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Travel Guide

Things to do in Rotorua. Activities, Attractions & Places to Visit

  • 5 minutes

Bay of Plenty, North Island

In this Article

Best bits, the only guide you need for a great holiday

Discover a wealth of things to do in Rotorua. The earth’s energy is on full display. Lakes and forests invite you to zipline through forests and luge down mountain summits. Rotorua has adventure nailed. Rotorua attractions are showcased by extraordinary lunar landscapes where volcanic activity offers visitors a chance to experience nature at its most raw, to indulge in a mineralised mud bath or soak in the geothermal hot springs that abound in Rotorua. The ultimate holiday destination offers visitors a choice of accommodation from budget camping to luxury hotels pampering to your every want. Year round the temperate climate ensures Rotorua will not disappoint. Rotorua is living the dream, world class in every way.

Rotorua thermal pools, New Zealand
Rotorua thermal pools

BEST TIME TO GO TO ROTORUA

Year-round, geothermal energy is sure to keep the toes warm in winter. Peak season is summer yet there is something magical about warm mist rising from the cool Lake Taupo as you soak away the cares of the world at the Polynesian Spa. You can’t beat nature when it’s on full display. Which is every day of the year in Rotorua.

WEATHER IN ROTORUA

Rotorua Weather Forecast and Observations

Summers are consistently warm with an average temperature in the mid 20’s. Occasionally it has reached 29c. The winters are brisk with a nip in the air dropping down to an average of 12c. The peak season is summer however year around Rotorua has plenty of delicious warm hot springs to soak away the chill.

TRAVEL DEALS IN ROTORUA

Hotel, motel, holiday parks and campsites

Car hire, and campervans

Activities and tours

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ROTORUA – ATTRACTIONS

  • Maori crafted by locals expressing tightly held values and sharing their stories
  • Heritage Rotorua with over a century of experience welcoming visitors
  • Original geothermal landscapes offering an array of sensory attractions from massage, spa treatments or simply relaxing in warm natural mineral water
  • Geothermal lunar landscapes shaped by the earth’s core from molten rock pools, boiling vents gushing steam & powerful heated geysers
Maori carvings in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Maori carvings in Rotorua
Lake Rotoroa, Hatupatu Drive car park, Scenic Point, Rotorua, New Zealand
Lake Rotorua

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ROTORUA – ACTION, ADVENTURE

  • Zipline adventure adds bounce to any holiday. Mount Ngongotaha is floating beneath your zipline as you are suspended in the air. Soar and experience the thrill of flying.
  • Luge is a part go-kart, part toboggan and totally fun, you are in charge as you ride the bends and get going
  • What’s not to love about being swept off your feet in a gondola up over Rotorua’s Skyview, a definite must-do adventure
  • Kayak to quiet hot water beaches and explore Lake Rotorua and surrounding areas either self-guided or on a guided tour, your preference on a must-do water adventure

ROTORUA MASSAGES, SPA TREATMENT, HOT POOLS

Geothermal therapy, soaking in mineral-dense water, slathering on glorious warm sulfur-infused mud, or indulging in a spa treatment is in Rotorua for the picking. The products are the original natural thing, have no chemicals, are sustainable and have been tested on people for hundreds of years.

Rotorua is the place for massage and skin treatment.  Polynesian Spa exemplifies the culture of hospitality imbued in resort Rotorua. From the nineteenth century, the original spa was located at Government House grounds. Today Rotorua offers a chance to indulge in Hell’s gate mud packs where lathering the body in mineralised mud is part and parcel of the experience to a gentle exfoliating massage under the warm jets of mineral water.

Young woman having a spa in outdoors hot pool in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Hot pool in Rotorua
Naturally hot steaming waterfall near Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Naturally hot steaming waterfall near Rotorua

You’re worth it, indulge. Rotorua is the ultimate thermal waters destination. From natural warm springs bubbling up beside the lake, warm waterfalls cascading over you to floating in a hot stream as the Waikato River passes by, there is plenty of choice for the visitor. From free public spaces to luxurious thermal spas your budget and inclination is catered for. Take the plunge into the warm embrace that is Rotorua.

Read more about Rotorua hot pools.

BEST CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS

Rotorua offers visitors a powerful contemporary experience narrated entertainingly and, most importantly, accompanied by a fabulous hangi (meal steamed in an earthen oven). A hangi is an original Maori feast, not to be missed by locals and visitors alike. Earth tones, black, charcoal, and burnt orange have imbued Rotorua architecture with a building landscape that is uniquely Polynesian / Maori in tenor.

