My favourite free things to do in Rotorua

There are so many different things to do in Rotorua that planning a weekend away for parkrun can seem a bit daunting.

What do you include in your visit?

As a resident of the best part of 11 years in this blog post I’m sharing my favourite cheap and low price activities.


Kuirau Park

In the city centre lies one of the most active geothermal parks you will ever get to walk around without having to pay an entry fee. On Saturday mornings it’s home to the Rotorua Rotary Saturday Market where locals stock up on fresh produce, or go for breakfast. There’s a sensory garden, wisteria walkway, kids’ playground and best of all, a footbath where you can experience the geothermal waters for free.

Keep exploring the park to see the lake, sometimes it’s blanketed in steam. There’s a walkway right over it so you can get really close.

Make sure you stick to the paths.


Rotorua is home to a 115 year-old tree experiment and you can roam among the giant redwoods just minutes from the city centre.

The Redwoods Visitor Centre, on Longmile Drive, is the starting point for a number of marked walks. The shortest is 2km and takes you down Memorial Grove, where giant Redwoods line the track.

It’s an easy walk for people of all ages and is part of longer walks, such as the Waitawa Track (3.4km) and Pohaturoa Track (7km).

Also by the visitor centre is the Treewalk. Here you can walk on swingbridges and platforms to learn more about the forest around you. They have day and night walks. It’s a good lower-priced activity, click here for prices. 

The lakes

Rotorua has many lakes to choose from. A favourite for many is Tikitapu/Blue Lake. This has a track around it’s circumference (5.5km) and is popular for watersports and swimming.

Close by is Tarawera (a fishing favourite) and Okareka. Note that Rotokakahi/Green Lake is sacred to iwi, Fishing and swimming is prohibited to non-iwi.

If you want to travel further afield, others to consider are Rotoiti, Rotoma and Rerewhakaaitu.

Low Cost

Rotorua Mini Golf

I’m in love with this place. It’s mini golf with a twist – rabbits! Open from 10am to 10pm there are giant rabbits which lollop around the greens and creating extra hazards to putt around. 

Secret Spot

It’s called Secret Spot but it’s not so secret now! As you leave Rotorua towards Taupo turn off for the mountain biking.

At the back of the car park you will find Secret Spot.

It’s a café with bonus shinny dipping, that’s right, shinny dipping – barrels filled with hot water to soak your legs in while you enjoy your drinks.

There are full size spa pools too. Unwind after a walk, run or ride in the forest, or head straight to Secret Spot!

If you’re coming to Rotorua for Puarenga parkrun make sure you ask in the facebook group for more visitor tips.

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