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Best Things to Do in Rotorua

Rotorua, New Zealand is known for bubbling mud pools, impresive geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing our fascinating Maori culture. The city offers a raft of attractions and experiences for everyone from adventure-seekers to those just looking to unwind.

Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud pools, clouds of steam, and natural hot springs perfect for bathing and relaxing in. After marvelling at the distinctive landscapes and volcanic activity within a geothermal park, enjoy a simple soak in a natural hot stream or indulge in a wellness getaway at a luxurious spa!

These are our picks of the 10 best things to do in Rotorua:

  • Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest
  • Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
  • Thermal Pools
  • Skyline Gondola Rotorua
  • Mountain Biking
  • Te Puia Maori Heritage Centre
  • Waimangu Volcanic Valley
  • Volcanic Hills Winery
  • Rotorua Canopy Tours
  • Government Gardens

Read on to learn more about the top things to do in Rotorua.

Here are the 10 best things to do in Rotorua

#1 Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest

tree top walk
Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest

If you love the outdoors this area is for you! Escape into the beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest, one of Rotorua’s most spectacular natural assets. Famous for its magnificent stands of towering Californian Coastal Redwoods, it is just five minutes drive from the city centre. Here you can experience some of the finest walking and mountain bike trails in the world.

#2 Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

wai o tapu
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World! Explore spectacular nature at New Zealand’s most colourful natural volcanic area. Walk at your own pace – view the unique Champagne Pool, sinter terrace formations, steaming ground, bubbling mud, expansive vistas and huge volcanic craters. In addition, the Lady Knox Geyser erupts daily at 10.15am. A true natural wonder!

#3 Thermal Pools

Hells Gate Rotorua

You can’t visit Rotorua without soaking in a hot pool! Rotorua has a range of hot pool options. Just minutes’ walk from the city centre are the Kuirau Park foot pools. Soak your feet as steam from the thermal vents swirl around you. In addition, a short drive from Rotorua is Kerosene Creek. Kerosene Creek flows through natural bush with a 2-metre waterfall to a quiet pool of hot water.

#4 Skyline Gondola Rotorua

skyline rotorua
Skyline Gondola Rotorua

Board an eight-seater gondola as you take in the spectacular views over Lake Rotorua. Once you have reached the Skyline complex there is so much to do! Get your heart pumping on the Luge Track, Zip Lining course, or Skyswing, or revel in downhill mountain biking! If you would like a little more relaxation, enjoy an exquisite buffet lunch or dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant, enjoy wine tastings at Volcanic Hills Cellar Door, or satisfy your inner sweet tooth at the Jelly Bean Store. Finally, experience stargazing as you explore constellations, look for a shooting star and discover planets invisible to the naked eye.

#5 Mountain Biking – Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest

Mountain Biking – Redwoods

One of the oldest mountain bike networks in the country, with master crafted trails, unbeatable riding surfaces, well draining volcanic soils, varying topography and fantastic scenery. It is no wonder Rotorua is renowned among mountain bikers as a premier riding destination. With around 130km of continually evolving trails, there is something to cater for all levels of rider, from beginners and family groups through to experts.

#6 Te Puia  – The Centre for New Zealand’s Maori Culture

rotorua hot springs
Te Puia Rotorua

Te Puia spans 70 hectares within the historic Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. This area is home to the world famous Pōhutu geyser, mud pools, hot springs and silica formations. In addition, you will find the native Kiwi bird and the national schools of wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. Moreover, Te Puia is famous for its opportunity to experience a traditional Hangi Dinner. Taste an exquisite Māori feast prepared in the traditional Hangi style. You will be treated to an entrée of New Zealand mussels, corn on the cob, traditional rewana bread and dips, and a local drink made from kawakawa extract and manuka honey. After that, the main meal comprises meats, chicken, lamb, vegetables and salads, with dessert to finish.

#7 Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Waimangu Volcanic Valley is Rotorua’s premier tourist attraction and therefore a ‘must do’ eco-experience when you visit Rotorua. The exciting thermal attraction and sightseeing tours include unique ecology, rare botany and fascinating geothermal features such as steaming volcanic crater lakes. The area is a protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge.

#8 Volcanic Hills Winery

Volcanic Hills Winery

Rotorua has a unique wine experience in its tourism repertoire with Volcanic Hills winery. The winery is at the base of Skyline Rotorua and a gondola ride up will take you to Volcanic Hills HQ, the Tasting Room, situated high up within the popular skyline mountain-top complex.

#9 Rotorua Canopy Tours

zipline new zealand
Rotorua Canopy Tours

New Zealand like you’ve never seen it! Rotorua Canopy Tours is an eco adventure 1000 years in the making. Therefore, this incredible experience is a must-do activity in Rotorua. Moreover, the company is an award-winning leader in ecological restoration.

Become part of New Zealand’s forest restoration journey and zipline New Zealand. Since 2012, Rotorua Canopy Tours and its customers have been responsible for transforming the 280 hectare forest into a flourishing native ecosystem. Come and experience the magic. Rotorua Canopy Tours run small personal and unforgettable adventures in the New Zealand wilderness. All guides are highly trained to keep you safe, make you smile, teach you amazing things and create memories that last you a lifetime. Finally, they will even hold your hand if required….this is truly one of the best things to do in Rotorua if not New Zealand.

#10 Government Gardens

Government Gardens

Originally known as Paepaekumana, the Government Gardens are situated on the lake’s edge in downtown Rotorua. This site is of legendary and historical importance to local Maori people, for here many significant battles have taken place. Today this magnificent building houses a museum and an award-winning exhibition on the days when people came from all over the world to ‘take the waters’. In the early 1930s a second building, the Blue Baths, was constructed in an ornate Mediterranean style. These were among the first baths in the world to allow both males and females in the same pool. Rather than medicinal, the purpose of the Blue Baths was fun – a chance to socialise in the style of Hollywood movie stars. Fully restored to their original glory, the Blue Baths offer you the chance to relax in heated waters in an architecturally stunning setting.

Experience the Best Things to Do in Rotorua

Rotorua sits along the main tourist route from Auckland down to Queenstown. As a result, many of our New Zealand holiday packages include a stay in Rotorua.

Furthermore, you can visit Rotorua as part of a short North Island loop.

Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to plan your visit.


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