Rotorua is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the North Island. It’s the launch pad for nature walks, Maori cultural experiences, trips to smelly geysers, and getaways to luxury spas. Everything is centrally located around a few streets as it is a small town. There is really not much to do in town other than a few bars and a handful of restaurants and shops. The real fun is all the activities you can do from the city.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Rotorua
1. See the Whaka Thermal Reserve
2. Get to know Maori culture
3. Go Zorbing
4. Explore Whakarewarewa Forest
5. Visit the Rotorua Museum
Other Things to See and Do
(Click the title to expand the text)
1. Enjoy the lakes
There are 14 scenic lakes throughout the area around Rotorua. Hop aboard a traditional paddle steamer and cruise around Lake Rotorua, or kayak the shores of Lake Rotoiti. You can also relax and barbecue with friends on Lake Tikitapu, a small circular lake known for its vivid blue color, or enjoy the geothermal pools at Lake Tarawera.
2. Visit the Buried Village
This village was swamped with ash when the nearby Mt. Tarawera erupted in 1886, killing 153 people. Here you will see the remains of the village while learning about the history and the eruption. Admission is 30 NZD for adults, with discounts available for families and children.
3. Wander through the Government Gardens
This is a beautiful public park near the Sportsdrome (a sports arena) and is considered an important area for the local Maori. The Maori people gave 50 acres of the land here to the crown which has been turned into a large garden and nursery. It’s also home to the Blue Baths, an elaborate Elizabethan Tudor style bath house that has been around for over a century. If you feel like a stroll, this is a nice place to visit.
5. Do a canopy tour
If you haven’t had a chance to do one elsewhere, this is a great place to give it a try. These three-hour tours take you on zip lines and swing bridges through the nearby forest with 1000-year old trees. You’ll learn about the native birds and plant life found in the forest along the way! Groups are small and always fewer than ten people. Expect to pay around 150 NZD per person.
6. Hike around Mount Tarawera
Mount Tarawera is an awe-inspiring mountain, known for its violent 1886 volcanic eruption. Nowadays, the sleepy mountain and its lake serve as a getaway for people looking to hike or kayak. The area actually belongs to the local Maori tribe, which means you’ll need to book a local guide from Kitiaki Adventures. There are creater walks and geothermal tours. Expect to pay around 164 NZD for a tour. If you don’t want to pay for a guide, you can also walk the Tarawera Falls trail to see the stunning waterfalls in the Bay of Plenty, where they plunge 65 meters over a cliff and into the rapids below.
7. Velocity Valley Adventure Park
Get your adrenaline rush at Velocity Valley, home to the world’s only human-powered monorail racetrack. You can also try the Rotorua Bungy, hop aboard the Agrojet for the fastest jet boat experience in the country, or free fall in the wind tunnel at Freefall Xtreme. Tickets start at 85 NZD for two rides.
8. Relax in Kuirau Park
Kuirau Park is at the northern end of Rotorua and is New Zealand’s only public geothermal park. Follow the walking trails leading down to bubbling, steaming pools of geothermal activity, and observe nature at work from behind the safety of the security fences. You’re welcome to take advantage of the free Kuirau Park Footbaths, however. Soak your feet and relax!