwis, as part of its nightly Māori cultural concert and hāngī. This show is where hula and haka combine, to tell the story of the great waka migration from Polynesia to Aotearoa. It is a story for all New Zealanders about how and why Polynesians became Māori of Aotearoa. Read more

Rotorua's buried village

Te Wairoa is New Zealand's Pompeii: A village, full of homes and people, that was buried under metres of mud in the massively violent 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera. Years later, it was partially excavated. Now you can walk through it and see where and how the Māori and European inhabitants lived before the mountain exploded in the middle of the night and killed more than 150, here and in neighbouring settlements. Allow plenty of time for the interactive museum, full of artefacts and information about life back then. Read more

Insider tip: Rotorua Museum is closed for earthquake strengthening, however free guided tours run daily around the Government Gardens.
Stephen Heard, travel publishing coordinator

The Spa has been operating since 1972. BROOK SABIN

The Spa has been operating since 1972. BROOK SABIN

Wallow in thermal waters

People have been coming to Rotorua to wallow in its thermal waters for hundreds of years. The Polynesian Spa offers a sophisticated experience and can be enjoyed privately - or with company. The spa offers a wide range of treatments and massages and clients are ushered into a spacious lounge with views across the steaming pools to the lake. A mud wrap and massage will leave your skin smooth, soft and scented, and your muscles eased and loose. Aim to arrive well before your treatment, so you have plenty of time to sample the 28 pools, each with a different temperature. Read more

Rotorua Duck Tours has two tours available. SUPPLIED

Rotorua Duck Tours has two tours available. SUPPLIED

An amphibious WWII landing craft

The bright yellow vehicles of the iconic Rotorua Duck Tours have been offering visitors a quirky way to see the city for 20 years. Rug up – these authentic amphibious WWII landing craft are open to the elements but worth braving the cold for the novelty of driving straight from road onto water. The tours wind along the city’s lakefront first, before motoring out to Lake Tikitapu and then Ōkāreka. It gets two thumbs up as a firm family favourite. Read more

THRILLING ADVENTURE RIDES

Shweeb Racing

The Shweeb is a cycle-powered monorail. What exactly is that? Well, it's a clear plastic capsule that you lie down in and pedal just like a bike. Except, you don't need to steer; you're suspended below a monorail track. The world's first Shweeb track is based at Velocity Valley in Rotorua where you can race two pods around a 200-metre track. Thanks to a little electric assistance you can reach speeds of up to 50kmh.

Zorb. BROOK SABIN

Zorb. BROOK SABIN

ZORB

This is likely one of the most famous inventions to come out of Rotorua: rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball. The ZORB is seriously fun - whether you're racing friends down the straight 'drag race' track, or rolling down the zig-zagging sidewinder course. The biggest surprise about ZORBing is that you're not flipped upside as you would expect. Water is pumped inside the ball and it stops you from going too far up the edge of the ball.

Skyline Luge

Rotorua is home to the world's first luge track, opened in 1985. The idea was to design something that resembled a toboggan, but instead of using ice to slide down the hill, it'd use wheels. The luge track has stunning views from Mt Ngongotaha looking over Rotorua. There is a track for everyone; from the slower scenic route to the adrenaline-filled advanced run.

Rail Cruising. BROOK SABIN

Rail Cruising. BROOK SABIN

Rail Cruising

The world's first self-drive rail cruiser can also be found in Rotorua, along a beautiful stretch of track that runs through the Dansey Scenic Reserve and rolling farmland. Neil Oppatt and a group of friends got together to develop the world's first self-drive rail car, that heads along 20 kilometres of the old track. Each cruising car, which can take up to four people, is automated - and there's a specially-designed anti-collision system in case the cars come too close. If you're a fan of rail, then you can't miss this journey through lush native forest that culminates with views down towards Lake Rotorua.

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Hidden Gems

Jet boat to a hidden hot waterfall, kayak through a geothermal wonderland, and ride the best side trails through Whakarewarewa Forest.

