Overview of our district

Rotorua is a multi-cultural district of 65,280 residents and 10,000 daily visitors.

The major ethnic groups are European (67%), Maori (37%), Pacific Islands (5%) and Asian (6%). Note: The figures add to more than 100% as some people classify themselves as more than one ethnicity.

Rotorua’s central business district (CBD) is located on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua. The city is nestled in a huge, ancient caldera 20km across at its widest point and 16km at the narrowest, with Lake Rotorua nearly 300 metres above sea level.

An international tourism icon, Rotorua is renowned as the heartland of Maori culture. In summer the collective resident and visitor population peaks at 100,000. Rotorua has a modern infrastructure and services capable of supporting an additional 20% population capacity. This includes 14,000 beds catering to every style, budget and preference.  Rotorua hosts over 3 million visitors per annum, with nearly 2 million overnight stays in commercial accommodation.

The total size of the Rotorua district is 261,906 hectares. This consists of 41% forest, 43% agriculture and 8% lakes.  The region includes:

  • 18 lakes
  • 800 hectares of parks, gardens and reserves free for public use
  • 3 major rivers
  • 7 geothermal fields with hot pools and spectacular steam eruptions

100,000 hectares of native and exotic forests - with the largest commercial plantation forest in the Southern Hemisphere

  • 100,000 hectares of farmland
  • 120 wetlands
  • Stunning volcanic landscapes with Mt Tarawera, Rainbow Mountain, Mt Ngongotaha and Mokoia Island as local icons
  • Hundreds of kilometres of walking, cycling and mountain biking tracks.

The forests, coupled with extensive trees and gardens in the city, suburbs and parks, support a rich and varied bird life, both native and introduced. Some of New Zealand’s rarer birds, such as the formerly endangered kokako and the spectacular native falcon, karearea, thrive in the district.

Quarterly Economic Monitor Report

Rotorua’s economy grew by 2.9% over the year to December 2015 according to Infometrics’ provisional estimate of GDP. All indicators of spending, investment, and labour market activity were in expansionary territory. Key drivers of growth were Rotorua’s tourism sector and rising real estate and construction activity.

International visitor arrivals numbers into New Zealand again surprised on the upside in the second half of 2015, with arrivals from Australia and China above our already-high expectations. Arrivals from the United Kingdom and Germany also strengthened towards the end of the year. Overall, tourist numbers to New Zealand rose by 9.6% in the 2015 calendar year. Against this backdrop, guest nights in Rotorua climbed by 6.9% to exceed 2,000,000 for the first time on an annual basis. We anticipate that strength in Rotorua’s tourism sector will continue over the coming quarters.

Housing market activity in Rotorua picked up over the second half of 2015, as rapid house price inflation in Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga has increased interest in affordable housing elsewhere in the upper North Island. Growing tourism activity has increased job opportunities in the city, while commuting to places such as Tauranga or working remotely is also a possibility for people seeking lifestyle options. Rising inbound net migration into Rotorua has also pushed up housing demand.

Another positive for Rotorua has been the Government’s recent announcement to invest an additional $24 million into Rotorua’s roading network. This new transport infrastructure will reduce congestion in the city for visitors and residents, as well as improve links for industries with the Port of Tauranga. The work will also provide stimulus to the local construction sector when it begins later in the year.


View the latest Quarterly Economic Monitor report here

Rotorua Lakes District Population Projections

This report provides alternative population projections for the District, based on the three scenarios in the Bay of Connections strategy. In all three cases, the population of the District is projected to increase, based on our forecasted future performance of the Rotorua economy.

Perceptions of Safety Survey

Residents have a say in how safe they feel in our community.
A total of 339 local residents were surveyed via telephone interviews (250 surveys), online surveys (86 surveys) and postal surveys (3 surveys), to establish a total sample of 339 completed surveys weighted to 2013 Rotorua key demographic Census results.  Residents were asked about their own feelings of safety, their awareness of local safety initiatives and about any recent experiences they may have had with crime.  Safety Surveys

For more information about living, working and investing in Rotorua click here

Page reviewed: 03 Jul 2019 10:08am