Rotorua is on the must-do list for almost all visitors to New Zealand. With a huge range of geothermal, cultural, nature and adventure activities, there is something for everyone. Check out our list of must-do activities – you might need to plan a longer stay!
You can’t visit Rotorua without seeing it’s geothermal attractions.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a unique system, formed by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera, the world’s youngest geothermal valley.
Wai-O-Tapu is famous for the Lady Knox Geyser and iconic Champagne Pool, and you can visit a bubbling mud pool close to the park.
You can treat yourself to a mud bath and spa at Hell’s Gate, or marvel in the silica terraces at Orakei Korako.
At Te Puia, along with the bubbling mud and geysers, you can learn about how Maori have been using hot thermal water and steam to cook traditional meals.
The geothermal wonders of Rotorua also provide plenty of opportunities to bathe in thermal waters in spas and thermal pools, or explore the natural geothermal bathing spots.
Another must-do in Rotorua is to experience Maori culture. Te Puia is home to the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute when you can watch traditional wood, stone and bone carving, weaving and visit the Ta Moko (Maori tattoo) studio.
Whakarewarewa is a living Maori village, where you can take a guided tour of the village, see the geothermal attractions or see the traditional haka being performed.
If you’re looking for an authentic Maori cultural performance and Hangi meal, Tamaki Maori village is voted one of the top 10 Activities in the world on Trip Advisor.
On the other side of Rotorua, Mitai Village’s cultural show features warriors paddling an ancient canoe (waka) down a sacred stream. Mitai also offers an option to head into Rainbow Springs after dark to visit the Kiwi enclosure.
A favourite with visitors and locals alike, the Redwoods Forest is a mecca for mountain bikers and easily considered a must-do for walkers and trail runners. For mountain bikers, there are trails for every ability. You can even hire a private Land rover and driver to transport you and your bike to the best trails in the forest.
The Redwoods Treewalk offer both day and night options to see the forest from height on a network of suspended bridges. At night, the forest is illuminated and features iconic creations by designer David Trubridge.
You can even explore native forests by zipline with the award-winning Rotorua Canopy Tours. Their two tour options take small groups on a guided tour through a network of ziplines, swing bridges and walking trails, and you can learn about the company’s conservation efforts to restore the native forest.
You’re spoiled for choice with lakes in the Rotorua area! Blue Lake and Lake Tarawera are local favourites for picnics, walks and water sports. You can tour the lakes in an amphibious vehicle with Rotorua Duck Tours, take a jet boat out to Mokoia Island on Lake Rotorua with Kawerau Jet, or cruise by yacht on Lake Rotoiti with Pure Cruise.
Rotorua is known as the adventure capital of the North Island. The Kaituna River is home to the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall, the Tutea falls. Other must-do activities include rolling down a hill in an inflatable ball with OGO Rotorua, or taking the gondola up Mount Ngongotaha at Skyline and racing down on the luge. Both these activities were originally invented in Rotorua.