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Things to do in Rotorua

Discover geothermal wonders, breathtaking natural beauty, and the vibrant Maori culture.

Our most recommended things to do in Rotorua

Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet

1. Mitai Maori Village: Cultural Experience and Dinner Buffet

Enter a Maori village in a natural bush setting and learn about their customs during an immersive cultural experience. Following pickup from your Rotorua accommodation, if option booked, get a warm meet and greet from a beautiful Maori maiden dressed in traditional attire. Learn the guidelines to enter the sacred site and select a chief from your group to represent those visiting the village. See warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe down the Wai-o-whiro stream and marvel at glow worms in their natural habitat. Be captivated by the songs and dances of an entertaining concert, complete with the spine-tingling haka war dance. Watch as the hangi feast is removed from the earth-cooked oven, explore the art of ta moko (tattoo) and more.  Feast on a hot selection of succulent meats and poultry, vegetables and fresh salads, topped off with tempting desserts.

Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath & Sulphur Spa

2. Rotorua: Hell's Gate Geothermal Walk, Mud Bath & Sulphur Spa

Discover the best of Hell's Gate Geothermal Park in Rotorua with daily guided tours, a map for a geothermal walk, and multiple spa experiences. Enjoy mud baths, a mud foot pool, sulfur spas, Māori carving, and more. Located approximately 15 minutes from the town's center, Hell's Gate awaits. When you arrive, choose to start your visit by discovering the geothermal features using an included map or join one of the daily guided tours. After learning about the history, features, and uniqueness of the geothermal area and the unique healing muds of Hell's Gate, experience New Zealand’s historic spa for yourself. Soak in unique thermal mud and acidic sulfurous waters that have been used by the local Maori for more than 800 years. The warm geothermal mud opens and cleans the skin’s pores, while the sulfur spas give your skin gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing. 

Rotorua: Kaituna River Rafting Expereince

3. Rotorua: Kaituna River Rafting Expereince

Drive to the Rotorua Rafting base, just a 20 minute drive from Central Rotorua. Meet your guide at the base and dress up in your wetsuit to stay toasty warm for the day. Your guide will teach you everything you need to know. Don't worry if you've never been whitewater rafting before, you don't need any experience. Non-swimmers are even able to tackle the river. In the summer months, the river is 25 degrees Celsius, making it the warmest river in the country. A quick hop across the road will see you arrive at the river ready to tackle 14 epic rapids and 3 waterfalls. The highlights will be jumping, swimming, surfing, and plummeting over the highest commercially rafted waterfall on the planet. After an hour of action, you will arrive back at the base ready to get changed and check out the photos that were taken throughout the adventure.

Rotorua: Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Experience with Dinner

4. Rotorua: Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Experience with Dinner

Discover the traditional Maori way of life during a cultural experience in Rotorua. Enjoy an evening of performances, dance, and a 4-course meal based on seasonal cuisine that is served under an al fresco (outdoor area). Indulge in Maori songs and traditions aligned to and changing with the Maramataka (Maori lunar calendar). Watch a cultural performance and learn local indigenous customs. Be immersed in towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheater. Start your dinner off with forest canapes that culminate in a lavish 3-course fusion feast designed by award-winning Maori chefs, and prepared in-house. Enjoy your meal outside or take in views from the indoor area (weather dependent).

From Rotorua: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch

5. From Rotorua: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Festive Lunch

Venture to the lands of Middle Earth on this half-day Hobbit movie set tour from Rotorua. Visit the working sheep farm that director Peter Jackson transformed into the Shire. See where Bilbo Baggins lived and the quest for the ring began, and enjoy a festive lunch. After departing the Lake Rotorua area your coach will take you across the scenic Mamaku Ranges and through the native Fitzgerald Glade, before arriving in the Waikato Region and the rolling hills of the Shire. While exploring the Hobbit film set, your guide will recount fascinating details on how the set was created as well as provide inside stories on the making of the films. During your tour, you'll see such famous movie locations as the Green Dragon Pub, the mill, the double arched bridge, and the famous Party Tree.

Rotorua Forest 3-Hour Zipline Canopy Tour

6. Rotorua Forest 3-Hour Zipline Canopy Tour

Join in a small-group zipline tour that will have you soaring through Rotorua's forest canopy. Switch between the six zipline cables suspended 22-meters above the ground and see the forest from a different perspective.  When you arrive at the base, you'll receive a warm welcome from the front office team. Check-in and meet your down-to-earth highly experienced kiwi guides who will kit you out with all necessary equipment for the day's weather. A quick 10-minute van ride and you'll arrive at the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve.  Your guides will share fascinating New Zealand eco-tour knowledge with your group, which is limited to just 10 people. At the first platform after a safety briefing, you’ll be off, exploring the native forest on 1.2 km network of Rotorua ziplines, swing bridges and treetop platforms. In total there are 6 ziplines totaling more than 650 meters, the highlight for most being the jaw-dropping 220-meter 'tui song' zipline that departs from 22 meters up a 1000-year-old tree.  Your trusty guides will be clipping you on and off all of the safety systems during your tour, your guide will even slow you down as you arrive at each platform. You will not be required to operate any of the equipment on the tour. This allows you to enjoy the ziplines and take in the magical native forest. 

