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Rotorua


Rotorua (from Māori: Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe, "The second great lake of Kahumatamomoe") is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. The city is the seat of the Rotorua District, a territorial authority encompassing the city and several other nearby towns. Rotorua city has an estimated permanent population of 55,900, with the Rotorua district having a total estimated population of 68,600. The city is in the heart of the North Island, just 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Tauranga, 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Taupo, 105 kilometres (65 mi) east of Hamilton, and 230 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Auckland.

Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists; the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the district. The city is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers – notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa – and hot mud pools. This thermal activity is sourced to the Rotorua caldera, on which the city lies. Rotorua is home to the largest tertiary institute outside of the university centres, the Waiariki Institute of Technology.

History

The name Rotorua comes from Māori, the full name being Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe; roto means lake and rua two – Rotorua thus meaning 'Second lake'. Kahumatamomoe was the uncle of the Māori chief Ihenga, the ancestral explorer of the Te Arawa. It was the second major lake the chief discovered, and he dedicated it to his uncle. It is the largest of a multitude found to the northeast of the city, all connected with the Rotorua Caldera and nearby Mount Tarawera. The name can also mean the equally appropriate 'crater lake'.

The area was initially settled by Māori of the Te Arawa iwi. The first European in the area was probably Phillip Tapsell who was trading from the Bay of Plenty coast at Maketu from 1828. He later married into Te Arawa and became highly regarded by them. Missionaries Henry Williams and Thomas Chapman visited in 1831 and Chapman and his wife established a mission at Te Koutu in 1835. This was abandoned within a year but Chapman returned in 1838 and established a second mission at Mokoia Island.

The lakeshore was a prominent site of skirmishes during the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. A "special town district" was created in the 1883, in order to promote Rotorua's potential as a spa destination. The town was connected to Auckland with the opening of the Rotorua Branch railway and commencement of the Rotorua Express train in 1894, resulting in the rapid growth of the town and tourism from this time forward. Rotorua was established as a borough in 1922 and declared a city in 1962 before becoming a District in 1979.





Geography

Geothermal areas


Thermal activity is at the heart of much of Rotorua's tourist appeal. Geysers and bubbling mud-pools, hot thermal springs and the Buried Village (Te Wairoa) -so named after it was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption - are within easy reach of the city.

Kuirau Park, to the west end of the central city, is also remarkable: hot bubbling mud pools dot the park, lending a surreal air to the setting. Visitors can soak their feet in hot pools.

Rotorua has the nickname Sulphur City, because of the hydrogen sulphide emissions, which gives the city a “rotten eggs” smell, as well as rotten-rua combining its legitimate name and the rotten smell the city gives.

The especially pungent smell in the central-east ‘Te Ngae’ area is due to the dense sulphur deposits located next to the southern boundary of the Government Gardens, in the area known as ‘Sulphur Point’.

Lakes


The Rotorua region has 17 lakes. Fishing, waterskiing, swimming and other water activities are popular in summer. The lakes are also used for event venues; Rotorua hosted the 2007 World Waterski Championships and Lake Rotorua was the venue for the World Blind Sailing Championships in March 2009. Lake Rotorua is also used as a departure and landing point for float planes.

Other activities


Rotorua is also home to botanical gardens and historic architecture. Known as a spa town and major tourist resort since the 1800s, many of its buildings hint at this history. Government Gardens, close to the lakeshore at the eastern end of the town, are a particular point of pride.

Another of Rotorua's attractions is mountain biking. Whakarewarewa Forest has been described as 'the Disneyland of mountain biking' and has some of the best mountain bike trails in New Zealand. Rotorua hosted the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships in August 2006.



Transport


Road

Rotorua is served by State Highways 5, 30, and 30A, and the Thermal Explorer Highway touring route, with State Highways 33 and 36 terminating on the outskirts of the city.

State Highway 5, running concurrently with the Thermal Explorer Highway, is the main north-south route through Rotorua, bypassing the city centre to the west. North of the city at Ngongotaha, State Highway 36 splits off to provide a route to Tauranga via Pyes Pa, while State Highway 5 turns westward, connecting to State Highway 1 at Tirau and providing the main route into Rotorua from Hamilton and Auckland. To the south, State Highway 5 provides the main route into the city from Taupo, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, and Wellington.

State Highway 30 runs southwest to northeast through the city. The route from Tokoroa, Waitomo Caves and Taranaki enters the city in the southwest (running concurrently with State Highway 5), before crossing the southern suburbs to the shore of Lake Rotorua east of the city centre. It then runs through the suburb of Te Ngae, before spliting off State Highway 33 to provide an eastern route to Tauranga via Te Puke. State Highway 30 then turns eastwards, and connects to the eastern Bay of Plenty, and the Gisborne region.

State Highway 30A runs northwest to southeast, connecting State Highways 5 and 30 with each other via the city centre.

Air

Rotorua International Airport is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) northeast of the city centre, off State Highway 30. Air New Zealand provides daily turbo-prop flights between Rotorua and Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch airports, with a daily 737 flight between Rotorua and Christchurch in the summer months. Previously Qantas also operated a Boeing 737 on the same route, but upon their departure from domestic flights in New Zealand this was discontinued.

Work has been completed to increase the main runway length to allow direct Airbus A320 flights to and from Australia. Air New Zealand has commenced direct flights to Sydney; interest in other routes has come from Jetstar, who have been considering Brisbane or the Gold Coast as possible routes.

Rail


Rotorua is connected to the rail network by the Rotorua Branch from Putaruru. Until 2001, passenger trains ran from Auckland to Rotorua via Hamilton daily, terminating north of the city centre at Koutu (the original station, at the corner of Fenton and Amohau Streets, was closed in 1989). However, owing to the increase of road freight and private transport, and the fact the station is a 15-minute walk from the city centre, the passenger services stopped in October 2001. The line is currently disused.

Education


Tertiary


Rotorua is home to the main campus of Waiariki Institute of Technology, which provides a range of Certificate, Diploma and a limited number of degree-level programmes. The largest programmes on offer are nursing, forestry, business, computing, tourism and hospitality. Waiariki Institute of Technology is the largest tertiary education institution in New Zealand outside of the University towns and cities.

Secondary

Rotorua has five secondary schools:
  • John Paul College, a co-educational, state-integrated Catholic school for Years 7-13 with about 1000 students
  • Rotorua Boys' High School, a state boys school for Years 9-13 with about 900 students
  • Rotorua Girls' High School, a state girls school for Years 9-13 with about 950 students
  • Rotorua Lakes High School serving the eastern suburbs. A co-educational state school for Years 9-13 with about 650 students
  • Western Heights High School serving the western suburbs. A co-educational state school for Years 9-13 with about 1500 students
Chapman College is a Christian school (similar to Tauranga's Bethlehem College) which currently offers primary (years 0-6), intermediate (years 7-8) as well as secondary education up to Year 10 but intends to move into full secondary education in the future. Rotorua also has two Kura Kaupapa Maori (Te Reo Maori-medium) schools which serve the full primary and secondary school years (Years 0-13).






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