Top 13 Things To See & Do In Rotorua On A Budget
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8th Dec | 7 min read

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    Rotorua, a town on the North Island of New Zealand, renowned for its Maori culture, is like a magical land with geothermal landscapes, bubbling mud pools, natural hot springs, beautiful sparkling lakes, biking trails, and evergreen forests. Once you step into the town, clouds of steam surround you, as if engulfing you and teleporting you into the magic of this land. 

    There is so much to see and do in Rotorua, that we’ve made planning for your trip a lot easier with this guide. Below you will find thirteen of the best places to visit and things to do in Rotorua, and how much they cost.

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    Cost: Adults $32.50

    Wai-O-Tapu, also called a “Thermal Wonderland” awaits you in Rotorua just 37 minutes away from Taupo, New Zealand. Just follow the well-defined trails here and take in the beauty of the geothermal activity of Wai-O-Tapu. Don’t forget to use the toilet before entering the park since there will be no bathroom within the vicinity. 

    Te Puia

    Cost: Around $60.00 for adults

    Te Puia allows you to take a deeper dive into learning about the Maori Arts and Crafts after dipping your toe in from “Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings” located in Taupo. Te Puia offers a day trip that allows you to see the biggest, active geyser in the southern hemisphere, and the house of kiwi birds' (the national bird of New Zealand) for viewing. You will also be able to see the masters carving and weaving Maori’s traditional arts live, and to wrap everything up, you will be led to a gift shop for keepsake. 

    Polynesian Spa

    Cost: Prices start from $23. For more information, click this link: Geothermal Bathing Pools Rotorua

    For the ultimate relaxation, hit the Polynesian Spa after all the wild adventures you’ve been busy with. They offer an original and iconic geothermal bathing experience you definitely want to experience. 

    Waimangu Volcanic Valley

    Cost: Self-guided walk or hike from $42 NZD

    More information about costs: Waimangu Volcanic Valley Prices

    Located in the midst of beautiful native bushland, Waimangu is known as “the world’s youngest geothermal valley.” From a number of easy walks, advanced hikes, and boat cruises, it caters to people from all age groups and fitness levels. The boiling lakes, steamy mountains, and bubbling mud pools make it a must-visit for tourists. Head over there to learn about how the world began and to witness some beautiful plant and birdlife. 

    Lake Rotorua

    Cost: FREE

    Lake Rotorua is known to be North Island’s second-largest lake by surface area. You can stroll alongside the lake as you take in the beauty of the green-blue water and witness the steam-filled views and geothermal activities around the lake. This picturesque lake has an interesting history behind it. It is a result of a massive volcanic eruption around 200,000 years ago. There is an island on the center of Lake Rotorua known as Mokoia Island, which happens to be where the famous love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, New Zealand’s very own Romeo and Juliet, began. 

    Mokoia Island

    Cost: Tours for $75 per adult

    Mokoia Island, the setting for the famous love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, is home to some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife and rare birds such as the kiwi and kokako. You can take a native bush walk and spot the native flora and fauna or take guided tours and experience some of the most magical views as the guide educates you about the history of the Maori culture and explains how the Maori utilize the native flora for different purposes. You can also enjoy a hot soak in Hinemoa’s Pool or go for a boat cruise. 

    The Redwoods Treewalk 

    Cost: Adult $30.00 - $40.00

    Enjoy exhilarating aerial views of your surrounding nature as you walk through the 700m long walkway consisting of 28 suspension bridges covering the gaps between numerous 117-year-old and 75 meter tall Redwood trees. This walk is known to be one of the best tree walks in New Zealand. After sunset, you can witness the forest come to life in different hues of color as the lights in the forest switch on, turning it into a bewitching fantasy land, as the viewers gaze in awe. 

    Hells Gate Geothermal Park

    Cost: Entrance ticket to Hell's Gate Geothermal Park for USD 18.17

    Soak and relax in the outdoor Mud Bath or Sulphur Spa at New Zealand’s most active geothermal attraction, Hells Gate! It is home to the biggest mud volcano in the country and the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. The Mud Bath has been used for generations by Maori to heal muscle and joint pain. Back in the days, the Maori warriors used to heal their wounds after battles in the nutrient-rich waters and mud. For over 800 years, Hells Gate has been popular for its healing properties. It also draws visitors from different places looking for some relief from arthritis, inflammation, or joint pain. You can soak under the stars and enjoy the surrounding views as you relax, take guided tours around the area, visit the colored pools, hot water lakes, and bubbling mud. Or you can just do a native bush walk around the thermal park on your own instead. 

    Kaituna River

    Cost: From US $76.31

    Go white water rafting at the Kaituna River and pass through beautiful subtropical scenery, rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, including rafting over Tutea Falls, and get your adrenaline pumping through some cliff diving. Your tour package should provide wetsuits, helmets, floating devices, boots, hotel pickup, and drop-off. 

    Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge


    Head over to Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge to witness some amazing steam vents, boiling mud pools, natural hot water, Purenga Stream, and some unique wildlife including the nationally threatened New Zealand dabchick, banded dotterel, and black-billed gull. The Bay is spread across 145-hectares and is within walking distance from the city center. The water in the bay is pretty acidic as a result of the sulfur suspensions in the water and sometimes causes the webs of the feet of some birds to be eaten away by the acidity. 

    However, it is incredible to see how these birds and wildlife have adapted to this harsh environment in order to survive. You can also visit the Government Gardens while you’re here. 

    Te Ara Ahi

    Cost: Bike rental costs around $90 for half day

    If you want to cycle through and explore five geothermal parks at once – Whakarewarewa, Te Puia, Waimangu, Wai-O-Tapu, and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs, then the Te Ara Ahi cycling trail is for you! You can witness the beauty of each of these areas individually as you cycle through this pathway stretching between Rotorua and the Waikite Valley, rich in Maori history, picture-postcard views of lakes and mountains, and cute cafes along the way. 

    Te Wairoa

    Cost: Adults $25.00

    Go back in time as you walk through The Buried Village of Te Wairoa, a historical attraction preserved by volcanic ash from the 1886 Mt. Tarawera eruption. Te Wairoa was established in 1852 by a Christian missionary, which served as a resting spot for the visitors on their way to the Pink and White Terraces. On June 10, 1886, the village was destroyed by the eruption, burying the village of Te Wairoa in ashes. Archeologists have excavated the floor plans of the original buildings. There is a walking trail here that leads to the Wairere Falls in case you want to visit. 


    Cost: Tours start from NZD $35

    Step into the Te Whakarewarewa Valley and you will be instantly welcomed by friendly local guides- the direct descendants of the early Māori guides, who will walk you through the heritage and culture of the Maori people. Their insights, hospitality, and knowledge are known to enhance your experience as you get a tour of their daily lives. You will get to see how they’ve been using natural geothermal resources to cook, bathe, and heat their homes as they have for centuries. You can also learn about the captivating traditions of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people, and witness a performance of the Haka and other traditional Maori songs by the Te Pakira cultural group. You can also get a glimpse of the geothermal wonders of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley up close, including the Pōhutu geyser, boiling mud pools, steam vents, and bubbling pools. There is also a campsite here if you want to spend the night. 

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