Rotorua is a city in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand’s North Island. One thing very particular about this city is its rotten-egg-like smell. This constant smell is due to its geothermal activity and geysers, which are among the activities that attract tourists in this popular city. Here are our top things to do in Rotorua!
1. Kerosene Creek
Kerosene Creek is a spot you don’t want to miss! You drive thirty-five minutes south of Rotorua and can enjoy a natural hot river where to bathe in, for free! The water is approximately around 30 degrees and you can just have a blast relaxing there, right under some small waterfalls. That was our best experience in Rotorua!
2. Red Woods
Red Woods is the name given to Whakarewarewa Forest. You can enjoy over 5600 hectares of forest with several tracks available. Whether you are walkers, runners, riders or horseriders, you will find tracks that would suit you. We walked the Pohaturoa track (7.5 km) but many others are available. The shortest one for walkers is Redwood Memorial Grove Track (2 km) and the longest one is Tokorangi Pa Track (11.5 km).
To go there from the city center of Rotorua, we took the bus 3 and hopped off at the bus stop on Tarawera Road. It only took around 15 minutes to get there, then we walked 1 km to reach the entrance of the woods. The entrance and all trails are free ! However, you can also enjoy the Redwoods Treewalk, which consists of 21 suspension bridges from up to 12 meters above the ground and traversing redwoods, but then you would pay $25 per adult.
Wai-O-Tapu is the most popular touristic place in Rotorua. The most famous thing to see is the Geothermal Area, considered to be New Zealand’s most colorful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. You can enjoy different walks through this vivid volcanic area.
You can also pursue your visit with the Mud Pool, which was the site of a large mud volcano destroyed through erosion in the 1920’s. For those interested in the whole loop, you can decide to start your journey with Lady Knox Geyser, as this geyser erupts every morning at 10:15 am.
The admission fee of Wai-O-Tapu for an adult costs $32.50. We actually think this is rather expensive, but well, this is the most famous, so we guess no one can pass by Rotorua and not have a look at it you know.
4. Rotorua Lake
Rotorua Lake is a huge lake of 79 km²! You can just relax nearby or be as fool as we were and try to do a day-trek around it! We would not recommend you to do it, as it took us about 8 hours to walk around it and we actually barely saw the lake. Most of the time, you’re walking on highways, which is quite dangerous and utterly uninteresting. After more than 7 hours-walk, we hitchiked home, disappointed and exhausted.
5. Hamilton Gardens
If you have the opportunity, have a ride to Hamilton and visit the Hamilton Gardens. It would take you around an-hour drive to get there from Rotorua. The Gardens are actually the only interesting activity to see there and you can visit them for free. We could enjoy a day-trip there with some new friends we met in our hostel in Rotorua. They had two seats available in their car and wanted to share the ride, so we just ceased the opportunity. That was great fun!