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The Best Things to do in Rotorua

Rotorua lies in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island and is famous for its geothermal attractions, maori culture and its abundant outdoor activities. It is quite possibly the stinkiest town I have ever visited, thanks to the sulphur in the area, but after a few hours, the smell does not seem to be annoying. There are plenty of places to visit in Rotorua for everyone. Our visit to Rotorua was all about multi-generational travel. My boys are 6 and 4 and along with my parents, we explored the area for three days! There is so much in the region, I have hi lighted the best things to do in Rotorua and a bit of something for everyone.

Best Things to do in Rotorua

Rotorua New Zealand Attractions for the whole family | #newzealand #travel #rotorua #zorb


Rotorua Mud Pools & Rotorua Volcanic Park

Mud Volcano, Rotorua NEW ZEALAND | #volcano #mudspa #rotorua #nzmustdo
Have you ever seen a MUD VOLCANO?

Hells Gate Geothermal Spa

We spent the morning at Hells Gate, just north of the main city centre of Rotorua. This was one of my favourite things to do in Rotorua as it had something for everyone in our family. Rotorua geothermal areas are plentiful and amazing to experience (once you get over the rotten eggs smell) but this one was my favourite. Why? Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve is 50 acres of a large variety of geothermal features! Wandering past the hot pools you will see bubbling mud, steaming water, a large mud volcano as well as cooking pools and a medicine lake. Hell’s Gate is different from other thermal reserves as the heat source is only 1 km below the surface. After exploring the mud pools and cooling off in the bush walk, we were treated to the spa where we first covered outsells in Mud and then relaxed in the natural hot pool! As one of Rotorua’s natural attractions, I highly suggest you take some time to experience the geothermal wonders in the region.

Hells Gate Geothermal Spa | Mud Bath | Rotorua Things to do | Geothermal Wonders | #NZMUSTDO | #rotorua
Getting some super soft skin with a Mud Bath at Hells Gate Spa

Hells Gate Rotorua Hours

Summer 8:30am – 8:00pm

Winter 8:30am – 10:00pm

If you are just looking for entrance tickets, choose this option and if you want the spa package, choose the spa option

Rotorua Geysers & Rotorua Cultural Attractions

Whakarewarewa Village (or Whaka Village for short) is a Maori village and tourist attraction in Rotorua | Maori experiences in Rotorua | NZmustdo | North Island New Zealand | New Zealand Itinerary
Whakarewarewa Village (or Whaka Village for short) is a Maori village and tourist attraction in Rotorua

Whakarewarewa Village

Whakarewarewa: the living Maori village is another Rotorua geothermal park worth exploring. It is also a rich cultural experience as it is a village inhabited by Maori”™s of today and has been inhabited for over 200 years. Friendly local guides give tours of the village and hi light the maori culture, the geothermal wonders of Whakarewarewa including the Pohutu geyser, boiling mud and steam vents. It is also somewhere where you can experience the Haka in Rotorua. You can also try a geothermal hangi meal at this Rotorua geothermal area.

Whakarewarewa Village Geyser in Rotorua
Whakarewarewa Village Geyser in Rotorua

Whakarewarewa Hours

8:30 am – 5:00 pm Daily

Tip – if you see children in the river below the bridge at the village entrance, try tossing a $1 or $2 coin and watch them dive in the water for their reward! (even more, watch where they store their finds!)

Rotorua Attractions for the Whole Family

There are plenty of things to do in Rotorua, New Zealand for people of all ages. These have been our must-do places as we have 6 and 4 year olds as well as my parents. So something that appeals to kids and adults was our target in Rotorua.

the Hanging Lanterns at Redwoods after Dark

Tree Top Walk Rotorua

One of our favourites was the tree top walk with Redwoods Treewalk. My 6 year old was the leader as we climbed and walked among the giant California Redwoods. Redwoods tree walk was one of the great things to do in Rotorua with kids because it got us out into nature and to explore the forest, had some excitement for the kids as we walked from tree to tree on the platforms and was easy for my parents, who are still quite agile, but not into adventure. You can do this during the day or do it as one of the many Rotorua night activities. At night it is really cool to see the lanterns in the trees light up in the forest! We went just before dusk so we could see both light and dark.

Redwoods Treewalk Hours 9:00am – 10:00pm

Agridome Rotorua Sheep
Watch the Agrodome sheep show to see all of the kinds of wool and different sheep from around the world!


