Rotorua is one of the biggest tourist destinations on New Zealand's North Island, ideally located for a getaway in the aptly named Bay of Plenty, about 2 ½ hours from Auckland. The sulphurous smell in the air hints at extreme geothermal activity – a promise comprehensively fulfilled by the spectacular geysers. You step into a pre-historic world, with steam venting from cracks on busy streets and bubbling mud pools all over the place. Volcanic craters have created a network of 16 lakes, and looming over all this is Mt. Tarawera. Book your car rental in Rotorua right now because you need to start planning for the outdoor holiday of a lifetime.
Lake Rotorua and the 15 other lakes in the region are open all year round and good for catching rainbow and brown trout any time you want. You can fish on Lake Rotorua without leaving the city. The other lakes are easily accessible, so you can get a car for hire in Rotorua and head for Okataina, Rotoma, Rotoiti, or Tarawera. Apart from Lake Rotorua, these are the four best lakes for fishing. You can hang out on the shore and reel them in, wade in a bit and do some fly fishing, or head out on a boat to enjoy fishing out on the lakes.
Geothermal adventures are everywhere in Rotorua, with steam blowing out of vents and cracks in the streets. Mud baths and backyard pools bubble over like big cauldrons in the ground. But if you want the full tourist experience with geysers blowing their tops and more than 500 hot springs to explore, head for Whakarewarewa. Tikitere, which means Hell's Gate, has boiling mad whirlpools and huge hot waterfalls. For a peek into a different world where lakes have different colors and the landscape looks like Pandora from Avatar, head for Waimangu, about 20 minutes south from Rotorua. Waiotapu, with its thermal wonderland, is likewise a 20 minute drive. You might have seen Orakei Korako, the Hidden Valley, in the BBC series "Walking with Dinosaurs."
The Tamaki Maori Village is an authentic village nestled on the edges of Rotorua Forest facing Hinemaru Street. You start with a welcome ceremony and a challenge to your group by warriors from the village. They eventually get around to a peace offering so that you can enter and explore the Maori culture, arts and crafts, and way of living. The community meal is prepared in a hangi pit. After the three course dinner with Maori bread, salads, seafood, and desserts, and yet another ceremony, you are free to escape.
If you hit the road on SH1 or SH27, it takes about three hours to cover the distance between Rotorua and Auckland, not including stops at Cambridge and Hamilton. You might take a coastal drive or beach holiday at Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, and Waihi Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. You can head inland towards Lake Taupo and Acacia Bay. In any case, you have to book your car for rent in Rotorua right now and chart out an itinerary if you want to make the most of this visit to Rotorua and New Zealand.
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