Naomi Lai
Feb 6
Rotorua is one of my favourite places in New Zealand so far! I had a wonderful time on a summer weekend exploring with friends. I tried to keep my costs down, so here is my best budget advice!

Stay at the Spa Lodge

A little luxury for budget travellers! 

This charming little hostel features its own geothermal spa pool which is free for guests to use! It’s an easy walk to the centre, grocery stores and restaurants, and has a great inner court-yard for socializing.
Dorms available from $20

Rent a Car

Or hitch a ride with a friend

I found it was difficult to access the best of what Rotorua has to offer without some wheels! Day rentals can be found for about $40 and will provide you with optimal flexibility to explore. If you’ve never driven on the left side of the road, Rotorua is a great place to start because the traffic isn’t too crazy. This is where I tried for the first time, and lived to tell the tale!

Redwood Forest

Take a 1, 3, or 8 hour hike!

Just a 5 minute drive or 20 minute bicycle ride from town, with free access to the hiking trails. I followed the 3-hour route and had fun walking through what felt like a scene from Jurassic Park …without the dinosaurs, thankfully. It's an easy trail and suitable for most ages/fitness levels. 

Relax at the Spa

You've earned it after your hike!

If you're not staying at the Spa Lodge (where there is a free geothermal pool) then head over to the Polynesian Spa where you can pamper yourself with one of their many spa-access packages. Starting from $20. 

Take a Dip in Kerosene Creek

A natural hot spring

Alright. So it’s going to be a little smelly due to the geothermal activity that gives this creek its warm temperature, but you’ll get used to it, I promise! Most of Rotorua and the surrounding area smells like sulphur. A blessing and a curse.

Bubbling and Boiling

More geothermal activity!

This is an easy quick stop to check out some more geothermal activity for free, but you can’t dip your feet here! These mud pools are dangerously hot and best admired from behind the fence, unless you want to lose a toe. Lots of gurgling and plopping to be heard. 

Where Two Streams Converge

One hot and one cold! 

Your bathing suit probably still hasn't dried from your trip to Kerosene Creek, but this is another fun place for a swim. Here you can hop from hot to cold in two neighbouring streams, or sit in the middle for a warm mix where they meet! 

Wander Around the Park

Hot springs. Hot springs everywhere! 

Unlike the other activities listed on today's itinerary, this one charges an entry fee of $32 for adults. Walking the whole park will take about 2 hours, and there are many interesting sights to be seen, so you get your money's worth. This is where you'll find the famous Champagne and Devil's Pools, where you can stop to get some sweet pics for your Instagram. 

Live Music!

(Most nights of the week)

By this point you're probably pretty thermalled-out. I respect that. Instead of relaxing at another spa, head to Pig & Whistle for a craft pint and some live entertainment. You'll be tearing up the dance floor by the end of the night. 

More Adventures