Rotorua Secret Spots
Being entirely honest, when you visit Rotorua you can do the things that most people do and you’ll have a magical time. However if you are a bit like me and tend to explore off the beaten track and not do the ‘run of the mill’ Rotorua activities then there are most definitely secret options out there for you and me! I’ve found a few spots during my time living in Rotorua
Lake Okaro, or as it’s known to the locals ‘Ngakaro’ is a simply beautiful spot to relax if you find yourself with a nice day when you visit Rotorua. The meaning of the name has been lost over time but it is said to be of great cultural significance to the Ngati Whaoa and Ngati Tahu tribes. Lake Okaro is the Rotorua districts smallest lake which is why it doesn’t get a huge amount of publicity but it’s set in a beautiful rural setting with plenty of trees to lounge under, the water is nice to swim in and it’s a popular spot for water skis. Honestly I love it, if you’re wondering what to do in Rotorua and you are looking to relax it’s worth checking this place out.
How to get there: Head out of town towards Taupo and you’ll see signs to Murupara, State Highway 38 (approx. 20-25mins drive). Follow this road for a couple of minutes and on the left hand side you’ll find Okaro Road. You’ll find the lake close to this road on the right hand side. Then simply find yourself a secluded spot and enjoy!
As you do – Redwoods trail
Now I’m going to start this off by saying that this trail isn’t for the faint hearted, it involves a few steep hill climbs and a decent amount of walking. However if this sounds like something you’d enjoy the views will absolutely reward the effort! It’s going to be hard for me to describe how to find this trail, my suggestion is grab a map from the Redwoods I-site, or ask for directions to the start of the ‘as you do’ trail. Now once you’re in for about an hours worth of walking up some (at times) steep hills but when you reach the top (keep following your nose to the top) you’ll be rewarded with breath taking views of the city and Lake Rotorua in one direction and if you simply turn around you’ll have breath taking views of the Kaingaroa Forest. The photo you see here is me sitting up the top of the Redwoods after completing the trail. You can walk back down the way you came or find one of the many other trails down.
How to get there: The Redwoods forest is easy to find as it’s one of the top attractions in Rotorua, but head down Long Mile Road to the Rotorua I-site and make sure you pick up a map to help you get to the top. The I-site staff are also incredibly helpful so make sure this is your first stop.
I have talked about these two places in my hot springs blog so I’ll keep this brief. The reason that I have added these to the secret spots is that they are free and not hugely advertised. These locations tend to be discovered more via word of mouth than any tour books etc. Both Rotorua attractions are natural hot springs nestled in a bush setting for anyone to discover and enjoy. For more detail on these places and how to find them, check out our hot springs blog!
Wai-o-tapu Mud Pool
One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘where can I see mud pools for free?’ Well there is Kuirau park in the middle of town but that’s more water than mud. However there IS a free mud pool you can see when you visit Rotorua. The geothermal mud pool is located by Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the top Rotorua activities.
How to get there: Because Wai-O-Tapu is so well signposted start by heading towards Taupo and follow signs to Wai-O-Tapu. When you turn down the road towards the thermal park there will be a sign that simply says ‘mud pool’ turn down and you’ll find the mud pool with steam coming out of it and delightful smells!
Note: Hot N Cold hot spring is very close to this mud pool, check out our hot springs guide for more info and check it out while you’re there!
While this isn’t really ‘hidden’ so to speak, I’m adding this simply because it’s not hugely advertised. Now if you’re hanging around in the middle of town chances are you’ll see it but if not then I would highly recommend seeking it out for yourselves. The Night Market is every Thursday night starting from 5pm through till around 8pm. You’ll find arts and crafts, amazing food, entertainment and much more. The other bonus is that the Night Market is usually bustling with people and there are places to simply sit down and meet new and likeminded people. I personally go to this most weeks and will continue to until it’s over, well worth checking out believe me!
Check out their Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/rotoruanightmarket/
How to find it: Located right in the heart of Rotorua, you’ll see ‘event’ and ‘road closed’ signs in the center of town. So head for Tutanekai Street and follow your nose!
The amazing thing when you visit Rotorua is that you’ll find many secret spots of your own if you head off the beaten track. These are some of my favorites but I can safely assume that I’ll find more during my time here, might even find something tomorrow it’s the joy of being in Rotorua and finding your own Rotorua activities. So get out there and see what you can find! If you do find something new and unique, flick us a message online or through Facebook, we would love to see what you find!