One of the top 10 things to do in Rotora and a typical Kiwi experience in New Zealand was to visit the Agrodome and watch the sheep shearing show! The types of sheep they had were amazing and you can learn about the wool industry as well as the importance of sheep and cows in New Zealand. This is a great place for animals lovers and those who want to learn about New Zealand”™s farming. Take the tour and you will see kiwi fruit, alpacas, sheep and cows, as well as try local honey!

Agrodome Hours

OPEN 8:30am – 5:00pm Daily

Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs is probably one of the only places you will see a real, live kiwi, since they are nocturnal. See them digging for grubs in the specially crafted nocturnal habitat, where they think it is night, and you can see them through glass. There is also a kiwi experience where you can learn about how kiwis are being protected, and how Rainbow Springs is helping with breeding. Did you know it takes over 4 days for a kiwi to hatch! No wonder few make it to adulthood when they are left defenceless trying to get out of their shell. They really are an interesting creature! While at Rainbow Springs take their water ride, the kids wanted to ride it all day! Rainbow Springs showcases New Zealand”™s unique animals and plants. You can see the Kiwis, reptiles including the Tuatara, birds in an Aviary, trout in a huge pond (grab some food to feed them at the entrance) and Big Splash! Big Splash is a 9 minute water ride with a thrilling water drop at the end! My 6 year old loved it and wanted to go again and again. The minimum height is 106cm (about 42 inches). Rainbow Springs also has a great playground for the kids! There cafe serves yummy lamb burgers so get one while your kids have some play time!

Rainbow Springs Hours

OPEN 8:30am – 5:30 pm Daily

If you are looking for a half day tour that encompasses the Agridome, Rainbow Springs and a visit to Te Puia, check out this option

Rotorua Duck Tours

This is one of the Rotorua tours for the whole family. Rotorua Duck Tours is a sightseeing adventure on land and water and is a great way to appreciate Rotorua. A converted WWII landing craft will show you around the city on a 90 minute or two hour tour. You will hear stories of the rich history of the region and enjoy the beautiful waterways in Rotorua.

Rotorua Duck Tours have

Various Tour Times

Booking Ahead is recommended

 What to do in Rotorua for the Adrenaline Junkie

Downhill Ball Rolling | Zorbing | Rotorua Adventure Things to do | #rotorua #ogo
How about rolling down a hill in a ball full of water?

OGO Rotorua

Downhill ball rolling was invented in Rotorua and the inventors now run on OGO Rotorua the original hill where downhill ball rolling was invented! If you want to know what to do in Rotorua for some wet fun and adrenaline, check out OGO! My 6 year old Mattias and I enjoyed slip, sliding down the three tracks and have some fantastic go pro footage! Your visit includes photos which is a nice keepsake from your time at OGO. In between your rides, you can hand out in the Hot Tub keeping you nice and warm on cooler days! There are three different tracks to try out and you can go by yourself or with one or two other friends in about 40 litres of water.

OGO Rotorua Hours

Summer Months 9:00am – 6:00pm

Winter Months 9:00am – 5:00pm

Check out for a deal on your visit!

Skyline Luge Rotorua

Take the Gondola up for epic views of Rotorua and take in Skyline”™s adrenaline activities. They offer a Skyswing, Skyline Luge rides, and a zipline. If you like adrenaline, take in these gravity fuelled rides upon Mount Ngongotaha

Skyline Rotorua Hours From 9:00am – 10:00pm

Check out the Skyline Rotorua Adventure Pass here

What are the free things to do in Rotorua?

Walking, Hiking and Mountain Biking

It can get expensive with all of the things to do in Rotorua, but there are plenty of fun things to do in Rotorua that are free. Because it is natures”™s paradise, the outdoors is your playground. For the water lover, there are 18 lakes and three rivers in Rotorua. If getting out on the trails is your thing, there are excellent mountain biking and hiking trails. Whakarewarewa Forest has the best walks in Rotorua and is home to plenty of short walks and longer walks, as well as lake walks.…  It also has over 130 kilometres of mountain bike trails and horse trails as well.

If you are like me, and want to enjoy traveling in comfort or hiking with that barefoot feeling, check out this z-trail review sandals for amazing sport sandals for hiking.

