Bring on the geysers! Bring on the mud baths! Bring on the hot springs!
We’re heading to Rotorua, New Zealand for a whole lot of fun in the land of mountains, lakes, and geothermal activity galore. Not to mention the lively traditional M?ori culture.
Rotorua is a popular destination for national and international tourists alike. However, that doesn’t make it any easier to choose the best place to stay in Rotorua.
Rotorua actually encompasses a rather large district, so your decision just got tougher.
Lucky for you our expert travel writers went to work putting this Rotorua neighborhood guide together.
With our Rotorua guide in hand, you life just got a whole lot easier. So wipe the sweat off your brow and crank your stress levels back down to zero. We did all the hard work for you.
Sit back, relax, and read our Rotorua neighborhood guide to choose the best place to stay in Rotorua for you. Yes, you! We’ve even broken it down into handy dandy sections based on your preferences, like budget, nightlife, and cool vibes.
Happy Rotorua accommodation hunting, friends.
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Rotorua
- Where to stay in Rotorua for the first time – Whakarewarewa
- Where to stay in Rotorua on a budget – Ohinemutu
- Best area to stay in Rotorua for nightlife – Downtown Rotorua
- Coolest place to stay in Rotorua – Mourea & Okere Falls
- Best neighborhood in Rotorua for families – Kawaha Point
- Take a dip in as many hot springs as you can
- Chow down on an enormous buffet meal at Chapman’s Bar and Restaurant
- Go biking in the famous mountain biking tracks in the Whakarewarewa Forest
Table of Contents
- Where to Stay in Rotorua
- Rotorua Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rotorua
- #1 Whakarewarewa – Where to Stay in Rotorua for your First Time
- #2 Ohinemutu – Where to Stay in Rotorua on a Budget
- #3 Downtown Rotorua – Where to Stay in Rotorua for Nightlife
- #4 Mourea & Okere Falls – Coolest Place to Stay in Rotorua
- #5 Kawaha Point – Best Neighborhood in Rotorua for Families
In a tizzy already? We’ll cut right to the chase to give you our top two highest recommendations for places to stay in Rotorua. If you’re keen on keeping the travel costs low, why not check out Rotorua’s best hostels?
Best Hostel in Rotorua: Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua
Rock Solid Backpackers is perfectly located in Downtown Rotorua, where all the nightlife and fun is happening! If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, head on over to Rock Solid Backpackers for cheap rates and a friendly atmosphere.
The common space comes equipped with couches aplenty and a pingpong table. You’re sure to make a few friends at Rock Solid!View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Rotorua – Very popular studio
This cute little studio has definitely made its way into our heats. Super chic and comfortable, the Airbnb feels like a proper home. It’s close to a lot of attractions and the main town.
We have to say that getting around is easier with a car, but your host can help you with good rental services.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Rotorua – Peppers on the Point, Lake Rotorua
Peppers on the Point is located right on the shore of Lake Rotorua. The hotel has its very own private beach to enjoy. There’s also a glorious swimming pool, sauna, and on-site spa.
These facilities sure are luxurious! The rooms all come with a small kitchenette so guests can make their own tea, coffee, or snacks. Who doesn’t want some homemade popcorn after a long day at the beach?View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Rotorua
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Mourea & Okere Falls
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If you’re backpacking New Zealand, take a few days to stop over in Rotorua. It’s an incredible city about 230km southeast of Auckland.
It’s population clocks in at around 72,500 in the entire Rotorua District. The Lakes of Rotorua are a vast collection of lakes that are sprinkled throughout the Rotorua district.
Way back in the day, the 14th century to be specific, the Maori settled in the Rotorua area. And today, 34% of the population of Rotorua is Maori.
When visiting Rotorua, you can expect to see many cultural performances and dancing, and incredibly delicious h?ngi, which are traditional steam-cooked banquets.
But not everything in Rotorua is quite so appetizing. You know what geothermal activity means? Sulphur.
You know what sulfur smells like? Rotten eggs. Unfortunately those luxurious hot mud paths and sparkling geysers come with a little bit of a price: smelly air.
The aroma of sulfur doesn’t saturate the entire city and area, but we wouldn’t want to leave something out of your Rotorua neighborhood guide that would catch you by surprise— a stinky surprise.
Regardless, there are many amazing areas of Rotorua to explore and lots of great areas of where to stay in Rotorua to choose from. Let’s dive in!
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rotorua
Rotorua is a large district that offers visitors lots of unique places to stay in that are specific to what your heart desires, whether it’s a happy wallet or a cool atmosphere, we’ll cover it all here in your Rotorua neighborhood guide. So let’s get started…
Staying in Whakarewarewa is sure to delight. It’s the home of the Living Maori Village, and is one of New Zealand’s most iconic attractions.
