The ideal starting point for any trip to Rotorua begins with a trip on Rotorua's Skyline Gondola which takes guests up the side of the city's Mount Ngongotaha to the activity-filled Skyline complex which sits atop the mount. It's likely one of the first things you'll want to do when you get to the city as travelling up the mountainside not only gives you great 180 degree views of the panorama of Rotorua, its lake, Mokoia Island and further off into the distance, but will allow you to get a sense of how the area is laid out and help orientate yourself for the rest of your time in the region. While the gondolas seat up to 8 people, if you're travelling with less then it's a good idea to try and sit with your back facing the mountain as the ride up is fairly brief and you'll want to gain the best possible views of the outlook on offer while you can. In all, if offers a quick, comfortable and convenient way to get to the peak.
Enjoy Lake Rotorua on the Lakeland Queen & Other Activities
The largest of the volcanically-formed lakes in the region, Lake Rotorua stands out from many other New Zealand cities bodies of water due to both its formation and colour. The Rotorua region's volcanic origins are reflected in the lake, which is actually quite shallow at an average of 10m deep, and which combined with its high sulphur content results in a shifting, green-blue-yellow palette that constantly changes. With its location situated on the north side of the city, Lake Rotorua provides visitors with a focal point for a large variety of activities and other aquatic things to do - with perhaps the most iconic of these being its Lakeland Queen cruise boat.
The Redwoods at Whakarewarewa Forest
While a mouthful to pronounce, Whakarewarewa Forest is easy to enjoy as this vast area of natural offerings is varied enough to offer something for everyone. The ideal spot of choice in the Rotorua region for lovers of the traditional (read: non-volcanic) outdoors, all it takes is a short 5 minute drive from the city centre and you'll soon find yourself what feels like a world away, surrounded by immense Californian Redwood trees up to 60m tall which were originally planted around Rotorua back in 1901. It's now a place where both locals and visitors alike can go to both explore the forest and enjoy various outdoor recreational facilities; biking, horse riding and even simply walking are all enjoyable when immersed in such wonderful surroundings.
Take a Volcano Scenic Flight with Volcanic Air Safaris
If you've got deeper pockets and are looking for what is basically the ultimate in sightseeing experiences in the Rotorua region, then there are few better choices than setting out on a helicopter trip to gain a whole new perspective of New Zealand's many volcanic marvels. Visitors to the region are able to choose from an extensive range of flight options either by taking a helicopter ride or a floatplane where take off and landing are done entirely on the water. Some of the region's most impressive attractions are best both viewed and accessed by air, with the steaming pools of Hell's Gate and Waimangu, the Buried Village and even the incredible sea-volcano of White Island all viable and popular options run by local operator Volcanic Air Safaris.
Go White Water Rafting with River Rats
Rotorua isn't just all sights and steam; it's also one of the more adventure-oriented destinations in New Zealand, and no activity exemplifies this better than white water rafting with River Rats, which has continued to grow in the region over the years to become one of its most popular activities. Visitors to the Rotorua region who are looking for some group-oriented white water fun will be able to make their choice between the thrill of the more challenging Kaituna River with its steeper drops and more heart-pounding rafting opportunities, or instead strike a solid balance between sightseeing and a dose of rafting fun on the more mellow – yet still impressive - Rangitaiki River. Both of these waterways are set amongst some stunning scenery typical of Rotorua's surrounds, and serve as the ideal backdrop for this wet-and-wild kind of experience.
Agroventures Adventure Park
If traditional adventure activities bore you or you feel like you've done them all before, Rotorua's Agroventures Adventure Park is almost certain to offer something that even the most seasoned activity junkie has most likely never tried. The park features a range of rides-slash-activities that utilise different machines and mechanisms to put a different spin on your standard outdoor activities, ranging from the world's only jet-sprint experience to New Zealand's only wind-column free-fall skydive simulator to its weird and wonderful “Shweeb” pedal-powered capsule experience and more, with 5 in total all situated mere metres from one another. Not just a place merely for kids, Agroventures just outside Rotorua provides and entirely original way to spend a few hours or a full day.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Steaming this list up once again is the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, full of amazing thermal activity that allows visitors to walk through a wild, active landscape. With an emphasis on ecological values, the valley offers a range of walks or hikes past steaming craters, native plants and plenty of bird life to form an impressive tableau that simply screams “Rotorua” in every way. It's about as close to a “volcanic park” as you're able to get without mankind having a greater influence on its layout, and the world's youngest geothermal site is easy to explore here due to the many well-planned paths which allow for some truly up-close viewing experiences..
Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Capping off the list of all-things-geo that is Rotorua is Wai-o-Tapu, an incredibly colourful grouping of hot springs, geysers and pools each with their own distinct character, shape and texture formed solely by nature itself which sits around 20 minutes south of Rotorua city. This is the place that you've most likely seen in postcards or promotional material promoting Rotorua as a travel destination, and with good cause; it's the most colourful volcanic area in the country and allows visitors some great angles for photos as you're able to basically step right up to – or in some cases, walk directly through – some of the most striking hot pools you're ever likely to see. Wai-o-Tapu also combines the three essential sights of any geothermal hot spot (prominent geysers, naturally boiling mud pools and volcanic vistas) in a single location, making for a comprehensive experience.
The ski fields of the mountains are visited by new and old ski enthusiasts every year. There are various ski terrains to cater to the requirements of all levels, from beginners to the pros. A well-known mountain range for skiing, the Remarkables are a mere half an hour drive from downtown Queenstown. Other activities such as snow tubing were also recently added to the ranges. The Remarkables also have restaurants for you to have a nice meal after the day out on the slopes. The Remarkables are one of Queenstown's favourite attractions. Learning programmes for kids and adults are available too.
Situated at about a distance of 300 km from Queenstown, the Milford Sound is a place of miraculous beauty. The rocky mountains cutting through the landscape, almost as if made by a sculptor himself. Milford Sound is extremely popular since it is the only fiord that can be accessed via road. You can explore the fiord through cruises along the water, going up to the sea, or also engage in activities such as canoeing and tramping. Even the drive up to fiord is one of sheer magnificence, and plenty of tour buses leaving early in the day are available. While you're here, do take a visit to the The Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory, which allows you to gaze at the underwater life of the fiord, and is situated at a depth of 10 metres.
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's third largest lake. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, it's a spectacular setting for boat rides or relaxing on the shore. Cutting through the southern alps, this beautiful lake forms a thunderbolt shape when looked at from above, and Queenstown sits right at the corner of the zigzag. A fascinating feature of this lake is it's tidal movement, with it's tide rising and receding by about 5 inches every half an hour. The lake itself was formed due to glacial movements millennia ago and remains one of Queenstown's most viewed attractions.Tourists and locals love taking a cruise on the Earnslaw, a steamer ship which cruises around the lake every day, offering the visitors some fascinating views and panoramas. The lake's shores are also a great spot to relax and take a dip in during the summers.
It was New Zealand's first commercial ski field, and is another fantastic example of Queenstown's reputation as a great ski resort. Coronet peak is frequented by many throughout the ski season for some fun and exhilarating action. It has got top class facilities, and is known for it's stunning weaving terrains suited to the requirements of all difficulties. The snowmaking on the peak is also pretty intensive throughout the ski season.
The town takes care of many wishes of adrenaline junkies. But for the ultimate adrenaline seeker, nothing will ever beat a skydiving experience. NZONE provides this mind boggling experience of jumping from a plane at a height of 15000 ft. After a freefall, you will witness the beauty of the Remarkables and the lake as you sail over Queenstown in your parachute. NZONE provides you with all the equipment you need to perform this activity, and of course this life changing experience will captured on roll.
AJ Hackett Bungy:
The town is home to the highest bungy jump in New Zealand, and also has 2 other jumps of varying heights. It provide some fantastic adventure activities in the entire country, and none better than those here in Queenstown. You can never ever run out of adrenaline pumping activities in Queenstown, and this just goes on to prove that! Not just that, Queenstown also has the world's biggest rope swing, has a bridge climb, and even a tandem zip ride.
The Skippers Canyon is the historic place where the one of the largest gold rushes of Ortago took place. These lead to the meteoric rise of the region around Skippers Canyon, towns such as Charlestown and Skippers Point came up. But as soon as the gold rush died, so did these towns and their ruins can still be seen in the region. Skippers canyon, today, is a major tourist attraction. Some of it's most famous activities are the Jet Boat Tour or the Scenic Tour. As the name suggests, the Jet Boat Tour is an exciting way to explore the canyons, weaving through the narrow water of the Shotover while witnessing some spectacular scenery. The scenic tour takes you through the historic land of the gold rush, and also Winky's Museum and Sainsbury Gold Claim. It is also famous for it's many hiking and biking trails.
This majestic 32 km hike is a favourite of many a hiker. Due to the extensive time that's required to complete the track, there are camping sites and huts along the way for the hikers. Most of the track goes through the ridges on the High Saddle, overlapping the Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Fiordlands National Park. This route is also often called a 'tramping' route. Along the way you'll come across many beautiful sceneries, and native NZ birds accompanying you for the distance.
Skycity Wharf Casino:
It is the best way to relax after an adventurous day, have good food with drinks, and enjoy a good round of casino games. The Waterside Bar and Bistro also stands adjacent to the casino, for a complete and fulfilling night. After a day of adventure sports and adrenaline pumping activities, give your luck a shot! The Skycity Wharf Casino is a famous and extremely elaborate casino in Queenstown, complete with more than 70 machines and of course the classic casino tables like poker, blackjack roulette and so on. This casino's fabulous lakeside location makes it an even better experience.