Rotorua staged the official welcome when The British & Irish Lions toured in 2005 and visitors for the 2017 series can expect another rousing introduction to the heartland of Māori culture when the Lions next meet the Māori All Blacks.
The game will take place on 17 June at Rotorua International Stadium which must be the only rugby stadium in the world set in a thermal wonderland amongst bubbling mud, hot pools and rumbling geysers. Locals have dubbed the stadium the ‘Hangi Pit’ as a reference to a traditional Māori cooking technique which uses fire heated stones in an underground earth oven.
With an official capacity of 34,000 people, Rotorua International Stadium dates back to 1911 and, as the spiritual home of Bay of Plenty rugby, will provide a fitting venue as The British & Irish Lions take on the Māori All Blacks in 2017.
Rotorua’s fascinating landscape provides the backdrop to numerous adventure activities - mountain biking, trout fishing, bathing in natural hot pools and white water rafting.
Rich with culture
Rotorua is New Zealand’s oldest tourism destination, famed for geothermal landscapes and fascinating Māori culture which reaches back into history and legends.
At Whakarewarewa, a living Māori village in an active geothermal valley, residents still use natural resources for cooking, washing and bathing. The village became a major New Zealand tourist attraction from the late 1800s when the first European visitors found their way to Rotorua.
On the other side of the same valley, Te Puia is an important centre devoted to protecting Māori culture with visitor experiences covering traditional art forms, carving and weaving, storytelling, and authentic cultural performances.
Personalised tours with local Māori guides offer in-depth cultural experiences taking visitors off-the-beaten track into the region and the local culture. And, for rugby-weary bodies, there could be nothing more relaxing than a soak in the healing waters of the natural hot springs and spas - famed for their therapeutic qualities.
Adventure / Outdoors
With more than 70km of tracks just minutes from the city centre, Rotorua is New Zealand's leading mountain-biking destination. In Whakarewarewa Forest, cyclists weave through towering trees past flashes of beautiful lakes, geothermal action and iconic Mt Tarawera. Te Ara Ahi is a 74km two-day cycle trail that follows a gentle gradient through an active thermal landscape.
The Rotorua region is an angler’s dream with trout-filled river and lake fishing locations, and the unique option of cooking the catch in hot sands on a thermal beach.
Rotorua is also home to world-first adventure activities, such as the Ogo or Zorb, and Shweeb. The Ogo involves rolling down a hill in a large inflatable ball, while the Shweeb is the world’s first human-powered monorail racetrack. Adrenalin junkies can also luge, raft, jet boat, off-road, sky dive, bodyfly and bungy.
Just 20 minutes from Rotorua, the Tarawera Trail is one of New Zealand’s most popular and outstanding walks. Hikers follow the edge of Lake Tarawera – a crater lake that resulted from a significant eruption in the 1800s – to places like the beach at Te Rata Bay with its natural hot pools.
Rotorua Canopy Tours can take visitors high above the ground to give a different perspective of the forest. Winter is the perfect time to visit as the dampness brightens fungi of every colour from cobalt blue to orange, yellow and red, while lush ferns and mosses bring the forest floor to life. Early morning zip liners fly over frosty white valleys while evening visitors are treated to the evening bird chorus. An excellent adventure year round, rain or shine, Rotorua Canopy Tours is a must-do in between rugby games.
Rotorua is only a 40-minute flight from Auckland or an easy three-hour drive along the Thermal Explorer Highway. Located in the central North Island, Rotorua is a 90-minute drive from the cities of Hamilton and Tauranga, and less than an hour from Lake Taupo.