The world's oldest indigenous tourism is Māori culture and with Rotorua sitting at the heart of that tourism, it has boomed into an $823 million a year industry.

At any given time there are 14,000 tourists in Rotorua drawn here by the natural landscape and indigenous culture.

A Destination Rotorua study found that 57 per cent of those visitors will go on a Māori cultural experience during their visit, following geothermal as the most visited on 66 per cent.

Rotorua i-SITE executive manager Graham Brownrigg said that certainly rang true with the tourists they saw in their office.


"The number one request we receive on top of everything else is for cultural experiences, they are very popular."

He said the other attractions that Rotorua had to offer were "born from the fact people were already visiting Rotorua" for the culture.

"I think the geothermal and the Māori story really walk hand in hand.

"People come here to see the geothermal and to feel the culture.

"Everything else is about keeping them here longer and giving them a variety of experiences."

Each year more than three million people take part in activities or attractions in Rotorua and the city has gained a reputation for having adrenaline-filled, thrill-seeking options.

They range from Skyline and the luge, which opened in Rotorua in 1985, Zorbing, which opened in 1994, or Canopy Tours which opened in 2012.

"At i-SITE we do try and give people a range of options and we're always excited about the new opportunities happening here and what tourism adds to Rotorua.


"We are the Māori cultural centre of New Zealand, that's something to be proud of and because of that, the possibilities are endless."

Redwoods Treewalk owner and former Skyline general manager Bruce Thomasen said one of New Zealand's strongest unique selling points was Māori culture.

"Rotorua has been very lucky in that cultural tourism has been a core part of our destination appeal since tourists first came to New Zealand.

"Our geothermal wonders and Māori culture is the foundation of Rotorua's international visitor appeal."

He said having strong Māori tourism was to the benefit of all tourism and hospitality businesses.

"It is our point of difference in a very competitive industry.

"We have the world's best Māori tourism product in our city and they are leading the way in terms of leveraging, promoting and celebrating Māori culture and sharing those stories to New Zealand and the world."

He said moving forward it was about the tourism industry not only promoting Māori culture but embracing the values of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga,