There are a great many Rotorua attractions to enjoy during your visit to this beautiful part of the North Island, including both natural and manmade wonders, waiting to be explored. Discover our top five free things to do in Rotorua and make the very most of your visit to this world famous geothermal wonderland.
Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest
This 56,000ha forest is located 3-km south-east of Rotorua city along the Tarawera road and is open daily from 8.30am - 5pm. In 1899 170 different species of trees were planted in the area to discover which could be successfully grown here for timber, and now this magical area is home to these along with many native plant species. There are many walking trails which range from a gentle 1/2 hour stroll to whole day routes. The recently inaugurated Redwoods tree walk is a 553-metre walk along suspension bridges 12 metres above the ground, which offers a unique way to enjoy the spectacular size and beauty of these giant trees. The Whakarewarewa Forest is one of the most visited attractions in Rotorua and is one of the area's greatest natural treasures, so don't miss it.
The Blue Lake is located within the Whakarewarewa Forest, 9-km south-east of Rotorua. The 5 1/2-km loop around the edge of the shallow lake allows you to enjoy both native and exotic trees and some stunning beaches. This easy walk takes about an hour and a half, but you will be tempted to linger at the lookout point over the two lakes, the Tikitapu-Blue Lake, and the Rotokakahi-Green Lake, which is a sacred lake for the local Te Arawa people. Enjoy a picnic on one of the peaceful bays or have a refreshing dip in the cold clear waters. The Blue Lake definitely offers some of the most fun things to do in Rotorua.
Paepaekumana in the Maori language is a public park situated beside Lake Rotorua in front of the spectacular Tudor style Bath House building which now houses the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. The site of many historical battles, the local Maori people donated the 50-acres to the crown "for the benefit of the people of the world". Formal gardens were planted and the bathhouses constructed to take advantage of the natural therapeutic waters. Enjoy a stroll through these beautiful gardens and marvel at these architectural gems, and at the area’s impressive geothermal activity. Home to many Rotorua tourist attractions, the Government Gardens are a peaceful place to sit and take in the scenery or observe a game of Bowls, Croquet or Petanque, and watch the world go by.
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is one of the main tourist attractions in Rotorua. Located 26km south of the city of Rotorua, the valley was formed following the eruption of Tarawera in 1886, and houses many geothermal features. One of the most impressive is the Waimangu Cauldron which is proud to be the largest boiling lake in the world.
Maunga Kakaramea, in the Maori language, is a magical place where you can enjoy a variety of walks along the well-marked tracks. It is located 26 km south-east of Rotorua and it will enchant you with views of emerald coloured lakes. The walk to the summit is 2 1/2-km and takes about 1 1/2 hours each way. There are some steep climbs and the loose rocks make this an advanced tramping track, but there are plenty of resting places and the fabulous 360-degree view from the top is definitely worth the effort. The lush forest at the top of the climb and the peaceful surroundings will make you feel on top of the world as you enjoy another of the free attractions in Rotorua.
To get to Rotorua from Auckland, collect your Auckland rental car from Omega’s Auckland Airport or City Centre branches, take a scenic drive down State Highway 27 through the beautiful Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
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