Famous for its geothermal energy and warm Maori culture, what many don’t know is that Rotorua is also home to epic outdoors adventures and incredible hiking. Below are a few of what we think are Rotorua’s best day hikes. From huge volcanoes to stunning lakes and heated pools, hiking in Rotorua is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Hiking in Rotorua – our picks for Rotorua’s top day hikes
South-east of Rotorua stands mighty Mt Tarawera, which last erupted in 1886, destroying the Pink & White terraces but creating the world’s youngest geothermal valley of Waimangu. Mount Tarawera is revered by local Maori and steeped in myths and legends – it’s an incredible place to explore if you’re looking for Rotorua’s best day hikes. Getting to the top is made all the more worth it when you are rewarded with 360-degree views past Rotorua and out to White Island.
Inspired to experience Mount Tarawera on foot? We offer a fully guided half-day hike up the mountain, including an optional run in to the very heart of the volcano’s crater. This is a hike that’s awesome to experience with a guide – they’ll bring the history and mythology of the volcano alive, adding another dimension to the hike.
Make it happen: Kaitiaki offers two daily Mount Tarawera departures in summer, and one daily in winter. Find out more here.
Discover native bush, quiet beaches and birdsong on the Blue Lake Track, a stunning track to hike on a sunny day. Blue Lake lies within a volcanic crater, and its bright blue colour can be attributed to the rhyolite and pumice that lies on the lake bed.
A 5.5km loop, the Blue Lake Track is well-maintained and easy to follow and is suitable for all abilities. At the northern side of the lake is a boat ramp surrounded by swimming areas – take the opportunity to cool off after your walk.
Make it happen: The track begins at the north-east end of Blue Lake, on Tarawera Road. The lake is about a 10-minute drive from Rotorua.
Meander through lush native bush, past secluded bays and up and over a lookout point to Hot Water Beach on this beautiful trail. One of our favourites, the Tarawera Trail represents the local people returning to their land and the regeneration of tourism after the 1886 Tarawera eruption.
Around 15km one-way, it takes between 5-6 hours to reach the naturally heated pools of Hot Water Beach. A great idea is to stay overnight at Hot Water Beach campsite or pre-book a water taxi back to The Landing. This day walk is one of Rotorua’s best, and an awesome day out in summer!
Make it happen: The trail starts at Te Waiora car park on Tarawera Road, an easy 15 minute drive from Rotorua. A water taxi is available to bring you back from Hot Water Beach to Tarawera Landing, around 5km from the car park where you started. You’ll need to organise transport back to the car park.