Terrific Things to Do in the Winter in Rotorua

by Julia on June 24, 2019

Rotorua is, to a certain extent, known as an outdoors place. There are lots of hikes and trails in beautiful lakeside and mountain settings, and incredible forests that you can enjoy as you walk or mountain-bike the established trails.

You don’t have to stop these activities in the winter, and you can certainly get your fill of adrenaline fun on the water, or in the forests.

In this article, though, we’ll talk through some of the things that people love to do in the winter when the weather isn’t quite so great.

Let’s Start with Hells Gate

Hells gate was named by George Bernard Shaw, the famous Irish playwright. When he first saw this geological phenomenon, he believed it was the entrance point to hell. There are incredible geothermal features with waters erupting into the air, boiling hot pools, a hot waterfall, and lakes as well.

There are lots to see at Hells Gate, and you might want to book a mud bath as well, which is said to have incredible healing properties.

Visit the Rotorua Museum

No winter trip would be complete without the mandatory museum visit, and this is a superb museum to enjoy on your trip to Rotorua. You’ll be presented with lots of insights into the Maori cultural history of Rotorua, even from before Western influence.

You’ll find out more about the Te Arawa Maori tribe, and about the social history of what is known as the “Little Town”. When the rain starts, this is a superb place to visit and you can engage the whole family with interactive activities, art, and a fantastic view from the rooftop terrace, if you’re brave enough to go up there.

The Living Maori village

Whakarewarewa is a great place to enjoy time amongst the Maori people, and to learn more about their culture. You’ll also see the famous geothermal stream, which has been an embedded part of Maori lives at Whakarewarewa for centuries.

You’ll get to see the Maori cooking on the stream, and view boiling hot water pools, steam rising from the ground, and mud bubbling before your eyes.

This is a place with plenty of indoors, and plenty of warmth from the geothermal activity, so a decent place to visit when the weather isn’t so great.

Enjoy the Polynesian Spa

The Polynesian spa complex has been named as one of the top 10 spas in the world. The treatments are fantastic and you will certainly be able to relax your mind, unwind, and find some peace.

There are also geothermal hot pools which you won’t have to book to visit, but make sure you book if you want a spa or massage treatment.

Many of the treatments at the Polynesian spa use ingredients locally sourced from the mud pools and thermal waters, which are incredibly rich in minerals, having come up through the crust from deep within the earth.

Wonder at the History of the Buried Village

In 1886, an eruption of Mount Tarawera covered a New Zealand village. The indoor museum at this amazing attraction gives you a glimpse into what it was like for Westerners to settle in New Zealand. You’ll also learn incredible facts about the eruption and how it changed the landscape and lives of people in the region.

With plenty of indoor space, this is an award-winning inside attraction. If you want to head outside, there are waterfall trails and some amazing, eerie experiences to be had. You can also enjoy some sumptuous treats at Vi’s Teahouse, which is a well-known place to enjoy some sustenance and a bit of relaxation in Rotorua.

A Canopy Tour in the Rain

Canopy tours don’t stop just because winter arrives. Imagine being up in the trees, the rain coming down, the zip wires long, up to 200 metres, and the birds chirping away in a frenzy of activity due to the weather conditions. When the forest is under the rain, it tends to come alive.

Dressed in a heavy suit and strapped to the lines, you’ll be safe and snug, so why let a little bit of weather get in the way of an incredible experience? Canopy tours are the best-rated attraction on trip advisor in Rotorua, so they are a must-do whether you are in spring, summer, autumn, or winter. Find more information at https://canopytours.co.nz/experiences/.

The Aquatic Centre for the Whole Family

If the weather is wet or cold, get inside to the aquatic centre for a morning or afternoon thrill, or even for the whole day. With massive outdoor and indoor pools, a playground and spas, don’t forget to bring along some shrimps and burgers and do yourself a Barbie with plenty of family fun. The Barbie might not work if it’s raining, so prepare a picnic as an optional alternative.


Rotorua has plenty to do on a weekend or weeklong winter trip. Get yourself amongst nature, the amazing culture of the Maori, and enjoy plenty of relaxation in the spas and thermal parks.

There’s no time Rotorua isn’t fun, and winter breaks, warmed by the thermal activity, are a great way for you to spend some downtime.

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