The secret hot waterfall

Orakei Korako is a little-known valley of geothermal wonder sitting between Taupō and Rotorua. It has 23 geysers, tucked away in the hillside. The park sits on a remote part of the Waikato River, and just a few minutes further north is a hidden waterfall at bath temperature. To get to the waterfall, you'll need to grab a ride with River Jet and then squeeze through a narrow water-filled crevice, but it's worth the effort. The trip is not recommended for anyone with extreme claustrophobia. Read more

You can be at Manupirua in just 45 minutes with Katoa Jet. BROOK SABIN

You can be at Manupirua in just 45 minutes with Katoa Jet. BROOK SABIN

Hot pools accessible by boat or plane

On the expansive bush-lined Lake Rotoiti is Manupirua Hot Pools – one of the most isolated thermal baths in New Zealand. The only way to get to these hot springs is by air (seaplane) or water. Because of its isolation, the place has a 1980s vibe about it. There is no bustle, no blaring music and no fancy technology. It’s all about the seven mineral pools, nestled in the native bush down by the water’s edge. The pools all differ in temperature and you can refresh by a sliding into the lake, which is cheekily called a “giant” plunge pool. Read more

Insider tip: The hot water Kerosene Creek and its steaming waterfall can be found 35 minutes out of Rotorua, and it'll likely be full of people. Arrive early and you're more than likely to have the place to yourself.
Brook Sabin, travel reporter

Walk up to the boiling stream. BROOK SABIN

Walk up to the boiling stream. BROOK SABIN

The natural boiling spring

This is the perfect place to soak in some of the country's most pristine waters and get away from the crowds. The Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is fed by the largest natural source of boiling water in New Zealand, Te Manaroa Spring. The nearby spring bubbles violently, and the river that flows from it is cooled, before entering the pools. It's not treated with chemicals, or reused - it simply flows through the complex and back into the stream. Don't miss the tranquil garden pools that overlooking the boiling stream.

Ultimate waterfall action

On the Kaituna River running out of Lake Rotoiti, there is a set of waterfalls that has something for everybody. Along the river is an inviting bush walk through the surrounding reserve, plus a glowworm grotto, Māori history, caves to peer into and the remains of the country's first hydro power station. The only thing you can't do here is swim, because of all the rapids and waterfalls – but that does mean that the various types of rafting on offer are exciting both to do – and to watch from convenient viewing platforms. Read more

New Zealand's craziest adventure

River sledging is where white-water rafting meets the luge. Essentially, you shoot down a river clinging to a board, coming face-to-face with grade three rapids, or high waves, broken water, strong eddies, exposed rocks and small falls. In other words: lots of fun. Your guides from Kaitiaki Adventures will give you instructions before attempting each rapid, like The Cheese Grater and The Cave. If adrenaline runs through your veins - and you've already given rafting a go - this should be your next stop. Read more

You'll head over rapids for 40 minutes. BROOK SABIN

You'll head over rapids for 40 minutes. BROOK SABIN

The 4X4 track has a series of big drops. BROOK SABIN

The 4X4 track has a series of big drops. BROOK SABIN

Monster truck fun

Combine parts of a Jeep, Holden and Toyota Landcruiser into one giant 4X4, and you have Offroad NZ's version of a monster truck. It's a thrill ride – with a professional driver – who will take you on a rollercoaster dirt track down drops, over jumps, through bush mazes and on obstacles like "The Widow Maker" and the "Roll Me Over". If 15 hair-raising-minutes tearing around the track isn't enough, you can even have a go yourself, on a separate "4WD Bush Safari". Read more

Te Puia's night tour lasts 90 minutes. BROOK SABIN

Te Puia's night tour lasts 90 minutes. BROOK SABIN

Te Pūtake o Tawa has five stunning pieces of Māori art. BROOK SABIN

Te Pūtake o Tawa has five stunning pieces of Māori art. BROOK SABIN

Secret Spot is the perfect place to rest those muscles after a day on the bike. BROOK SABIN

Secret Spot is the perfect place to rest those muscles after a day on the bike. BROOK SABIN

Manupirua Hot Pools is only reached by boat or plane. BROOK SABIN

Manupirua Hot Pools is only reached by boat or plane. BROOK SABIN

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Te Puia's night tour lasts 90 minutes. BROOK SABIN

