Rotorua, New Zealand, 145 mi/235 km southeast of Auckland in the center of the North Island, sits on top of the most active geothermal region in the country, which explains why the town reeks of sulfur.
The boiling mud pots and geysers at the Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu thermal reserves are outstanding, and you can take mineral baths and marinate in mud packs at one of the many spas in and around town. Boiling mud pots present interesting hazards at Rotorua Golf Club—we suggest you take the penalty stroke.
Rotorua's history museum and art gallery are worth a look. The art gallery building was once a spa and is a sight in itself.
The city is also a key center of Maori culture: Attend a Maori hangi (feast and concert) and take a Maori-village tour. Near the main entrance to Whakarewarewa is the Maori Arts and Craft Institute, a replica of a traditional Maori village with wood-carving and weaving demonstrations.
Other attractions include a skyride with stunning views, the Agrodome, featuring sheep-shearing displays and shows, and two large mazes, one of hedges, the other an incredible three-dimensional wooden maze that has to be seen to be believed.
Outside of town are the famous Tarawera Lake Craters (a dormant volcano) and the historic Te Wairoa village, sort of a Maori Pompeii: The village was covered in volcanic ash during the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. It has since been partially excavated.
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