Rotorua sits in the curve of Lake Rotorua’s southwestern shore, spreading inland in a neat pattern. Fenton Street is the main drag and the home of the area’s souvenir shops. It runs from the lake for 3.5km (2 miles) south to Whakarewarewa Village (just call it “Whaka,” as the locals do), the area’s most accessible thermal reserve. The center of town is not large. Tutanekai Street is the main shopping street; City Focus, under the sail-like structure, is in the middle of it all.
Note: Don’t wander in Kuirau Park after dark. Make sure to remove all valuables from cars, and lock those cars, too.
Rotorua i-SITE Visitor Centre & Travel Office, 1167 Fenton St. (tel. 0800/768-678 in NZ, or 07/348-5179; fax 07/348-6044; www.rotoruanz.com), is open daily from 8am to 5:30pm (closed Dec 25). It provides travel and sightseeing reservations, currency exchange, luggage storage, a cafe and restaurant, an excellent souvenir shop, and showers and toilets. The visitor center’s guide booklets are an excellent value.
Travel information is also available at AA Travel Centre, 1121 Eruera St. (tel. 07/348-3069; fax 07/346-2034). The Redwoods Visitor Centre, Whakarewarewa Forest, Long Mile Road (tel. 07/350-0110; www.redwoods.co.nz), provides information on the extensive walking tracks in Whakarewarewa Forest and Redwood Grove. It’s open weekdays 8:30am to 5:30pm (until 4:30pm in winter), and weekends 10am to 5pm (until 4pm in winter). For more information on the area, check www.rotoruanz.com and www.rdc.govt.nz. The Redwoods is located 5km (about 3 miles) southeast of the city and you can be there in 5 minutes by car.
Pick up a free copy of Thermal Air, an excellent little publication listing activities, attractions, eateries, and events. The local newspaper, the Daily Post, also has event listings.
Sore Feet? -- A sheltered seat and a free, hot, thermal footbath are right outside the main entrance to the visitor center and bus stop. Go ahead and take your shoes off and soak your weary feet for a few minutes.