Rotorua Museum: Outside the Walls Historical Government Gardens Tours

Tours & Transport

Discover Rotorua's rich culture, volatile landscape and legendary figures in this must-do tour around the famous Rotorua Museum and Government Gardens.

Explore the fascinating stories of Rotorua’s beautiful Government Gardens during the free walking tours hosted by Rotorua Museum guides who won the TrustPower Rotorua Lakes Council Community Supreme Award for their Outside the Walls walking tours.

While Rotorua Museum is closed for earthquake strengthening, museum guides have continued hosting tours and sharing the fascinating history of the area that became known as the Government Gardens.

You'll learn about New Zealand’s most-photographed building, the iconic Rotorua Bath House, from spa to restaurant, cabaret to night club and finally home to Rotorua Museum. Their stories include the Spanish Mission/Art Deco style Blue Baths, almost as famous as the Bath House and those of the other heritage buildings in the vicinity.

Guides delve into the history of the gardens themselves; from the fierce battles that once took place in this oasis of Victorian charm to the burial site for Te Arawa chiefs. Rich in many layers of history this spiritually significant geothermal area was generously gifted by the Ngāti Whakaue people in 1880 “for the benefit of the people of the world!”

Today, transformed from the ‘howling wilderness’ as they were once described by an early European visitor, not only are the gardens home to Rotorua Museum and the Blue Baths, but they are delightfully planted in annuals, perennials and specimen trees, some 140 years old.  Amid the sports grounds, public art and monuments and a sculpture trail refreshed biennially by an international sculpture symposium, geothermal energy flourishes and visitors will learn about the healing waters of the Rachel and Priest thermal pools.

Nature loving visitors will learn about the NZ-first falcon project, which has seen a number of endangered kārearea (New Zealand falcons) released from the roof of Rotorua Museum into Government Gardens. Museum volunteers are still feeding the falcons daily and, if visitors are lucky enough, they may even see one of these rare birds up close!

Private tours for groups of six or more can be arranged to suit. No booking is required for public tours unless your group is more than six people. 

Product Highlights:

  • Discover the fascinating stories behind the buildings, battles and historical sites of the Rotorua Government Gardens
  • Hosted by Rotorua Museum’s award-winning guides
  • Flat easy walking for all tours
  • Tours generally take between an hour and an hour and a half and can be tailored to your needs
  • Should the weather be wet or an hours walk too strenuous, our guides are happy to board your coach to conduct the tour
  • No bookings are required for groups of less than 6 people, however, a booking will ensure we have a guide available for you
How to find us?

Oruawhata Drive, Goverment Gardens, Rotorua