Despite being rivaled by Queenstown as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand, Rotorua has plenty to offer thrill seekers and those seeking relaxation in unique geothermal landscapes. Whether you want to fly over lakes or ride down slopes in an inflatable hamster ball, these Do Activities in Rotorua are sure to satisfy your need for adventure.
- Take a Floatplane Flight
Take in the stunning scenery on a scenic flight from Lake Rotorua. See the regenerating forest, inferno crater lake and silica terraces from high up in the air.
Mountain bike on a dedicated trail network and get your thrills at Whakarewarewa Forest. Explore the forest with a guided tour and learn about its natural history and geothermal environment.
See bubbling mud and thermal activity at Hells Gate, a geothermal reserve that is steeped in Maori legend. Or soak in a mud spa bath to cleanse your skin and improve circulation. There are also cultural shows and welcoming ceremonies at Te Puia and Mitai Maori Villages.
- Go White Water Rafting
Whether you’re an experienced white water rafter or this is your first time, this is one of the most fun things to do in Rotorua. Get ready for warm emerald water, stunning scenery and heart pumping rapids all guided by world class guides on the mighty Kaituna River.
The forest is also home to the Redwoods Treewalk, which you can take during the day for a different perspective of the treetops or at night to see amazing light displays. This is a great option for those with children or for those looking for something less adrenaline pumping.
- Explore Geothermal Valleys
Located near the base of Mt Tarawera, the geothermal valley is home to bubbling mud pools and hot spring lakes. The locals use the nutrient-rich waters and mud to treat arthritis and cleanse skin. There are self-guided and guided hikes as well as a scenic lake cruise available at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
This is the easiest of the geothermal parks in Rotorua to get to and has a busier feel to it. But it’s still worth the trip to see some of New Zealand’s youngest volcanic activity and if you visit on a good day, you might catch a glimpse of the colossal Pohutu Geyser.
- Visit a Maori Village
Visiting a Maori village is an amazing opportunity to learn about the unique culture of New Zealand. There are a number of different options available from cultural evening shows to traditional Maori food like the hangi.
For example, you can go to Whakarewarewa Maori Living Village where you’ll be welcomed by a welcoming procession and see their ancient traditions of tattooing, weaponry and singing in action. You’ll also get to see their unique method of underground cooking known as the ‘hangi’. Similarly, Mitai and Tamaki Maori Villages are other incredible villages to visit.
- Zipline Through Prehistoric Forests
Explore the 1,000-year old Whirinaki Forest on a small group tour. Race a partner down the 400m tandem zipline, walk across a suspension bridge high above the ground, and wander through mighty native trees such as kahikatea, rimu, matai and totara.
The glistening lakes that surround Rotorua are also an attraction. Often described as a ‘second lake city’, the lakes offer a great day trip option to the Blue Lake and Lake Okareka.
Rainy days are never a problem with a trip on one of the unmissable Rotorua Duck Tours. Check out more activities like this in 15 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in New Zealand.
- Take a Gondola Ride
Take a scenic cable car ride and get to know Rotorua from above. Relax and enjoy the 180 degree panorama or choose one of the many activities and attractions on offer – including the fun, fast-paced Skyline Luge!
Visit Hell’s Gate – a geothermal park where nutrient-rich waters and bubbling mud pools are a sight to behold. The experience has been said to cause people to reconsider their atheist views!
Walk along the Redwoods Treewalk – this walkway gives you a new perspective on the forest high in the canopy. The walk is a beautiful place to be during the day but even better at night when it’s lit up with lanterns!
- Visit Glowworm Caves
If you aren’t afraid of the dark, there is no better way to see the glowworm caves than on a kayak tour. Float silently across one of the region’s beautiful lakes as the sun sets and you are guided into a series of caves home to constellations of glowworms.
This world-famous network of caves was discovered by Tinorau, a Maori chief. Many of the guides are direct descendants of the original Maori who started leading tours and they share stories about the caves as you explore.
Some tours also include a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set, perfect for any Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit fan. Other tours include a cultural evening with traditional Hangi and a relaxing soak at Polynesian pools.