Springtime is great at convincing us to get outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures and longer days. In fact, many experts say the best way to stay healthy and feel fresh and invigorated is to head outdoors!
There are so many outdoor activities in Rotorua to take part in and they’re perfect for almost any age.
Explore the world’s youngest geothermal system
A favourite steamy place to treat the senses is Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Here, some of the best walking trails in Rotorua are set within an awe-inspiring geothermal reserve. Choose from a range of self-guided nature walks and hiking trails (mostly downhill!), through pristine New Zealand bush. If you’re a geek for factoids, keep an eye on your guide sheet as you make your way past spectacular volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, beautiful geothermal features, rare and unusual plant life, brilliantly coloured micro biology and a wide array of birds.
But wait, there’s more. Add on a relaxing cruise across beautiful Lake Rotomahana (pictured above) to see even more geothermal activity, with full commentary by your skipper. When you're ready, the courtesy shuttle bus will return you to the Waimangu Visitor Centre where you can enjoy refreshments in the café with some of the best views available.
Another way to enjoy Lake Rotomahana is by booking a Steaming Cliffs Kayak tour (pictured at top) with Paddle Board Rotorua. This is a great way to really get amongst it as Mount Tarawera watches over you from nearby and the Pink and White Terraces lie beneath the water you paddle on.
If being on the water is your thing but you’d prefer to leave the propulsion to someone else, book a tour with Pure Cruise NZ. Skipper Matt is happy to do the work and show you Lake Rotoiti aboard his 53-foot luxury catamaran Tiua. Simply relax in a bean bag on the bow and watch the native scenery slip by under full sail as you head for a soak in secluded lakeside hot pools.
Enjoy everyone’s favourite forest
Discover the giants of Whakarewarewa Forest (aka The Redwoods) and walk, bike, hike or horse ride to your heart’s content. Set amongst magnificent stands of towering California redwoods, lush native and exotic trees, the forest offers nearly 200km of sign-posted world-class mountain biking trails and walking tracks (some trails are shared, so always keep an eye out) catering for everyone from beginners to experts alike, and at any fitness level.
The forest can also be enjoyed from a bird’s eye view with Redwoods Treewalk & Nightlights (pictured above) as you traverse a 700-metre eco-tourism walk consisting of suspended bridges and platforms ranging from six to 20 metres off the forest floor. The forest is gorgeous on cooler days where you’re mostly protected from cold Southerlies or any light rains. Experiencing the Treewalk by night provides a whole new perspective as the beautifully designed David Trubridge lanterns come to life at dusk.
Feel refreshed in open-air hot pools
When the air is feeling a bit fresh, mineral-rich hot pools are more enticing than ever. There are many options in Rotorua so perhaps the quickest one to get to is Polynesian Spa (pictured above), located near the city centre and along the shores of Lake Rotorua.
If you can, arrive by 9am (Wednesday through Sunday) so you can enjoy the dreamy mist that forms when the steam from the hot pools meets the cool air – it’s a peaceful, beautiful time to enjoy the best of nature, especially when you’ve got gorgeous panoramic views across the lake. Don’t worry if you can’t get there that early, you can secure a soothing session as long as you arrive by 9.15pm.
Polynesian Spa’s waters are sourced from two natural springs and feed into 28 mineral hot pools across the complex. The slightly acidic Priest Spring waters relieve tired muscles, aches and pains while the alkaline waters of the Rachel Spring nourish skin. Move between the pools to combine the effects of the waters, and incorporate ancient healing practices, such as the reflexology walk, to wake up all the senses.
Dine alfrescoWarm up by tucking into a variety of cuisines from dumplings and tacos to vegan burgers, paua fritters and heaps more at the Rotorua Night Market, held every Thursday (weather permitting) from 5pm to 9pm along two blocks on Tutanekai Street.
It’s a mistake to think that just one dish will suffice, so make sure you try an entrée, main and dessert as you make your way down the street. Eat at one of the undercover tables or snuggle into a bean bag and enjoy live music at each end of the market.