As New Zealand's busiest tourist centre there are a variety of attractions ranging from free to quite expensive.
Government Gardens is an immaculate park near the CBD, where there is also the city museum (small entry charge) and the famous Blue Baths. Nearby is the Sportsdrome and one of the many golf courses.
The Lakes - there are 14 to choose from. Lake Rotorua gives its name to the city and boat trips can be arranged to Mokoia Island in the centre. The lakefront has a scenic promenade from where you can see Mokoia Island. From the Lakefront scenic floatplane or helicopter scenic flights can be taken. Alternatively a cheaper option is to take the Amphibious truck from Fenton Street, which does a 90 minute tour of several of the main lakes in the area. All the lakes are stocked with trout and fishing is very popular.
Motutara (Sulphur Bay) - Fantastic walkway starting just beyond the government gardens. The walkway passes through several geothermal hot springs and sulpher vents (the posted warnings to stay on the pathway at all times are no joke.) The bay itself hosts many waterbirds and other wildlife.
Whakarewarewa Forest AKA The Redwoodsaccessible either from Tarawera Road (where there is a visitors centre) or from SH5 on the Taupo Highway. Around 1900 New Zealand began a program of planting imported trees here to see which species grows best in NZ. A 6 hectare grove of majestic redwoods is surrounded by forest with other types of trees. Spectacular walks, mountain bike tracks (over 60 km/37 mi in total) and riding trails. Bikes can be hired from bike shops in the city, although Planet Bike also usually have a truck with hire gear at the main car park. Rotorua WalkwayA 26 km (16 mi) scenic walkway around Rotorua incorporating most of the above as well as several other parks and sights. Pick up a brochure for a map and explanations or download one in PDF format from the district council website in the above link.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley587 Waimangu RdPhone: +64 7 366-6137Hours: Daily from 8:30AMPrice: Adults from $34.50, children (6-16) from $11Born from the massive 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera, is the worlds newest geothermal eco-system, and an exciting and dramatic destination that the whole family can enjoy. Whatever your age or fitness level, you'll find something that suits you - self guided and guided easy walks, advanced hikes and boat cruise experiences, ranging in duration from 45 minutes to over 4 hours. If you want outdoor activity, peaceful New Zealand bush, unique ecology, rare botany and stunning geothermal features, then Waimangu is the 'must do' experience. It is easily accessible, just 20 minutes south of Rotorua, and 40 minutes north of Taupo.
Okere Falls - approximately 20 km (12 mi) out of the city towards Tauranga on SH33 you will pass the end of Lake Rotoiti; most of the 14 lakes flow into Rotoiti, which itself heads off to the Bay of Plenty, descending nearly 305 m (1000 ft) in less than 30 km (19 mi). For this reason it boasts some of the most spectacular white water challenges available to the intrepid traveller. These range from dual kayaks, to white water sledging (hurling yourself down stream with a life jacket and float), or rafting. Tuteas Fall is the worlds largest/highest commercially rafted fall; with a 7 m (23 ft) drop, on average every fourth boat flips! If you don't want to get wet there is a pleasant 6 km (4 mi) walk though the forest where you can see the activities at close hand. There are also some small caves where glow worms can be found.
Te PuiaHemo Rd (SH 30)Phone: +64 7 348-9047Tollfree: 0800-837-842Price: Adults from $48.50, children (5-15) from $24.50Home to the Whakarewarewa Valley of geothermal activity, including bubbling mud pools and geysers. There are regular, free guided tours throughout the park, including the geothermal areas, the marae, and the kiwi house. There are also Maori cultural experiences like traditional dances and meals available for an additional charge. Now under construction to become an even more mega-attraction. Whakarewarewa Thermal Village17 Tryon St, WhakarewarewaPhone: +64 7 349-3463Hours: 08:30-17:00 (closed Xmas day)Price: Adults from $35, children (5-15) from $15The main competitor to Te Puia - ironically two Maori iwi competing with similar attractions. Good, and appears less developed and maybe more "authentic" than the next door Te Puia. Skyline SkyridesFairy Springs Rd (SH 5)Phone: +64 7 347-0027Hours: 09:00-latePrice: Adults from $25, children (5-14) from $12.50Located on the outskirts of town, this gondola ride up Mt. Ngongotaha offers a panoramic view of Rotorua and the surrounding mountains. The Agrodome141 Western Rd, NgongotahaPhone: +64 7 357-1050Price: Adults from $31, children (5-15) from $15.50An agricultural park with farm animals, shows and exhibitions describing rural life in New Zealand both past and present. Both the sheep show and the farm tour are both exceptional! As well as the farming attractions, the Agrodome is home to the Freefall Experience simulator, the north islands highest bungee jump, a jet boat ride and the ubiquitous Zorb - where you are sealed inan inflatable ball and rolled down a steep hill! The Buried Village1180 Tarawera RdPhone: +64 7 362-8287Hours: Summer 09:0017:00 daily; winter 09:0016:00 dailyPrice: $32Self-descriptive, the village was swamped with ash by the nearby Mt. Tarawera in the massive 1886 eruption which killed 153 people. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland201 Waiotapu Loop Rd, WaiotapuPhone: +64 7 366-6333Price: Adults $32.50, children (5-15) $11A great park to see a variety of geothermal landscapes and active volcano activities, including the Lady Knox Geyser, which is a famous geyser that erupts daily to heights of 10 to 20 m (33-66 ft).