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Best things to do in Rotorua

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Where in the world: South Pacific  /  New Zealand  /  North Island  /  Bay of Plenty Region  /  Rotorua District  /  Rotorua

Top 15 things to do in Rotorua

1. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Discover the surreal volcanic landscape of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, a natural geothermal area stretching over 18 sq km (7 sq mi). Choose one of three self-guided trails, each of which boasts numerous colorful lakes, rock formations, and mud pools. Enjoy the vivid hues of the geothermal pools, and take stunning shots of the eerie, sulphuric hot springs. The visitor center provides amenities, including a cafe and gift shop.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Te Puia

Take a guided tour of the thermal geysers at Te Puia, Rotorua's undisputed star attraction. A short ride south of the city center, this thermal reserve features over 500 hot springs. The most famous of the many geysers is the aptly named Big Splash, erupting at least two dozen times a day and spouting water as high as 30 m (98 ft) into the air. Other highlights include regular cultural performances and popular hangi feasts, allowing visitors to experience the local cuisine. Don't miss the carving and weaving schools, where you can learn about the traditional methods of Maori artisans.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest

Bike or hike through Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest, a pristine natural world featuring a spectacular stand of giant California Coast redwood trees. Just 5 km (3.1 mi) from downtown Rotorua, "the Redwoods" (as the forest is locally known) serve as a 55,000 hectare (135,000 acre) playground for adventurous visitors wishing to experience New Zealand's lush wilderness by walking, cycling, or horseback riding. Considered one of the world's top mountain biking locations, the forest offers more than 160 km (99 mi) of trails catering to both beginner and expert riders. Be sure to check out routes wittily named "Be Rude Not To" and "Gunna Gotta." Hikers can explore a network of scenic trails, many of which offer sweeping views of Rotorua.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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5. Rainbow Springs Nature Park

Animal and bird lovers should flock to Rainbow Springs Nature Park, a 9 hectare (22 acre) nature park and wildlife conservation center featuring many rare endemic species, a water ride, and a beautiful natural setting of native plants and streams. The fuzzy little flightless birds known as kiwis are the park's most famous inhabitants, and visitors can get up close and personal with the creatures during a kiwi encounter--a tour of the nursery and hatchery. Cool off with a ride on the big splash, spend time with birds in one of the park's free flight aviaries, or catch an exciting bird show. Your ticket allows you unlimited admission for the day, letting you return at night to observe nocturnal creatures.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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6. Horseback Riding Tours

Saddle up and gallop across New Zealand's countryside on a guided horseback riding trip from Rotorua. Joining a guided horse trekking adventure provides you with access to all the needed equipment, so you ride safely and get to explore all the area's winding little paths. Depending on your skill, you can choose between short 30-minute rides and longer 2-hour trips. This activity is ideal for novice riders or kids, who can choose to ride on calm ponies--experienced equestrians can hop on full-grown horses.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Adrenaline & Extreme Tours, Taupo

Taupo adrenaline/extreme tours provide a range of ways to get that perfect dose of adventure in New Zealand. You can skydive, bungee jump, or spend a day navigating an obstacle course. These activities remain a good way to get in some exercise or experience something completely new with a skilled instructor/guide. Depending on the activity, your chosen adventure could take between 90 minutes and an entire day.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The result of a volcanic eruption from 1886, Waimangu Volcanic Valley represents the world's youngest geothermal system. The area features several lakes, including Frying Pan Lake--considered the world's largest hot spring, as well as a geyser, craters, and springs. In addition to hiking and bird-watching, you can also take a boat trip on one of the lakes to see the former site of the largest silica sinter deposits in the world, known as the Pink and White Terraces.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Huka Falls Walkway, Taupo

Hike or bike the trails around Huka Falls Walkway, draining the country's largest lake by surface area and appealing to both amateur photographers and adventure seekers. Just upstream from the mighty falls, the Waikato River enters a rugged canyon and narrows abruptly from 100 m (328 ft) down to just 15 m (49 ft) across. The sudden constriction of the river's flow creates massive pressure that helps make Waikato's dramatic 10 m (33 ft) splash into a freshwater pool all the more spectacular. Walk a footbridge to admire the force of the falls, which the native tribes called "Hukanui," the Great Body of Spray. To get even closer to the roaring waters, try jet boating on the river.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. Agrodome, Ngongotaha

Experience life on a New Zealand farm, learn about traditional farming and herding skills, and meet the friendly and cuddly animals at Agrodome. Founded by world-champion sheep shearer Godfrey Bowen back in 1971, the 160 hectare (350 acre) complex serves as both a popular tourist attraction and a fully operating sheep and cattle farm. From the shows displaying various sheep breeds and the clever herding dogs, to the shearing museum and animal nursery, the farm showcases all aspects of rural living in New Zealand. At the farm's kiosk you can find freshly brewed coffee and a selection of snacks. Several ticket packages are available, which you can purchase online.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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12. Thermal Spas

Get your groove back at a Rotorua thermal spa, where the hospitable staff will help you relax at natural rock pools and revitalizing baths filled with hot spring water. After your rejuvenating session, you'll be ready to get back to exploring and pay a visit to some of the most prominent tourist attractions in Rotorua. You can spend as little as an hour at a spa--if you join a tour that includes additional activities, the spa visit will be just a small part of a great shore excursion or day trip.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Aratiatia Rapids, Taupo

Marvel at the forces of nature (and engineering) at Aratiatia Rapids, a section of river diverted by a power station. Though normally a calm stream thanks to the nearby dam, the diversion gates open several times per day, allowing the river to flow at its full speed. As the gates open, you'll see 90,000 liters (19,800 gal) per second rage through the rocky gorge, frothing and bubbling as it tumbles down the slope. Hike your way up to one of the surrounding rock bluffs for a view overlooking the river and rapids. You can reach the site via a local bus route traveling between the area's popular attractions.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Hobbiton Movie Set, Hinuera

Revisit Middle Earth at Hobbiton Movie Set, used extensively in both "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" film series. As your guide takes you around the Shire, you'll discover just how filmmaker Peter Jackson made his movie magic here. The journey across the 4.8 hectare (12 acre) set includes stops at Hobbit holes, the Mill, and the Dragon Inn, where you'll be able to enjoy a special beverage. Located in a scenic setting with the picturesque Kaimai Range in the distance, this attraction isn't just for die-hard Tolkien or movie fans. You can also arrange for a farmstay package, or organize a daytime, nighttime, or wedding function on site. Book your guided tour in advance, and explore the website for details about farmstays, functions, and events.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park

Take a walk among the treetops, feed the animals, and taste the pure spring water at Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park. Located just outside of Rotorua, this area of pristine nature makes a perfect spot for an outdoor excursion, with plenty of attractions to suit visitors of all ages. Established as a local trout sanctuary almost a century ago, the park now plays home to numerous native plant species as well as animals from all over the world. Many of these are cute and cuddly (including deer, sheep, wallabies, and rabbits), and you can even hand feed them with snacks available at the park's store. Less cuddly but certainly majestic, the resident lions live in a specially designed enclosure. Purchase tickets on site or book them online at a discount price.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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