If you’re planning to visit Rotorua this February, why not enjoy the added bonus of watching or participating in an epic event?
Rotorua is not only New Zealand’s spa and wellness capital and the home of Māori culture, but it’s also world-famous for adventure activities and geothermal landscapes. Quite often events in our city utilise one or more of these iconic features to create Rotorua-centric celebrations and competitions, such as the following.
For nearly three decades, Lakeside Concert Charitable Trust has been putting on the Ritz with a giant stage, festive atmosphere and world-class entertainers, topped off with a fantastic fireworks display at approximately 10.15pm. It’s all outdoors at the Village Green at the Rotorua Lakefront, and it’s FREE.
This epic concert showcases the best of Māori, classical and contemporary music. It also raises much-needed funds for Child Cancer Foundation via collection buckets, and provides a great venue for showcasing and supporting up-and-comming young talent during a pre-show concert at 5.30pm.
Food and drink vendors will be on site but you may also bring your own picnic hamper (no glass or alcohol allowed).
If you prefer not to bring your own picnic blanket and beach chairs, reserved seats are bookable through Ticketmaster for $15 (plus booking fee). You won’t have to worry about finding a spot to sit and you’ll get the best view of the action on stage.
To secure nearby accommodation, Aura Accommodation, ibis Rotorua, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, Prince’s Gate Boutique Hotel, Pullman Rotorua, and Regent of Rotorua are all within a couple blocks from the venue.
Waitangi Day Celebrations x 26 February
This year Rotorua will be blessed with at least two excellent options with heaps to see, do and eat to commemorate Waitangi Day.
The past number of years have seen thousands of locals and visitors flock to Ōhinemutu to for our city's official Waitangi Day event and celebrate Rotorua's people, place and community. This year, with support from Paratehoata (Tūnohopū) Marae, Mō te Aroha o te Iwi - For the Love of the People will be shifted over to the tranquil and beautiful grounds at Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, providing more space as well as easier parking and access.
The theme for the event is wellness, with a focus on spiritual, mental, familial, environmental, economic and community well-being. Ngāti Whakaue, Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Cook Island cultural groups will be represented.
Come for the stalls selling delicious kai, an arts and crafts market featuring local and national art and live art displays, and musical performances by several talented locals like Nikau Grace, Matahiapo Maxwell, Hunter Geary, and more.
Get involved with games and face painting in the family area, plus waka ama rides. Wai Ariki will also be running guided tours of their facilities (10am-12pm), and offering special deals on the day.
Access is free and everyone is invited. The event will run from 10am to 3pm. It'll be a great day to reconnect, learn and have fun.
Te Puia will celebrate Waitangi Day by showcasing some of what they do best.
Enjoy traditional Māori arts and crafts, hands-on pā activities such as tītī tōrea, poi and haka lessons, and cultural performances (hourly from 10.30am).
There will also be a street food market, taonga market, face painting, bouncy castle, and a whānau chill-out zone. The day will be topped up with Tuatara train rides to see Pōhutu Geyser, plus 60 years of the NZ Māori Arts & Crafts Institute Act wānanga (lectures), and Treaty of Waitangi seminars.
In addition to the food market, Pātaka Kai restaurant will be open for their delicious hāngī buffet lunch, and Hiakai café will have sandwiches, bagels, paninis, pies, coffee, cold drinks, ice creams and sweet treats available.
Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children up to 16 years old.
If you’re keen to explore more of Rotorua’s Māori culture, Te Pā Tū, Mitai Māori Village, Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village, Kahukiwi Experiences 4WD Culture Tours and Mountain Jade provide vastly different immersive experiences to enrich your knowledge and appreciation of our indigenous people.
We’re super excited that Rotorua will be the first location in New Zealand to host a UCI World Cup level event on the Rotorua BMX Club’s tracks at the Waipa mountain biking hub.
This event will provide Olympic qualification points, and approximately 300 of the world’s best riders will be chasing international glory and Olympic medalling dreams.
Spectators are encouraged to come along and catch the non-stop action. The racing format at a UCI BMX Racing World Cup differs from a standard BMX race in order to produce more interesting racing and a higher level of interest for spectators throughout the entire two-day competition. This allows people who aren’t necessarily BMX fans to understand and enjoy what’s happening.
Daily and weekend passes are available through BMX World Cup.
Since you’ll be in the neighbourhood, we suggest packing your swim gear and, after the event wraps up, walk over to Secret Spot Hot Tubs for a soak (bookings recommended) and some street food and cold beverages.
For the past 15 years, the Tarawera Ultramarathon has been New Zealand’s most prestigious trail ultra. Nearly 4,000 runners from around the world, plus their supporters and families, converge upon the city to compete in 21km, 50km, 102km distances or the ultimate 100-mile (162.5km) endurance run.
This is not your typical concrete-pounding event – this course famously takes in seven lakes plus lush forests, geothermal landscapes and geysers, waterfalls and the most stunning scenery imaginable.
If you’re a keen runner, you have until the day before the race to take the plunge and register. The courses and generous cut-off times are deliberately designed with the aim of encouraging runners of all abilities to partake; the non-technical T21 at 23.1km is a great option for anyone new to trail running and still has all the fun of the longer distances.
Trail running is not trail running without the support crews and spectators that bring the events to life. Spectators can see runners at many points along the courses, and the runners love to see your creative signs and crazy costumes and definitely appreciate hearing your cheering and encouragement. A live tracker website, The Tarawera App, and social media allow you to follow the race and track your favourite runners.
Of course, events of this size require a lot of helping hands, so if you’re keen to volunteer individually or as a group, keep an eye on the Tarawera Ultra-Trail socials and website.
With the event hub centered at the Village Green near the lakefront and city centre, you’ll be spoiled for choice for food and refreshments. Wherever you dine, be sure to save room for a sweet treat at Lady Janes Ice Cream Parlour just across the street.