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Day trips

Rotorua nearby Ngongotaha what to do

  • 3 minutes

@Rotorua NZ

Ngongotaha, on Paradise Road is where outdoor adventures are created

Find something else to do in Rotorua that does not involve hot bubbling mud pools. You will look into the eyes of a predator at Wingspan. There is a special place where the hunters of the sky, the birds of prey are introduced to visitors. This is a Rotorua highlight and not to be missed at Wingspan.

For horse riders of all abilities there is an opportunity to get out and about with experienced guides. Check out the options with Rotorua Horse Trek and get excited about an outdoor adventure where nature is in charge of the scenery.

Visit the skyline gondola on Mt Ngongotaha. Plan to explore further afield. Keep going along Paradise Road, Ngongotaha Valley ending up in, you guessed it … Ngongotaha. Ngongotaha is a lively settlement on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua.

Skyline Gondola Cableway, a rise of 178.5 metres, Mt Ngongotaha, Rotorua, NZ
Skyline Gondola
NZ owl - a ruru or morepork staring intently. Isolated with black background. , New Zealand

Ngongotaha highlights

  • Family walk to view out of New Zealand’s largest rata trees (Xmas spring flowers)
  • Morepork owl encounters
  • Horse trekking through native bush
  • Watching trout swarm enthusiastically for fish food at Ngongotaha Trout Hatchery
  • Minature Railway Enthusiastics rejoice with a visit to the Ngongotaha Railway Park
  • Kids friendly things to do nearby Rotorua

Ngongotaha Scenic Reserve

A quiet reserve where the tourism bustle is left behind. There are two walks, the Ngongontaha Nature loop and Jubilee Track taking walkers to the top of the mountain (elevation 757m). Well signposted information plaques with descriptions of the ecology and specific plants.


Rata trees with spring flowering make for marvellous New Zealand themed Christmas photographs.


Where fitness is an issue there is a road to the top of Mt Ngongotaha called Mountain Road. Or a one hour horse trek.


Horse trails cross cropping undulgating farmland with Lake Rotorua views slipping between farmland. Then you climb through glorious native bush up Mount Ngongontaka for the panoramic views of the district. For beginner riders there are easy pony rides.

Rotorua Horse Trek offers a kiwi adventure experience with a definite country vibe. From horse trekking to self drive 4WD and clay shooting it’s let’s get our guests out into the country where the action is.

@Horse Trekking Lake Okareka
@Horse Trekking Lake Okareka

Mount Ngongotaha Scenic Reserve Jubilee Track

  • Length: 2.4 km (loop, return)
  • Duration: 1 ½ – 2 hours

The walk can be steep in parts on a well formed track. Tree roots can protrude into the track surface at times. A highlight is the one of NZ’s largest rata trees.

How to get there: The track to the summit is well sign posted and starts from Violet Bonnington Reserve. The reserve is located at the Rotorua end of Paradise Valley Road.

Large rimu on the Mt Ngongotaha Nature Loop Track @DOC / Jaime Apolonio
Large rimu on the Mt Ngongotaha Nature Loop Track @DOC / Jaime Apolonio

Mount Ngongotaha Nature Loop track

  • Length: 2.5km (loop)
  • Duration: 1 ½ hours

The large rata tree, over 40m in height and girth of 1.8m is part of this walk. There is a viewing platform and sign posted intersection for the Nature Loop Track or Jubilee Walk.

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Wingspan National Bird Centre

From grassroots beginnings in the 1980’s and the founding of the Wingspan Charitable Trust in 1992, Wingspan is now recognised as New Zealand’s leading conservation, education and research organisation for birds of prey

This is a very special moment when you meet and greet the avian hunters and hear the passion of the volunteers and handlers ensuring everyone hears the owl’s story.

Wingspan National Bird Centre highlights

  • Gloved handler with the morepork (rua) owl up close and personal
  • A superb family friendly, kids day out experience
Morepork, New Zealand native owl on flax bushes
Morepork, New Zealand native owl on flax bushes


Free entry

Find out about fingerlings, immature trout at Fish & Game (Eastern). The centre manages approximately 100,000 trout in their hatchery. It’s fascinating to view myriad darting silhouettes. Buy fish food (less than $1.50) and watch the spectacle of swarming fish. And learn about fishing, licenses and all that other stuff while you are there. The trophy lakes of the central plateau are Tarawera, Rotoiti and Okatania. Lake Rotorua is well known for its consistent catch rates.


Ngongotaha is the home of Wingspan (Morepork NZ owl rehabilitation centre) and Paradise Valley Springs (farm animals, bush, waterfalls). Both attractions are fee paying. Fish & Game New Zealand, a ‘user pays, user says’ non-profit organisation.

@Ngongotaha Railway Park
@Ngongotaha Railway Park

Ngongotaha Railway Park

Miniature Railway fans will rejoice with Rotorua Ngongotaha Rail Trust Vision to visit. There is one steam and one diesel locomotive for visitors to ride on. The Railway Park is open every weekend (weather permitting), public holidays and over the Christmas period. For up to date information check with railway park to avoid disappointment.

For more holiday ideas what to do in Rotorua check Rotorua travel guide.

And a must-do is the poignant Rotorua Buried Village, the story of the Tarawera eruption: Best Bits and contrasting living village of Ohinemutu, Rotorua Village & St Faiths Church, trip guide: Best Bits.


Getting to Ngongotaha

Best time to visit Ngongotaha

Year round.



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

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