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.
Make the most of our holiday in Rotorua by making sure you choose the best accommodation provider.
Mairi and Ron Hunter are your hosts at MALFROY motor lodge Rotorua accommodation. Since moving to Rotorua in 2008 they have come to recognise that three days of sightseeing can give people a very good appreciation of Rotorua.
The museum is in the old bath house, a beautiful building that houses a variety of interesting artefacts, and has 3 really good short movies. There is a café which is also a great place for lunch and to ponder over all the culture you have learned (Allow 2 hours without lunch).
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