The ultimate Waitomo & Rotorua itinerary

This 4-day itinerary takes in the natural wonders of Central North Island, from glowworm grottos to non-stop geothermal activity.

Day 1: Auckland – Rotorua (via Waitomo Caves)

Amidst the rolling hills of Waikato, south of Auckland is the Waitomo Caves region, renowned for its subterranean wonders and glowworm grottos. This Rotorua itinerary begins with these wonders beneath the ground.

Below the Earth’s surface in Waitomo are huge limestone caves decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. Explore these with a guided walk or take a relaxing boat ride under the thousands of twinkling glowowrms on the cave ceilings – a stunning sight. If you want more thrills, try blackwater rafting – where you will be tubing through an underground river.

After you caving adventures continue south for another two hours to a thermal wonderland above the ground – Rotorua.

Day 2: Explore Rotorua’s explosive beauty

Rotorua is bursting with geothermal wonders with volcanic activity visible almost everywhere you look
Begin your Rotorua discovery with a stroll around Kuirau Park featuring bubbling mud pools and mineral hot pools to soak your feet. Entry to this town centre park if free, but there are many other geothermal parks with grander thermal spectacles to enjoy, including bursting geysers and sulphur pools in stunning colours. The thermal parks are also an ideal spot to experience the Maori culture.

Spend the rest of the day exploring Rotorua’s many sights, including Rotorua Museum and the historic mud bath house. The Maori village of Ohinemutu is also a good spot to add to your Rotorua itinerary. 

Soaking in Polynesian Spa’s natural thermal waters and enjoying relaxing spa riturals centred around the thermal energy of the region is a good way to round up the day.

Day 3: Adventure amidst ancient trees

Day 3 of your Rotorua itinerary begins with a wilderness adventure in the native forest that involves a network of zip lines, swing bridges, walking trails and tree top platforms. Certainly a highlight of your Rotorua itinerary!
Rotorua Canopy Tours is an award winning activity that mixes thrills and fun with conservation talk, sprinkled generously with Kiwi humour by local guides who’re passionate about what they do. 

After this thrilling morning, wind down with a cruise on the lake (plenty of options available and bookable via the Information Centre) or another soak in the thermal hot springs. This time you could head to Kerosene Creek, a thermal spring in the natural bush. Bonus, it is free, probably why it makes it to the Rotorua itinerary of many visitors!

Head to Eat Street for dinner, or if you’re in the town on a Thursday, go to the Rotorua Night Market.

Day 4: Discover Rotorua’s many walks

The highlight of your last day in Rotorua could be walk. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to which one to pick. Our suggestions include the 5.5km Blue Lake Track through native bush with views of the stunning Blue & Green Lakes. For the more adventurous, the Rainbow Mountain Track is perfect. The 360-degree views from the top of the mountain are stunning. Another favourite is a 30-minute Hamunara Springs walk with its crystal clear natural fresh water springs.

Skyline Rotorua centre is a great place to head after your walk. The gondola ride here is perfect to soak in panoramic city views before you do gravity-filled luge rides – a Rotorua musty-do.  Enjoy your dinner here along with a stargazing tour – a starlit end to an amazing holiday!

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