This Christmas, if you’re tempted by all those sweets being passed around, go ahead and indulge, live your best life. Then, when it comes time to helping your waistband feel a bit looser – while having fun – we got you!
Rotorua is not only the home of incredible geothermal landscapes, adrenalin-fuelled activities and Māori cultural experiences, but there’s also an array of amazing things to do that are fun, free, and as a bonus, most of them get you out and moving.
Go for a walk or run surrounded by nature
Whakarewarewa Forest (above) is world-renowned for its vast network of mountain bike trails, but more on that later. This jewel in our crown is also an awesome place for a casual stroll, solid walking effort, or a more serious run.
You’ll have six sign-posted walking trails to choose from, from short walks at 2 and 2.4km, long ones ranging from 4.8 to 11.5km, all the way up to Whakarewarewa Circuit, a 34km tramping route that will reward your efforts with beautiful panoramic views of Rotorua. Start at the Redwoods i-SITE Visitor Information Centre where amenities include a café and gift shop, picnic tables, water fountain to refill your bottles, and toilets.
Centennial Park, aka the Tree Trust, consists of 20 hectares of grassy, tree-dotted rolling hills and gullies. Birdlife abounds and the Maple Grove is gorgeous. Sheep are the eco-friendly grounds keepers here, so be sure to close any gates you go through. Amenities include a BBQ, picnic tables and toilets.
Grab the pup and head for the 5.5km undulating walk around Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake). Most of this trail takes you through the shady forest that surrounds the lake, with a short section next to the road. Amenities include a BBQ, picnic tables and toilet block near the popular swimmable beach.
Dogs on leads are welcome at all three of the locations above – don’t forget to pack the doggy do bags!
Make a splash
With 18 lakes and 17 of them accessible for public recreation, Rotorua is New Zealand’s lakes district. Here are a few of our faves for summer fun.
Lakes Tarawera and Tikitapu are great for all of your water activities like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and just general splashing about.
Both the beach and the playground at Boyes Beach along the shores of Lake Ōkareka are awesome for a day of active fun in the sun.
You can find more info here on our lakes and rivers.
Load up your mountain bike and ride dirt gold. As mentioned above, Whakarewarewa Forest is famous for its epic mountain bike park, which is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are trails for everyone, no matter your level of fitness, experience, or how much time you’ve got available (hint: take the time you think you’ll want to ride and double it – you’ll be having so much fun you’ll want to stay longer). Grab the kids and their balance bikes and head down to the Waipa carpark where you’ll find the Kids’ Loop, great for the littlies and anyone who needs an easy starter trail to warm up on.
If you’ve got a spare 2.5 to 5 hours, ride the new 33km Whakarewarewa Forest Loop. This trail is great for all confident riders, has rest spots with incredible views (pictured above), and there are three spots to purchase food and drinks, four taps to refill water bottles, and three accessible toilet blocks.
For groups looking for something fun, round everyone up for a friendly game of touch rugby or Ultimate Frisbee at the Village Green near the Rotorua Lakefront. Or load up the kids and head to the newly reopened Volcanic Playground at the Lakefront. The photo above is just a small part of it – it’s about four times as big as the original, and epic fun for all.
There are heaps of ways to get active here in Rotorua, so get out there and burn off that second helping of pav. Don’t forget the sunblock and water bottles!