Walks and Hikes in Rotorua You Can’t Miss!
Lakes, geothermal parks, volcanoes, native bush, towering redwood forests… Rotorua has an amazing array of landscapes to enjoy all within a short drive from the city centre. The North Island town is an excellent place to lace up your hiking shoes and experience the epic scenery on foot. You’ll find some of the most unique hiking experiences in the country right here, with treetop walkways, walks alongside bubbling mud pools, and so much more. While we could add so many more Rotorua walks to this list, these are our top picks for the must-do walks in Rotorua!
In between stretching your legs, you might also want to explore the 20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua or try some amazing food from our list of The Foodie Guide to Rotorua. Plus, stay in one of the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Rotorua or 10 Best Hotels in Rotorua.
1. Redwood Memorial Grove Track (30 Minutes One Way)
Get a taste of the popular Redwoods/Whakarewarewa Forest known for its plantation of Coastal Californian Redwood trees where the largest trees here stand about 236m (774ft) tall. Another feature of this walk is the crystal clear waters of the Dead Tree Swamp – an old thermal pond home to all sorts of plant and aquatic life. This walk forest provides an awesome photo opportunity, but if you don’t have time to explore The Redwoods more, the Redwood Memorial Grove Track is a great one to do. The Redwoods is also a popular mountain biking area too, so take a look at 10 Must-Do Bike Trails in Rotorua if you want to experience The Redwoods on two wheels.
Location: The Redwoods Visitor Centre, Long Mile Road.
2. Blue Lake Walk (Lake Tikitapu) (1h30min Loop)
Rotorua is surrounded by magnificent lakes with walking trails to take in the beauty. The Blue Lake Walk provides a mix of bush and quiet beaches on the edge of a crystal-clear lake. You’ll also get views of the neighbouring Green Lake (Rotokakahi).
Location: Te Ngae Road off Tarawera Road.
3. Kuirau Park (10-20 Minutes)
A walk accessible from the city centre is around the free geothermal park of Kuirau Park. A walkway through the park takes you to various mud pools and steaming lakes. There are naturally-heated foot baths to ease your feet in after your, admittedly, short walk.
Location: Access off Kuirau Street, Lake Road, Ranolf Street and Pukuatua Road.
4. The Tarawera Trail (5-6 Hours One Way)
Lakeviews, bays, native forest and natural hot pools await those hikers looking to take on the Tarawera Trail. The 15km (9 miles) trail ends with a campsite, giving you the option to stay overnight at Hot Water Beach – a natural geothermal area at Te Rata Bay. Alternatively, water taxis can be booked in advance to pick you up at the end of the trail.
Location: Te Wairoa car park on Tarawera Road (the car park is locked at night for security).
5. The Rotorua Walkway (5-7 Hours Loop)
This walkway is perfect for those staying in the city without a vehicle to get to the other walking trails. The Rotorua Walkway is 28km (17 miles) long taking you to the most scenic and interesting sights around the city. You’ll walk through geothermal areas, alongside Lake Rotorua, through wildlife-rich areas and to historic sites. The walk is split into eight sections with plenty of access points so you can walk parts of the walkway for shorter trips.
Location: There are several access points to the Rotorua Walkway. Pick up a Rotorua Walkways map from a local information centre for a map detailing the exit and entry points. Otherwise, good places to start are along the lakefront at Sulphur Bay and the Government Gardens where you will find map boards along the walkway. There is also a map board on the east side of Kuirau Park.
6. Tarawera Falls Track (20 Minutes One-way)
Who doesn’t love a good waterfall?! See the spectacular sight of Tarawera Falls on an easy well-graded track following the Tarawera River. You will arrive at a viewing area for the falls, where you can either backtrack to where you started the walk, or continue on the Tarawera Outlet Track toward Lake Tarawera (1h30min one-way).
Location: Waterfall Road car park. (73km/45 miles from Rotorua via State Highway 30).
7. Mt Ngongotaha Nature Loop & Jubilee Track (1-hour Loop & 1h30min Return)
One of the lesser-known yet enchanting walks in the Rotorua area is on the Mt Ngongotaha Nature Loop and Jubilee Track. You’re likely to see a ton of different native bird species, such as grey warbler, Kereru, fantail, tui and tomtit. The Nature Walk is a 2.5km (1.5-mile) loop track which is a rather easy-going track suitable for most fitness levels. Information panels along the way tell interesting facts about the forest and its inhabitants. The Jubilee Track is 5km (3 miles) return, which is a steep climb to the summit of Mt Ngongotaha. It’s an excellent way to stay in this amazing forest for longer, but note that there is no view from the summit due to the forest growth.
Location: Paradise Valley Road, just off Clayton and Pukehangi Road (you can take the bus).
8. Rainbow Mountain Summit & Loop Walk (1h30min One-way & 15 Minutes One-way)
See two stunning vibrant lakes on the 15-minute Rainbow Mountain Loop Walk – a must-do pitstop on the way in or out of Rotorua. For a longer mission with some amazing views, continue on the Rainbow Mountain Summit Track with views overlooking the Rotorua countryside. See Mt Tarawera, Lake Tarawera, Lake Rotomahana and Lake Rerewhakaaitu, as well as mountain ranges.
Location: State Highway 5, 26km (16 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
9. Redwoods Treewalk (30 Minutes Loop Walk)
Get a brand new perspective of the forest on the Redwoods Treewalk – a treetop walks with 28 suspension bridges and 27 platforms attached to redwood trees that are over 100 years old. The walkway is open day and night, with beautiful light displays to marvel at after dark. Note that there is a fee to do this walk.
Location: 1 Long Mile Road, Whakarewarewa.
10. Mt Tarawera (4h30min Roundtrip)
Some of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes can be found on Mt Tarawera, a volcano famous for having the biggest eruption in New Zealand in the last 500 years. This exclusive hike around the red crater rim of Mt Tarawera is only available with selected guides, via bus tour to the mountain with Kaitiaki Adventures (bookable of Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook) or via helicopter with Volcanic Air. The bus tour is a 4h30min round trip complete with a guided walk in this breathtaking and historic place.
Location: Access to Mt Tarawera is with approved guides only like Kaitiaki Adventures.
11. Lake Okareka Walkway (1h30min Return)
Walk alongside the beautiful Lake Okareka on an easy boardwalk stroll complete with lake views and wildlife. The wetland area is rich in birdlife from pukeko to herons and much more. The walk is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. You might also want to stick around the Lake Okareka and head to Boyes Beach to make use of the picnic areas and barbecues.
Location: Acacia Road, 12km (7 miles) from Rotorua city centre.