7 Adventures Not to Miss When in Rotorua

Rotorua is located on the North Island. James earliest lake memories are catching rainbow trout off the boat with his dad at Lake Rotoiti at their rented cabin. Now, James family has a cottage on the lake and when we lived in New Zealand we’d travel there basically every other weekend for lakeside adventures. James even proposed here, high on a cliff over looking Lake Rotoiti. When friends visited us in NZ, Rotorua always made the trip itinerary.

Rotorua is a geothermal area – you know when you’re close cause it might smell a bit of rotten eggs, but this is just the bubbling mud! It feels a bit like Jurassic Park.

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“Roto-vegas” certainly lives up to its name – there are plenty of activities in this hilly town. Here are our favorites:

1. Lake Rotoiti

This beautiful lake with pristine water is almost 15km long and almost 93m deep at its deepest point. It’s full of rainbow trout just perfect for eating. Make sure you get a fishing license from an outdoors or sporting goods store like Rebel Sport, Outdoorsmen, or Hunting & Fishing.

Lake Rotoiti also offers natural spring fed hot pools at are nestled on the edge of the lake. These ‘hot pools’ are only accessible by boat, but make no mistake they get busy in the summer!

We recommend going early when they first open to beat the crowds and get the fresh water. When it gets too hot to handle, jump off the dock into the cold lake. James says “lake plunges” are the only real way to do the hot pools.

Toward the east end of the lake, is Honeymoon Bay which is a quiet cove perfect for swimming and rock jumping.

Last Minute Flight Deals!

And did I mention this is where we got engaged?


2. The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest Mountain Biking

The Redwoods feature beautifully tall Redwoods with kilometres upon kilometres of mountain biking trails for all levels. You can rent a bike on site. Buy a map and there’s your ticket in. Just feel like down hilling? Buy a bus pass that’ll take you to the top. If you like mountain biking, don’t miss this.

Last Minute Flight Deals!

3. White Water Rafting

Keen for a thrill? White water raft over the world’s largest commercially rafter waterfall, Tutea Falls! The mouth of the river starts at Lake Rotoiti, and winds down through the bush, and over rapids and three waterfalls. The views from the river are beautiful, and this trip doesn’t get old! I’ve done this four times and James five. We usually book through Kaitiaki Adventures.

4. The Luge

The Luge is part of the Skyline, which is an attraction all in itself! It offers a gondola, mountain biking, zip lining, a sky swing, and a great gift shop. We haven’t done anything other than the luge up here (well, other than the gift shop) but we’ve done luge many times! It’s honestly like Mario Kart in real life. There are three tracks, easy, medium, and hard. Race your friends down and then take the chairlift back to the top. This place gets PACKED so go as soon as it opens to beat the lines and the crowds.

5. Hamurama Springs

Located north east of Lake Rotorua, this is short walk to the most beautiful, clear turquoise springs! Bring your camera because the colors are unreal. This is a spring-fed river that pours into Lake Rotorua. It pumps out 4.5 million gallons an hour! The river color is the real gem here though. Turquoise like you have never seen! These photos are completely unedited. It’s an easy, short walk through the touring redwood trees along the river and back.

We visited here on a recent trip to Rotorua, and discovered it is now $18NZD to access the spring. If you don’t feel like spending the cash, exit the car park and turn left. You’ll see another gravel carpark along Lake Rotorua. This is where the river feeds into the lake, and you can still see the amazing crystal clear water. My personal favorite: there’s a rope swing and you can swim in the freezing turquoise water.

6. Surrounding Lakes

There are many other lakes in and around Rotorua including Lake Tarawera, Lake Okataina, and Lake Okareka which are good fishing, kayaking and exploring. We hear the The Tarawara Trail is a beautiful walk.

7. Okere Falls Store & Beer Garden

Located at the mouth of the Kaituna river. Go by boat or car (though there’s not a lot of room for parking a boat). Okere Falls is definitely our favorite place to grab a beer at the end of the day. They have awesome German beers, sweet New Zealand ciders and plenty of wine. They also offer café food (try the muffins) and other earthy and organic products.

Rotorua is one of our most favorite places in the world. We hope you’ll love it too!

throwback to 2011

Happy Adventuring, 
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2 Replies to “7 Adventures Not to Miss When in Rotorua”

  1. Beautiful summation of all the cool things there! Love thinking about being in so many of those places. Great tips too!

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