Rotorua is a volcanic region, with volcanic craters, geysers and lots of bubbling geothermal activity. There are tons of things to do in the area, including biking, hiking, rafting and pampering yourself.
Rotorua is activity-packed, and many of the things won’t cost you much at all. If you’re looking for some activities to pack in that are going to help you budget, then read on.
Take a Visit to Kuirau Park
It doesn’t cost anything to enter Kuirau Park, a hotbed of geothermal activity. You’ll enjoy bubbling lakes and mud pools, and you can even walk through some pools and enjoy the soaking effect on your feet. Every Saturday morning, there is a free market, so that’s a good time to go. Kuirau Park is fun and you can take a picnic along to keep the cost down even further.
Amble through the Whakarewarewa Forest
Whakarewarewa forest is around 55,000 hectares and has around 100 kilometres of trails and tracks. If you enjoy mountain biking, then this is the place for you, and you can hire bikes for around $45 for half a day — which isn’t bad for that much entertainment, adventure and fun.
The walking tracks on Long Mile Road in the Redwoods are another great place to go. There are Californian Redwoods planted over 100 years ago that are a sight to behold.
Take a Trip to Sulphur Bay
Sulphur Bay is close to the government gardens at the corner of Eruera Street and Queens Drive. This is another free place to visit with lots of geothermal activity. Sulphur deposits cause the lake to be milky in colour and you’ll see silica flats, boiling mud pools and steaming vents.
There are over 60 species of indigenous birds, so it’s a great place for birdwatching enthusiasts as well.
Ohinemutu Maori Village
This village is situated on the shores of Rotorua Lake. It’s great fun to take a stroll around and doesn’t cost anything. You can see superb artwork by native artisans, a church, and even a picture of Jesus dressed up like a Maori, where he is depicted walking on the water surface of the lake.
The Blue Baths Are a Great Place and Only $11
Again, in the area of government gardens, this 1930s building is styled in a Mediterranean architectural fashion and has two spa pools and one huge swimming pool. The setting is lovely and this is much cheaper than the world-famous Polynesian spa, at just $11.
Visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley
At the Waimangu volcanic geothermal valley, you’ll see vibrant lakes, geysers, hot springs and steaming vents of activity. The walking trails tend to be around 1 to 2 1/2 hours, and are absolutely stunning. This is a cheap place to go and you have incredible mountain and lake scenery, and lots of geothermal features to take your breath away.
The Rotorua Museum
Every cheap or free list needs a museum on it, and this one costs NZ$20 for entry. There is loads of artwork and architecture, and you’ll learn about the history of the region.
A Canopy Trail
Walking on top of the canopy and zip wiring through the trees, with expert local guides talking about nature and history, is a wondrous activity that you can do in Rotorua. This isn’t strictly cheap, but when it comes to value for money and the experience, it is well worth it. Canopy Tours have been done by well over 150,000 people visiting Rotorua, and most people want to do it again, and again. It’s that good. An exceptional experience.
Ōkere scenic reserve is around 50 minutes from Rotorua. It’s a white-water rafting destination that is famous in the region and has waterfalls and superb walks to enjoy. If you want to raft, you’ll have to pay, but you can enjoy the trails and experience the scenery as a bystander, absolutely free.
Rainbow Mountain, also known as Maunga Kakaramea in the Maori tongue, has loads of walks and is a magical environment. The trails are easily followed with each track graded, depending on steepness so that you can pick one that is right for the level of walk you want. If you are walking with young children, you’ll want an easy graded track. There are tremendous views of the mountain and you’ll be passing emerald lakes and lush foliage.
Rotorua is a superb geothermal base, with loads to do, and much of it cheap or free. There are lots of premium activities as well, but you can fill your time with some of the activities above and have loads of fun, great experiences, and opportunity to wonder at the beauty and majesty of nature.