Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua with GreatSights
Setting out from Rotorua, your Hobbiton Movie Set tour starts with a scenic drive across the Kaimai Ranges to Matamata, a small town in the Waikato region known for its thoroughbred industry and dairy farming. Along the way, your local driver guide will provide informative commentary and share stories about the region and its history.
Just outside of Matamata is the private working farm that was transformed into The Shire for the award-winning The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. The home of Tolkien's beloved hobbits Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin has been preserved since filming wrapped, and now draws visitors from around the world.
Take a two-hour guided tour of the movie set and learn how this picturesque farmland was transformed into a living, breathing piece of Middle-earth. Your guide will show you Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Party Tree, the Mill and many other structures from the movies. After your Hobbiton movie set tour, you will hop back on the GreatSights coach and retrace your steps back to Rotorua.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Kiwi Hatchery Tour
The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
From above Mount Tarawera impressive views include vast volcanic rifts, distant national parks and our treasured lakes. Flying south on a floatplane, you will gain an appreciation of what local Maori refer to as the ‘Sisters of Fire’. Here, volcanic activity has pierced the earth surface across the fault-line forming the reserves of Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu which, when viewed from above, dismay a spectacular palette of natures most vibrant colours. Landing at Orakei Korako, ‘the Hidden Valley’, is an amazing opportunity to experience hot springs, gushing geysers and the natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mount Tarawera & Orakei Korako Thermal Explorer by Helicopter
Combine the thrill of landing on Mount Tarawera with a flight that includes spectacular aerial views of Rotorua's stunning crater lakes, the renowned Tarawera Falls and the vibrant Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserves.
Leaving Wai-O-Tapu, descend to follow the Waikato River to the hidden valley of Orakei Korako. Once landed, you will ferry across the river and begin your land-based tour. Experience hot springs, gushing geysers and the natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland. The return flight takes in views of farmland and the Paeroa mountain range before flying over Rotorua City and returning to the lakefront pier.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo
Set on a 350-acre working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle, the Agrodome gives its visitors a hands-on, live farming experience. The Farm Show stars a cast of talented animals – not just sheep! The remarkable farm dogs will amaze you, as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line. Then pop across to the herding area to watch a free live dog trial after the show! Explore the farm and learn the history of New Zealand agriculture on custom designed farm trailers. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn - and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. Explore the fruit orchard and olive grove and have the chance to taste natural kiwifruit juice and delicious sweet honey that comes from the farm.