It is home to the T?hourangi-Ng?ti W?hiao people, and you can take a guided tour with a local, enjoy a concert performance, and take part in a traditional feast.
Whakarewarewa is often simply called Whaka by locals. It’s a semi-rural geothermal area, that his home to 500 pools. What’s even cooler? Or should we say hotter?
Most of the 500 pools are hot springs! In Whakarewarewa there is also around 65 geyser vents, and seven of the geysers are currently active and ready to dazzle you.
Whakarewarewa is one of the best neighborhoods in Rotorua to stay in as it’s full of
bubbling mud, hot pools, and geysers and traditional M?ori culture. Also, it is only a few minutes drive away from downtown Rotorua.
Things to See and Do in Whakarewarewa
– Visit the Living M?ori Village and catch a cultural dance and music performance and a traditional feast
– See all seven of the active geysers in Whakarewarewa, make sure to see Pohutu Geyser which erupts every hour and soars up to 30 meters high
– Take a dip in as many hot springs as you can
– Visit the NZMACI (NZ Maori Arts & Crafts Institute) and check out all the beautiful traditional art and craft displays
– Chow down on an enormous buffet meal at Chapman’s Bar and Restaurant
– Go biking in the famous mountain biking tracks in the Whakarewarewa Forest
Best Hostel in Whakarewarewa: Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park
The Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park is nestled in the Whakarewarewa Forest in a park-like grounds location. It’s one of the coolest places to stay in Rotorua if you’re looking to stay in a natural setting in a budget friendly hostel.
There are 6-bed dorms available, and guests are allowed access to park facilities like free hot thermal pools, outdoor swimming pools, and BBQ facilities.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Whakarewarewa: Very popular studio
This cute little studio has definitely made its way into our heats. Super chic and comfortable, the Airbnb feels like a proper home. It’s close to a lot of attractions and the main town. We have to say that getting around is easier with a car, but your host can help you with good rental services.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Whakarewarewa: Pohutu Lodge Motel
The Pohutu Lodge Motel is where to stay in Rotorua on a budget in Whakarewarewa. It’s reasonably priced and perfectly located.
The rooms all have a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, for those who love late night snacks and homemade breakfast in bed.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Whakarewarewa: Silver Oaks Hotel
The Silver Oaks Hotel has a golf course, fitness center, outdoor pool, and a steamy sauna. It is in an ideal location for those who are looking to explore all the local sites in Rotorua.
All rooms come with a kitchenette for those who want to whip up a quick meal themselves. If not, enjoy the in-house restaurant which offers guests top notch cuisine and incredible service.View on Booking.com
Ohinemutu is a suburb of Rotorua that actually has an official population of less than 300. It is over 80% populated by local M?ori people, as it is a living M?ori village and the original settlement of Rotorua.
Ohinemutu is home to four marae, which are communal or sacred spaces, used for both social and religious purposes. Visiting the marae, and being so close to Lake Rotorua make Ohinemutu a great area in Rotorua to stay in.
Just a few minutes walk away from downtown Rotorua, Ohinemutu only has a handful of accommodation options, almost all of which are fairly budget friendly.
If you’re not looking to live like a sardine in a hostel setting, then head over to one of the budget friendly Rotorua accommodation options we found in Ohinemutu!
Things to See and Do in Ohinemutu
– Visit the four marae meeting houses and centers
– Stop by the Anglican Church for a beautiful photo opportunity, right on the lake
– Explore Kuirau Park and soak your toes in the geothermal foot baths or go for a longer soak in the hot springs
– Bathe in the mud pools at Kuirau Park, what’s even better for those budget friendly tourists out there? The mud pools and the entire park is free!
– Go fishing or boating on Lake Rotorua, or simply enjoy a long walk on the beach
Best Airbnb in Ohinemutu: Room close to city
Staying in Rotura won’t be extremely cheap, but this Airbnb is definitely one of the more affordable ones. The private room is part of the hosts home, so be respectful when using the shared amenities.
The room is super comfortable and bright, and you can even enjoy your private bathroom. The hosts are kind and caring, so if you need help or advice, feel free to reach out to them.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Ohinemutu: Cleveland Thermal Motel
Cleveland Thermal Motel is budget friendly and recently renovated. The outdoor pool is an added bonus for those who want a little extra time in the sunshine.
Most rooms come with a kitchenette so you if you’re looking to save a few bucks, then you can cook your own meals too!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Ohinemutu: Red Rock Thermal Motel
Red Rock Thermal Motel is a step above the average motel out there. It has a spa and a wellness center, complete with a Jacuzzi, heated pool, and a fancy mineral bath.
How does that sound, friends? One luxurious motel in Ohinemutu coming right up!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Ohinemutu: Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park
The Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park is perfect for travellers out there who are watching their budget. It has its own beach and outdoor pool and it’s perfectly located close to the shore.
