Rotorua Tourist Attractions
Due to the crowds of visitors coming to take the cure or merely to see the sights, Rotorua has now grown into a town of 54,000 inhabitants, with numerous hotels, motels, motor camps and other accommodations. There are pubs and restaurants of all types and various souvenir shops. For visitors approaching Rotorua from the south on Highway 5 it is like entering some kind of theme park.
As a result of the many private boreholes that have been drilled to supply water for baths and for heating, geothermal activity has declined sharply in some places. There are now restrictions on the use of thermal water.
The country round lakes Rotorua and Tarawera, south of the Bay of Plenty, with its variety of volcanic phenomena, is the longest-established and most visited tourist area in New Zealand. All over this landscape are jets of hot steam issuing from clefts in the ground, geysers shooting water high into the air, bubbling pools of mud and glinting deposits of minerals all the colors of the rainbow on the hot subsoil, and everywhere there is a smell of sulfur, of greater or lesser intensity. The settlers who came here in the 19th C were filled with a mixture of curiosity, fear and wonder. The local Maoris had come to terms with their environment: they bathed in the thermal water and used it for heating and cooking. Later they acted as guides for white visitors. The tourist high spots in the 19th C were the gleaming pink and white sinter terraces at Lake Rotomahana, which were regarded as one of the natural wonders of the world.