Ultimate 3-Day Rotorua Itinerary

lake rotoiti hero

Ultimate 3-Day Rotorua Itinerary

Rotorua is a getaway second to none – where else can you enjoy an incredible geothermal wonderland, gorgeous lakes, enchanted forest, world-class cuisine and no end of adventure activities? If you’re looking for a Rotorua 3-day itinerary, we’ve drawn on our local knowledge at Volcanic Air for ideas that will guarantee you an epic mini-break in paradise.

Day 1:

Arrive in Rotorua and check into your hotel. For a 5-star luxury getaway, we would recommend Peppers on the Point, just 10 minutes out of town. Set in a 1930’s mansion, this beautiful establishment looks out over the lake to Mokoia Island, with an interior gorgeously decorated with antiques and contemporary pieces. They also have a tennis court and miniature horses.

For a place that’s brand new, try the Pullman Hotel, located inside the newly renovated old government building – it has views of the lake, a state of the art gym, friendly staff, and is centrally located in town.

For a swimming pool (complete with loungers and beanbags), and private mineral pools, try the Regent of Rotorua Boutique Hotel – the stylish rooms are spacious, and the restaurant gets rave reviews.

Redwoods Nightlight Treewalks
Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk

Spend your first afternoon in Rotorua soaking up the unique culture and geothermal landscape, by visiting the newly renovated Hell’s Gate Mud Spa, the ultimate indulgence. There are only a handful of mud spas in the world, and one of them is right here in Rotorua. The geothermal mud is said to have healing properties and has been used by Maori for centuries: the spa experience involves slathering on the soft, silky mud before exfoliating and soaking in the sulphur spa.

Later, enjoy dinner at Terrace Kitchen for some of the best food in the city – we recommend taking in the evening atmosphere by dining in their beautiful courtyard. After dinner, treat yourself to New Zealand’s only real-life enchanted forest the Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk. This is a series of 28 swing bridges suspended 20 metres above the forest floor, threading through the towering Redwoods that are more than a century old. Thirty David Trubridge-designed lanterns light up the trees making for an enchanting evening experience.

Day 2:

Wake up and enjoy breakfast in your hotel, or pop on out to Le Cafe de Paris, where the staff are always incredibly warm and welcoming. What’s more, their pain au chocolat, croissants and coffee are heavenly.

Floatplane Geothermal Tours - Volcanic Air
Thermal Explorer Adventure

Today’s adventures will involve floatplane magic. Make your way to the lakefront and take off from Lake Rotorua on your Thermal Explorer Adventure with us at Volcanic Air, operators of Rotorua’s only floatplanes. You’ll enjoy incredible views of the majestic Mount Tarawera and the Rotorua lakes, and take in the impossible geothermal colours of Wai O Tapu and Waimangu from the air. We’ll do a water landing on the mighty Waikato river (a thrill in itself), and then taxi out to the hidden valley of Orakei Korako. Back on the river, you’ll take off again, fly above the volcanic valley and land once more on the calm waters of Lake Rotoiti, taxiing this time to the Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools. These hot pools are accessible only by water and are one of Rotorua’s hidden gems. Spend two hours soaking in the healing waters, alternating between hot pools, a refreshing dip in the lake and rest. Fly back to Rotorua city.

If you have some energy left, take the gondola up the side of Mount Ngongotaha for dinner at Stratosfare. This restaurant offers a fantastic view of the region and in the right season, you can sneak in some lugeing at the same time. Follow this up by a night cap on Eat Streat (a vibrant collection of bars and eateries, with a thermally heated footpath) or head straight to bed.

Orakei Korako Valley
Orakei Korako Valley

Day 3:

If you fancy an early morning, Polynesian Spa is best enjoyed early: a misty morning soak with views over the lake is the perfect start to the day. After 10am, indulge in Brunch at Te Puia’s Pataka Kai overlooking the stunning Pohutu Geyser – the food here fuses Maori flavours with global cuisine. Then, head out to The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest for a walk or a mountain bike ride to work off some of that indulgence. The mountain bike park there is world class. There are even $10 shuttles to take you and your bike to the summit of Tawa Hill, where you can then ride down through trees on the many beautifully contoured tracks. If you don’t have your bike with you, the good people at Mountain Bike Rotorua have got you covered. If adventure be thy name, Velocity Valley has a brand new attraction called the V-Force (a reverse bungy), or you could Zorb (Zorb Rotorua is owned by the very inventors of zorbing, and also offers Hyper Inflation inflatable games) or go for a thrilling 4WD blast with Off Road NZ.

Mountain Bike Rotorua
Mountain Bike Rotorua

If you head out of town, stop by Maungatautari (Sanctuary Mountain) and experience one of New Zealand’s best hidden gems: this is a mainland ecological island home to our most threated native fauna and flora, from birds to bats to tuatara.

For that much-needed getaway, Rotorua delivers on all counts, whether you’re looking for relaxation, cuisine or adventure – and we look forward to hosting you at Volcanic Air for that unforgettable day 2!