Rotorua is on the North Island of New Zealand. It’s famous for its geothermal activity and Maori Culture. Rotorua is quite a unique place. We really enjoyed our stay in Rotorua and will definitely be back to explore further!!
Why Should You Visit Rotorua?
- You are interested in geothermal activity
- Love for nature
- Enjoy exploring forests
- Looking for places to walk
- Wanting to relax in the natural hot baths
- Maori Culture
Why We Loved Rotorua
When we drove into Rotorua we instantly could smell the thermal activity. The air smells of the sulfuric acid, others will describe it as rotten eggs. Don’t let this be a deterrent to explore this wonderful place. Rotorua was certainly one of our highlights of our adventure exploring the North Island. It offers so much that other places are unable too. You can be adventurous, laze in the natural hot spas, take a hike through the forests or thermal areas.
Places We Explored In Rotorua
- Rotorua Gondola and optional Luge Ride
- Lake Rotorua
- Eat Streat
- Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest
- Redwoods Tree Walk by day
- Redwoods Tree Walk Illuminated by night
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Rotorua Gondola and optional Luge Ride
Rotorua Gondola and optional Luge Ride is a scenic and fun place to visit. As you go up on the Gondola the view of Rotorua Lake is stunning. Once you reach the top it is even more stunning!!
When you get off the Gondola you can take a refreshment or meal at the restaurant and take in the gorgeous view of Rotorua Lake, check out the souvenir and jelly bean shop!! For the more adventurous at heart you can go on the big swing, ride the Luges or if you have your mountain bike explore the trails.
We opted for the Luge Rides which we’re loads of fun. If you are going to go on the rides and it’s a peak holiday time, suggest going early to avoid the long lines of people or ready to experience some fun and excitement. Don’t be deterred by the long queues as it all moves quite quickly and the Luge Ride down the mountain is well and truly worth it. There are 3 different tracks you can take to cater for all levels of experience.
Once you reach the bottom, have no fear you don’t need to walk back up the hill. You simply hop on a chair lift to take you back up the hill so you can go on your next Luge ride.
There is also a huge swing which you can go on, we opted not to do this. However, it did look like lots of fun. If you’re into mountain bike riding you can take your bike up in the gondola so you can ride down the trails.
This is certainly a place you could spend several hours!!
Lake Rotorua is the second largest lake in the North Island of New Zealand. The lake is a result of a volcanic eruption approximately 200,000 years ago when its underlying magma chamber collapsed and filled with water. There is still the geothermal activity below and around the lake. It’s such a surreal place to be. The lake was calm and scenic when we were there. You can smell the sulfuric acid in the air. As you stroll around the lake you witness the clouds of steam rising from the geothermal activity in nearby areas.
In the center of the lake you will see an island which is called Mokoia Island. The island was formed by lava. It really sets off the scenery of the lake.
If you wish you can take a cruise on the lake, or grab a scenic flight to see all the beauty from above.
After all your adventures your tummy is grumbling. You are looking for somewhere to eat. Look no further than Eat Streat. It’s definitely the place to head if you are looking for somewhere to recharge. It’s a really great area that has a good vibe. Eat Streat is for pedestrians only. Here you will find all types of restaurants to fill that empty tummy. We chose to eat at the Indian Restaurant which filled up very quickly. We could see why the food was great. After traveling 6 months in India in 2017 it was great to find good Indian food! Tip if you wish to eat here make a booking to avoid disappointment!
Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest
What an absolutely gorgeous forest. Most definitely one of the largest and best we’ve explored. It’s approximately 5,600 hectares! Whether you are into walking, mountain bike riding, horse riding or just having a picnic in this beautiful setting, this forest will not disappoint. It’s a nature lovers heaven.
It’s such a tranquil area. It has a mystical feel. There are thermal ponds which really add character and charisma to the forest. The turquoise coloured sulfuric acid waters were stunning. The reflection of the Redwood Trees and ferns in the waters were truly beautiful. You could easily spend hours roaming from one walking track to another and feel totally lost in nature.
