Stadium: Rotorua International Stadium
Location: Devon Street West, a 10-minute drive from the heart of downtown Rotorua
Capacity: 25 000
Tonga v Canada, Wednesday September 14
Tonga v Japan, Wednesday September 21
The multi-purpose venue is located in the Westbrook suburb of Rotorua and is the home of Bay of Plenty Rugby Union. Originally built in 1911, the stadium is also known as the “Hangi Pit” by locals.
The All Blacks haven’t played a Test at Rotorua International Stadium, but the ground was the venue for Wales’ 22-21 win over Australia in the third-place play-off match at the 1987 World Cup and has hosted several tour matches between Bay of Plenty and the touring British and Irish Lions. Besides playing host to the odd Super Rugby match involving the Chiefs and rugby league fixtures, Rotorua is often the venue for football and softball games as well as international concerts.
The stadium has undergone major revamps over the years, but didn’t get a big makeover for the 2011 World Cup.
The rest of the city:
The city is sited on the southern shore of the 79.8km2 Lake Rotorua, the second largest lake in the North Island by surface area. Rotorua is a Maori name that means “second lake” while Bay of Plenty was christened that way by Captain James Cook because the bay had, er, plenty of food. Yeah, that one didn’t take too much thought. While we are at it, there’s also Poverty Bay not far away. Yep, you guessed it. There weren’t an abundance of food for Captain Cook and his men when they set foot there.
Let’s move on from the history behind the names and onto the population. Just under 70 000 people call Rotorua home while Bay of Plenty has a population of about 270,000. The region is one of the warmest in the country and the temperatures range from 9-16°C in winter.
The city is known for its geothermal activity and features geysers - notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa - and hot mud pools. It is also home to the Polynesian Spa - a developed geothermal facility.
Many consider Rotorua to be the tourist capital of the North Island and it’s easy to see why with its volcanic landscape, Maori culture, natural hot springs and adventure sports. Water activities are also very popular and with more than a dozen lakes in the area.
Fun things to do and see:
So you’ve done quite a bit of travelling across New Zealand and you need some relaxation and pamper time. Rotorua is the place for you then as it’s a thermal wonderland. The Polynesian Spa has been rated as one of the top 10 natural/thermal/medical spas by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller’s magazine. Some of the 26 hot mineral spring pools have views over Lake Rotorua. The Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora Spa, Wikitoria Maori Healing and Blue Baths are also very popular.
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the place for your eco-experience of a lifetime. There thermal attraction and sightseeing tours include unique ecology, rare botany and fascinating geothermal features such as steaming volcanic crater lakes. Activities range from 45 minutes to over four hours
If you’re an adrenalin junky, then there are jet boating along the Waikato River, skydiving (for those mad enough to jump from an aircraft at 15,000ft), volcanic air safaris - which includes flights to landings on the active volcano of White Island - and river rafting.
Where to quench your thirst and fill your belly:
The Pig & Whistle Historic Pub, housed in a pre-war police station, is the place for you as they proud themselves on having “great atmosphere, historical charm and style”. Entertainment is their priority, the food is excellent and they stock a wide range of drinks. It’s centrally located in downtown Rotorua.
Dishes at ‘The Pig’ include favourites like seafood chowder, fresh fish and chips, chicken satay burgers, spare ribs and many more. There’s also garden bar is surrounded by New Zealand ponga ferns to provide a taste of the New Zealand outdoors.
Getting there and around:
Rotorua Airport is 9km outside the central city and it takes about eight minutes to drive there. There are direct flights to and from Sydney while they also cater for domestic travelling to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
If you are coming from the capital Wellington via road then you will cover about 457kms during a six-hour drive. Auckland is “only” three hours and 234kms away while Hamilton is a mere 60-minute drive.
From the city centre you can enjoy 20-minute to walk to the Rotorua International Stadium or head there by car which will take about 10 minutes.