Top day trips from Rotorua

Top day trips from Rotorua

With some of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches, underground caves and Hobbiton Movie Set within an hour or two’s drive, why not stay an extra few nights in Rotorua and add some day trips to your holiday. Here are some of our top day trip suggestions:

Drive time: 1 hour
Activities: Swim at the beach, climb the Mount, relax at the hot pools.
Places to eat: Eighty Eight café, Sidetrack café, Mags Fresh Fish
Day visit: Start your day by embracing the views of the sea and walking around Mount Maunganui Base Track – it’s 3.4km and will take around 45 minutes (for more of a challenge you can climb to the top – 232m elevation). Afterwards head to a café to refuel, or buy some fish and chips from Mags Fresh Fish to eat at the beach, a truly Kiwi tradition. Whether strolling along the shoreline, going for a dip, or taking a surfing lesson, hanging out at the beach is sure to be a highlight of the day. If you need a soak afterwards, the Mount Hot Pools will be the perfect place to wind down before driving back to Rotorua. 
Drive time: 1 hour 20mins
Activities: Te Haa Gallery, Julian’s Berry Farm, Ohope Beach, coastal walk, harbour stand up paddle boarding.
Places to eat:  Fisherman’s Wharf Café, Port Ohope General Store, Ohiwa Oyster Farm, Cadera
The drive is an absolute highlight of this trip - with four picturesque lakes on the way, the views are breathtaking. If you’d like a stop, check out the work of one of NZ’s best carvers Joe Kemp at Te Haa Gallery along the shores of Lake Rotoma. Another fun stop on the way is Julian’s Berry Farm at Whakatane where you can pick strawberries and have fresh fruit ice cream. Once you arrive at Ohope, explore the beautiful beach voted NZ’s Most Loved Beach. There’s 11 km of easily walkable white sand on the shoreline from the Ōhiwa Harbour entrance all the way to West End. With warm waters and safe swimming, this is one of the best places in New Zealand to learn how to surf. If you’d like a walk, secluded Otarawairere Bay is the hidden wonder of the area. Ohiwa Harbour is also a safe swimming spot for children and stand up paddle boards can be hired. It’s a haven for bird life too, godwits migrate from Alaska every season to nest on its shores. 

Drive time: 1 hour self-drive. Or bus transfer daily at 8am or 1:20pm from The Hobbiton™ Movie Set Shop, 1235 Fenton St, Rotorua. 
Activity: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour in Matamata
Time to allow: 4.5 hours including driving
Place to Eat: The Green Dragon Inn
Experience the real Middle-earth™ with a visit to the Hobbiton™ Movie Set - the setting for The Shire™ that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. The extraordinary following that the movies have amassed have led to the tours becoming a must-do while in New Zealand. You’ll be escorted around the Movie Set and shown intricate detailing, with the most famous locations pointed out with explanations of how the movie magic was made.

Drive time: 2 hours
Activity: Underground cave walks, boating or rafting
Place to Eat: Huhu, Waitomo General Store, Waitomo Homestead
Head underground into the caves at Waitomo to see stalagmites, stalagtites, waterfalls, limestone formations & glow worms in the magical subterranean landscape. Discover thousands of illuminating glowworms and explore glittering underground worlds. With options from walking, boating or the thrill of black water rafting – there’s something for everyone.
Drive time: 1 hour
Activities: Huka Falls track walk or jet boating, Maori Rock Carvings
Place to Eat: Café Baku, Storehouse, Body Fuel, Dixie Browns, Vine, The Bistro, The Brantry
As you come into Taupo, make a stop at Huka Falls where you can witness more than 220,000 litres of water per second barreling over an 11 meter high waterfall. To follow the build-up to the falls you can hike the Spa Park to Huka Falls trail, an easy one hour walk. Otherwise for a thrill try the jet boat travelling at 80km an hour to the falls with 360 degree spins on the way.  In the afternoon, visit the Mine Bay Māori rock carving of Ngātoroirangi which towers 14-metres above the deep water of Lake Taupō. Hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary contemporary Māori artworks, you can kayak, cruise or sail there.

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.