Te Puia's night tour lasts 90 minutes. BROOK SABIN

Te Pūtake o Tawa has five stunning pieces of Māori art. BROOK SABIN

Te Pūtake o Tawa has five stunning pieces of Māori art. BROOK SABIN

Secret Spot is the perfect place to rest those muscles after a day on the bike. BROOK SABIN

Secret Spot is the perfect place to rest those muscles after a day on the bike. BROOK SABIN

Manupirua Hot Pools is only reached by boat or plane. BROOK SABIN

Manupirua Hot Pools is only reached by boat or plane. BROOK SABIN

Hoist the mainsail

Passengers needn’t worry about rough seas on board this eco-sailing experience on Lake Rotoiti. Pure Cruise’s 53-foot catamaran, Tiua, can cater for up to 35 guests in any weather. The operator offers a minimum charter length of three hours for up to 20 guests, while overnight stays allow the opportunity to explore the lake’s many bays, caves and coves, alongside activities from trout fishing to bush walks. Arrange to bring your own food and snacks onboard or savour fine cuisine complimented by New Zealand wines from the onboard bar. Read more

Pure Cruise takes its 53-foot catamaran across Lake Rotoiti. PURE CRUISE

Pure Cruise takes its 53-foot catamaran across Lake Rotoiti. PURE CRUISE

Get close up with the steaming vents of Lake Rotomahana on the tour. BROOK SABIN

Get close up with the steaming vents of Lake Rotomahana on the tour. BROOK SABIN

Kayak over the Eighth Wonder of the World

New Zealand has hundreds of kayak trips, but Paddle Board Rotorua's new tour has to be one of the most remarkable. In the geothermal wonderland of Waimangu Volcanic Valley, you can paddle within metres of steaming cliffs, floating inside what is essentially a giant volcano crater. Waimangu is the youngest geothermal system in the world after Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886. The disaster saw most life within six kilometres extinguished, with the loss of around 120 people and several villages. Māori had been living near the lake since around 1600. As you glide across the lake, more than 130 years later, it's hard to imagine the devastation that unfolded. Read more

The living Māori village

While Rotorua’s Māori heritage is famous, it’s good to see its more everyday side too. On a wander around Ōhinemutu village, you can see how the thermal waters are put to practical use, and admire the carvings on the outside of the meeting house. Right beside the lake is the equally striking Anglican church, St Faith’s, which is richly decorated inside with a dazzling abundance of tekoteko panels. It's free to wander around the village and attend Holy Communion, conducted in both Māori and English. Read more

A hot pool which predicts earthquakes

Step back in time and discover life in the remarkable geothermal village of Whakarewarewa, where homes overlook steaming hot pools that are used for cooking, cleaning and bathing. It's a way of life that's been preserved for hundreds of years, and visitors can learn how the people of the village have learned how to read the waters — a certain pool is even used as a barometer to forecast the weather. Feel the steam rising and hear the waters bubbling as you learn about a way of life largely unchanged for hundreds of years. Read more

Nanny Chris in front of Parekohuru, the main pool that is used for cooking. BROOK SABIN

Nanny Chris in front of Parekohuru, the main pool that is used for cooking. BROOK SABIN

Hell’s Gate is most famous for its therapeutic mud pools. BROOK SABIN

Hell’s Gate is most famous for its therapeutic mud pools. BROOK SABIN

The valley of thermal secrets

Most New Zealanders know Rotorua's incredible geothermal park, Hell’s Gate, for its mud pools that you can bathe in – but there is so much more to discover. A self-guided walk through the park offers insight into the Māori people who thrived here for hundreds of years and a glimpse of the precious taonga. Highlights include a giant hot waterfall where warriors would bathe after battle, a labyrinth of paths that weave around steaming pools and the largest mud volcano in the southern hemisphere. Read more

Insert yourself into some surreal scenes. BROOK SABIN

Insert yourself into some surreal scenes. BROOK SABIN

The best spot for a selfie

Rotorua's 3D Trick Art Gallery has 50 cleverly designed 3D backgrounds to interact with and pose against. There are five sections to the gallery, each containing a set of hyper-realistic artworks to fit into and let your imagination loose on. You can ride a dolphin, fight off a great white shark, teeter across a chasm or dangle from the basket of a hot-air balloon. There are Māori-themed backgrounds to work with, too, as well as wildlife that includes dinosaurs. Read more

