3 day backpacker itinerary – hop off the bus!

3 day backpacker itinerary – hop off the bus!


Rotorua is easy to reach by public transport, is on all the major tour bus routes, and is an ideal spot to hop off the bus and explore! Many of the attractions are based right in the city centre so you can walk your way through geothermal and cultural delights, and many of the adventure activities offer free transport from your accommodation, so getting around is easy!


Day One
Start the day with a surge of adrenalin with Kawarau Jet. You can choose from speed and spins, parasailing with awesome views across the lake and surrounding areas, or a trip over to Mokoia Island. This island in the middle of Lake Rotorua is free from introduced predators such as rats and possums, so the native birdlife there is thriving.
Grab a bite to eat in town and explore the rest of the lakefront in the afternoon. A leisurely walk will take you through Government Gardens and past the iconic Rotorua Museum. Continue out to Sulphur Point, or you can explore Ohinemutu Village. Just across the Village Green, you’ll find Eat Streat and backpacker’s favourite – Lady Jane’s ice cream parlour!


For the evening, get a taste of authentic Maori culture and cuisine at Tamaki Maori Village. The entertainment starts as soon as you step on the bus at your accommodation. You can immerse yourself in the traditional Maori way of life in the village before the traditional hangi meal and cultural performance.
The YHA Rotorua provides a great base to explore from. It’s located right in the centre of the city, right next to the Kuirau Park, a free geothermal park, just two minutes’ walk from shops, cafés, restaurants and all the lakefront activities.
Day 2
Prepare yourself for an adventure! Mount Tarawera with Kaitiaki Adventures takes you on a 4x4 drive up this legendary volcano. You then hike to the summit for 360 degree panoramic views, and if you’re keen, run down a scree slope into the crater.
Relax in the evening with a thermal hot soak at Polynesian Spa. It sits on the lakefront in the city, so an easy walk from your accommodation. The pools are fed by local springs, the Priest Spring provides acidic mineral pools, and the Rachel Spring feeds cascading alkaline pools, both with a number of health benefits to leave you feeling awesome and refreshed!

Day 3
Thermal Land Shuttle is a great option to experience some of Rotorua’s out of town geothermal attractions. You can visit Wai-o-Tapu thermal park with the iconic champagne pools you will have seen on any Rotorua brochure, or head out to Waimangu Volcanic Valley for a self-guided eco-tour. The natural hot pools in the area are also one of the bucket list activities in Rotorua.  
In the afternoon, Rotorua Canopy Tours will pick you up from your accommodation and take you out on a three hour zipline adventure through ancient native New Zealand forest. More than just a thrill ride, this will give you an insight into New Zealand forest and the challenges our birds face, plus part of your entry fee helps to fund a conservation project to restore the forest.