15 Free Must-see Spots in Rotorua
Did you know there are a number of FREE geothermal spots within walking distance of Rotorua’s city centre? I had absolutely no idea until I opened up Rotorua’s Instagram Trail map.
This new adventure trail highlights 15 spots dotted around Rotorua, ideal for photography enthusiasts and anyone looking to visit unique places in the region.
My family and I recently took a drive to Rotorua to check out their new Instagram Trail map and we had an absolute blast hitting all but two of the locations.
The first five locations are in the Inner City Loop, perfect for those without a car or keen for a stroll around town.
1. Kuirau Park #kuiraupark
This is not your average city park. Located smack dab in the middle of the city, Kuirau Park is bubbling away with volcanic steam creating crazy cool photo ops along wooden boardwalks.
Insider tip: Visit during golden hour, an hour before sunset, to catch the golden light penetrating through the steam.
2. Lake Front Jetty #RotoruaNZ
Take a stroll along Lake Rotorua’s waterfront where you can find multiple jetties, ducks, swans and paths that wind around the lake.
After doing Rotorua’s Instagram trail, I highly recommend taking a road trip through Bay of Plenty and Coromandel.
3. Sulphur Point #sulphurpoint
Just behind the Rotorua Museum (spot number four) is the Nature Heritage Boardwalk that features geothermal hotspots out to Sulphur Point.
4. Rotorua Museum #rotoruamuseum
Unfortunately, the museum is under construction due to earthquake strengthening, but I highly recommend a visit to this grand building. It’s located in the Government Gardens where you can find gazebos, rose gardens and plenty of grassy areas for a rest or a picnic.
5. Rachel Spring #rachelspring
Situated near the museum is Rachel Spring, a hot alkaline hot spring that feeds into the Polynesian Spa, said to nourish the skin of any spa-goer.
6. Whakarewarewa Forest #whakarewarewa
No trip to Rotorua is complete without a visit to the Redwood Forest. Follow one of the many trails for a walk amongst these giant Californian Coastline Redwoods.
Although this is not a part of the Instagram Trail, you can purchase a ticket for the Tree Walk, a raised boardwalk with swing bridge, platforms and information on the beautiful giants. The tree top experience is available throughout the day and at night when the trees are lit up with colour.
7. Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) #laketikitapu
A 15-minute drive away from the city will bring you to Blue Lake surrounded by dense forest, ideal for swimming and picnics. Wake up here by staying at the lakeside holiday park.
8. The Landing Jetty, Lake Tarawera #thelanding
Featured as the cover of Rotorua’s Instagram trail map, this idyllic pier is an Instagram hotspot. Its scenic views are worth the trip and if you can wake up early enough, this jetty is perfect for sunrise.
9. Tarawera Lookout #laketarawera
Catch sunrise at the jetty, then head back up the road and make a stop at this viewpoint. As the morning light hits the native plants, this breathtaking view showcases the nearby mountains including Mount Tarawera.
Photo by Ryan Domenico
10. Lake Okareka Boardwalk
Before this trail map, I had no idea Lake Okareka existed. From Okareka Loop Road, follow signs for the Okareka Walkway, pass the lake jetty to find the entrance to the boardwalk. Stroll through wetlands home to a variety of native birds and enjoy the serenity.
11. Okere Falls Track #okerefalls
Do you want to check out white water rafting without actually climbing into a boat? Head to this track to walk alongside Okere River and watch rafters hit massive rapids and waterfalls at one of the viewing platforms.
14. Rainbow Mountain #rainbowmountainrotorua
As stated before, we missed two of Rotorua’s Instagram Trail spots, #12 Pohaturoa Track and #13 Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake). Rather than heading up to the Pohaturoa viewpoint for a sweeping view of Rotorua, we chose the more challenging hike up to Rainbow Mountain. Give yourself 60 to 90 minutes to reach the top and on the way, don’t miss the eye-catching crater lake that gives the colour blue a whole new meaning. Most of the trail is shaded until reaching the top where you are rewarded with 360-degree views of the region.
15. Kerosene Creek #kerosenecreek
Hands down my favourite spot on the trail map. Located off Highway 5, down a gravel road lies a small trail to a hot pool waterfall. Grab your towel and make your way down to relax in the thermal water in the middle of a lush forest, perfect after a long day of trail hopping.
And there you have it. Fifteen, free spots to explore and fill your instagram feed.
Are you ready to hit Rotorua’s Instagram trail? Grab your copy of the map at the i-Site (at Fenton and Arawa Street) or download it here and make sure to tag @rotoruanz and use hashtags #rotoruanz along with the corresponding hashtags to each location for the chance to get shared on Rotorua NZ.