Choose from 28 Fun Things to Do in Rotorua
- No prior experience is necessary, but it is recommended that participants be physically fit.
- Outfitters provide wetsuits and helmets, so the rafting experience will be safe and warm.
- Lunch or snacks plus hot showers are usually included.
- Bring swimwear, a towel, and a change of clothing.
- Children must be accompanied by an adult.
- This natural feature is hard to miss, and is a must-see for visitors to Rotorua.
- A large grassy area includes a children’s playground.
- Wheelchair-accessible walkways make for easy strolling.
- Outdoor activities last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, while day trips take you to other lakes and beyond.
- A 10-minute Skyline Rotorua gondola ride guarantees panoramic views from the summit of Mt. Ngongotaha.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water.
Take the bush walk through the heart of the park and you’ll be surrounded by untouched geothermal landscapes – gurgling mud pools, piping hot springs and steaming fissures interspersed with 35 active natural geysers, spurting steaming water up to 9 meters in the air. Most notable are the series of fault-stepped silica terraces, over which up to 20 million liters of water flow per day. The ‘Emerald Terrace’, aptly named for its striking jade-green color, is the largest of its kind remaining in the country; above it the terraces take on a rainbow of shades – blue, green, yellow, black – thanks to the hot water algae growing on their surface. The highlight of the park is the unique Ruatapu Cave, one of only two geothermal caves in the world and stretching 120 foot to the Waiwhakaata ‘pool of mirrors’ hot pool.
Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute was established by the New Zealand Parliament to guard and preserve Maori culture, housing the national schools of carving and weaving. Visitors interact with master craftsmen as they turn native hardwood and plant fibers into beautiful pieces of traditional art, spinning stories as they work.
Touring the facilities is interesting, informative and not to be missed, but the highlight is Te Po, Te Puia's authentic evening experience. As evening falls, you'll assemble in a carved meeting space and go on to participate in Maori rituals of friendship and greetting. As the night progresses, you'll feast on traditional cuisine as your guides will share Maori heritage, song and weaponry.
Te Puia is also the staging area for tours of the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, where there are numerous geysers and 3 regularly erupt - Kereru, Tohu and the world famous Pohutu geyser, which erupts around 20 times a day reaching heights of up to 30m (100ft).
In addition to preserving to the Maori culture through performances and demonstrations, Te Puia also preserves New Zealand national culture with the Kiwi House. As its name implies, the Kiwi House is dedicated to helping the little flightless birds in their fight against extinction.
- Scenic tours with a guide provide access to multiple lakes and other attractions.
- This quiet lake is peaceful and has been largely left to exist in its natural state.
- As a show of respect to the Te Arawa tribe, visitors must maintain the tranquil atmosphere and leave the waters untouched.
- Rainbow Springs Nature Park is ideal for nature and wildlife lovers, and families traveling with children.
- There are family admission passes available; children under the age of 5 enter free.
- Kids and their grown-up companions have unlimited access to the Big Splash—bring towels to dry off afterward.
- Food is available at the on-site café, with a playground and picnic tables nearby.
- Rafting trips on the Kaituna River are suitable for adventurous beginners.
- The minimum age for this white-water excursion is 13 years; children must be accompanied by an adult.
- Every Class V rapid is followed by a stretch of flat water.
- Outfitters provide all necessary equipment: life jacket, wetsuit, booties, safety helmet, fleece top, and spray jacket.
- Bring swimwear, a towel, and a change of clothing.
- Blue Lake is the best place in Rotorua for swimming and water skiing.
- The site is a favorite of travelers with children.
- There are public toilets, barbecue facilities, picnic areas, and a playground.
- Select a guided day trip to see Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake) in addition to geysers and mud pools.
- This educational experience is suitable for all ages and allows families to participate in farming activities; children under 5 years old enter free.
- Choose between an Agrodome Farm Show or Farm Tour, or select both.
- Day trips combine the North Island’s top attractions, such as the Hobbiton Movie Set, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and Rainbow Springs Nature Park.
The Buried Village of Te Wairoa offers a unique glimpse into 19th century New Zealand life, as it was buried and preserved by volcanic ash in an 1866 eruption. One of New Zealand's most popular attractions, this archeological treasure houses a museum to the village and the interaction of Maori and colonial cultures. You'll see towering, carved Maori artwork in the museum and then tour the excavation points around the site.
If you're visiting New Zealand for its outdoor-centric lifestyle, the Buried Village is a good hub for great hiking. Beyond the village is the spectacular Waterfall Trail. It provides two different hiking tracks of breathtaking scenery and the famed rainbow trout that live and spawn in the Te Wairoa stream. The Tarawera area is crossed by several other trails, including one at Lake Okareka.
The Buried Village is located in a 12 acre park covered in trees and meadows. New Zealand is known for its outdoor beauty, and this attraction has it in spades; much of it is related to the rugged majesty of the volcanic mountains. Nearby are a host of activities; the volcanic landscape offers fantastic mountain-biking runs and you can also climb the crater of Mt. Tarawera. Two companies book plane tours that take off from the Buried Village.