  • Outstanding Rotorua Museum with its interactive exhibits
  • Pompeii of the Pacific, New Zealand’s Buried Village is a testament to the Smith Family
  • Te Puia gallery and studios showcasing Maori creative spirit
  • Hot glass studio, Amokura Glass is a perfect special moment destination for a gift
  • The Arts Village where contemporary art and New Zealand fusion art between the aesthetic and indigenous meet in a cooperative setting
  • Rozcraft a pioneer in NZ made souvenirs factory shop is where fluffy woolly sheep wait patiently
  • Portico a potpourri of carefully selected gift items showcasing NZ arts and crafts
Maori hangi food preparation, New Zealand
Maori hangi food preparation
Traditional Maori house in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Traditional Maori house in Rotorua

ART & CRAFT ATTRACTIONS

Tamaki Maori Village captures the pre-European experience in a lively informative contemporary style where guests are invited to actively participate in the storytelling. There are shuttles from Rotorua to the Tamaki Maori Village located approximately 30 minutes from the town centre.

Te Puia is the heart of arts and crafts with teachers, narrators and students willingly illustrating age-old skills in carving, jewellery making and traditional weaving skills. It is a fascinating insight into a traditional craft continuing to attract visitors and locals.

Read more about Te Puia experience.

ARCHITECTURE & HERITAGE PLACES

Heritage Rotorua colour palette is earth tones, black, charcoal and burnt orange. The striking balance of earthy / black hues has imbued Rotorua architecture with a building landscape that is uniquely Polynesian / Maori in tenor.

Government House with its tudor facade and local architectural influences set in the sweeping grounds of a park is timeless.

Heritage Rotorua Ohinemutu Heritage Village & St Faiths Church. The people who lived in the village have called this place home for hundreds of years. The village surroundings are framed by the St Faith’s church and cemetery facing the lake and the Tamatekapua meeting house or Tunohopu Marae with its striking doorway. The meeting house is a stunning example of Maori building style.

Read more about Ohinemutu, Rotorua Village & St Faiths Church, trip guide: Best Bits.

Rotorua visitor information centre elaborate Tudor style building, Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua visitor information centre elaborate Tudor style building
Buried village exacavted whare (Maori dwelling house), Rotorua, New Zealand
Buried village

ROTORUA BURIED VILLAGE

New Zealand’s Pompeii is the buried village of Te Wairoa. The 1886 eruption killed over 120 people and destroyed entire villages. Te Wairoa buried village is now a heritage archeological site describing the volcanic eruption and the vanished glory of the pink and white terraces.

Read more about Rotorua Buried Village, the story of the Tarawera eruption: Best Bits.

WHAKAREWAREWA LIVING MAORI VILLAGE EXPERIENCE

Unearth, one of New Zealand’s memorable visitor experiences, Whakarewarewa: New Zealand’s Iconic Living Maori Village In Rotorua. Find out what it is like to live amidst geothermal energy. It asks the residents what happens when the bubbling hot water appears in the backyard Whakarewarewa village is New Zealand’s oldest continuous Māori tourism attraction, predating the world-famous Pink & White Terraces. Visitors feel invited into personal spaces where authenticity creates a hallmark moment. Listen to local guides and enjoy.

Read more about Whakarewarewa.

A maori marae (meeting house and meeting ground), Rotorua, New Zealand
Maori thermal village main meeting house

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

While the iconic Rotorua Museum, located in Government House remains closed due to the earthquake strengthening there a number of private galleries to visit.

Read more about where to go and what to see.

ROTORUA, LIGHTS, ADVENTURE, ACTION

Adventure tourism galore, water and rapids, water rafting, zip-lining through native forests and mountain biking on designed tracks.

ROTORUA WALKS

From the short free walks around Sulphur Bay and Kuirau Park to the memorising Te Puia Geothermal Park the earth’s thin crust and the boiling, super heated energy is on full glorious display. Year round, every day Rotorua impresses visitors with extraordinary lunar landscapes, cascading waterfalls and streams where boiling mineralised water creates pink, yellow and white surfaces and boiling mud lets off burps and gloops as it coats the sides of mud pools. The stunted vegetation has adapted to the harsh conditions. Rotorua is atmospheric, a fantasy underground world has come to life.

Read more about Rotorua walking trails.

FAMILY FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS

Family-focused entertainment and child-friendly is part and parcel of Rotorua’s cultural heritage which makes for a great visitor experience for all age groups. There are short easy walks, a chance to enjoy picking up treats at the Kuirau Park weekend market or let’s play at Polynesian Spa.

