Knee deep in mud at the Rotorua Mud Festival

A new festival is about to be added to the New Zealand international events’ calendar, the Rotorua Mud Festival.

A festival of a different kind is about to be added to the New Zealand international events’ calendar in the form of the Rotorua Mud Festival. 

Rotorua Lakes Council has launched a new festival celebrating Rotorua’s distinctive geothermal and volcanic environment. From 2017 onwards, the event is scheduled to take place in early December - inviting the world to a completely immersive experience of Rotorua’s one-in-a-kind mud. 

The festival sets up an international event partnership agreement between Boryeong City and Rotorua. Boryeong in South Korea runs an annual mud festival which attracts more than three million visitors a year. Rotorua Lakes Council wants to establish a similar event in Rotorua based on the city’s 150-year history of using mud as a therapy and treatment.

The Rotorua Mud Festival will take place in downtown Rotorua and include a mud-arena, spa and wellness experiences, and education and historical story-telling.

Over time, the event is forecast to attract a significant number of domestic and international attendees, which will generate strong economic returns for both Rotorua and New Zealand. 

Rotorua mud is very high in minerals due to its contact with the volcanic gases and minerals from the earth’s centre. When warmed, it also stores heat easily which makes it ideal for heat treatments.

“The festival will be fun, there will be an opportunity to feel the mud on your skin but it will also be about the beauty of the mud product,” Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says. 

“In Rotorua, culture, dirt and steam is what we are about and mud fits our proposition.”

Mud experiences in Rotorua

Rotorua has a number of different activities on offer that involve mud. The Rotorua Museum is home to the historic Mud Bath Basement which you can access via a basement walkway beneath the building. The four baths on view remain largely as they were when the building opened in 1908 as a health spa offering some rather quirky treatments.

Hells Gate, one of the premier Rotorua experiences, offers mud baths, mud facials and a mud foot pool set in one of Rotorua’s most active geothermal areas.

At the world famous Polynesian Spa visitors can indulge in different mud therapies including a mud body wrap. Guests are covered in a Rotorua thermal mud mask and then cocooned in sheets and towels before a relaxing scalp massage.

Just outside Rotorua, the Wai-O-Tapu mud pool is the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920’s. It now represents one of the most spectacular opportunities to experience the unique character and sounds of erupting mud and where the activity is always guaranteed.

Te Puia - one of Rotorua’s most popular attractions – has two impressive mud pools. Nga Mokai a Koko is the largest and most impressive at Te Puia, with a depth of between 6-10 metres and bursts of mud reaching temperatures of approximately 90- 95°C. Purapurawhetu or ‘Star Dust’ takes its name from the small clusters of boiling mud resembling a pattern of stars like the Milky Way.

Rotorua is a mecca for mountain biking, a sport that is often associated with getting a little bit muddy. Every two years world renowned mountain biking event Crankworx takes place in Rotorua. The dirt on the mountain bike trails in Rotorua is unique and is the perfect substance for mountainbiking.

About Rotorua

Since the early 19th century, tourists have flocked to Rotorua’s natural hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and active geysers to experience the spectacular thermal wonders on the ‘Pacific rim of fire’. 

Māori culture and history infuse Rotorua life. The town of Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, is home to the Te Arawa iwi - one of New Zealand’s larger Māori tribes. A third of Rotorua's population is Māori.

Rotorua translates as 'second lake' – one of 18 sparkling lakes, surrounded by magnificent native and exotic forests. This other-worldly volcanic landscape provides a dynamic backdrop to many adventure activities - mountain biking, trout fishing, bathing in natural hot pools, white water rafting, and air adventures.

Travel Tips

Rotorua is a 2.5 hour drive or a 40 minute flight from Auckland. Considered the Maori tourism hub of New Zealand, experience the stories and culture of New Zealand’s native people in Rotorua.