The 12 days of eco-Christmas in Rotorua

We think saving the planet is super cool, so this year we’re celebrating a dozen (although there are many more!) of our environmentally friendly tourism and hospitality operators and we hope you’ll support them this holiday season!


Rotorua Ziplines

This new Ekos Climate Positive certified experience is located in stunning Okere Falls. Rotorua Ziplines merges adventure, culture and sustainability into a transformative experience.
Get harnessed up and hooked on, then glide effortlessly in and out of a forest while criss-crossing the Kaituna River along the way. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall, while appreciating the serenity and beauty of the river canyon. To top it all off, you’ll get to participate in re-foresting the Okere Falls valley by planting a native seedling tree onsite.
Rotorua Ziplines is committed to caring for the river and surrounds through weed elimination, pest trapping, and treading as gently on the earth as possible. Their goal is to reforest the reserve around the river and offset the carbon
Locals’ Tip: Back on ground, take a forested walk along the Kaituna for a great post-zipline activity.

Okere Falls Store

While you’re in the neighbourhood, call in at the locals’ favourite and home of New Zealand’s number-one toasted sandwich, Okere Falls Store. Besides toasties, the menu offers an amazing array of treats both sweet and savoury, plus smoothies, coffees from house-roasted beans, soft drinks, nine beers on tap and heaps more in the beer fridge that are 100% New Zealand crafted.
Enjoy your kai inside or in the beer garden out back. You’ll love the down-to-earth vibe and even the outdoor self-composting toilets. The Store is also a great place to stock up your pantry or pick out a few artisan gifts – both food and non-food available – for Christmas.
Formerly a petrol station, the Store was long ago transformed into a place that celebrated sustainability from day one. Sourcing organic produce and foods, products made as locally as possible, and growing lots of herbs and veggies for the chef’s use (the bees love it too) are just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. The Store has been free of plastic bags, straws and more since before it was a movement, and they boycotted Coke and all other fizzy drinks that package in plastic.

River Rats

For another self-fuelled activity, join River Rats for a guided kayak tour by day or night to the secluded Manupirua Springs Hot Pools along the edge of Lake Rotoiti. This is a really special spot that’s accessible only by floatplane or watercraft.
Have a leisurely soak while your guide cooks an appetising Kiwi BBQ dinner. Kids young and old love zipping down the giant water slide into the cool lake. After dinner, enjoy a sunset paddle across the lake, stopping to visit glow worm caves along the way.

Whakarewarewa e-bike trails

At Whakarewarewa - The Living Māori Village, the self-guided Whaka Geothermal Trails walking tour introduced in 2020 was such a hit that the team at Whakarewarewa Village have taken that exploration experience to the next level. They’ve teamed up with Electric Bike Rotorua to offer an exclusive Whaka E-Bike Trail experience into previously non-accessible areas of the Whakarewarewa Valley Reserve.
This is a great leisurely outdoor activity for families, couples, and small groups of up to 10, and for nearly all levels of fitness. Children can ride independently or on a dual-carry electric bike, and you can select the two, four, or six-hour bike hire rate, and even take the bikes through our famous Whakarewarewa Forest just a five-minute ride away. In fact, if you’re going for the long haul, pre-order a picnic hamper to take with you.

Hell's Gate

Rotorua is, of course, famous for the geothermal activity taking place all around us. It’s this natural furnace below our feet that’s used for heating homes, hot tubs and naturally occurring hot pools.
Hell’s Gate is just one of the local attractions that harnesses this heat in their hot pool and the country’s only geothermal mud spa (pictured at top). Thanks to its beauty and the healing properties of the geothermal mud and waters, the Tikitere area where Hell’s Gate is located has been a destination for spa and nature seekers since 1871.
This Māori-owned valley is known as the fiercest of the geothermal areas, so plan plenty of time here as you’ll want to walk through the incredible geothermal park (with a guide or self-guided) before enjoying a soak in the unique mud pools followed by a hot soak in the mineral-rich waters of the thermal pools.

Paddle Board Rotorua

Use the power of your own arms to see glow worms located on a lake only a 15-minute drive from the city centre.
Paddle Board Rotorua offers both stand up paddle board (SUP) and kayak guided tours that set off across the lake as the sun sets. Feel the adventure as you glide through the evening, past beautiful rock formations and into hidden caves where you’ll be amazed by the secret spot that’s home to an incredible galaxy of glow worms that are as breath-taking as our starry skies.
If it’s a clear night, the magic continues as the stars come out and the Milky Way paints the sky. Upon returning to the base you’ll feel like you’ve been to another world.

