7 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

jana meerman rainbow mountain rotorua (2)

Rotorua is well-known as the stinkiest city in New Zealand! This is thanks to the bubbling geothermal activities that call Rotorua home. The city is built around a number of extra-hot mud pools, erupting geysers and sulphuric deposits that all contribute to the smell and the unique experience of visiting here.

We spent a couple days in Rotorua on our road trip around the North Island. Rotorua is mostly in the Bay of Plenty region on the mid-eastern coast. A small part crosses over into the Waikato region, too. There's an awesome free campground right in the middle of the city near the i-Site, the library and much of the amenities which is free to stay at for self-contained vehicles.

So, what did we get up to in the stinky city? Here's 7 things we enjoyed discovering!


Mud Pool at Wai-O-Tapu

Our first stop was at the bubbling mud pool at Wai-O-Tapu. You can visit Wai-O-Tapu itself as well, which is a brightly coloured sulphuric lake with the Lady Knox Geyser nearby, but we declined to thanks to the $32.50/person entry fee!

The mud pool (the largest in the entire country!) was free and was super weird but very impressive to witness. Blobs of boiling hot mud explode every few seconds and it reeks of rotten eggs. Definitely something to see while you're here!

jana meerman mud pool rotorua

Rainbow Mountain

Just a few moments from the parking lot, you can spot two brightly coloured sulphuric lakes at the base of Rainbow Mountain. If you wish, you can also hike 3km up to the summit and take in the panoramic views of Rotorua.

jana meerman rainbow mountain rotorua (1)

Kerosene Creek

You can swim in a natural hot springs at Kerosene Creek, a pungent yet very warm and relaxing pool with a waterfall.

jana meerman kerosene creek rotorua (1)
jana meerman kerosene creek rotorua (1)

Kuirau Park

This large park in town is a great, free way to wander through some of the town's geysers and bubbling hot pools!

jana meerman rotorua (1)
jana meerman rotorua (1)

The Redwoods at Whakarewarewa Forest

One of our favourite spots in Rotorua was in Whakarewarewa Forest where we discovered The Redwoods. The massive trees growing straight up towards the sky made us feel tiny. There's four different tracks through the forest of varying lengths and difficulties, that provide spectacular views of the incredible trees and other growth.

There's even a tree-top walk where you can walk high above in the trees, both in the day light and at night, all lit up with twinkle lights.

Check out my detailed guide here!

jana meerman the redwoods rotorua (3)
jana meerman the redwoods rotorua (3)

Blue Spring Putaruru

This crystal clear blue spring is just an 800m walk from the parking lot and provides visitors with a breathtaking glimpse of beautiful water. The water from this stream apparently provides 70% of all of New Zealand's bottled water! It's pretty pure after spending 50-100 years under water where it is naturally purified!

jana meerman blue spring putaruru (1)
jana meerman blue spring putaruru (1)

Lake Rotorua

The lake on which the town sits is a caldera, which means it was formed in a volcanic depression. It is not safe for swimming but it is beautiful! We hung out lakeside in Hamurana and enjoyed the peace and calm of the wharfs there.

jana meerman hamurana lake rotorua
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