This blog was last updated in May 2021.
Rotorua offers an incredible landscape with interesting and beautiful free short walks through majestic Redwoods, native bush, magnificent waterfalls and unique geothermal activity.
With so much to do in Rotorua, we understand you want to fit in as much as possible, so we have put together our pick of the best short free walks. These tracks vary in time from 30 minutes to an hour to complete and are suitable for all ages and fitness levels, so you can take the whole family.
Rainbow Mountain Crater Lake
Time: 15 minutes one way
Location Click here to get directions to Rainbow Mountain in Google Maps
This fantastic walking track ends at a lookout with views over amazing emerald-coloured crater lakes. The lakes are nestled against the backdrop of Rainbow Mountain’s famous brown, orange and red steaming cliffs.
To get here, head out of Rotorua towards Taupo. The carpark for the walking track is situated just past the turn off to SH 38 on the left-hand side.
If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can continue up Rainbow Mountain to the summit! The walk take just over an hour to get up where you will be rewarded with excellent 360-degree views over Rotorua.
Redwood Memorial Grove Track
Time: 30 minutes
Location Click here to get directions to the Redwoods in Google Maps
No visit to Rotorua is complete without a walk through the Redwoods. This peaceful free walk in the Whakarewarewa Forest is perfect for all visitors and especially children. Starting and ending at the Redwoods i-SITE, the track passes through the breath-taking California Redwoods towering nearly 70 metres above. A feature of the track includes a boardwalk that passes over an ancient geothermal pond. This is the perfect track for a quick trip to admire the Redwoods.
From the ground, you will also notice the Redwoods Treewalk, a range of suspension bridges high up in the Redwoods.. For another perspective on the forest, this walk can be done during the day or at night, and costs $39 for adult admission.
The Redwoods is only a short 10 minute drive from Aura and the City Center. Head out along Te Ngae road and at the large Te Ngae roundabout, turn right onto Tarawera Road. Take another right onto Long Mile Road and you will find plenty of parking is available. Be sure to check out the new (2021) Eastwood Cafe located down here in the Scion Innovation Center.
Rotorua Centennial Park – Rotorua Trees Trust
Location Click here to get directions to the Tree Trust in Google Maps
This gem is one of Rotorua’s best kept secrets. The Tree Trust has over 20 hectares of rolling landscape on the slopes of Tihiotonga neighbourhood. There are several trails with an area for people to dedicate trees to family members as well as a BBQ area, picnic trails and the magic garden, which is bursting with beautiful colours all year round.
Located off Mokoia Drive in the Rotorua suburb of Tihiotonga, head South from the CBD, turn onto Mokoia and head past the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
Okere Falls Scenic Reserve
Time: 30 mins one way
Distance: 1.2 km
Location Click here to get directions to Okere Falls in Google Maps
The highlight of this track is the many scenic lookouts of the Kaituna River. The first lookout, the hydroelectric power station viewpoint, is wheelchair accessible. Further along you can see the spectacular Tutea Falls, the tallest commercially rafted waterfall in the world; if your timing is right, you may even see the rafters coming down! Don’t miss Hinemoa’s steps leading to the Tutea caves and continue to follow the track along with more lookouts over the Trout Pool Falls. Be sure to grab something to eat afterwards at the Okere Falls Store!
Tip: You can walk to the trout pools and return, or alternatively, you can drive to the Trout Pools carpark, just further up the road.
To get here, head along State Highway 30 and 33 toward Tauranga, and turn left just after the Okere Falls Store onto Trout Pool Road. The carpark is on your right.
Time: 30 mins to an hour.
Distance: 1 km
Location Click here to get directions to Kuirau Park in Google Maps
Kuirau Park is a geothermal gem right in the centre of town featuring beautiful gardens, a crater lake, mud pools, hot springs and free thermal foot baths. The naturally occurring geothermal activity is truly spectacular, and you can enjoy a quick visit or spend as much time as you like exploring the gardens.
If you go on Saturday morning you can also check out the morning markets selling fresh fruit & vegetables, local kai (food) and various knick knacks.
Staying at Aura? Borrow one of our scooters for the kids to go exploring!