Real Rotorua

If you’d love to see our native glow worms but you’re more comfortable with feet on terra firma, the guided, easy, 2km Nocturnal Adventure walking tour into the native bush with Real Rotorua is your ticket.
After a walk through the darkness of a native forest, you’ll be guided by the sound of running water. Towering banks will rise up around you and if you turn your flashlights off you will not be disappointed. Literally thousands of glow worms are lit up like the night sky, forming their own constellations all around you. Experience New Zealand’s wildlife by night and top this stellar evening by relaxing under the stars.

The National Kiwi Hatchery

Everybody loves the Kiwi Hatchery! This hatchery is the national leader in kiwi husbandry, egg incubation systems, hatching techniques and kiwi chick rearing, and it’s the largest and most successful kiwi hatchery in the world.
Lucky for Rotorua locals and visitors, it’s also the only purpose-built kiwi conservation centre in the world that’s open to the public, and is New Zealand’s only open-to-view kiwi hatchery and rearing facility.
The Behind the Scenes Exclusive tour provides a unique opportunity to step ‘behind the glass’ for an immersive experience to join the hatchery team in a staff-only area to learn about the incubation and chick rearing techniques from global experts.
Possibly the best part: 100% of your ticket entry goes straight back to the hatching programme that’s working hard to preserve our national icon.

Mountain Bike Rotorua

Having the best year-round mountain biking trails in Australasia, and New Zealand’s newest Great Ride, Rotorua really celebrates pedal power.
Mountain Bike Rotorua has been in the bike hire business for decades. With the latest gear and their professional expertise, trail knowledge, and riding experience, they’re your go-to for renting mountain bikes by the hour or day.
Guides are available, too, perfect if you’d like to leave the navigation to someone else and learn a bit about Rotorua’s trails and history while you ride.
Mountain Bike Rotorua has two main locations: one at the Waipa mountain biking hub off State Highway 5, and one at Te Pūtake o Tawa park on Tarawera Road. Booking bikes can be easily done online. Go by bike!


Here’s the perfect way to set an eco-tone for your holiday: head to the amazing aMAZEme and try to find your way to the centre of the living maze. Constructed from an immaculately pruned, 1.8-metre-high escallonia hedge, the 1.4km-long maze contains one-way doors, dead ends and trick openings that may or may not help you find your way. Lose yourself (and/or the kids) in the endless spirals.
Bring your Christmas hamper to enjoy picnic-styles afterwards, followed by free lawn games, McGregor’s Garden and a small-animal petting area too.

River’s Catch

Here’s another Rotorua business celebrating local and committed to sourcing sustainable and seasonal seafood and produce. All takeaway packaging is recyclable.
River’s Catch is an upmarket fish-n-chips-n-more shop tucked away in the tree-lined streets of Sunnybrook. Proprietor Isabel loves to have fun with flavours, adding her own touch to traditional Kiwi comfort foods by harkening back to her Filipino heritage. It’s a serious match made in culinary heaven!
Menus at fish-n-chips shops are notorious for offering an overwhelming selection, so at RC, head first to the section titled ‘In Between Bread’. Here you’ll find some of RC’s specialties like RC Fish Bun, Adobo Fish Tacos, and new to the menu Gambas Po’Boy.
Isabel and hubby Norman make their own sauces that include chipotle mayo, adobo aoli and smoked garlic mayo. Slaw is topped with house-made miso dressing, and burgers are topped with their own pickle relish.

Aura Accommodation

If you want to stay somewhere that makes your earth-loving soul happy, Aura Accommodation is it. They’re not only a leader in sustainability in the accommodation sector in Rotorua, but they’re working hard to educate their guests about looking after the planet, too.
Aura loans keep cups to guests to use while they’re in Rotorua; buys local where possible (e.g., the milk in the guest rooms is from Rotorua’s Volcanic Creamery); works hard on reducing packaging on incoming goods; works with suppliers that share their values; and utilises solar power for electricity and geothermal heating for rooms and pools.
Aura’s cleaning staff use a purpose-built waste collection trolley to sort rubbish from the rooms into a range of waste streams for glass, cans, plastics (1, 2 & 5), food, and items such as used hand soaps, which are also recycled. The cart also holds the refill pumps for body wash, shampoo and conditioner because they’ve phased out toiletries in small plastic bottles.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to book now, you’ll be happy to hear Aura is conveniently located down a quiet little side street just off the centre of town. They’re walkable to so many restaurants, bars, and the iconic Lady Janes Ice Cream Parlour.
Also within a few blocks are Government Gardens, geothermal Kuirau Park, Saturday farmers market, and Thursday Night Market – all FREE to enjoy. Polynesian Spa is also nearby, as well as Volcanic Air helicopter and floatplane tours, and Katoa Lake Rotorua jet boat tours.
We hope this has inspired you to book an eco-friendly holiday the next time you’re heading to Rotorua. If you have any questions or would like free booking assistance, our i-SITE travel experts are ready to help.

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