Te Puia

5 FREE things to do in Rotorua


1. Kerosene Creek

Rotorua is renowned for relaxing in hot springs. You can enjoy the many hot pools and spas in the city, or, venture off track to a hot spa set amongst native bush. Kerosene Creek is a geothermally heated stream located 35 minutes south of Rotorua. Here you can relax in warm pools in the stream, as hot water bubbles up from natural springs.

Rotorua, travel, Kerosene Creek

Photo: Vaughan-Brookfield

Where: Follow State Highway 5 towards Taupo for about 30km. After passing the turnoff to Murupara on your left and Lake Ngahewa on your right, turn left on to Old Waiotapu Rd. Follow this gravel road for 2.2 km (about 3 minutes) until you see a grass verge on the right, where you can park your vehicle (don’t leave valuables in your car). Walk down the short track to the creek.

FREE. Remember, it’s a thermal area, so don’t put your head underwater. Respect other bathers and the environment. Take your rubbish with you.

2. Kuirau Park

Discover Kuirau Park’s hissing, bubbling and steaming geothermal activity right in the heart of the city. Wander around the boiling pools and across the steaming lake and take in the sights and smells of this beautiful ‘active’ park. After a walk, you can then enjoy a foot soak at the free Kuirau Park Footbaths (no bathing allowed!). Take a towel to sit on as the wooden seats do get wet.

Photo: Adrian Hodge

Where: Kuirau Park is situated just off Pukuatua and Ranolf streets.

FREE. Daylight hours only. Take caution around thermal areas, keep to tracks, and don’t climb fences.

3. Okere Falls Track

Stretch your legs with a short walk on Okere Falls Track. This well-formed bushwalk leads to a series of lookouts over the Okere River (which is an 11km stretch of the Kaituna River) where you can watch rafters take on the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. The 1.2km track is an easy walk and takes 30 minutes one way.

Photo: Destination Rotorua

Where: Take the Rotorua to Tauranga highway. Okere Falls Track is located 21 km from Rotorua on Trout Pool Road off SH 33.

FREE. Keep to the track – dangerously strong currents and waterfalls.

4. Markets

Markets are a great place to soak up the city vibes. Check out the new Farmers’ Market, every Sunday at the City Focus, the Weekend Market at Kuirau Park on Saturday, and the Rotorua Night Market in the ‘Heart of Tutanekai Street’, from 5pm-9pm every Thursday (weather permitting). Enjoy the range of fresh produce, artisan products, art, jewellery and delicious food for sale.

Photo: Andrew Warner


  • Farmers’ Market (Sunday), City Focus, at the intersection of Tutanekai and Hinemoa Streets
  • Weekend Market (Saturday), Kuirau Park, off Pukuatua and Ranolf Streets
  • Rotorua Night Market (Thursday), starts at the intersection of Tutanekai and Haupapa Streets

FREE entry.

5. Whakarewarewa Forest – The Redwoods

For a huge range of walking, hiking, mountainbiking and horseriding options just five minutes from downtown Rotorua, head to Whakarewarewa Forest, known locally as The Redwoods. As well as awesome recreational activity, the forest is known for those big trees – the magnificent Californian Coast Redwoods.

Six sign-posted walking tracks start from The Redwoods Visitor Centre and I-Site catering for beginners and leisure walkers through to hikers looking for an extra challenge. Cyclists also have a huge array of tracks to choose from. For families, and beginner-intermediate riders, start with the Inner Core Network of trails. Enter these trails from the main car park at the Waipa State Mill Road.

Photo: Adrian Hodge


Redwoods Visitor Centre, Longmile Road, Rotorua

Waipa State Mill Road, off SH 5, south of Rotorua

For more information, www.redwoods.co.nz

Words  Millie Freeman | Images Destination Rotorua