If you were curious, the Rotorua International Airport is only a 15 minute drive away.View on Booking.com
Downtown Rotorua is definitely where to stay in Rotorua for nightlife. There is so much happening in downtown Rotorua.
So for those who don’t want to have a sleepy vacation on the beach or a super active nature based trip, but rather something in the middle, Downtown Rotorua is the place for you.
With the highest concentration of hotels and hostels, you’ll find that most of your fellow travelers are staying right here in one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Rotorua— Downtown!
Enjoy a night out on the town at one of the many bars and pubs in Rotorua. From Bar Zazu to Sidepocket to Pig & Whistle Historic Pub, no matter the atmosphere you are looking for you, the bars are plentiful and the beer is flowing!
Things to See and Do in Downtown Rotorua:
– Trek on over to Sulphur Point to see the formation of sulphur crystals
– Tour the Museum and Government Gardens (note that the inside of the museum is closed for renovations but the outdoor grounds are free to tour)
– Experience Maori culture at Tamaki Maori Village and try to catch a performance
– Sample culinary delights at the Rotorua Night Market, happening year round on Thursdays but always check their Facebook page to be sure
– Walk the Geothermal Walking Track and see take in the natural beauty of Rotorua in all its splendor
– Drink a pint at the Pig & Whistle Historic Pub
Best Hostel in Downtown Rotorua: Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua
Rock Solid Backpackers is conveniently located in Downtown Rotorua in a densely populated area with shops, bars, and restaurants. There is an excellent common space with a ping pong table and tons of comfortable couches.
The rooms are nice and spacious, and as an added perk the bathrooms all come with hairdryers! Not always so common where hotels are concerned. What a treat!View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Downtown Rotorua: Cute central studio
If you’re a nightlife enthusiast, this Airbnb is the right one for you. The studio is pretty simple, but close to the busy area and has every amenity you might need. If you’re super exhausted from the night before, you can even enjoy a massage chair that the host provides.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Downtown Rotorua: The Grand Treasure Hotel
The Grand Treasure Hotel in Downtown Rotorua is close to all your favorite sightseeing spots. Enjoy the 3-star rooms and a comfortable bar. There is also a Jacuzzi and in-house spa to enjoy. Go ahead and get a massage, you deserve it!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Downtown Rotorua: Prince’s Gate Hotel
Prince’s Gate Hotel is a very stylish and sleek 4-star hotel in Rotorua, right downtown.
Coming with a spa and wellness center, a Jacuzzi, and an outdoor heated pool that includes a mineral bath, you’re sure to have a delightful stay at Prince’s Gate Hotel. Sip a glass of wine at their in-house bar and restaurant and soak up the snazzy ambiance.View on Booking.com
If you’re seeking a secluded holiday or getaway, nestle yourself inside nature in Mourea and Okere Falls.
Mourea and Okere Falls are situated right on the water and are hands down the coolest places to stay in Rotorua.
Mourea is situated on a small strip of land that sits between Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti. What’s one lake when you can have two!
Okere Falls is one of Rotura’s best neighborhoods as it’s home to the famous Okere Falls and is located on the shore of the Okere Inlet of Lake Rotoiti. Mourea and Okere Falls dwell directly next to each other and are around 20km from the Roturua city center.
While it may be a bit off the path, these two areas are full of all the solitude and serenity travelers could wish for!
They are some one of the best neighborhoods in Rotorua to stay in because of they are both quiet, tranquil, and brimming with the glory of nature.
All stirred up with quite a bit of luxury. Even if you are wondering where to stay in Rotorua for one night, put Mourea and Okere Falls at the top of your list. You’re sure to have a memorable stay.
Things to do and see in Mourea and Okere Falls
– Visit Okere Falls and hike to Tutea’s Cave
– Feel the thrill of adventure and go rafting through Tutea Falls
– Fish for some beautiful New Zealand Rainbow Trout in Lake Rotoiti
– Hike around the mountains around Lake Rotoiti
– Sip afternoon tea and visit the beautifully restored Moose Lodge
Best Airbnb in Mourea and Okere Falls: Beautiful and quiet getaway
We’re not lying when we say that this Airbnb is a true gem. Check it out yourself! The location is very peaceful, but still in walking distance to the Okere falls, shops and restaurants.
You can explore the area around or enjoy the stylish and modern inside of your home, which offers a comfy living space, a patio and an amazing view.View on Airbnb
Best Rental in Mourea and Okere Falls: Rotoiti Lake Retreat
Rotoiti Lake Retreat is a cozy and comfortable rental available right on the shore of Rotoiti Lake. The rooms are furnished to make your lake stay as quiet and peaceful as possible.
