Rotorua is a small city in the North Island of New Zealand. Commonly known as the geothermal capital of New Zealand, yet there is so much more to do in the town. Here’s just a few of the things that I’ve done in Rotorua:
1) Skyline Gondola and Luge
This is by far my favourite thing I’ve done in Rotorua from all of my visits. Prepare yourself for some beautiful views of the town and Lake Rotorua on the scenic gondola ride to the top. Me and my friends booked a combo ticket for the gondola ride and 4 rides on the luge. Imagine real life mario cart where you race your friends down the track. Now imagine that with terrential downpour of rain. That’s what we did. It was so much fun and I highly recommend for anyone visiting Rotorua.
We did our first couple of luge rides while it was still dry or only raining a little. The last one however I couldn’t see a thing because the rain was so heavy. The rain actually only made it all the more fun though. There was lots of laughs, people falling off their luge carts and overtaking to get to the finish line first. There are three different tracks – although the advanced track was closed during our visit due to the heavy rain. We rode on the intermediate and scenic track through the Redwoods Forest.
There are plenty of other things to do too if the luge isn’t your thing, including: ziplining, skyswing and mountain biking. They even have a winery at the top!
Picture below of me and my friends all soaked from the rain but still smiling.
2) Kuirau Park
This park is in the centre of town and offers up all the cool geothermal stuff for free. It was actually surprisingly bigger than I expected it to be. There’s loads of spots where you can see steam coming from the water and rocks, and bubbling mud pools. There are other geothermal parks that you can pay for, so I was impressed by the amount of geothermal activity in this park.
3) Redwoods Forest Nightwalk
So this one I haven’t actually done yet, but from what I’ve heard from other people its really good especially if you go in the evening. Walking high amongst the trees, a series of 28 suspension bridges link the Redwood Forest trees. In the evening lanterns and colourful lights create a magical atmosphere.
4) Kerosene Creek
A small waterfall with natural hot pools at the bottom. We visited at night and were the only ones there. Since it was dark outside I don’t have any amazing photos to show of this place. A quick search on Instagram will prove its worth a visit. From the car park its a short walk through the bush to the hot pools.
5) Lake Rotorua
Walk down to the lake and admire the view. I love a nice lake view and Rotorua doesn’t dissapoint. Walk around the lake and enjoy the fresh air.
6) Rotorua Night Market
If you happen to be in Rotorua on a Thursday then head down to the night market for your evening meal. They have plenty of different stalls and cuisines to choose from. I’ve been a few times now and have enjoyed something new each time. They also have a live music stage which gives the market a great atmosphere.
7) Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
If you have access to a car then I recommend a visit to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. A short drive outside of the city centre and you will arrive at the colourful geothermal natural attraction. There are three different walks you can do once inside the park. They are all connected and you can choose if you want to continue onto the next walk when you are there or loop back to the beginning.
I walked all three and it took not much more than 1 hour to complete. The champagne pools pictured below were one of my favourite. These are actually near the beginning of the park so you won’t miss it.
8) Waikite Valley Thermal Pools
There are many options available in Rotorua for visiting natural thermal pools. This is one of the cheapest, paid for thermal pools available and they did not disappoint. For $18 you gain access to 4 pools, the hot tubs and the Eco-trail walkway too. The water for the pools comes straight from the boiling Te Manaroa spring and is cooled before entering the pools.
I spent all of my time in just 2 of the pools; the Garden Pool and the Pergola Pool. These two have the best views over the valley, whereas the others look more like swimming pools and were not the relaxing experience I visited for. The views from these two pools were spectacular though. I was also lucky enough to have each of the pools to myself for a considerable amount of time too.
9) Putaruru Blue Springs
This one is technically just outside of Rotorua, but is well worth the drive outside of town if you can. The water here is so clear it supplies about 60% of New Zealand’s bottled water. It’s an easy walk around the track with plenty of photo opportunities. For further information about this blue spring and the walking track click here.
10) Okere Falls
Just a 20 minute drive north of Rotorua will take you to Okere Falls, pictured below. There is a short bush walk which will lead you from the car park to the waterfalls. A popular activity to do whilst in Rotorua is river rafting. Here you can watch as the brave thrill seekers raft over the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.
If your looking for where to visit after Rotorua, then I can highly recommend Taupo. Only a 1 hour drive south of Rotorua and easily accessible on the intercity bus too. I spent a few months living in Taupo, located in the middle of the North Island and fell hard for the place. Find out about all my favourite things to do in Taupo by reading my blog post in the link below.