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Know Before You Go
- Rotorua is the home of "Maoridom". It's one of the best places to sign up for a cultural tour and learn about the ancient traditions, history and local food.
- If you want to get out of the city, head to the 15-acre grove of redwoods. You can spend the day exploring its many mountain trails or find a spot for a picnic.
- If you are on a budget, there is plenty you can see for free in Rotorua. From Kerosene Creek with its hot springs to the many forest walks, bike trails and local markets, you don't need to splurge to discover what the city and its surrounds have to offer.
- If you want to see the hot springs and geysers without spending a dime, walk around the town. There is plenty to see for free if you aren't dead set on visiting Te Puia.
- Restaurants are not cheap in Rotorua. Instead of eating out every night, rather head to the local supermarket and cook your own meals to save money.
Getting Around Rotorua
Rotorua is a small city and how you get around depends on what suits you.
- Renting a car is the easiest way to get around Rotorua as most of the attractions are spread out. Cars can be rented at the airport or from service providers in the city. Plus parking is plentiful, and you won't find yourself stuck in gridlocked traffic.
- There's a lot to see while exploring the city on foot. Most hotels are in the CBD, so you'll be minutes from attractions like the Government Gardens, Kuirau Park or the Lakefront. If you want a longer stroll, the Redwoods Forest and Te Puia are only a 30-40 minute walk away.
- If you want to get around the city a little bit faster, you can rent a bike. Check with your accommodation to see if they have bikes for guests. Otherwise, rentals start at NZD 35 per day.
- For travellers with limited time in Rotorua, a good way to see the city is with the Rotorua Shuttle Service. For NZD 52 you can be picked up from your hotel and shuttled around to attractions like Te Puia, Paradise Valley Springs, Skyline Skyrides and more between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Other options include Rotorua's local CityRide buses and metered taxis.
When is The Best Time to Visit Rotorua?
If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Rotorua is during autumn or spring. In May and November, you'll have some of the city's most famous attractions, like the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland all to yourself, especially if you go early in the morning.
For the best weather, visit Rotorua anytime between January to April. There is little chance of rain and the summer days are warm and clear. However, the desirable temperatures attract tourists from near and far. If you want to avoid the high season prices, book your flights and accommodation a few months in advance.
While winter (June to August) is Rotorua's wettest season, there is still plenty to do as long as you pack some warm clothes and a rain jacket. Spending a few hours at the geothermal spas is an excellent way to warm up during the colder months. Hotel rates will also be cheaper than the summer months, so if you don't mind the less than perfect weather, you'll be able to find some great deals.
Airports in Rotorua
Rotorua Regional Airport
Rotorua Regional Airport is situated 6 km from the city's CBD. It used to serve international flights to Sydney, but from April 2015 it only focuses on domestic routes. Rotorua is served by Air New Zealand with flights to and from Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Christchurch.
Getting To and From Rotorua Regional Airport
The cheapest way to get from Rotorua Regional Airport into the city is with the local bus service. Buses leave the terminal every half hour starting at 6:40 a.m. and ending at 6:10 p.m. A one-way trip will cost you NZD 2.80 and travel time is around 40 minutes.
If you are on a budget but don't want to take the bus, the Super Shuttles are a cost-effective way to get dropped off outside your hotel. The shuttles have fixed fares, and you can share it with other passengers or book it for only you.
Taxis from the airport are also available and cost between NZD 29.48 to NZD 35.00 one way. Alternatively, if you want to hire a car, there are a number of car rental companies at the airport to choose from.