Places of Rotorua

There are many places that are significant to Rotorua including lakes, geothermal wonders, mountains, pā settlements, and more.

Colour photo of Lake Rotorua. In the foreground is a wharf. Mokoia Island can be seen in the background.

Image: Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island by Dave Moulden. Courtesy of Rotorua Library.

Which places can I learn about?

Here are some places in Rotorua you could find out about:

Mokoia Island

Mokoia Island
Island in the middle of Lake Rotorua famous for the story of lovers Hinemoa and Tūtānekai.

Find out about Mokoia Island
Mt. Tarawera

Mt. Tarawera
Most famous for its eruption on June 10 1886 which dramatically changed the local landscape.

Find out about Mt. Tarawera
Mt. Ngongotahā

Mt. Ngongotahā
Located on the edge of Rotorua, its name comes from the story of Īhenga and the Patupaiarehe.

Find out about Mt. Ngongotahā

A Ngāti Whakaue settlement on the shore of Lake Rotorua.

Find out about Ōhinemutu

'The Living Māori Village' of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wahiao.

Find out about Whakarewarewa
Government Gardens

Government Gardens
A public garden where you will find some of Rotorua's most significant buildings and memorials.

Find out about Government Gardens

Tips: These are just some examples of places you could research. You may have somewhere different you're interested in finding out about. Just use the place name as your search terms in the resources below.

Rotorua resources

Here are some local resources to find out about the history of Rotorua's places.

Pakiaka | Rotorua Heritage Online

A digital heritage platform managed by staff at Rotorua Library. It includes images, publications, maps, and audio-visual items.

  • Search using the name of a place as your keyword.

  • You can use the Filter By to choose a date or type of item eg audio, story, and more.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Rotorua Library Heritage Blog

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri has put together a blog that has many articles written on Rotorua people, places and events. The articles are written by the library's Heritage and Research team.

  • Search your keywords using the site's search box. The search box is on the right-hand side of the screen Search This Blog.

  • Use the tags listed at the bottom of a blog post to find other relevant posts.

Rotorua NZ

Rotorua NZ is the official tourism website for Rotorua. If we scroll to the bottom of the page we can see the website belongs to Destination Rotorua, which is a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) owned by Rotorua Lakes Council, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Search your keywords using the site's search box.

  • Many of the results will have a focus on tourism activities, you may have to look through several entries to find the best result.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Te Arawa Digital Storehouse | He Pātaka Pūrākau

The Te Arawa Digital Storehouse contains a collection of stories about people, places and events that are applicable to Rotorua and the people of Te Arawa. Great Te Arawa Stories was developed by Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust to introduce learners to Te Arawa stories. The website is managed by Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri.

  • Use the drop-down menu headings at the top of the page to explore the articles organised by time periods eg Pre-1700's, 1800's, 1900's, 2000's.

Rotorua Library | Te Aka Mauri

Rotorua Library has several Heritage Collections, which tell the stories of Te Arawa and Rotorua. These primary and secondary sources can only be viewed in the library.

  • Find the library at 1127 Haupapa Street in Rotorua.

  • The collections are in the Don Stafford Room and Community Archive on the second floor.

General New Zealand resources

These are websites which have information about all of New Zealand. They also have good information about the history of places of Rotorua.

Rārangi Kōrero | New Zealand Heritage List

This is part of the Heritage New Zealand website. It is a record of place-based heritage in New Zealand.

  • To browse places, under Local Authority select Rotorua District.

  • Then select the Show listings button to see all the places.

  • Heritage registered properties and sites will be listed by the map. You can also navigate using the map and select heritage sites.

  • Here you will find information on heritage sites, such as Rotorua Government Gardens Historic Area and the Blue Baths.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about Rotorua. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • To find information about Rotorua select Sections, then Places.

  • From here look down the page and select Volcanic Plateau, and then Volcanic Plateau places.

  • Here you will find stories on Ngongotahā and district, Lake Rotorua, Lake Rotoiti to Lake Rotomā, Rotorua city, Around Rotorua city, Lake Tarawera district, Rotorua to Taupō.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


NZHistory is a great website for information about Aotearoa New Zealand, including Rotorua. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter a keyword in the search box eg a place name.

  • Choose an article to read.

Tips: Websites like this one that have .govt in the address are Government sites and are reliable sources of information.

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable collection of early New Zealand newspapers (19th and 20th centuries), letters, diaries, magazines, books and Parliamentary Papers digitised by the National Library of New Zealand and partners.

  • Select Newspapers, then explore By Region and Bay of Plenty.

  • The Hot Lakes Chronicle is the earliest known Rotorua newspaper in existence. A selection of papers are available from 1895-1910.

  • Rotorua stories may also be covered in the Bay of Plenty Times.

  • Or you can search using keywords related to a place.

Māori Maps

Māori Maps is a great website to find information and photographs of the tribal marae of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Enter the name of the Rotorua marae into the search bar or explore the marae in the Rotorua district using the map.

  • Under About you can read a short description about the marae.

  • Key Information may list the name of the Whare (meeting house), Wharekai (dining hall), Urupā (burial site), Waka (canoe), Maunga (mountain), Iwi (tribe), Hapū (subtribe), Rohe (tribal territory) and which Company of the Māori Battalion men belonged to.

ManatuTaonga - YouTube

This is the official YouTube channel for Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage. It create audio guides for road trips across New Zealand that tells the stories of places along the way.

Tips: When watching videos on YouTube, it's important to check that the information is coming from a trusted source. We know these videos will be well-researched and reliable because they come from Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

New Zealand Gazetteer

This is a tool on the Toitū Te Whenua | Land Information New Zealand website where you can search for place names in New Zealand. Some places will tell you where the name came from, or other names a place may have had.

  • Enter a place name into the search bar.

  • Names in bold are an official place name.

  • Look in the Details section for history or meaning of the name.


This is a search site that focuses on Aotearoa New Zealand's history and brings together results from lots of different websites such as New Zealand libraries, museums, universities, and government sites all at once.

  • Search using the name of a place.

  • Look at a range of videos, audio, articles and images, and more about your topic.


There are a number of books that have been written about Rotorua history - check out your school library or local public library to see what they have there.

Here are a few recommended titles:

More about Rotorua

People of Rotorua

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Rotorua.

Learn about people of Rotorua

Events of Rotorua

Lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Rotorua. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Learn about events of Rotorua