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Day trips

A day in Rotorua, the best things to do in 12 hours

  • 3 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

Highlights from redwood forest walk to Kuirau public park geothermal displays

The classic spa town with natural geothermal mineral water to soak away the cares of the world. Therapeutic mud to pamper the skin and restore your glow. Extraordinary natural displays of geotectonic energy from boiling mud pools to sheets of steaming pink fused water coating hillsides a delicate pink.

Maori carvings in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Maori carvings in Rotorua

Rotorua highlights

In a day you will have managed to explore the classics:

  • Kick start the day with a coffee and foot massage in Kuirau Park
  • Colonial Victorian building splendor in the historic grounds of Government House
  • Indulged in a polynesian geothermal spa blissful soak
  • Visit the iconic Te Puia wonderland of geysers, boiling mud and super hot steaming vents
  • Cruise Lake Lake Rotoiti for more hot pools magic
  • Check out the Californian redwood forests of Rotorua
  • Find out more about traditional Maori culture and enjoy a hangi feast

Best time to go to Rotorua

Year round.

Summer so that you can fit everything into the day.

Winter is a great time to visit Rotorua as warm mineral water keeps visitors toasty.

Weather in Rotorua

The Tudor-style spa bath house in the Government Gardens in Rotorua, New Zealand
The Tudor-style spa bath house in the Government Gardens in Rotorua
Wooden pathway leading through boiling lake and surrounded by steam. Shot in Kuirau Park in Rotorua, New Zealand
Kuirau Park



Start the day in Rotorua exploring a Saturday market for a pick me up coffee. Check the local public park with its dose of geothermal activity to get you into the swing of Rotorua. The footbaths are free and it’s lots of fun watching visitors and locals indulging in a bit of foot massage.

Allow up to one hour.


Feet are well massaged and ready for action. It’s off to Government House. It’s a fifteen minute walk past cafes tempting you to linger. Government House, originally known as Paepaekumana, is situated on the lake’s edge in downtown Rotorua. The elaborate Tudor style confection of buildings, croquet lawn clubhouse and historic thermal spa are nestled in gardens reflecting the classic formality of an English colonial garden with beds of flowering annuals and bulbs. It is very popular in spring for selfies with the glorious tulips and nodding red vibrancy contrasting with the sweeping manicured lawns.

Allow up to 1 hour strolling the gardens.

Rotorua Government Gardens spring tulips, New Zealand
Rotorua Government Gardens spring tulips
Polynesian pools @Polynesian Spa
Polynesian pools @Polynesian Spa


Mid morning pampering at the nearby Polynesian Spa. Walking distance 110 metres from Government House. Polynesian Spa is New Zealand’s original and iconic geothermal bathing experience. Book yourself exclusive access to both acidic and alkaline natural mineral springs. For extra special treatment indulge in the unique spa therapies for the ultimate in rest and relaxation.

Duration: 1  – ½  hours.



Te Puia’s Pataka Kai restaurant offers a selection of dining options from a cafe with perhaps the best view in town. Stunning geyser displays are framed in the large picture windows.

For an in depth experience book on a guided tour of the park Te Puia to create memories of a very special day in Rotorua. Te Puia is home to the largest geyser, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and a kiwi creche for the national bird of New Zealand.

Allow up to 3 hours.
Mountains Reflected in Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand
Mountains Reflected in Lake Rotoiti



Relax and join a cruise on Lake Rotoiti to the remote hot pools by water taxi. Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools Water Taxi accesses the geothermal paradise at Manupirua Hot Pools.

The boat ride takes around 20 minutes and your skipper is always happy to chat about the lakes if you have any questions at all. There are 7 pools on the shore fed from the spring, they are all different temperatures to allow for everyone’s bathing preference. If you need to cool off there is the beach to walk into the fresh waters of the lake or take the fast route – down the slide at the end of the jetty! The beach is geothermal too, so if you don’t fancy a swim, paddle in the sands and as you twist your feet in they will get warm naturally.

Allow  2 ½  hours.


The day is packed with activities for a more leisurely pace skip LAKE ROTOITI CRUISE or KUIRAU PARK to allow more time for the redwood forest and Tamaki Village experience. This applies particularly to the winter season with its shorter days.


Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest

An early evening self-guided tour through the towering Californian redwood forest with its native undergrowth. You are headed to the Tree Walk In Rotorua. The world is lit with filtered light glinting on the ferns in the undergrowth. Towering shadows of the majestic redwood forest cast light and shade among the majestic trees. The walkways sweep among the treetops up close and personal as the paths float 9 to 20 metres suspended above the forest floor. The 700 metre walk crosses 28 suspension bridges and 27 viewing platforms.

Allow up to 1 hour.

Fern undergrowth Redwood forest Rotorua, New Zealand
Fern undergrowth Redwood forest Rotorua



Tamaki Māori Village is a reimagined traditional village tucked under the sheltering tawa forest. Tamaki Maori Village escorts visitors through an immersive journey through time to a pre-European world. Stories, songs and performances narrate daily life and the cultural values of the time. As with good stories a magnificent hangi (cooked traditional feast) is served to guests.

Allow yourself to relax into the moment.

Read more about places to visit in Rotorua in our Rotorua travel guide.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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