RIDING ROTORUA

Te Ara Ahi

Whakarewarewa Forest is just ten minutes’ drive from town but you can also ride there on a 50km cycleway linking major geothermal attractions. Starting at the Government Gardens, it’s a 30-minute ride to the MTB hub on Waipa State Mill Road. The strange volcanic scenes of Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge are highlights, and a little further on it’s possible to detour to the Redwoods Visitor Centre where there’s access to various trails. Te Ara Ahi also passes Te Puia and Whakarewarewa Living Māori Village - must-see geothermal sights.

Rotorua Museum at Government Gardens. LEE SLATER

Rotorua Museum at Government Gardens. LEE SLATER

Lake Tikitapu Loop

Tikitapu Reserve is another lovely spot to set off on a ride. There’s lake swimming and picnic spots, along with a café next to the popular campground. For an easy 15km loop taking two hours or so, follow the Tangaroamihi trail as it winds through native forest along the length of Tikitapu and eventually reaches its twin lake, Rotokākahi/Green Lake. Following Te Kōtukutuku trail, the loop then serves up some stunning singletrack down to a grassy picnic area. The loop returns to the reserve where you can finish off with a refreshing dip and some post-ride kai.

Waipa–Dipper Loop

The MTB hub on Waipa State Mill Road makes it a fun place to hang out whether you’re riding or not. As well as bike rental, wash down stations and showers, it also has cafés and even a beer garden with hot tubs. All manner of rides lead off from the hub, including the Waipa–Dipper Loop – one of the best beginners’ options in the forest. At just 5-7km, this is an easy hour or two with the bonus of ice-cream or beer once you’re done.

Singletrack in Whakarewarewa Forest. JOEL MCDOWELL

Singletrack in Whakarewarewa Forest. JOEL MCDOWELL

Gravity-fed singletrack

While most folks will be content with leisurely day rides and family-friendly forays, there’s plenty of more challenging stuff for intermediate to expert riders. Whakarewarewa Forest is now a world-renowned mountain biking mecca for good reason! Shuttles do high-point drop-offs on weekends and public holidays. There are also guided rides and skills clinics if you want to up your game. Look out for the Whakarewarewa Forest Mountain Bike Tracks map ($5).

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Eat & Drink

Sit down for dinner in a recreated forest village, take a tour of Rotorua's best bars and head to a mouthwatering seafood buffet.

World-class Mexican cuisine

There’s a tiny Mexican restaurant cooking up magic in Rotorua. In fact, El Mexicano Zapata Cantina cheekily declares itself to be the ‘Best Mexican Restaurant Outside Mexico’. The claim may have substance: travellers visiting the region are in awe of the Cantina, which has amassed hundreds of rave reviews for its mouth-watering food. The superb ceviche de pescado, jalapeno poppers, calamari fritos and house speciality enchilada will have you coming back for more. Read more

Pig & Whistle is a Rotorua favourite. ROTORUANZ

Pig & Whistle is a Rotorua favourite. ROTORUANZ

Three of Rotorua's best bars

Thanks to the generous garden bar, more than 60 beers and good food, the Craft Bar & Kitchen is the place to go for a great night out in Rotorua. Housed in the original police station, the Pig & Whistle gastropub is one of the city’s oldest bars. The Volcanic Hills Winery tasting room next to the iconic Skyline Gondola is where you can taste wine made on-site alongside a cheese platter. Read more

Dinner and a show

Te Pā Tū (formerly Tamaki Māori Village) is found in a recreated village under the shelter of a 200-year-old native tawa forest. The award-winning attraction recently rebranded its two cultural experiences to share Māori history and traditions. The Tū Te Rā summer harvest celebration promises an evening of haka, waiata and a three-course dinner across four hours. In winter, the Tū Te Ihi experience looks to the Matariki star cluster for themed performance and kai in the beautifully lit forest.