There are just so many tall California Redwood Trees to set your eyes upon and stare up their tall trunk up to the sky!! To think how old some of these trees are.
Then of course there’s New Zealand’s native fern, the Silver Fern. It looks beautiful, especially when the sun shines down on the fronds. The Silver fern is the symbol for the New Zealand’s national game, rugby. The “All Blacks” New Zealand’s national team use the Silver fern as their symbol. The symbol of inspiration is both powerful and emotional to the people of New Zealand.
Redwoods Tree Walk By Day
If you are a nature lover then you must not miss visiting Redwoods Forest. We opted to explore the forest from above strolling across a minimum of 23 suspension bridges as we looked down on the lush green forest of ferns and gazed up at the huge redwood trees. Some of the trees are as old as 115 years!!
Eight people can cross the suspension bridges at any one time. The suspension bridges take you from one amazing Redwood tree to another.
Once you cross the bridge 20 people can gather around a tree and read up on the facts about the gorgeous Redwood Trees and the other varieties of trees found in the forest.
The trees really are stunning. In fact the whole forest is absolutely beautiful.
Redwoods Tree Walk Illuminated By Night
We explored the Redwood Tree Walk by both day and night. Our preference was by day. It’s a totally different experience. By night some of the trees are illuminated and there are large lanterns lit up hanging from the massive tall Redwood Trees. It has a magical feel and certainly draws the crowd. We visited on the Easter/School Holidays and the queue was quite long!!
Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest Location
Whakarewarewa, Rotorua 3074 New Zealand
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
There are so many different places to experience the geothermal activity. It really gets quite confusing where to go. After a lot of deliberation and discussions we chose to visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley and have no regrets.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the worlds youngest geothermal valley. It’s a truly amazing experience. You walk along a track stopping and exploring all different types of geothermal activity. You can see from the walking tracks the clouds of steam rising from the geothermal ponds and ground. Again there is a mystical feeling.
Each geothermal attraction is numbered and you are given a brochure explaining each attraction. There is also information boards as you walk around.
It was hard to say which geothermal activity was our favorite as they are all spectacular in their own way. The scenery is forever changing. You can look at the same geothermal pond and it’s appearance will change so much within minutes!! One minute there will be so much steam rising, next second relatively clear, then wham the steam is back more than ever!!
How Long Did We Stay?
We stayed in Rotorua 2 nights, arriving late we found out very quickly that 2 nights was not long enough to explore this unique place.
How Long Do We Think You Should Stay?
We would recommend you stay 5-7 days to explore in a leisurely manner, obviously this is dependent on what interests you. You may even want to spend longer here. Time permitting we would!!
We sadly missed exploring the Hobbit movie set as it was school holidays/Easter break and it was all booked out. Big tip, if this is a must see place for you, ensure you book online in advance. We also didn’t have time to explore the Maori Culture. Yes, we have a number of reasons to return to Rotorua!!
Don’t under estimate what Rotorua has to offer. There’s plenty to explore here, so ensure you allow yourself adequate time to explore everything on your “to explore list”.
Other Places We Explored On The North Island
Take a look at the below links of other beautiful places we explored on the North Island. Note these are just a few of the amazing places to take an adventure. We still have so many places to explore!! If anyone tells you that 10 days is enough to explore, think twice!! Suggest you take at least 3-4 weeks.
- Lake Taupo
- Waitomo Caves
- Thames the start of the Coromandel Peninsula
- Coromandel Peninsula including Hot Water Beach, Catherine Gorge
- Karangahake Gorge, southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula
Have you explored this interesting and fascinating part of New Zealand? If you have we’d love to hear about your experiences. Or perhaps you’ve explored other amazing places you’d like to share with us? Either way, we’d love to hear from you.