20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com
20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua

21 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua ♨️ [2024]

© NZPocketGuide.com
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The Top Tourist Attractions in Rotorua, New Zealand

Never underestimate Rotorua. There’s so much to do in this “little town” on the North Island that you will also leave wanting more. Although Rotorua is famous for being a hotbed for geothermal activity, as well as having a rich Māori culture, there are so many adrenaline, wildlife and nature experiences to be had as well. For this reason, we have tried to pack more than 20 awesome places to visit in Rotorua in this list, but even then, there’s always more to do

We’ve picked out some of the highlights of Rotorua, whether your bag is geothermal parks, experiencing the Māori culture, seeing native wildlife, walking around stunning lakes or on top of volcanoes. It’s all here in this list of places to visit in Rotorua.

1. Wai-O-Tapu

The first tourist attraction in Rotorua on our list is Wai-O-Tapu. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity so let’s not waste any time getting onto it. Wai-O-Tapu is the place you need to go to if you want to see the orange steamy pools of the “Champagne Pool” or the vibrant green “Devil’s Bath”. There are over 20 different geothermal features to be wowed by throughout the park so is a good couple of hours spent.

Location: Along State Highway 5 about 53 km (33 mi) from Rotorua. Turn down Wai-O-Tapu Road for 1 km (0.6 mi).

20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Hamurana Springs

Next on our list of the best Rotorua tourist attractions is Hamurana Springs. A cool natural feature of the Rotorua area is this crystal-clear spring. Take a 15-minute walk to get to the springs with decking viewpoints looking over the springs. Admission is around NZ$20 per adult, making it one of the 15 Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.

Location: 17 km (10.5 mi) out of Rotura. Follow State Highway 36 to Hamurana. It’s near the golf course.

20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Lake Tarawera

With waterfalls, natural hot pools and not to mention stunning lake and volcano scenery, Lake Tarawera is an awesome day trip or overnight trip from Rotorua. While there are options to go with activity providers on the lake, an alternative is to hike the Tarawera Trail from Te Wairoa for five hours to Hot Water Beach where you can bathe in some natural hot pools and stay the night in the campsite. Return water taxis are available. Find out more on the DOC website.

Location: Te Wairoa is a 15-minute drive out of Rotorua down Tarawera Road.

20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools

You are spoiled for choice with hot pools in Rotorua, between free natural pools and the luxurious Polynesian Spa (see point #15). However, the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is a little off the beaten track making it one of the fun places to visit in Rotorua. Plus, it’s more affordable and features a geothermal walk to see the source of the natural hot springs. Compare Waikite to other hot pools across the country in the 10 Best Hot Pools in New Zealand.

Location: 30 minutes from Rotorua. Take State Highway 5 and turn down Waikite Valley Road at Waiotapu.

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5. Skyline Rotorua

The top of the Skyline Gondola has many things to do from giant swings to the seriously fun Luge. Keen mountain bikers can also try out the downhill trails from the top of the gondola. Skyline Rotorua can also be accessed by city bus, making it an easy tourist attraction in Rotorua to visit if you don’t have your own vehicle.

Location: 178 Fairy Springs Road, approximately 5 km (3 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

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6. Velocity Valley

For a place to visit in Rotorua with some insanely fun stuff, check out Velocity Valley. Choose from jet boating, bungy jumping, freefalling, Shweebing and giant swinging in this adventure park that runs on a ticket system – a bit like an extreme funfair. Find out more about Velocity Valley on Viator and Klook.

Location: 1335 Paradise Valley Road, approximately 9 km (6 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

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7. Te Pā Tū (Formerly Tamaki Maori Village)

Experiencing the Māori culture is probably one of the most popular attractions in Rotorua. Rotorua is rich in Māori culture and there are many cultural attractions to experience the Māori culture for yourself. One of those ways is having a tour of Te Pā Tū complete with traditional Māori games, crafts and cultural performances and finishing off with a hāngī meal buffet. Check out Te Pā Tū on Viator and Klook. Plus, see how this Māori experience compares to the 10 Best Maori Tours in New Zealand.

Location: Te Pā Tū provides transport from 1220 Hinemaru Street, Rotorua city centre. Alternatively, drive yourself about 15 minutes along State Highway 5 from Rotorua.

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8. Te Puia

Another extremely popular Rotorua tourist attraction is Te Puia. Te Puia brings everything Rotorua is famous for together with a geothermal park featuring the impressive Pohutu Geyser, as well as cultural performances inside a marae. Watch an example of the powerful powhiri, a Māori welcoming ceremony. Walk around the geothermal hot pools and bubbling mud. Also, see an example of a traditional Māori village.

Location: 20 Hemo Road, Rotorua. Drive, walk or take the bus from Rotorua city centre.

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9. Motion Entertainment

Your rainy-day saviour in Rotorua has to be Motion Entertainment. If you’re travelling with a group of mates or family, then battle it out on the bowling alley, at the mini golf, on the 4D shooting missions, in escape rooms, laser tag arena and more! Be aware, when the weather does not play ball, Motion Entertainment becomes one of the most popular attractions in Rotorua. See more rainy day attractions in the 15 Things to Do in Rotorua on a Rainy Day.

Location: 346 Te Ngae Road, Lynmore, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

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10. Kerosene Creek

For some free natural hot springs and one of the most popular places to visit in Rotorua, check out Kerosene Creek about 30 minutes out of the city. Relax in the naturally-heated stream and waterfall in the creek. For more natural hot pools, check out 5 Free Natural Hot Pools in Rotorua.

Location: 28 km (17 mi) south of Rotorua. Take State Highway 5, then travel about 2 km (1.2 mi) down Old Walotapu Road, just before you reach the little village of Waiotapu. There will likely be other vehicles parked there.

