Rotorua (from , "The second great lake of Kahumatamomoe") is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is the seat of the Rotorua District, a territorial authority encompassing Rotorua and several other nearby towns. The majority of the Rotorua District is in the Bay of Plenty Region, but a sizable southern section and a small western section are in the Waikato Region. Rotorua is in the heart of the North Island, just south of Tauranga, north of Taupo, east of Hamilton, and southeast of the nation's most populous city, Auckland.
Rotorua has an estimated permanent population of , making it the country's 10th largest urban area, and the Bay of Plenty's second largest urban area behind Tauranga. The Rotorua District has a total estimated population of , of which 3,600 live in the Waikato section.
Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists; the tourism industry is by far the largest industry in the district. It 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 town lies. Rotorua is home to the Waiariki Institute of Technology.
The Lakes of Rotorua are a collection of many lakes surrounding Rotorua.
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, 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, elected its first mayor in 1923, and declared a city in 1962 before becoming a District in 1979.