There are at least 14,000 visitor beds in Rotorua, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one to suit you. Hotels and motels abound—Fenton Street is a veritable motel mile—and many motels in Rotorua provide private heated Jacuzzis in each unit. Be warned, though: These are not all thermal pools. New motel complexes are not allowed to draw off the city’s geothermal reserves, so check first if you want a thermal pool. If you’re interested in a personalized hospitality experience, pick up the Rotorua Farm and Homestay brochure at the visitor center.
Rates below include 15% GST and parking.
Maori Hospitality -- Treat yourself to a firsthand experience of contemporary Maori hospitality at either of two drop-dead gorgeous B&Bs run by young professional Maori couples and their families. The very classy A-Kahu, 155 Kawaha Point Rd. (tel. 07/347-4148; www.akahu.co.nz), has four sumptuous en-suite bedrooms set apart from main living areas. Kiri Atkinson-Crean and her husband, Nigel, share their strong tribal links, and their modern home is filled with contemporary Maori art. It’s a big-hearted, family-oriented experience that I loved. Rooms are great value at around NZ$380. Across town, Oscar and Renee Nathan have established a very chic, self-contained experience at Maruata Rotorua, 2 Kuirau St. (tel. 021/801-559; www.maruata.co.nz), where you’ll be able to connect with Maori culture at all levels—through art, music, videos, books, wine, and food. It features changing displays of contemporary Maori art (for sale), and I love the central locality (close to mud pools) and the serenity of the little cottage. It costs from NZ$325 per couple and gets cheaper the more nights you stay. They are members of the Rotorua Sustainable Charter and there is free Wi-Fi throughout.
Solitaire Lodge, 16 Ronald Rd., Lake Tarawera (www.solitairelodge.co.nz; tel. 07/362-8208; fax 07/362-8445), has 10 rooms in an unbeatable tranquil location 20 minutes out of the city. They’re priced from NZ$1,690 to NZ$2,035, which includes pre-dinner drink with canapés, a 4-course dinner, full breakfast the following morning, and use of all lodge facilities including kayaks, motorized dinghies, and trout fishing equipment. All rooms are large and private, and graced with beautiful lake views.
Novotel Lakeside, lake end of Tutanekai St. (www.accorhotels.com; tel. 0800/776-677 in NZ, or 07/346-3888; fax 07/347-1888), is definitely one of the better Rotorua hotels, and the closest one to Central City and the main restaurant beat. The lake-view superior rooms are the most popular, but parkside units are generally quieter. Eight king suites have Jacuzzis in the bathrooms, and two executive suites are split-level, with mezzanine bedrooms. Prices range from NZ$165 to NZ$650; you’ll pay more for the royal suite. Another good choice is Millennium Hotel Rotorua, corner of Eruera and Hinemaru streets (www.millenniumrotorua.co.nz; tel. 0800/654-685 in NZ, or 07/347-1234; fax 07/348-1234), perfectly located across the road from the internationally acclaimed Polynesian Spa. Its 227 guest rooms are priced NZ$190 to NZ$550 and it has a friendlier vibe than the Novotel.
Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort, 77 Robinson Ave., Holdens Bay, Rotorua (www.waioraresort.co.nz; tel. 0800/345-318 in NZ, or 07/343-5100), is 10 minutes out of the city but you get silence, a good restaurant, a lovely pool, free Internet, gorgeous day spa treatments, and the choice of 30 rooms priced from NZ$199 to NZ$495. It’s a little overpriced compared to the Amora (below), but it does have the spa facility on its side. If you favor the peace and quiet of an out-of-town lakeside location, then the relatively small Amora Lake Resort, 366 St. Hwy. 33, Okawa Bay, Rotorua (www.amorahotels.com; tel. 0800/655-555 in NZ, or 07/362-4599), is for you. Rooms look out to lake and garden views. Some have indoor Jacuzzis with shutters that fold open to the bedroom, and all are roomy and nicely furnished. It’s just 15 minutes out of town and is incredibly good value for money with rooms from NZ$145.
There are several excellent camping grounds in the Rotorua area; the closest to central city is Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park, 1495 Pukeatua St. (www.rotoruatop10.co.nz; tel. 0800/223-267 in NZ, or 07/348-1886), which is a short walk from town. It has camping sites, cabin accommodations, and excellent new shared facilities for NZ$40 to NZ$180. Another good budget option is Quest Rotorua, 7 Tryon St. (www.questrotorua.co.nz; tel. 0800/355-575 in NZ, or 07/347-3333), which is very close to Whakarewarewa Thermal Village and has rooms from NZ$110, and always offers good special deals. Wylie Court Motor Lodge, 345 Fenton St. (www.wyliecourt.co.nz; tel. 07/347-7879; fax 07/346-1494), is my pick for a sensibly priced, fun option, especially for families. Rooms at the 22-year-old property aren’t flashy, but they’re comfortable and every unit has its own thermally heated outdoor Jacuzzi; plus, the whole place is set amid beautiful gardens with two playgrounds. Rooms cost NZ$145 to NZ$185. Backpackers, meanwhile, have many choices in Rotorua. One of the best is Base Hot Rock, 1286 Arawa St. (www.stayatbase.com; tel. 0800/223-363 in NZ, or 07/348-8636; fax 07/348-8616), which is centrally located and has dorm beds at NZ$28 and doubles at NZ$70.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.