It’s that time of the new year we’ve all been waiting for – those glorious three-day weekends all lined up in a neat little row. Three days to explore, eat, and relax after a few weeks back at the office.
With hundreds of things to do in Rotorua, planning your Rotorua getaway requires some serious brain power. But for those of you already in holiday mode, we’ve come up with the best things to do in Rotorua this long weekend – a travel itinerary that will tick all the boxes.
SATURDAY – pump the brakes
Play: Mountain Bike in the Whakarewarewa Forest
What better place to go for a ride than New Zealand’s mountain biking mecca? Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is famed for its incredible mountain biking scene, and with over 350km of tracks ranging in skill level to explore, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Mountain Bike Rotorua has everything you’ll need for a rip-roaring adventure, from bike hire to trail recommendations for the whole family.
Relax: Secret Spot Hot Tubs
Soak those tired muscles in your own cedar hot tub overlooking the forest. Located just across the carpark from Mountain Bike Rotorua, Secret Spot is the perfect place to kick back, relax, and share epic tales from your ride. You’ll enjoy a 45-minute hot tub amongst the ferns, with craft drinks delivered to you at the push of a button.
See: Te Puia
The geothermal wonders of Te Puia are located just a 2-minute drive from Secret Spot Hot Tubs. You’ll explore mud pools, hot springs, silica formations and the world-famous Pōhutu geyser. Options include guided tours, cultural night experiences, and lots more.
Eat: BaseCamp café and craft bar
Head back to Secret Spot Hot Tubs for the best burger in Rotorua. A bold claim, we know, but these mouth-watering burgers are just oozing with goodness and will haunt your dreams. Our BaseCamp street food (think satay chicken roti, fries, onion rings and other good stuff) is open from 11am to 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday – Tuesday 11am-5pm. The best part? You’ll receive a FREE Shinny Dip foot hot tub with any purchase to take your relaxation to the next level.
Stay: Aura Accommodation
In the heart of the city you’ll discover Aura Accommodation, a rare find to suit families, groups, couples, and solo travelers. Their central location makes them the perfect base for your Rotorua adventures, and their friendly staff and geothermal features (such as steam cooking facilities) make stays at Aura a must-try experience in itself.
SUNDAY – a day amongst the trees
Play: Canopy Tours
Canopy Tours is the world’s number one nature activity for a reason. This incredible Rotorua experience takes you to new heights through a series of ziplines and swing bridges that wind their way through stunning prehistoric native forests. With two tour options – the Original and the Ultimate, you’ll learn about their forest conservation efforts and be treated to unparalleled views.
See: The Redwoods
Wander through a forest of awe-inspiring Californian Redwoods that reach heights of up to 67 meters. With a collection of tracks perfect for walking or off-road running, this section of the Whakarewarewa Forest is definitely one to visit. If you’re strapped for time, we’d recommend the Redwood Memorial Grove track. This easy track takes about 30 minutes to complete and meanders through these towering trees and over a board walk with views of a brightly coloured thermal pond.
Relax: Lake Tikitapu/Blue Lake
Take a break at the lake, lie under the native trees or picnic on the beach. Lake Tikitapu, or Blue Lake, is one of the closest lakes to Rotorua and features beach areas and picnic spots at both ends of the lake, as well as barbeques, picnic tables, and a playground. This small lake, with its crisp blue water and native bush-lined hills, is a picturesque spot to escape for a moment (or three).
On the same side of the forest as the Redwoods and Lake Tikitapu you’ll find Eastwood Café. Being dog-friendly with alfresco seating and a great menu (not to mention their awesome wood-fired pizzas!) makes Eastwood a favourite among the locals.
Stay: Kokako Retreat
Perched high on a hill overlooking lush native bush and farmland, Kokako Retreat is the escape you’ve been searching for. This luxurious off-grid glamping accommodation combines three unique curved huts connected by boardwalks and is the ultimate spot to recharge.
MONDAY – the final hurrah
Play: Whitewater Rafting
Start your last day with a splash, rafting down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. With spectacular whitewater rafting and sledging offerings, you’ll explore the wonders of the famous Kaituna River. Take a look at Rotorua Rafting, Kaituna Cascades or River Rats Rafting for your next river adventure.
See: Volcanic Air
Visiting the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory is the experience of a lifetime. Volcanic Air offers a comprehensive range of scenic flights and air tours in Rotorua. Experience a birds-eye-view of local volcanoes, lakes and geothermal reserves from the comfort of a helicopter or floatplane!
Eat: Eat Streat
Grab a bite from Eat Streat before heading back home. This colourful hub of restaurants and bars has everything from steakhouses to tasty Mexican – not to mention the iconic Lady Jane’s Ice Cream Parlour – all connected by a wonderful covered alfresco dining area.
Photo credits: Joel McDowell, Miles Holden, Rotorua NZ