A world of kai under one roof

Rotorua’s Eat Streat has a fantastic range of restaurants on one all-weather, thermally heated block-long strip. Found at the ‘lake end’ of Tutanekai Street, choose from pub grub, burgers and steak, to tapas, Indian, Italian and classic Kiwi. Atticus Finch prides itself on inspiration from around the world and tasting plates that suit relaxed friend groups or family nights out. Enjoy dessert at Lady Jane’s Ice Cream Parlour, where you’re spoiled for choice with around 50 flavours. It recently launched a warm dessert menu including toasted waffles, brownies, doughnuts and cookies. Read more

Eat Streat runs the length of a city block. DESTINATION ROTORUA

Eat Streat runs the length of a city block. DESTINATION ROTORUA

Pizza by the foot

For a gastropub that is relaxed yet classy, head to The Fainting Goat in Tutanekai Street. The food is designed for sharing. Order pizza by the foot, and we challenge you to find a more impressive platter. Served on wine barrels, the Kaimoana and Goat’s Tribe platters are perfect for feeding the troops. On the cocktail front, the drinks are named after songs on the playlist and the barman uses the finest New Zealand artisan spirits. The Fainting Goat is the perfect spot to yarn about the day’s adventures over a G&T with friends. Read more

The Fainting Goat serves it platters on wine barrels. SUPPLIED

The Fainting Goat serves it platters on wine barrels. SUPPLIED

Eastwood is located next to Whakarewarewa Forest. SUPPLIED

Eastwood is located next to Whakarewarewa Forest. SUPPLIED

For post-cycling sustenance

Emerging from the Redwoods with an appetite? Visit Eastwood Cafe for some darn good Atomic coffee, wood-fired pizza and a trendy fit-out. Eastwood caters to an eclectic bunch of customers, from scientists to mountain bikers and locals out for their daily hike. Arriving at Eastwood, you'll see the elegant white pizza oven that takes centre stage in the open-plan kitchen. With loads of outdoor seating and ample space to park your mountain bike, it is an easy option with friendly staff who go above and beyond. Read more

MUST-TRY DISHES

Seafood buffet, Stratosfare

“Award-winning cuisine” and “buffet-style restaurant” may initially seem like an oxymoron, but the dark and glamorous venue that is Stratosfare will prove that theory wrong. While enjoying Lake Rotorua’s stunning panoramic views, you’ll be elated to fill up your plate with their fresh, locally sourced seafood that ranges from mussels to calamari and prawns.

Stratosphere. NEAT PLACES

Stratosphere. NEAT PLACES

Chimichanga, Sabroso

Cosy and colourful, visit Sabroso for a laidback, authentic atmosphere and dishes infused with traditional Central and South American flair. You can’t go wrong with a chimichanga – a cheese filled fried flour tortilla that will put you into a food coma in the best way possible. We would be remiss not to mention that you should wash all of this down with a margarita – they’re well-loved with regulars and it’s easy to see why.

Fresh sashimi, Yamato

Park yourself at the U-shaped bar inside Yamato and watch the chefs slice sashimi made of some of the freshest fish in town. This warm and humble Japanese eatery is all about delivering an authentic Japanese experience that will have you returning again and again. (Not to mention, it’s BYO with a small corkage fee!)

Baked. NEAT PLACES

Baked. NEAT PLACES

Fresh doughnuts, Baked Rotorua

Known as the home of doughnuts in Rotorua, Baked offers perfectly doughy delicacies so good that even the non-sweet toothed among us will be delighted. Take your pick of gems filled with jam, Nutella, salted caramel or something a little more racey like Pic's Peanut Butter Lover Dream.

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Stay

Stay at a luxury lodge in virgin forest, escape to an off-grid glamping retreat, and book into a glam boutique in the city centre.

Quiet, private and focused on nature

Built of stone and local timber, with big windows looking out over the trout-filled stream that tinkles past the front door, Treetops Lodge & Estate knows how to make an impression. Inside, the décor is also elegantly natural, with bare stone, polished rimu and multiple mounted animal heads gazing down from the high walls. There is also a games room with full-sized billiards table, a library for intimate dining as well as reading, a long table for communal dining, a cosy bar and a friendly open kitchen. There is also a cooking school and a spa. Read more