- According to New Zealand law, bungee jumpers must be at least 10 years old and weigh more than 77 pounds (35 kilograms).
- Minimum ages on other attractions range from 3 to 6 years old.
- Passengers must be at least 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) tall to ride the Shweeb.
- The 2-passenger Agrojet’s minimum height requirement is 3 feet (.9 meters).
- Safety gear is required on the Freestyle Airbag and can be rented from the reception desk.
Started in 1939 as a trout sanctuary, Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park is now a popular destination for animal lovers of all ages. Visitors can feed and interact with many of the animals, most of which are native to the island.
Given New Zealand's isolation from the rest of the world, its flora and fauna evolved differently than continental creatures, and as such, New Zealand's wildlife is unique. While many New Zealand trips involve outdoor activities and visitors see much of its indigenous animals in the wild, the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park has the most interesting native critters under one roof.
Guests to the park explore the different wildlife sections, including the popular Treetops Canopy walk. A series of wooden bridges and pathways have been built high up in the trees, giving visitors a chance to wander through the native birds' natural habitat.
In addition to the animal exhibits, the park is also known for its natural spring. Before Europeans came, Maori tribes would bring their battle-wounded to the spring, because they believed it had medicinal properties. Magical healing power or no, the spring produces an unending supply of clean water with high mineral content, and guests can sample directly from the source or buy water from the recently constructed bottling plant.
Lions are native to Africa, but in the 1970s, the park operators acquired some retired circus lions, and the park has been raising and caring for lions ever since. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the lions being fed daily at 2:30pm. When cubs are born, the lion-keeper will allow you to pet them free of charge.
- Visitors can combine a driving tour that visits landmarks in the public park with guided sightseeing beyond Rotorua.
- Guests can also swim or soak in geothermally heated pools at the historic Blue Baths, but call ahead to make sure the baths are not closed for a private event.
- The Government Gardens offer one of the city’s most serene spots for a picnic.
Ohinemutu was the first settlement in the region established by the Ngati Whakaue people. Originally used as an entry hub for visitors and food headed to the neighboring villages, Ohinemutu is now a suburb of Rotorua city, but it is still a perfect example of how Western and Maori cultures integrated. Visit the Te Papaiouru Marae and St Faith’s Church, and you'll see how the two peoples collaborate, as Maori carvings and woven panels complement the Tudor-style architecture.
Ohinemutu's preservation of Ngati Whakaue is not to be missed. St. Faith's church is well known for a window etching of Jesus wearing a Maori cloak - it faces the lake, giving you the impression that Jesus is walking on water. The century-old church's rich decorations are a must-see.
Packaged cruise tours often make a stop at Ohinemutu along with visits to the nearby redwoods and geothermal sites. As much of the activities in and around Rotorua involve hiking and the outdoors, the same goes for Ohinemutu, but its focal points are the Marae (meeting place) and Church.
Near the northeast coast of the North Island is Mount Tarawera, the volcano responsible for a massive eruption that destroyed the famed, naturally occurring Pink and White Terraces and buried three Maori villages, including Te Wairoa, in 1866. The volcano is currently dormant, but visitors can book several different guided tours of the mountain, ranging from helicopter, 4-wheel drive vehicles and mountain bikes.
The area around Mt. Tarawera is breathtaking in its beauty and captivating in its thermal characteristics. Nearby are both the Geothermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu and the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley near Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. At Tarawera's foot is Lake Rotomahana, which offers numerous recreational activities including fishing, water skiing and boating.
In addition to Lake Rotomahana, Mt. Tarawera's eruption formed many others, as the rift and domes formed from the explosion dramatically altered the surrounding landscape. In fact, the blast was so massive that its ash could be seen as far away as Christchurch, nearly 500 miles to the south. The resulting topographic challenges have created some of the most exhilarating bike trails in the world.
Since January 2010, independent hiking on Tarawera (and even being on the roads that approach it) is forbidden, due to health and safety issues, vandalism, and traffic. If you want to visit it you must book a tour.
Spend some time in the Te Arawa and Tarawera galleries, the former of which houses an extensive collection of ancient Maori art and artifacts, as well as treasured antique photographs from the European colonial era. The latter is dedicated to the eruption of Mt. Tarawera and the destruction wreaked in 1886.
- On a Duck tour; the amphibious vehicle splashes down onto Lake Okareka and Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake).
- Birders should bring binoculars to search the wetlands for shorebirds.
- The Okareka Walkway is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
- Glowworm caves and thermal hot springs are only accessible by boat.
- Paddling instruction, equipment, and round-trip hotel transport from Rotorua are provided on most guided kayak tours.
- Excursions last anywhere from a few hours to a full day, and may include snacks or barbecue meals.
- Bring a bathing suit, towel, water shoes or hiking shoes, and a change of clothing.