As at Dec 2009, Air New Zealand have started direct flights from Sydney to Rotorua, which will be a convenient landing point to the Central North Island ski areas [Whakapapa] and [Turoa].
Population 55,000. Rotorua was New Zealand's first tourist destination, and it remains one of the most popular destinations for foreign tourists. The main attractions are (1) geo-thermal (2) Maori cultural (3) scenic (4) adventure tourism. The above are reasons enough for a week-long trip, but a otherwise can be experienced in a couple of days tagged onto a Mount Ruapehu ski trip. A spring trip would combine the best time of year to visit Mount Ruapehu's snow, with warmer weather and shoulder season prices in Rotorua. Sometimes known as "rotten-rua" the town has a distinctive sulphurous aroma from the geo-thermal vents which are throughout the city. There are many geysers and boiling mud pools in the region.
Getting to Mount Ruapehu
177km, about 2 hours driving.