Our road trip through the North Island with Wild Kiwi Tours has taken us to Rotorua for two nights and all we can say is W O W !
After only spending a short time here it has easily become our favourite spots on the North Island – even if it gets a little smelly from all the geothermal activity. There is just so much to see and do, from adventure activities to breathtaking natural phenomena – this place seriously has it all!
Check out our vlog below to see what we got up to during our visit to Rotorua, and keep scrolling if you would like to read more on everything you need to know for a visit here!
Rotorua: Our Favourite Place on the North Island
Rotorua is the place to visit for culture, adventure and geological wonders. It sits within a volcanic crater and as you stroll along the streets you will see holes in the ground literally bubbling and steaming with geothermal activity.
This is one of those places that there are so many things to see and do, you will want to visit twice – (you just need to get over the fact that the entire place smells like egg haha!)
Things To Do
Skyline & Luge
If you are looking for a more affordable, fun activity in Rotorua than you need to have a go at luging. Take a cable car to the top of Skyline Rotorua where you will be greeted with epic views over Rotorua and Lake Okataina. At the top is where you can experience luging, as well as wine tasting and the Sky Swing.
This is something we have always wanted to do since seeing a viral YouTube video a couple of years back. Here in Rotorua you can roll down hills in a giant inflatable ball! This activity was invented by Ogo Rotorua and it was one of the funnest things we did during our month in New Zealand!
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set was at the very top of Stephen’s New Zealand bucket list (he is a massive movie buff). Trust us, no visit to NZ is complete without a visit! The movie set is located an hours drive from Rotorua, near a town called Matamata. Tours depart from Rotorua daily and will allow you to explore the movie set featured in the Hobbiton films.
The tour includes a visit to the Shire’s Rest where you can have a drink at The Green Dragon Inn, visit a number of Hobbiton Holes and visit The Mill and the famous double arched bridge. Make sure you bring your cameras – there so many Instagram opportunities here!
Tamaki Maori Village
If you are wanting to experience something more cultural we highly recommend spending a night at the Tamaki Village. This is a traditional Maori village, where you will experience the famous Haka and enjoy a Maori feast. When we arrived we were able to take part in a traditional Maori greeting and before dinner we took part in different workshops learning about different aspects about their culture.
Hangi is the traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven, and that is exactly how they cooked our dinner for us, with our meal full of meat, seafood, vegetables and even cakes for dessert.
White Water Rafting
New Zealand is known for its world class water rapids, and Rotorua is the most popular spot for it! Just a short drive is the Kaituna River, home to Tutea Falls – the world’s largest commercially rafted waterfalls at 7 meters tall! If you are keen to go rafting, we think this is the best spot for it.
Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park
Just a short drive out of Rotorua is the popular Wai O Tapu Thermal Park. Home to a bunch of incredible bubbling and steaming volcanic crater lakes all with strange, unique colours, from bright green, to blues, yellows and oranges. It costs just over $30 to enter and will take a couple of hours to walk through the entire park.
Top tip: Right by the park is a bunch of geothermal mud pools and steaming craters that you can soak in for free!
Where To Stay
$ Rock Solid Backpackers: This is where we stayed during our time in Rotorua. It is super affordable, centrally located with great wifi speeds, a guest lounge, a billiards table, pool table and an Xbox.
$$ Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua: Located on the shores of Lake Rotorua, this 4 star hotel has over 250 rooms and is only a 10 minute drive from the Skyline and Rainbow Springs.
$$$ Novotel Rotorua Lakeside: Located on the shores of Lake Rotorua, Novotel Lakeside offers luxurious accommodation with a lake or city view. It features a day spa, a Maori cultural centre, and free use of the unique geothermal pools.
Book an Airbnb: We have stayed in Airbnbs all around the world and is one of our favourite ways to spend a few nights in a city. Usually they can be a lot cheaper than hotels, but with all the same perks, if not more!
Have you stayed in an Airbnb rental before? If not and you would like to sign up to Airbnb why not use this link here so you can receive a $50 Airbnb travel credit.
Where To Eat
Here is a list of some of our favourite spots to find a bite to eat in the city…
For a cafe spot try Ciabatta Cafe and Bakery.
For a great breakfast spot try out Artisan Cafe.
For delicious pastries head to Le Cafe de Paris.
For Indian head to Indian Star Tandoori Restaurant.
For Latin American cuisine with amazing Margaritas you need to go to Sabroso.
For those that love Italian try Zanelli’s Italian Cuisine.
For Thai food head to The Thai Restaurant.
For Japanese try Yamato Japanese Restaurant.
A big thank you to Wild Kiwi for supporting Flying the Nest and making this trip possible.