Built for tourism: Rotorua, NZ

By Josephine Sargent 7 November 2013
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One town in New Zealand has been designed to lure tourists – and is doing a top job of reeling them in.

AG’s chief sub-editor skipped across the ocean last month to visit our NZ neighbours.

most beautiful city you will visit – but what she lacks in good looks she makes up in personality.

My host for my trip to this city on New Zealand’s north island, Heather, tells me that it was built for tourism – much like Canberra was for politics but infinitely more fun than sitting through Question Time. So, the wide streets form a neat grid, making navigation a cinch (even with a few beers under the belt) and there are plenty of parks, walking tracks and entertainment centres.

Back in the day people flocked to Rotorua for its hot springs and mud baths, but now it offers so much more. It has been specially designed with tourists in mind. And, cleverly, it hasn’t pigeon-holed itself into one category. You can go on a joy flight over volcanos, feed falcons, go white water rafting, go kayaking, take your mountain bike for a spin, relax in hot springs, go horse riding, fly down a hill in a Zorb, hit the tracks on a four-wheeler, hike to your heart’s content, jump out of a plane… the list goes on. Visitors need at least a week to properly explore all this adventure hub has to offer.

We combined physical exertion with ultimate relaxation in one morning, with Go Wild Adventures. Our initial 3 km kayak across Lake Rotoiti was happily rewarded by a soak in the Manupirua Hot Pools. The pools, filled daily from a nearby spring, are only accessible by boat or kayak. Now, that’s a crowd-pleaser.

Why doesn’t Australia copy what’s going on across the ditch and do something similar? Imagine re-thinking a town that doesn’t look like much – I won’t name names, but a few spring to mind – and turning it into a tourist hub? The Kiwis have the right idea, I reckon.

For more on Rotorua, NZ, grab a copy of the current Australian Geographic Outdoor, on sale now.