@RotoruaCanopyTours
@RotoruaCanopyTours

ROMANCE & INDULGENCE

Rotorua offers romance with a dab of gloopy warm mineralised mud as an authentic touch. Adventure delivers tandem zip lining and soft romantic lighting on Redwood’s night tour is magic among the towering treetops. There are opportunities to picnic in quiet groves Rotorua is where you will laugh together.

Check out the top romantic hotels now!

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

WHERE TO TAKE A SELFIE TOGETHER

  • Lake Tarawera jetty is well known sunset location
  • The Redwoods at night with the lit lanterns as a backdrop
  • Government Gardens in spring with the tulips
  • Hells Gate slathered in mineralised mud
  • Kuirau park boardwalk with the mist swirling around yourself or get a friendly local to snap the two of you together
  • Kerosene Creek’s warm waterfall and bush setting
  • A tandem canopy zipline tour where the local guide is happy to capture the moment on your mobile

Imagine your boat journey across the stunning Lake Tarawera and the vision of misting steam comes into view. The lake is quiet without the boat traffic of Lake Rotorua. Wonder becomes part of the day trip to a peaceful bush-clad beach with natural rock pools and warm spring waters constantly bubbling up creating a magical holiday moment. Totally Tarawera offers a number of tours, with the most popular taking guests to Te Rata Bay (Hot Water Beach) to enjoy geothermal pools along the lake’s edge, and to a secluded natural hot pool for a relaxing soak.

Tarawera Falls with a visible rainbow in New Zealand
Tarawera Falls in New Zealand
NOTE

Lake Tarawera was dramatically altered by the seismic earthquake of 1886 Rotorua Buried Village, the story of the Tarawera eruption.

For more romantic tips check out Rotorua romantic places.

`Eat Street` shopping mall in Rotorua, New Zealand
`Eat Street` shopping mall in Rotorua

ROTORUA WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Must-do places to grab a foodie treat is the EatStreet night market. It is a razzle-dazzle light show with great cheap food thrown into the mix. If fine dining is on the cards, consider a table where the summit of Mt Ngongotaha is part of the dining experience. Visitors are spoiled for choice where to go and what to eat. Your Instagram feed will backdrop the sights and your favourite drink.

Read more Rotorua where to eat.

NOTE

Due to the impact of covid19 on the hospitality sector it is advisable to check beforehand for up to date information on opening hours.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY ROTORUA

Rotorua is a hop, skip, and jump from Taupo, one of New Zealand’s premier holiday destinations. The North Island central plateau offers visitors an unparalleled glimpse into the underground world of caves, glowworms, and underground rivers in Waitomo. Taupo is a water sports destination.

Check out for inspiration where to go and what to do.

Thermal Park in Rotorua, New Zealand
Thermal Park in Rotorua
@All Seasons Holiday Park Rotorua
@All Seasons Holiday Park Rotorua

ACCOMMODATION

Plenty of choices for visitors from budget to luxury.

Budget accommodation:

All Seasons Holiday Park

From motel-style units to tent pegs, the park has something for everyone. The park has an indoor spa complex, swimming pool and underfloor heating in communal bathing areas. The quirky 19 dinosaurs will be a hit with the kids.

Standard – Medium

Aura Accommodation

An ideal family accommodation option close to Eat Street and other attractions. Standard, well maintained, clean motel rooms from one bedroom through to family units.

B&B @The Redwoods

B&B @The Redwoods. Nestled among mature trees with each studio having its own private deck you will feel like a privileged guest.

Cedarwood Lakeside Motel

A great location with plenty of room for the kids to stretch their legs.

@Cedarwood Lakeside Motel & Conference Venue
@Cedarwood Lakeside Motel & Conference Venue

Sport of Kings Motel

Excellent well maintained premises suitable for singles, couples and families. A great location off the busy main street yet within walking distance of key attractions.

@Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel, Rotorua
@Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel, Rotorua

LUXURY

Prince’s Gate Hotel

A doyenne of Rotorua. A classic heritage hotel with a touch of luxury and its own geothermal mineral pools.

Solitaire Lodge

Luxury accommodation with breathtaking views of over Lake Tarawera. The ideal place for peace, quiet and pampering.

Treetops Lodge and Estate

Disconnect, reconnect in a wilderness retreat.

Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel

Glorious lake views, one acre of roses, sweeping lawns, private swimming pool and attention to detail creates a perfect romantic getaway.

GETTING TO ROTORUA

Rotorua is conveniently located on major aerial road networks and is serviced by a domestic airport. There are shuttle buses from Auckland and Wellington daily.

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BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE

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

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