Where to stay in Rotorua for first time: 3 Best areas

Finding where to stay in Rotorua as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Rotorua for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Rotorua for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Rotorua and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Rotorua is a city located on the North Island of New Zealand. It’s famous for its geothermal activity, with geysers, hot springs, and mud pools scattered throughout the region. Te Puia and Wai-O-Tapu are popular sites to witness these natural phenomena up close.

Rotorua is rich in Maori culture, offering immersive experiences such as traditional performances, hangi feasts (cooked underground), and visits to living Maori villages like Whakarewarewa.

The region is an adventure-seeker’s paradise, with opportunities for mountain biking in the Redwoods Forest, ziplining, skydiving, and whitewater rafting. 

Is Rotorua safe to visit?

Yes, Rotorua is overall a safe place to visit. The city has a bad reputation relative to many other cities in New Zealand but you will be fine as long as you take normal precautions. Most of the crime is confined to certain areas that tourists don’t go to anyway.

I recommend you take care of your belongings, avoid leaving valuables in your car, avoid confrontations with strangers, and avoid walking alone at night.  

When hiking or exploring nature reserves such as Waimangu or Wai-O-Tapu, stick to designated paths and trails. Venturing off-trail can be dangerous due to geothermal hazards and unstable terrain.

Where to stay in Rotorua for the first time?

The best areas to stay in Rotorua for first-timers and tourists include Rotorua Downtown, Kawaha Point, and Fenton/Glenholme. Remember, while these areas are generally safe, it’s always essential to take standard precautions to ensure an enjoyable visit.

 If you want convenience and easy access to amenities, downtown might be the way to go. If you prefer a peaceful lakeside setting, Kawaha Point could be perfect.

During my trip to Rotorua, I stayed in the CBD area at the mid-range Aura Accommodation. It was close to everything, including the lakefront, Eat Streat, and Rotorua Museum. My room was spacious, well equipped with a comfortable bed.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Rotorua for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Rotorua first time
Map of the best areas to stay in Rotorua first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Rotorua, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Rotorua have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

3 Best areas to stay in Rotorua for first-timers and tourists:

1. Rotorua Downtown

Rotorua Downtown is a popular base in Rotorua for tourists due to its central location and easy access to a wide range of attractions, dining options, and amenities

Being in the heart of the city means you’ll have easy access to shops, restaurants, cafes, and attractions such as the Polynesian Spa, Rotorua Museum,  Government Gardens, Lakefront Boardwalk, Sulphur Point, and Kuirau Park – Mud Pools.

Downtown Rotorua is rich in Maori culture, with opportunities to experience traditional performances, arts, and crafts. You can visit Te Puia or Whakarewarewa Thermal Village to learn about Maori culture and see geothermal wonders up close.

Downtown is bustling with shops selling souvenirs, art, and locally-made products. You’ll also find a diverse range of restaurants and cafes, offering both local and international cuisine.

Best places to stay in Rotorua Downtown for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Pullman Rotorua, 5-star hotel in central Rotorua,  easy walk to Eat Street and the lake. It is a great location for exploring all Rotarua has to offer. It has a fitness center, private parking, a restaurant/bar, and a 24-hour front desk. 

Mid-range ($$): Aura Accommodation, 4-star accommodation in the heart of Rotorua, a short walk from the lakefront, Eat Streat, Government Gardens and Rotorua Museum. It has 2 swimming pools, free parking, family rooms, and laundry facilities. It has one, two-bedroom apartments which is great for couples, groups of friends, and families from 4 to 6.

Mid-range ($$): Quest Rotorua Central, 4-star accommodation in the city center of Rotorua, close to everything. Within a short distance from Polynesian Spa and the waterfront area. It features self-contained rooms with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. 

Budget ($): Crashpalace Backpackers, great backpacker hostel in central Rotorua, featuring dorm/ family rooms, a garden, children’s playground, free parking, and a shared kitchen. It also has laundry services and paid airport transfer.


