Rotorua is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty area 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.
The majority of the Rotorua District, including the city, is in the Bay of Plenty local government region; a sizable southern section and a small western section are in the Waikato local government region.
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 the nation's most populous city, 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.
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.