Topic: Rotovegas

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History and origin of the name Rotovegas

Rotorua has become quite widely referred to as Roto-vegas. When a member of the public asked Library staff how the name 'Rotovegas' was created or made up, we contacted the NZ Dictionary Centre at the Victoria University of Wellington. The Centre's Desmond Hurley advised that the first reference to the name was in Craig Marriner's book, Stonedogs. The book is partly set in a provincial NZ town he usually refers to as Vegas, but finally as Roto-vegas

A day or so later, your Mr X found a need to kill two patched Black Power members and one associate, all hailing from your home town of sunny Roto-vegas. (p 349, Stonedogs)

In discussion on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon show with Linda Clark on 23 July 2002, Craig Marriner acknowledged that the term had already been around for some time when he wrote Stonedogs. Possibly it is a reference to the strip of motels along Fenton Street bearing a fanciful resemblance to Las Vegas.

On 11 February 1995, an article in the Dominion newspaper said

It's appropriate that Forestcorp's operational base is in Rotorua, known to some as Roto Vegas because of its glitzy tour.

There has been a suggestion that there was a country music band set up by Sid Hughes that played in Rotorua in the 1980s under the name Rotovegas, but this is not verified. Searching the internet archives shows that the term was especially used in the mountain bike community around 2000 and onwards. The term is generally used in an affectionate way.

Another term used for Rotorua is Sulphur City.

If you know of earlier uses of the term and have ideas about where it started, we'd love to hear from you.


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