21 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© Unsplash

11. Zorb

What is there to say about Zorb? Get inside a giant inflatable hamster ball and roll down a hill! It’s simple yet incredibly fun as you jump into the ball with a little bit of water and experience the feeling of chaos as you roll down the hill. Warning: once is never enough. As an activity that you can do with a partner or a friend, we also list this in the 20 Most Romantic Things to Do in Rotorua.

Location: 525 Ngongotaha Road, Fairy Springs, approximately 6 km (4 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

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12. Hell’s Gate

One of the best attractions in Rotorua is Hell’s Gate. If you love bubbling mud, then this is your place! Not only can you watch bubbling mud and other geothermal features, but you can also relax in a mud spa bath to rejuvenate your skin. Book your entry to Hell’s Gate on ViatorKlook or whatever you prefer!

Location: 351 State Highway 30, Tikitere, approximately 16 km (10 mi) or 20 minutes drive from Rotorua city centre.

20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© Destination Rotorua

13. Wingspan

The National Bird of Prey Centre is an incredible opportunity to get up close to New Zealand’s smallest and only owl, the morepork or “ruru”. Also, check out the flight of a New Zealand falcon every afternoon at 2 pm. Other birds of prey species are also seen at this rehabilitation centre.

Location: Paradise Valley Road, approximately 8.5 km (5 mi) from Rotorua town centre.

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14. Kuirau Park

Next is a FREE and super-accessible Rotorua tourist attraction, Kuirau Park! The free geothermal park right in the centre of Rotorua features steamy lakes, pools and bubbling mud. You can even bathe your feet in hot foot baths. Check out more attractions like this in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.

Location: Kuirau Street, Rotorua city centre.

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15. Polynesian Spa

Another place to visit right in the centre of Rotorua is the Polynesian Spa. Relax in a huge complex of pools, whether you choose the luxury option or the main pools. Either way, you have a wide range of temperatures, minerals and views to enjoy. Check out Polynesian Spa on Klook or KKday for more information. Plus, see more indulgences like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Rotorua.

Location: 1000 Hinemoa Street, Rotorua city centre.

21 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua ♨️ [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

16. National Kiwi Hatchery

If you are travelling with kids, then the National Kiwi Hatchery will be one of your favourite tourist attractions in Rotorua. Visit the kiwi house to learn about the breeding programs used to boost the populations of kiwi. If you’re lucky, you might even see a kiwi chick. Find out more about the National Kiwi Hatchery on Viator or Klook. Plus, check out more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids.

Location: 192 Fairy Springs Road (next to Skyline Rotorua), approximately 5 km (3 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

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17. Mt Tarawera

A mesmerising place to visit in Rotorua is Mt Tarawera. Did you know you can actually walk on Mt Tarawera? Mt Tarawera famously had a huge eruption in 1886, destroying the landscape and villages around it. Walking on this vibrant red volcano with Kaitiaki Adventures is a great way to embrace the landscape and history of this place. Plus, it’s an awesome short alternative to the landscape you would experience on the Tongariro Crossing.

Location: Transfers are available from Rotorua accommodations.

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18. Orakei Korako

Explore a little further off the beaten track towards Taupo and you’ll find the geothermal park of Orakei Korako. A boat service provides access across the Waikato River to the geothermal park full of silica terraces, geysers, colours, pools, caves and steamy stuff. For more geothermal attractions, check out the 10 Best Geothermal Parks in Rotorua & New Zealand.

Location: Orakei Korako Road. On State Highway 5 at Mihi, turn down Tutukau Road then onto Orakei Korako Road. This attraction is approximately 67 km (42 mi) from Rotorua.

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19. Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest

Walking tracks, biking tracks, treetop trails, even hot pools… There are many ways to enjoy the Redwoods in Rotorua. Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest can either be enjoyed as a free activity, or you can hire a bike (see hires with Mountain Bike Rotoruaor buy tickets to the Redwoods Treewalk with 21 suspension bridges up high in the forest. For a special perspective, come at night to see the light displays in the trees. This is also a great option for places to visit in Rotorua if you don’t have a car as you can take a city bus there.

Location: Long Mile Road, approximately 5 km (3 mi) from Rotorua city centre.

20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© NZPocketGuide.com

20. Lake Rotoiti

The neighbouring lake to Lake Rotorua, Lake Rotoiti is a world of its own. The scenic lake hides all sorts of wonders between glowworm caves and natural hot pools. Kayaking tours with River Rats Raft Kayak, stand-up paddleboard excursions with Paddle Board Rotorua (more info on Viator and Klook) and even cruising with Pure Cruise are all marvellous ways to explore the lake. However, the big canoe tour with Waimarino Group offers a unique way to paddle on the lake’s tranquil waters while listening to Māori legends and history.

Location: State Highway 30 and 33, Rotorua. See the links above for meeting points.

21 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© Pure Cruise via Tourism New Zealand

21. Hobbiton

Less than an hour’s drive from Rotorua is The Lord of the Rings movie attraction that’s on every nerd’s bucket list! Take a tour of where Middle-earth adventures begin at the Hobbiton Movie Set. The 1 hr 30 mins to 2-hour tour takes you to iconic locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies, including The Mill, The Green Dragon Inn and tens of Hobbit Holes! Check out reviews and book tickets to Hobbiton on Viator or Klook. Guided tours from Rotorua to Hobbiton and back are available with GreatSights.

Location: 501 Buckland Road, Matamata, approximately 69 km (43 mi) from Rotorua.

21 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua© Unsplash

More About Rotorua

That’s it for the best places to visit in Rotorua but by no means is the end of our Rotorua travel tips! Check out the following guides for more travel inspiration:

Finally, if you found this guide useful then you might find planning the rest of your trip super easy with the North Island in Two Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary and North Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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