Rotorua Night Market

Each Thursday Tutanekai Street comes alive with plenty of food vendors to satisfy any craving. You will also fine crafts, music and produce. Locals and tourists mingle and wander the streets in the great community event. We were lucky that Aura Accommodation”™s staff recommended it as soon as we checked in as something we should not miss while in Rotorua.

Lake Rotorua

The beautiful lake is perfect for a stroll or swim, or a nice place to enjoy an ice cream.

Car Rental from Rad Car Hire Rotorua

Getting Around in Rotorua

We had a car from Rad Car Hire Rotorua for our North Island Road Trip. The booking was simple and efficient and their price for vehicles was great!

Getting to Rotorua

You can drive or fly into Rotorua. Driving time from Auckland is just under 3 hours and from Hamilton just one hour.

the geothermal heated pool at Aura Accommodation
the geothermal heated pool at Aura Accommodation

Where to Stay in Rotorua

We stayed at Aura Accommodations close to the lake and loved everything about it. The rooms were bright and it was family friendly with free bikes and scooters to sign out. It also had a trampoline (randomw fact I know but did you know my kids had so much fun on trampolines all over New Zealand that I came home and created a guide to the best trampolines for families!), a thermally heated swimming pool and two private hot pools to enjoy the mineral waters that Rotorua is famous for.

If you have a busy schedule, check out Things to do in Rotorua when you are tight on time

rotorua nz things to do
Top things to do in Rotorua New Zealand | New Zealand Vacation Ideas | #rotorua #familytravel #adventuretravel
Rotorua New Zealand Attractions | Downhill Ball Rolling with OGO | #rotorua #newzealand #adventure #waterslide

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  1. Ami Bhat says:

    There seems something for everyone. For the kids specifically, there is so much for them to see and learn as well as have some fun while doing it. It is not everyday you see a geothermal spring or a mud volcano. And those creatures – Kiwi and the sheep – I bet they loved it. This place definitely appeals

    • Yes! Three days wasn’t even close to enough to see everything and do everything! We had to pick a few activities and go from there! There is definitely LOTS things to do in Rotorua

  2. i loved Rotorua. Like you, Hells Gate Geothermal Spa was my favourite too. Unfortunately, I could only spend 3 days there. The smell was too much for me to handle.

    • Really? I got over it on the first day … once and awhile it would hit me. Too bad it bothered you so much but glad you liked the Hells Gate Spa in Rotorua! I could have spent hours there and there are so many things to do in Rotorua it is so hard to do everything!

  3. I had no idea New Zealand also had a Volcanic Park! Wow…Rotorua will certainly be a place on my itinerary when I do make my first trip to NZ. Whakarewarewa Village would be also another very interesting place to explore too…

  4. Niels Thomas says:

    haha I would love the downhill ball rolling! I did it before in the UK and it is so much fun. Especially if it is like race against others. Great post! 🙂

  5. Medha Verma says:

    Treetop walk and night market seem to be 2 things we missed out on, when we went to Rotorua 2 years ago. Apart from the geysers and the geothermal spa, it was not actually one of my favourite places to visit in New zealand, considering how much beauty is strewn across in that country. I also found the smell in the city quite strange, maybe because of the geothermal activity. Having said that, it is definitely a short stop I would recommend to include in a NZ itinerary of the North Island.

  6. Marissa says:

    I would love to visit Hells Gate Geothermal Spa! I’ve never been in a geothermal spa/pool before, and it sounds relaxing. That tree top walk also sounds like a blast!

  7. Marvi says:

    Lovely list of things to do in Rotorua! I’m curious to know if there are residents living near the sulphur area. I’ve been on one of those and I can just imagine the smell. Anyway, Rotorua looks amazing and I too would love to visit the volcanic park and enjoy the mud pools. I hear its good for the skin and your health too!

  8. Rolling downhill in a ball of water sounds really cool!!! I am so happy the kids seem to enjoy the geothermal attractions even with the smell! Worth trying!

  9. So jealous, Rotorua is on our bucket list. The geothermal pools look a great way to spend the day. The OGO ball looks like a blast!

  10. MartinShous says:

    Hi All im rookie here. Good post! Thx! Love your stories!

  11. Most people probably can’t understand about the sulphur smell. We have been to Yellowstone National Park and the smell was so strong it does affect you. The geothermal attractions are worth the smell though. The downhill ball rolling sounds amazing! I like the sound of hanging out in the hot tub, so Rotorua has something for everyone.