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Rotorua’s attractions can be a bit pricey for the average family. Here’s the 10 best free things to do in Rotorua

November 13, 2010

Redwood Forrest Rotorua

What is there to do in Rotorua that’s FREE?

Rotorua, New Zealand or more commonly referred to as Roto-vegas is the North Island of New Zealand’s “tourist town”. Yes Auckland & Wellington have big city lights and major airports, but Rotorua is tour bus meca. Being a tourist town, Rotorua’s tourist attractions are reasonably expensive, but there are a lot of things to see and do in Rotorua, you can easily spend a week here with a family. Whether it’s the  the Luge, Rainbow Springs or the Agrodome,  seeing the Geysers up close or going to the buried village each activity can set you back around a $100  for a family.

So what can you do in Rotorua for free?. A lot actually.

10 Best free things to do in Rotorua, NZ

1. Kuirau Park

You could spend a lot of money visiting the mud pools or you can just wander around this local park free. Tucked behind the hill of the township, Kuirau Park has lots of boiling mud to oogle at. So much that new fences keep popping up everywhere as the mud/steam find new outlets. You can even soak your feet in thermal hot water for free.

IMG_8258_2260photo © 2010 Donna Rutherford | more info


2. Redwood forrest.
This amazing forrest of redwoods (wouldn’t you know it) is a lovely walk. Easy and pushchair friendly. Might not sound appealing for the kids but it is a seriously beautiful spot. There are more adventurous trails and a hike up the hill if your up for it, as well as lots of people on mountain bikes.

3. & 4. Blue & Green Lakes.
Start by following the road to the end (Lake Tawera) and get a coffee/ice cream at the nice little cafe. There are some short walks, a small beach and place to kayak and look jealously at people who own motorboats. Then on the way back stop at the point between the  Green and Blue Lake  and do a bit of the walk. You can walk all the way around, or you can just wander for 1/2 hour  and wander back. Or chill out at the beach opposite the holiday park. Perfect for kids on a lovely day as the water is shallow and clear and no nasty salty hair to deal with.

Black Swan, Rotorua Lake, New Zealandphoto © 2007 ronan crowley | more info

5. Lakefront, feeding the swans.
Or not as the signs say. The swans are aggressive and so even if your not feeding them it’s still fun to watch other unsuspecting tourists trying to…”oh look at the pretty swan”. he he he.

6. Kerosene Creek – Natural thermal springs/river.
Has been tainted a bit recently by a number of car break-ins, but this natural thermal spring river is a great way to swim without freezing your butt off. Although 30C is not hot enough for some people. If your worried about the car  visit the paid pools around the corner.

7. Hot and cold, Waiotapu Stream
Best known by locals and now backpackers this is a point where a hot stream and a cold stream meet, so you can jump between the two. There are mixed reviews now that it’s better known, but is still a great free experience of Rotorua’s thermal activity.

8. Ohinemutu
This was the original settlement of the Ngati Whakaue tribe and a chance to experience a Marae and a taste of Maori culture  for only a gold coin donation.  Also worth a look is St Faiths Church next door.

9. Hamurana Spring
About a 20 min flat walk to some picturesque fresh water springs.  It’s good push-chair fare for families and is a bit further around the lake so only worth it if you have a car.

10. Government Gardens.IMG_1289-1photo © 2007 tom00la | more info
This is pushing it to be a tourist attraction but the building housing the original baths does date from  1933, which in New Zealand terms is historical. There’s pretty rose gardens and it’s iconic Rotorua and it’s free.


Other great lists of free things to do in Rotorua

Inspired to visit Rotorua, NZ

Make sure you head over to Fossick’s page on Rotorua accommodation. With loads of options choosing where to stay in Rotorua can be tough, we make it easy with loads of independent accommodation reviews

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  • Mike

    Fabulous ideas thank you – was just getting scared off by the entry prices to standard attractions. Often the kids have the best time at the free stuff anyway :)

    • gatkinson

      Totally agree the entry prices for main attractions are scary. Just don’t miss the hot pools, that’s the one thing I can’t miss.

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