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Rotorua: Day Trips and Tours from Tauranga

A day trip to Rotorua from Tauranga is one that is sure to blow your mind. The city of Rotorua is located in a geothermal region, with hundreds of hot springs, geysers and mud pools to visit.

Bubbling with natural phenomena, Rotorua is also rich in Māori culture. Journey here to uncover how people have lived alongside these geothermal features and witness this wonder for yourself.

Here's all you need to know about Rotorua, one of the most thrilling day trips from Tauranga.

How to get to Rotorua from Tauranga?

Rotorua is located approximately 60 kilometers south from Tauranga by road.

From Tauranga to Rotorua by car

To drive to Rotorua from Tauranga by car it will take just under an hour of travel time along State Highway 36.

From Tauranga to Rotorua by bus

It is possible to take a bus from Tauranga to Rotorua. Buses run multiple times a day, with the travel time lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Guided tour to Rotorua from Tauranga

On a guided tour to Rotorua from Tauranga, you can leave the travel arrangements to your guide. Enjoy journeying in an air-conditioned vehicle with live commentary on board. Some tours also offer pickup and drop-off.

What is the typical itinerary?

On a day trip to Rotorua from Tauranga, you can expect to meet your guides at a meeting point or pickup location before embarking on the scenic drive, catching sight of Mount Maunganui and the Bay of Plenty.

In Rotorua, you will encounter a fascinating array of thermal springs, geysers and mud pools. Head to Whakarewarewa where you can see the eruption of Pōhutu Geyser, the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere.

Here, you will also visit a living Māori village and have the opportunity to learn more about indigenous culture and watch a traditional haka dance. On your tour you may also stop at the Government Gardens, a historic spa and museum.

Some tours also include a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, where the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ films were made.

Return after your day trip having experienced the full depth of New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage.

What kinds of tours are available to go to Rotorua?

Guided tours to Rotorua from Tauranga

See the best of the North Island on a guided tour to Rotorua from Tauranga. Meet your guides at a meeting point or get picked up from the Port of Tauranga, making it easier for cruise passengers on a shore excursion to join .

Benefit from a knowledgeable guide as you explore the natural attractions of Rotorua, and gain insight into the local culture at the living Māori village. There will also be time for lunch. The entire day trip will take approximately 6 hours.

Guided tours to Rotorua plus Hobbiton Movie Set from Tauranga

Join a day trip to Rotorua from Tauranga for a unique excursion that includes a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Meet your guide at the Port of Tauranga, and embark on an otherworldly tour.

First, stop for a fascinating guided tour at the Hobbiton Movie Set, located one hour outside of Rotorua. Then, you’ll make your way to Rotorua to explore the geothermal sites and heritage locations. The entire tour lasts about 7.5 hours, but it is well worth the time!

Private tour to Rotorua from Tauranga

If you’d prefer a more intimate experience, you can opt to join a private tour from Tauranga to Rotorua.

On a private tour, you can enjoy more personalized attention from your guide, and the option to include more stops. You also have the opportunity to enjoy unique experiences such as a foot bath in thermal water!

How much does a day trip to Rotorua from Tauranga cost?

A day trip to Rotorua from Tauranga can cost between US$80 and US$200.

For a guided tour to Rotorua that includes a stop at the cultural village, you can expect to pay on average US$100 per person.

On a Rotorua day trip that includes visiting Hobbiton Movie Set, you’ll pay approximately US$180.

A private tour to Rotorua can cost US$600 for a group of eight people.

What will you see and do?

Geothermal activity

Rotorua is abundant in geothermal activity, and there are numerous parks you can visit to experience the natural phenomena. One of the most popular areas is Whakarewarewa, which is home to numerous hot springs and vents.

The most notable attraction is the Pōhutu Geyser, the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere. It erupts just about every hour at a height of 30 meters, making sure you’ll see the spectacle on your visit here.

Māori village

Also located in Whakarewarewa is the living Māori village, where Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people share their culture, traditions and connection to Rotorua’s geothermal features.

On a visit here, you can enjoy a cultural performance of the traditional haka dance and take a tour of the village. You will also learn the incredible history of how people have lived on a geothermal plateau, using it to cook, bathe and warm up their homes.

Hobbiton Movie Set

The Hobbiton Movie Set is one of New Zealand’s quirkiest tourist attractions. Situated in the town of Matamata, this preserved movie set contains some of the original set pieces from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ films.

You can take a guided tour here to visit the Hobbit Holes, Green Dragon Inn and the Mill, while learning some fun facts and background details about the filming. Both fans and casual viewers will find this enjoyable!

When is the best time to visit Rotorua?

The best time to visit Rotorua is in summer (December to February) when temperatures average between 21 and 29 degrees Celsius. Rotorua retains a temperate climate but can get chillier outside of summer.

Are there any tours to Rotorua from other cities in New Zealand?

Yes, there are tours departing from other cities in New Zealand:

Travel tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking, as you’ll be on your feet often.
  • Pack a camera or charge your phone, as you don’t want to miss capturing the incredible geysers.
  • Bring along sunscreen and a light jacket for cooler weather.