The retreat is designed for couples. BROOK SABIN

The retreat is designed for couples. BROOK SABIN

A spectacular couples escape

Tucked away on a quiet corner of a rolling farm, Jo Wilson and Dean Dew have a secret little spot called Kokako Retreat. After a self-guided drive across the farm, guests are greeted by three pods. The first is relaxation central – it has a comfy couch in front of a fire, bean bags and a swing chair with sweeping views. The second has a neatly appointed kitchen and bathroom and the last is home to a large plush bed, overlooking the bush, with a clawfoot bath out front. The tiny home retreat is designed for couples. Read more

Brilliant location and steak

Situated slap bang in the centre of town, Pullman Rotorua sits in a privileged position opposite the tourist information office on Arawa Street, with easy walks to all the main streets, lakeside and Government Gardens. The dark glassed 10-storey building was the Zen Centre before being turned into a 130-bedroom five-star hotel. It has superior king rooms, superior twin rooms, deluxe rooms and executive suites on offer — both comfortable and chic. The in-house Barrel & Co serves the city's best steaks. Read more

Toka Ridge on the northern shore of Lake Rotorua. SUPPLIED

Toka Ridge on the northern shore of Lake Rotorua. SUPPLIED

Accessible luxury villas

Toka Ridge’s one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom villas manage to feel both upmarket and homely enough for a family getaway. Situated on the northern side of Lake Rotorua at Hamurana, the villas are south-facing with huge windows that highlight the view and bring in natural light.The grounds are beautifully landscaped with boulders and corten steel sculptures used as subtle privacy screens. A cedar tub is shared by the villas for evening soaking. Read more

Rooms look across the outdoor heated pool. SUPPLIED

Rooms look across the outdoor heated pool. SUPPLIED

Glamour in the heart of town

The Regent Of Rotorua is just a stone’s throw from attractions in the city centre. The boutique four-star-plus hotel with 35 guest rooms is centred around the outdoor pool and is big enough to offer all the amenities you expect in a hotel but small enough for personal service and attention to detail. All the rooms are stylishly contemporary with designer furniture and super comfy bedding. Read more

The Regent has a touch of nouveau design. SUPPLIED

The Regent has a touch of nouveau design. SUPPLIED

The Great Room at Treetops is large and comfortable. BROOK SABIN

The Great Room at Treetops is large and comfortable. BROOK SABIN

Millennium Hotel Rotorua is the perfect central base for thrill-seeking adventures. BROOK SABIN

Millennium Hotel Rotorua is the perfect central base for thrill-seeking adventures. BROOK SABIN

The Kokako pods are bordered by native bush. BROOK SABIN

The Kokako pods are bordered by native bush. BROOK SABIN

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The Regent has a touch of nouveau design. SUPPLIED

The Regent has a touch of nouveau design. SUPPLIED

The Great Room at Treetops is large and comfortable. BROOK SABIN

The Great Room at Treetops is large and comfortable. BROOK SABIN

Millennium Hotel Rotorua is the perfect central base for thrill-seeking adventures. BROOK SABIN

Millennium Hotel Rotorua is the perfect central base for thrill-seeking adventures. BROOK SABIN

The Kokako pods are bordered by native bush. BROOK SABIN

The Kokako pods are bordered by native bush. BROOK SABIN

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Your ultimate guide to mountain biking Rotorua

Top of Tokanui, Whakarewarewa Forest. GRAEME MURRAY

Welcome to NZ's home of mountain biking.

Crankworx is a multi-stop mountain biking festival that is coming to NZ in November. SUPPLIED

Top of Tokanui, Whakarewarewa Forest. GRAEME MURRAY

Top of Tokanui, Whakarewarewa Forest. GRAEME MURRAY

Crankworx is a multi-stop mountain biking festival that is coming to NZ in November. SUPPLIED

Crankworx is a multi-stop mountain biking festival that is coming to NZ in November. SUPPLIED

Visuals: Brook Sabin

Words: Brook Sabin, Stephen Heard, Siobhan Downes, Juliette Sivertsen, Lorna Thornber, Alan Granville, Pamela Wade, Sharon Stephenson, Sarah Bennett, Ruby Turner, Michael Lamb, Marty Jones, Debbie Griffiths, Neat Places.

Editors: Stephen Heard, Trupti Biradar

Stuff Travel's Go To Guides are created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand