Great Campground & Free Activities in Rotorua

Rotorua has been a real surprise. Growing up in New Zealand, I always thought of it as a place to avoid. Too touristy and smelly from all the thermal activity in the area. But I decided to have a proper explore this time and have been impressed.

What impressed me?

  • I stayed at a fantastic affordable lakeside campground just outside of Rotorua with some great sunsets.
  • I found it extremely easy to go hiking in some nearby forests.
  • The town is large enough to have a couple of good sized supermarkets and they are even building a Kmart.
  • There is no painful Auckland traffic!
  • Looking at the map, it’s in a great location for freelancing with Tauranga, Taupo, Cambridge and Hamilton surrounding it.

I know I will be visiting again soon to see if it would be a good base.

Walks in the Rotorua area

As I’m being cautious with money on this roadtrip, I avoided all the touristy and expensive activities. I managed to make the most of the good winter weather and explore some of the walks in the area. If you are a fan of bikes, Rotorua seems to be the place!

Below are three walking spots that I would recommend.

Redwood Forest

It has a touristy entrance with a treetop walkway, but the forest is so big you can get away from the crowds. I happened to visit over the school holidays and managed to avoid the family outings. There are walking tracks criss-crossing the forest. The giant trees are unusual in New Zealand, but if you walk further afield, it becomes New Zealand bush.

Blue Lake & Green Lake

I wanted to see the lookout, but did my usual thing of charging off down the path without checking the signs. It was only after a long walk exploring other tracks that I realised that the lookout was behind me in the carpark! Highly recommend stopping at the lookout with fantastic views of both lakes. There is an easy walking trail down to the Blue Lake, which is very peaceful and pretty. Then there are plenty of other walking and biking trails deep into the forest.

Lake Tarawera

This hike has been high on my to-do list. But the track was extremely muddy on this visit and I decided to wait until the weather improves. You can walk around the lake in 5-6 hours, swim in the hot water at the end, then take a water taxi back to the start. I’ve heard you need to pre-book the water taxi and confirm before walking. I drove down to the lake and had an explore. Definitely a walk I will be doing in the near future.


Have you been to Rotorua? What is your favourite thing to do in the area? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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