8 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

8 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

I’ve heard that many people like to spend as little time as possible in Rotorua when visiting New Zealand, perhaps due to the high number of tourist traps, or perhaps due to the lovely smell of sulphur always hanging in the air. But Rotorua was actually my favourite stop on New Zealand’s North Island and I want to share with you why.

And of course I was doing it all on a budget. So here are my top free things to do off the beaten path in Rotorua. Much better than the tourist traps, I promise you!




Kuirau Park

I mention this park first as you don’t actually need to go very far to find it. Kuirau Park is in the city centre and is a great way to introduce yourself to Rotorua. And to the smell! Well, maybe. Perhaps don’t eat your lunch in this park unless  you love the smell of sulphur. Either way, check out the geothermal ponds, the bubbling mud pools and dip your feet in the hot pools.




Bubbling Mud Pools

There are PLENTY of places that will make you pay to see their bubbling mud, but why pay when you can see one of the largest ones for free? It was pretty spectacular and only a short distance away from all of the main geothermal parks so plenty of directions to follow. You won’t be disappointed!




Okere Falls (with glow worms!)

Okere Falls is a beautiful set of waterfalls and also has a great walk alongside the falls. However, my favourite thing about these waterfalls HAS to be the glow worms. On the recommendation from my hostel owner I got to the falls just before dark, leaving enough time to do the walk first. As soon as darkness has fully fallen, I walked back into the entrance of the walk and was AMAZED. There were glow worms everywhere! It was so beautiful. Obviously I have no photos of the glow worms but here’s Okere Falls.



Waterfront Walk

Another free attraction nice and close to the town centre. If you head towards Government Gardens, you can combine the two walks! And then you get to see cool stuff like this pool of laughing gas amongst other cool geothermal wonders.



Blue and Green Lakes

Conveniently located right next to each other with a car park slap bang in the middle, these two lakes are worth a quick stop. I found it fascinating how each lake was such a different colour, although I can’t remember for the life of me why. I took these two photos from the exact same spot on a hill in the car park, pretty cool huh?




Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain scenic reserve is a great stop for those who like hiking. Although I didn’t have a huge amount of time spare to do some of the longer hikes which all sounded amazing, I did hike up to this brilliantly coloured crater lake.



Hamurana Springs Reserve

Unlike Kuirau Park, this would be a perfect place for a picnic on a sunny day!  The location is stunning. Before this I had never seen a natural spring before and I just loved how clear the water was here. The spring I have added a photo of produces something insane like 4.5 million litres of water an hour. That figure could be wrong but I do know it produced a LOT. Amazing.




Kerosene Creek

And last but not least, Kerosene Creek, my absolute favourite place that I visited. Why? Well, I was sat in a river in the middle of a forest under HOT waterfalls, that’s why. I could happily have spent a few hours here. And the beauty of it was that there were VERY few people here as to get to it you have to drive down an unmarked, unpaved road. But it was definitely worth the bumpy ride.



So what do you think? Do you fancy visiting these hidden gems of Rotorua?


Pin it to remind yourself later!





Luckily for me, I had a fantastic hostel owner called Chris whilst staying at the awesome Crash Palace who told me about all of these hidden gems. So my friend and I rented a car and set off to see the sights. And all for FREE. Well, minus the car rental and petrol. But even that was only $40 each for two of us for 24 hours. Not bad considering we drove over 200km really!

Disclaimer: This post was written way back in March 2013 when I was still on my year abroad in Australia. I recently rediscovered my old blog and wanted to keep some of the more memorable posts so I will be replicating them on this blog – because good memories are fab. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed finding them again!


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