Rotorua is a city on the norther Island of New Zealand. When you enter the city you already smell the geothermal activity for which Rotorua is known for. (bit like rotten eggs but its not that bad, really!) The name Rotorua comes from Māori, the full name for the city and lake is Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe. Roto means ‘lake’ and rua means ‘two’ or in this case ‘second’. So Rotorua means ‘Second lake’.
We spend 3 days in and around Rotorua which is a good amount of days to look around and do some activities. Below some activities which I recommend to do while visiting Rotorua.
Even though Roturua can be a tourist attraction, I didn’t see much tourists during the time we were there in low season in November. You can visit some overpriced parks where you can witness the geothermal activity and use the hotpools or you can visit the free “Kuirau park” where you can see some of the natural hot springs, mud pools and a beautiful nature. You can use a free food bath of natural hot water in the middle of the park!
Must see are the government gardens with beautiful trees, flowers and the view of the famous Rotorua Museum <which was still closed for rebuilding because of the earthquake >. There is a nice board walk around the lake on the north side with spectacular view of Lake Rotorua. During the lake you will also see some small lakes with strange colours.
Whakarewarewa mountain bike
We had a nice sunny day so we decided to do some active mountain biking. Whakarewarewa is a very big forest so you will not get bored doing the same ride over and over again.
We rented a mountain bike + helmet in the beginning of the south forest which is about 35 dollars for 2 hours. The trails are really amazing. There are special kids trails to super advanced trails!
Hobbiton Movie set
If you are a Lord of the Rings & the Hobbit fan, you can’t miss this movie set! I have seen all movies so I really wanted to check this out. When you book a tour you will go in a group to the area where the hobbit holes are. It is amazing to see how Peter Jackson made everything so perfect in all the little details. There are fake trees around the area and you can’t even see the difference between a real one and a fake one. Must see!
Tip: Book in advance via the site! The tours are sold out quickly.
Just outside Rotorua, about 30 minutes drive you will find Wai-o-tapu. This is one of my favorites to visit when in New Zealand. This thermal wonderland has hot springs in all kinds of colours, boiling mud pools, waterfalls and the famous “lady Knox” geyser.
- Hotels in Rotorua have a lot of discount vouchers for Wai-o-tapu which you can take for free.
- Lady Knox geyser errupts every day at 10:15. Be in the park at 09:30 to be sure you have a parking spot and a nice place to see the geyser. (in summer periods maybe even earlier)