Having lived in Rotorua over the past 6 months working at Holdens Bay Holiday Park it’s fair to say we’ve turned Rotorua inside out when it comes to things to do! Taking every chance we’ve had to explore what Rotorua, or as the locals call it RotoVegas has to offer, we’ve come up with our Top 10 Things To Do in Rotorua.
We’ve included FREE options in the list as well as fairly CHEAP options too – all about sticking to that backpacker budget!
We’ve given each activity a rating out of 10 and the things we considered when deciding on the ratings were;
– how much value for money the activity was
– our overall experience of the activity which include the activity itself and the staff.
Best time to visit: As this is more of a kids attraction you are better off avoiding any type of school holidays! Early mornings is usually best
Cost: $40 per adult/$20 per child for standard day pass
If you’re looking to get your kiwi experience fix and get close to the iconic long beaked bird, this is the place to come! We were told everything there is to know about these cute little fluff balls by our excellent tour guide, and then given the opportunity to see the Kiwi bird. What a day! Rainbow Springs is perfect if you’re looking to fill some time with the kids, there’s heaps of birds, reptiles and a big splash log ride (which is actually quite frightening, as we found out!)
Best time to visit: Anytime as you book yourself onto a specific time slot!
Cost: Farm show & Farm tour is $69 per adult
By far, one of the funniest days we’ve had so far. Neither of us were particularly keen on llamas or alpacas before this experience – but how can you not fall in love with these fluffy-long-knecked-teddy-bear-horse-like mammals. Being introduced to the various types of sheep was also a massive eye-opener… usually, we drive past a field and say “Ah, look. Sheep.” … now we can say… “Ah, look. A Merino, Leicester Longwool, and Romney Sheep.”
Best time to visit: It’s generally pretty quiet. We headed here around lunch time and there were only two other couples there.
Cost: $18 per person
Hamurana Springs is the deepest natural fresh water spring on the North Island. Its crystal clear water is stunning and the path is an easy 30 minute walk alongside the river and through a redwoods forest. Plenty of photo opportunities along the way and stunning blues, greens and turquoises amongst the water. Steff even tried her hand at feeding the scary black swans along the way…
The Springs are also located on the opposite side of the lake to Central Rotorua and provides beautiful views of Rotorua across the lake.
Best time to visit: Early morning or just before they close (opening times 8am – 5pm)
Cost: In peak season (Summer) a day pass starts from $56 per adult
Te Puia is a mix of everything! You can watch traditional Maori cultural performances, walk round the geothermal pools, watch geysers erupt and gorge on the yummy Hangi buffet! The food was definitely our favourite part – the buffet is massive and the food is delicious!
Best time to visit: Lady Know Geyser goes off at 10.15am so you should aim to get to Wai-O-Tapu around 9:30-9:45am
Cost: $32.50 per adult
Definitely one to tick off the MUST DO in Rotorua list! Watching the Lady Knox Geyser erupt in the morning, followed by a beautiful walk around this geothermal wonderland, was truly an unforgettable experience. We were particularly impressed with the Champagne Pool – a beautiful yellow, orange and green smoking thermal pool.
Best time to visit: Anytime
Another easy but beautiful walk, just outside of Rotorua. Okere Falls is actually the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, so if that’s your kind of thing then this is the place for you. However if you prefer to stay on the dryer side of life, head on the short trek to the view point of Okere Falls and watch the nutcases raft down the waterfall, it really is an awesome sight!
Edit: we are now a part of this nutcase crew as we tried our hand at rafting down this waterfall!
Best time to visit: Anytime
There are a number of viewpoints over Lake Tarawera but our favourite was down by the jetty at the very start of the lake. From there you can view Mount Tarawera in the background. When you drive up round further there are a number of view points, the second best, in our opinion, being the Lake Tarawera Lookout.
Its amazing how such a big lake stays so clear! The water is sparkling. The views are great at any point on a clear day, but if like us you are sunrise fanatics, the view from the jetty is even more spectacular!
Tamaki Maori Village
Best time to visit: Tours generally pick up from your accommodation or from the main office in the centre of Rotorua between 5pm-6pm. This varies slightly depending on the season.
Cost: In peak season (Summer) it costs $130 per person
A perfect introduction to New Zealand if you want to indulge in the Maori culture and gain a good understanding through interactive learning, heaps of hakas, and bloody good food! Steff got involved with learning how to use poi’s and did a little wrist dance which was super entertaining!
Best time to visit: Anytime, but especially for sunrise.
This beautiful park in the heart of Rotorua is a perfect place to start your adventures and have your first glances at the geothermal delights Rotorua has to offer!
The highlight being a wooden walkway that disappears into the steam coming off of the geothermal lake that the walkway crosses. You’ll even spot a few bubbling mud pools… just go careful though as new thermal activity can appear at any moment and send a few rocks flying in the air!
Best time to visit: Anytime
As it says on the label, these really are RED woods. Great towering trees that go on for miles and miles decorating the forest red. Probably our favourite forest walk, EVER. There are multiple paths you can take, ranging from 10 minute walks all the way up to 4/5 hour walks! When we visited the first time we took the green path which was the Quarry Walk. It took around 1.5 hours and was absolutely magical! We are planning on heading back to explore more. Not only are there beautiful red trees but crystallised branches in turquoise waters and big old trees fallen across paths to give it a real magical feel!
These are just a selection of the best things to do in Rotorua, there are many, many more activities and thrilling adventures to be had here in the cultural centre of New Zealand! If you have something else in mind, we’ve probably done it so feel free to drop us a message or visit our Instagram account We Are Wandering Travel for more inspiration!