Kaituna River and Tutea Falls Whitewater Rafting

7. Kaituna River and Tutea Falls Whitewater Rafting

Join an epic grade 5 whitewater rafting expedition on the Kaituna River and get an adrenaline rush in its deep warm water canyons. Located a 25-minute drive from central Rotorua, the rafting base is next to the Okere Falls Scenic Reserve.  Join an expert guide on an action-packed, 50-minute adventure down 14 epic rapids. Brave the famous 7-meter Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. A must-do for adrenaline junkies and first-time rafters alike, the adventure is run by super-friendly guides to give you the safest and most entertaining trip on the river. Stretch your legs on the nearby walking track at the end of your raft to watch the rapids tumble over the falls, or head to the nearby cafe to enjoy some food and the best selection of craft beer in Rotorua.

Rotorua Lake: Deluxe Lake Spa Geothermal Hot Spring Bathing

8. Rotorua Lake: Deluxe Lake Spa Geothermal Hot Spring Bathing

Relax and unwind at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa – a world-leading, natural mineral bathing and luxury spa retreat. Geothermal waters nourish the skin and relieve tired muscles and aches and pains, while decadent therapies rejuvenate through ancient and modern techniques. Combined with the healthy café, Polynesian Spa restores the body inside and out. This ticket provides access to the premium bathing area, the Deluxe Lake Spa, which includes a range of mineral rock pools at various temperatures. Using both alkaline and acidic mineral springs, the Deluxe Lake Spa is the ultimate geothermal bathing experience. The therapeutic waters at Polynesian Spa come from two different natural springs. The Priest Spring is named after Father Mahoney, a Catholic Priest who was "cured" of his crippling arthritis from bathing in the waters in 1878. The slightly acidic water from the Priest Spring relieves tired muscles and aches and pains. The Rachel Spring is a source of alkaline water, which features the antiseptic action of sodium silicate nourishing the skin. It was historically said that those who bathe in the waters of the Rachel Spring are blessed with ageless beauty. The combination of these two types of mineral waters is only found at Polynesian Spa. This spa was built on the site of historic bath houses that first made the city world-famous in the 1800s. At Polynesian Spa, elements of early buildings and baths have been carefully retained and the site is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience

9. Hells Gate Mud Bath and Sulphur Spa Experience

Enjoy a therapeutic mud bath and sulfur spa at Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve, located just a 15-minute drive from central Rotorua. A round-trip shuttle service option from Rotorua is also available. Soak in the thermal mud and acidic, sulfurous waters as the local Maori have done for over 800 years. Apply the natural geothermal mud to your skin while relaxing in the warm sulfurous waters for 20 minutes. Follow the mud spa with a cool shower before relaxing in the hot sulfur mineral spa. The warm geothermal mud opens and cleans the skin’s pores, and the sulfur spa provides a gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley Morning Tour

10. Waimangu Volcanic Valley Morning Tour

Discover Rotorua’s most popular geothermal parks: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Join a small-group morning tour capped at 11 guests for a personal experience led by a knowledgeable guide. You will be picked up from your Rotorua accommodation between 8:05 AM and 8:30 AM. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic drive through forestry and farmland before arriving at New Zealand's largest boiling mud pools. Your next stop will be the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Your guide will explain the Mt Tarawera eruption which blew open this spectacular bush-covered geothermal park. Pause at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley Cafe for lunch at 12:00 PM before being dropped back to your accommodation between 12:30 PM to 1:00 PM. Please note that due to staff shortages, Wai o tapu is closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. As an alternative option, Elite adventures will substitute Wai O tapu for the beautiful lake Rotomahana boat cruise at Waimangu. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause./p>

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What people are saying about Rotorua

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,275 reviews

Lovely outlook over the lake. Several pools of different temperatures and pH, so you can find the one that suits you. Online booking saves time queuing.

Excellent experience one not to miss. The guides were entertaining and their attention to safety was impeccable and reassuring.

one of the best cultural experiences I've had very well done worth every penny and would do it again everything was perfect

definitely recommend for anyone interested in trying mudding besides the smell of the sulfure it was wonderful

Linda was very helpful and informative. We enjoyed waiotapu and waimangu — beautiful places to view.