Spa town in New Zealand
Rotorua is the geothermal wonderland of New Zealand, with easily experienced Māori culture, and a range of outdoor adventure activities.
The hot springs and geysers of the city and region have attracted tourists for over a hundred years. Today, many visitors are also attracted by the Māori culture that is more dominant here than in many parts of the country. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy mountain biking, whitewater rafting, luge riding and Zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a plastic orb).
The name Rotorua comes from the Māori language and means "two lakes" or "second lake" (roto = lake, rua = two). Its full name is Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe, meaning "the second great lake of Kahumatamomoe".
Tourism is a major industry in Rotorua, so tourist services are well developed. The Tourist Information Centre on the main road, Fenton Street, is a good starting point.
Rotorua is built over a geothermal hot spot. There are numerous natural vents, hot pools and other geothermal features in and around the city. Many of these are in parks and reserves. Natural eruptions of steam, hot water and mud occasionally occur in new locations. Many places have their own private geothermal bores for heating and water for bathing although private use of naturally occurring geothermal water and steam is controlled.
Rotorua sits on the shores of Lake Rotorua, and there are several other lakes nearby. So along with the geothermal wonders, many water-based activities such as fishing, boating and white water rafting are available.
Geologically, Rotorua is in the middle of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, named after Lake Taupo, the largest volcano in the area. This geologically active zone produces the heat that is needed to drive all the geothermal activity. Along with many volcanic hills and mountains, the zone contains several major volcanic calderas (large subsidence craters). These are important for tourism because they host the region's largest lakes (including Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua), and because geothermal activity tends to occur around their edges. Rotorua caldera, some 22 km (14 mi) across, contains the city and Mount Ngongotaha as well as the lake. It was created in a huge eruption around a quarter of a million years ago.
With Rotorua's concentration of geothermal features, a significant amount of hydrogen sulfide is released into the air and the city has a unique "rotten eggs" smell.