Take a break from busy hotel life and relax at the Rotoiti Lake Retreat.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Mourea and Okere Falls: Twin Lake Villas
Twin Lake Villas provides beautiful lakeside accommodation in Rotorua. Dwelling on the Mourea strip of land, you’ll enjoy being surrounded by water on two sides.
There is also a swimming pool for those who want to take a break from the sand for awhile. Twin Lake Villas also has their own wonderful restaurant and bar.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Mourea and Okere Falls: VR Rotorua Lake Resort
VR Rotorua Lake Resort is pure luxury. This beautiful 4-star resort has all the amenities a guest could ever dream of. Enjoy the outdoor heated pool and the tennis courts, or take a relaxing break inside their sauna or Jacuzzi.
Rooms have private terraces to enjoy the views of both lakes, as VR Rotorua Lake Resort sits on the strip of land between Lake Rotura and Lake Rotoiti.View on Booking.com
Kawaha Point is just north of Rotorua city center, located only five minutes from Rotorua’s city center. Kawaha Point is where to stay in Rotorua for families as it is nestled near the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and snuggled next to the Purakau Bay of Lake Rotorua.
It’s a welcoming city, where you can pass the time by the water, taking scenic walks around the lakeshore.
There’s also an incredible cycleway that leads to Kuirau Park in one direction or the village of Ngongotaha in the other. What’s a better way to spend the day than exploring Rotorua on bike with the family!
Kawaha Point is one of the best places to stay in Rotorua to unwind in an impressive community that is modern and nature focused. Families that visit Kawaha Point will find plenty of attractions to enjoy, from the Skyline Rotorua to the Zorb Rotorua inflatable ball park!
Hands down, Kawaha Point is where to stay in Rotorua with kids given all the amazing, kid-friendly attractions and activities!
Things to do and to see in Kawaha Point:
– Stop by the 3D Trick Art Gallery to take a walk on the wild side of art
– Hop into a giant inflatable ball at ZORB Rotorua and get ready for the whole world to get turned upside down!
– Float away on the gondolas at Skyline Rotorua and watch the whole area unfold all around you
– Head over to Karenga Park and join in on the regularly hosted, free community events
– Have a glass of wine or a delicious meal at Peppers on the Point
– See the darling Kiwi birds at the National Kiwi Hatchery
– Zip away at Rotorua Canopy Tours and enjoy the scenic forest zip line courses as you fly through the air
Best Airbnb in Kawaha Point: A true home made for families
This Airbnb is perfect for families in every aspect. The location is very peaceful, there’s a bus stop at the end of the driveway, and the garden is secured with fences so your kids can play without any worries.
If you have any questions about the property, read the incredibly detailed Airbnb description – you’ll love this place.View on Airbnb
Best B&B in Kawaha Point: Koutu Beach Bed and Breakfast
A charming little B&B, Koutu Beach Bed and Breakfast perfect for a little getaway with the family. Not to worry, there is free WIFI for those who want to stay connected.
The rooms all have a cozy ambience and your whole family is sure to feel right at home at the Koutu Beach Bed and Breakfast.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Kawaha Point: Peppers on the Point Lake Rotorua
Peppers on the Point is right on the shore of Lake Rotorua. It is definitely where to stay with kids who love the beach. Guests will enjoy the private beach and on-site spa.
There are also outdoor tennis courses and a swimming pool to enjoy. Oh yes, there is a sauna too. With a hotel this comfortable, you may never leave!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Kawaha Point: Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel
The Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel in Rotorua is famous for its luxury 5-star hotel amenities and ambiance. This particular accommodation in Rotorua has amazing activities for guests to enjoy from a golf course to a sauna to a heated pool.
You are sure to feel pampered at the Black Swan.View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Rotorua
Rotorua, New Zealand is a beautiful place to visit for those who are nature lovers, adventurers, or explorers. If you don’t feel like Zorbing or rafting, you can always sink your feet into a soothing hot pool or take a dip in a mud bath.
The geothermal activity in Rotorua is offers visitors quite the experience!
If you’re looking for the coolest place to stay in Rotorua, look no further than Mourea and Okere Falls. Peaceful lakeside hotels offer guests complete and total serenity. Our favorite is the luxurious VR Rotorua Lake Resort.
Craving a night out on the town? The area of Rotorua with the best nightlife is definitely Downtown Rotura. Staying at Rock Solid Backpackers hostel, you’re guaranteed to feel a part of the social scene.
Where to stay in Rotorua with families is definitely, absolutely, totally Kawaha Point. As one of the best neighborhoods in Rotura to stay in with kids, it is filled with fun activities for the whole family. Our favorite family friendly hotel is Peppers on the Point.
Do you have any Rotorua travel tips to share? Share them here in the comments below!
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.