Rotorua Luge

Check out my Rotorua Travel Tips: Free Activities & Tours worth paying for!

Rotorua is a cultural, adventure & geological wonderland and possibly the strangest place I have ever visited.

It sits within a volcanic crater and as you walk through the streets you can literally see holes in the ground that are bubbling and steaming with geothermal activity! There is so much to do: Rafting, Biking, Hiking, Volcanic Craters, Hobbits, Geothermal Mud Pools, Scenic Gondola, Bungy Jumping, Zorb, Adventure Activities and too many cultural activities to choose from!

rotorua lake landscape

Rotorua is a Maori term that means 'two lakes.' The name was given before early tribes discovered that there are in fact 18 lakes in the region. The town has so many activities and once in a lifetime opportunities that I definitely recommend at least 5 days here when backpacking or travelling through New Zealand.

  • Kuirau Park: A free geothermal park located adjacent to Base. Explore the mud pools, bubbling lakes even soak your feet in the free foot spas or enjoy the local flea market every Saturday morning.

  • Ohinemutu: The village of the original Moari settlement of the Ngati Whakaue tribe. You can visit the Marae and the historic Church which has the most amazing Maori Carvings.

  • Lady Knox Geyser: Erupts everyday between 10:15am & 10:30am and is only a 20 minute drive from Base. Entry is free and the geyser can reach heights of up to 20m.

  • Lakefront Geothermal Activity: Take a walk along the lake side of Rotorua and continue along the footpath, past the golf course until you reach stunning lakes that are surrounded by bubbling, geothermal activity.

  • Keroscene Creek & Hot and Cold Pools: These are non commercial hot pools that are known by locals as a secret spot, and just a short drive from Rotorua

  • Rainbow Mountain: Walking & Mountain Biking trails that offer 360 degree views of the region.

  • Rotorua Museum: A beautiful building in itself located in the government gardens - a beautiful setting. Wingspan has recently released 3 baby falcons in the gardens and you can spot these young ones flying around.

Rotorua museum
  • Wai - O - Tapu: is a geothermal park that is a must and is an absolute abundance of colour. The Champagne Pool is bright orange, bright blue and steaming whilst reaching temperatures of up to 70 degrees. You will come across hot springs that are a dark green, luminous green or even yellow depending on the weather conditions. These wonders can be explored as you literally walk upon active, bubbling surface. Head First operate tours from Rotorua daily and stop by Lady Knox Geyser for the eruption.

  • White Island: New Zealand’s only active volcano is accessible from Rotorua and can be found on White Island. Tours allow you to step inside the crater to explore the big, scary natural wonder.

  • Kaituna River is one of the most popular spots in New Zealand for White Rafting - Tutea Falls stands at 7m and is the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! Kaitiaki Adventures offer tours 3 times daily and offer a touch of Maori culture and history to the thrilling experience.

  • Cultural experiences: There are many cultural experiences in Rotorua to choose from. Historic Maori villages line the town and Te Puia offers the chance to see mud pools, the Pohutu Geyser which can reach heights of up to 30 metres, cultural performances. demonstrations of Maori life and dinner options - this is where you can get a feel for the Maori way of life that takes you back to the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Mud Pools - Hells Gate offer a luxurious and relaxing experience which allows you to not only check out an active geothermal field - but the option to soak in world famous Mud Baths and Sulphur Mineral Pools.

  • Zorbing: Rotorua is also an adventure haven; Zorb is a must – jump inside a giant inflatable ball filled with water (dry options also available) and bounce and slide your way down hill! The Zorb Park has different downhill tracks to try out, as well as Zurfing!

  • Adrenalin: Agroventures Park is the place to go for a hit of adrenalin: Jet Boating, Swooping, Bungy, Shweeb (a monorail bike like pod that you climb into and race around a track - it is the only place in the world that you can find this odd machine) & Xtreme Freefall (a Superman experience).

  • Cycling: If Biking is a passion of yours - then you must have heard of Redwood Forest - famous for its mountain biking tracks. There are also many hiking trails and even wineries that can offer tours – just ask the girls at reception.

  • Skyline Gondola offers views of Rotorua - and from here you will notice that the town does indeed sit within a crater! If you are up for a bit of a thrill - take the 5km Luge (kind of like a toboggan) track.

  • And of course there is Hobbiton - no explanation needed!

hobbiton matamata tnz

Hobbiton Matamata, Credit Ian Brodie. The Hobbiton Movie set has become a must-do New Zealand experience for Middle-earth fans.

Base Backpackers offer Cheap Deals that can include your accommodation and activities, as well as a 'Wash n Go' package which allows you to park up your campervan for cheap and utilise the hostel facilities.

And don't forget to check out the Lava Bar - Rotorua's craziest bar!