2. Kawaha Point

Staying in Kawaha Point offers a serene and luxurious retreat with stunning lake views and easy access to Rotorua’s attractions. Many accommodations in this area offer waterfront locations or panoramic views of the lake, providing a tranquil setting to relax and unwind.

Kawaha Point is within easy reach of the city’s attractions such as Skyline Rotorua, Rotorua Canopy Tours, Mitai Maori Village, 3D Trick Art Gallery, ZORB Rotorua, and Skyline Luge Primary Launch Area.

The lakeside location of Kawaha Point provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can also explore nearby walking trails or embark on scenic cruises to discover the beauty of Lake Rotorua.

Best places to stay in Rotorua in Kawaha Point:

Luxury ($$$): On The Point – Lake Rotorua, 5-star beachfront hotel located on Kawaha Point Road, surrounded by Lake Rotorua, offering beautiful views of Mokoia Island.  It is 10-15 mins drive from  Rotorua Museum of Art & History and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. The hotel has a private beach area, a spa center, free parking, and exceptional breakfast.

Luxury ($$$): Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel, 5-star hotel in Kawaha Point, on the edge of Lake Rotorua, 5 mins drive from downtown rotorua. The hotel has a heated pool, free parking, and rooms with a fireplace. The hotel can help organize a helicopter trip to the volcanoes and thermal parks.

Mid-range ($$): ASURE Rotorua International Motor Inn, popular 4-star accommodation on Monokia Street, featuring an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness center, and paid airport transfer. Rooms are spacious with comfortable beds.

Mid-range ($$): Ripple Rotorua, 4-star accommodation located on the edge of town with easy access to cbd, and Lake Rotorua. It has a mini golf, a heated pool, and shared barbecue facilities. It is a short walk from  the Skyline Rotorua, Canopy Tours, 3D Trick Art Gallery, and Mitai Maori Village and Zorb. 

Mid-range ($$): Koura Lodge, 4-star boutique Bed & Breakfast, set in a peaceful area on the banks of Lake Rotorua. It has a free buffet breakfast, a private jetty, and rooms with lake views.


3. Fenton/Glenholme

Fenton/Glenholme, just south of Rotorua CBD, has numerous accommodations and offers easy access to attractions like Redwoods Treewalk, Te Puia, and  Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. There is a cluster of accommodations on Fenton Street.

Best places to stay in Rotorua in Fenton/Glenholme:

Luxury ($$$): Regal Palms Resort, 5-star hotel located in a quiet area on Fenton Street, 5 mins drive to downtown Rotorua and 15 mins drive to Rotorua Airport. It has studios, suites and apartments, a swimming pool, and free parking.

Luxury ($$$): Kings On Peace, 5-star good value for money accommodation in a great location in Fenton,  off the busy Fenton Street. It has free bikes, free private parking, and family rooms. Great base for exploring Redwoods, Buried Village, Tikitere – Hell’s Gate Thermal Park and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. 

Mid-range ($$): Capri on Fenton, 4-star motor inn conveniently located on  Fenton Street, only a few mins drive from Polynesian Spa, Rotorua Downtown, Redwood Forest, biking tracks, Whakarewarewa and Te Puia thermal areas. You can easily find Supermarkets and restaurants nearby. The hotel has free parking, BBQ facilities and laundry services.

Mid-range ($$): Rydges Rotorua, 4-star hotel set on the edge of Redwoods forest, offering views of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Reserve and Historical Village. It has a geothermally heated swimming pool, free parking, and good breakfast.

Budget ($): Amberly House Rotorua, great adults-only bed & breakfast in Glenholme, featuring a sun terrace, free safe secure private parking, Superb breakfast, and laundry facilities.


In conclusion, Rotorua Downtown, Kawaha Point, and Glenholme/Fenton are the best places to stay in Rotorua for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas where you can find a wide range of accommodations, amenities, and attractions.

You can continue reading about other destinations in New Zealand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safe neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Rotorua. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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