How Rotorua became the fun capital of New Zealand.

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We all know that Rotorua is jammed packed full of amazing activities, hot pools, accommodation, and foodie spots but do you all know how this all started?

The name Rotorua comes from M?ori, Roto means 'lake' and rua means 'two' or in this case 'second' – so Rotorua means 'Second lake'. It was called the second lake as it was the second lake to be discovered by the Maori chief – Ihenga.

The area was first settled by the Te Arawa Iwi in the 14th century

The European settlement began around1883 with the first town built by the government of New Zealand as a place for tourist to stay while they came to visit what was know then as the “hot lakes” – a renowned spa destination.

To build the town the government negotiated with and least land from a local Iwi.

To connect it to Auckland the “Rotorua Express” train opened in 1894 and from this point on the town grew rapidly with tourism growing in leaps and bounds.

The government next developed a European-style spa with ornamental gardens, and bathing and therapeutic facilities and with increased popularity, the population grew from 500 in 1896 to over 4,700 in 1926.

After the war in 1945 growth again surged in the town with new forestry, farming and hydroelectricity development and ever-increasing numbers of tourism operators. Our town’s population increased from 7,500 in 1945 to 46,000 in 1976.

Rotorua grew in all areas, both in numbers, tourism, goods and services and national revenue and was proclaimed a city in 1962.

Since that time and through the ’70s, 80’s and 90’s growth didn’t stop. The current population sits at around 77,000 +. We have hundreds of things to do, places to stay and great food to eat. Every day we see an excited stream of visitors to our town, eager to get out and enjoy themselves.

If you want a good look around all that this amazing town offers, go to our local website. You can choose one or a handful out of hundreds of activities and then dine in a huge selection of great places to eat.

Why not come to see what an amazing place this is and enjoy our warm and friendly hospitality?


"Brilliant campsite; one of our favourites in NZ! The free thermal pools are brilliant, we spent two evenings in these."

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