What to do in Rotorua – a 3 day itinerary

Ask any person about to visit New Zealand which places they’re most excited about, and the answer is bound to include Rotorua. A compelling mix of welcoming Māori culture, geothermal wonders (think bright orange pools and shooting geysers), beautiful walking and mountain biking trails and jewel-like lakes, if you’re wondering what to do in Rotorua, you’re going to be spoilt for choice!

We might be a little bias – Rotorua is our very own backyard, after all – but we reckon you can’t go wrong with allocating a couple of nights in your itinerary to this awesome place. To help make sure you have the best time possible, we’ve jotted down our ideas for what we’d recommend if you’ve got 3 days and you’re visiting Rotorua for the first time.

What to do in Rotorua

Day One:

If getting outdoors is your thing then you’ll love the Redwoods, a majestic part of the ancient Whakarewarewa Forest that plays host to a myriad of walking and mountain biking trails. This place is awesome to kick-off your Rotorua adventures – fresh air and a bit of exercise amidst these forest giants is just what the doctor ordered when you’re on holiday in NZ.

The Waitawa Walk is an easy ramble giving you a taste of the beautiful forest. Keen to try something a bit more adventurous? Hire a bike and hit the mountain biking trails, hailed as some of the best in the world!

what-to-do-in-Rotorua-Redwoods

Walking through the Redwoods is magical – a Rotorua Must Do!

Next we’d recommend grabbing a gondola and heading up Mount Ngongotaha to the Volcanic Hills Winery where you can sample some of New Zealand’s most delicious handcrafted wines. We reckon a glass of Pinot or a Gisborne Chardonnay tastes lots better when you’re overlooking views of Lake Rotorua and beyond. Got a few hours to spare? Enjoy a re-energising soak at the Polynesian Spa before heading to Eat Street, one of the hottest places to dine in Rotorua.

Day Two:

On day two, you can’t go past exploring the geothermal landscapes of which Rotorua is world famous. The powerful geothermal activity at Wai-O-Tapu, home to the turquoise hued “champagne pool” is a real must-see.

Or, you might prefer checking out the incredible mud volcano at Hells Gate, the only one of its kind found in a thermal park in New Zealand, before throwing off the shackles for a soak in the mud pools and sulphur spa.

All this natural beauty is sure to make you hungry make sure you pack a picnic and head down to the lake – there’s a beautiful picnic spot, with an awesome view out across the lake to Mokoia Island at the end of Eat Street, just across the park.

Māori men and women gathered in ancient forest village

An evening at Tamaki Māori Village is the ultimate end to your second day in Rotorua

An evening experience at Tamaki Māori Village is the perfect end to your second day. At Tamaki Māori Village you’ll be welcomed into our authentic living Māori village, housed in an ancient Tawa Forest. Enjoy interacting with our people and watching traditional song & dance before discovering what a Hangi is and feasting on a 3-course buffet.

Day Three:

After seeing Rotorua by land, it’s time to enjoy the region from a different perspective .The hidden hot pools of Lake Tarawera are a must see, and are only be reached by water taxi –making the experience that little bit more special.

Small boat crossing Lake Tarawera on a beautiful sunny day

Spend a day exploring the bays and hot pools of Lake Tarawera.

The Wairua Stream is the perfect place to stop and take a dip, Hot Water Beach has sand hot enough to cook a freshly caught fish and the natural mineral pools, found along the shoreline, are perfect for watching birds flit around the native forest while on the edge of the lake.

When visiting Lake Tarawera it pays to make a day of it so you can enjoy the full impact of this beautiful landscape. Take some snacks, a cold drink and get ready to relax!

You can’t go wrong with these suggestions for 3 days in Rotorua. Get inspired, pack your swimming costume and make sure your camera is charged – we promise your time here will be a highlight of your NZ holiday.

@tamakimaorivillage