Adjoining Government Gardens is the Maori village of Ohinemutu, once the most important Maori settlement in the Rotorua area. On the marae (assembly place), beside the meeting house and the church, is the bust of Queen Victoria presented by the Prince Alfred in 1870, protected by a marvelous carved canopy. Everywhere in the area, between the houses and in the tiny gardens, clouds of steam issue from the ground.
St Faith's Church
The interior of St Faith's Church (1910; Anglican) is notable for the fine Maori carving and woven fabrics. One of the stained-glass windows shows Christ in the dress of a Maori chief walking on the water of Lake Rotorua.In the churchyard beside the church the dead are buried in whitewashed stone or concrete coffins resting on the hot ground. Among those buried here are the American missionary SM Spencer (1810-98) and Captain Gilbert Mair (1843-1923), who was a great friend of the Arawa and the only white man to be granted the full status of a chief. He had defended Ohinemutu against Hauhau raids and attacks by Te Kooti.
Maori Meeting House
Opposite the church is a magnificent Maori meeting house. The interior is richly decorated with old Maori carving; the exterior was renovated in 1941.
Whakarewarewa is Maori village south of Rotorua with a number of interesting geothermal and cultural attractions.
The geothermal phenomena of the Rotorua area can be most easily observed in the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, 3km south of Rotorua. There are numerous springs and three impressive geysers within a small area.
Maori Cultural Center
Whakarewarewa has a Maori cultural center, with a carved gateway, palisades, a meeting house and a war canoe. There are also performances of Maori music and dances. Within the complex is a Maori arts and crafts center, with a carving school and a showroom for the sale of craft products.
Whakarewarewa Forest Park
Whakarewarewa Forest Park (38 sq.km) extends southeast of the geothermal field of Whakarewarewa. There are trails to the Blue Lake and the Green Lake.
The Waimangu Valley and its culture were changed forever following the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. Today tourists can see the geological wonders of the valley on guided tours.
Waiotapu, New Zealand
30km south of Rotorua on the road to Taupo (Highway 5) is the village of Waiotapu, famed for the spectacular post-volcanic features in the area.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is New Zealand's most colourful natural volcanic environment. It is home to the world famous Champagne Pool, geysers, bubbling mud, steaming ground, huge volcanic craters and terrace formations.
Lady Knox Geyser
Waiotapu's top attraction is the Lady Knox Geyser, which spouts with almost unvarying punctuality at 10.15am and sends a jet of water high into the air.This punctuality is achieved, however, with a little help. Soap powder must be thrown into the water: the sodium carbonate therein decreases the surface viscosity and sets the geyser off. This was discovered by convicts who used soap to do their washing in pools of thermal water.
The silicate terraces known as the Artist's Palette shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow, as the pink-and-white sinter terraces destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera must have done.
The effervescent thermal waters of the Champagne Pool, highly charged with minerals, have earned it its name. Like other pools in the area, it sparkles in many colors, predominantly yellow, green and blue.
Tikitere (Hell's Gate)
In the north of the Rotorua area is Tikitere, known as Hell's Gate because of its evil-smelling springs of sulfurous water and vigorously bubbling pools of mud. The geothermal field here covers some 10 ha, with seething mud springs, a charming warm waterfall (Kakahi Falls), pools of sulfurous water and clouds of steam hovering over vegetation resembling a primeval forest. A small exhibition illustrates the character of the area.
5km north of Rotorua, at Rainbow Springs, are a number of attractive trails running under tall tree ferns. The pools and streams in this area teem with rainbow trout. At Rainbow Farm visitors can learn about sheep and cattle farming in New Zealand, with demonstrations of milking and sheep shearing.
Agrodome, Ngongotaha, New Zealand
7km north of Rotorua, on the western shore of the lake, is Ngongotaha, with the Agrodome, which puts on shows (three times daily) of many different breeds of sheep. Expert sheep shearers and self-appointed sheepdog trainers demonstrate their skills.
Northwest of Lake Rotorua, some 20km from the town of Rotorua, is Lake Rotoiti, near which are a number of carved Maori meeting houses. Here too, on a northwestern arm of the lake, are the Okere Falls.
Through the forested area that extends eastward from Lake Rotoiti to Lake Rotoehu runs Hongi's Track, on which Hongi Hika and his warriors carried their canoes overland from one lake to the other during his expedition of conquest in 1823. On the track is a tree sacred to the Maoris, said to have been planted 400 years ago by Hinehopu, a chief's wife.
Map of Rotorua Attractions