So, you’re in Rotorua, sulphur city of New Zealand! Perhaps you’ve already embarked on the epic Tamaki Maori Village cultural experience, got your heart racing on a white water rafting adventure and gone crazy on a ZORB ride or maybe you’ve just explored the Hell’s Gate Geothermal park… but now your wondering what to do next, right? Here’s a list of some of the best FREE activities to do in Rotorua.
1. Take a dip in natural hot springs
It’s not called the sulphur city for nothing! Rotorua is surrounded by steaming pools, full of naturally warm water that are just waiting to be enjoyed.
Check out the Kuirau Park foot hot baths just minutes from the city centre or drive a little further to Kerosene Creek, just south of Rotorua. Here you’ll find a winding river flowing through natural bush, that leads to a stunning 2-metre waterfall and a quiet pool of hot water. Bliss!
If you want to go for something slightly more ‘exclusive’, check out the geothermal spas and health centres around the city. You’ll have to pay for private pools and treatments here, but it can be worth it for something that little bit special.
2. Get walking
It’s an outdoorsy type of culture in Rotorua, and with that comes some of the most beautiful walking tracks in the country. The hardest part is choosing which track to take!
If you’re after short treks around the city, opt for the Okere Falls Track. 1.2 km one way, this walk offers spectacular views of the Kaituna River and its waterfalls.
There’s also the Rainbow Mountain Summit Track (2.5 km) which gives you great views from the summit of Maunga Kakaramea and a 360-degree view of the Rotorua area.
For something a little more challenging, head to the Rotorua Redwoods. A forest area offering 7 tracks of differing intensity, you’re bound to find a path to suit your walking style here. The spot also boasts some magnificent scenery of the surrounding Whakarewarewa Forest.
3. Visit the Government Gardens
This is the perfect place to kick back and relax after a day exploring. It’s only a few minutes walk from the city and offers a haven of greenery, flowers and tranquillity.
Sat next to the town’s lake, this site holds much historical importance to local Maori people. Many significant battles have taken place here and the area is rich in history.
There’s also plenty to explore around the gardens besides the plants themselves, you can while away a few hours exploring the different rotundas, the Blue Baths and a Spanish Mission-style bathhouse.
You can also opt for a free guided tour of the gardens. These leave daily from the front of the Museum at 11am as well as 2pm on Wednesdays.
4. Head to the Rotorua Night Market
In Rotorua on a Thursday? Then you can’t miss the city’s Night Market, held from 5pm to 9pm. You’ll find boutique style stalls here, full of local arts, crafts and produce and a huge variety of local and ethnic cuisine.
Try juicy burgers, vegan delights and tasty desserts and munch away while you listen to local musicians.
5. Visit Ohinemutu Maori Village
Home to the Ngāti Whakaue tribe this suburb in Rotorua used to be a Maori village. Packed with interesting cultural sights, it’s a good way to warn more about the local history the area.
Check out the Tama-Te-Kapua marae (Maori meeting house) and St Faith’s Anglican Church.