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When you've had your fill of the regular tourist activities in Rotorua or are looking for a little more out of your trip to this area check out some of these "free" activities;
Motutara (Sulphur Bay)- Southern most bay on Lake Rotorua. This is the main cause of the sulphur smell (rotten eggs) that many people comment on. It is located near a lot of the international hotels. There are numerous walkways and the area also contains many of the waterbirds that inhabit L. Rotorua. It is a warm, sulphurous area lying on top of an active geothermal field, there are mud pools and sulphur vents.
Mokoia Island- (in the middle of Lake Rotorua) Native bird reserve with endanged bird species with walking track & thermal stream.
Lake Okataina- access from SH30 (Rotorua-Whakatane Rd), Pristine, natural area with native bush down to the water's edge. Isolated lake with great trout fishing, picnic area. Several walkways provide access to Okataina Scenic Reserve.
Lake Tarawera, Mount Tarawera & the Tarawera River-fabulous scenery of the extinct volcano, hot water beach (access only by boat) and the river that disappears in a huge whirlpool only to appear again 1/2km on as a waterfall out of a cliff face. Walking access track from Kawerau with a drive up through the forest (a permit is required - obtain from the Kawerau Information Centre), river only access from Lake Tarawera.
Lake Tarawera Landing- Located at the end of L.Tarawera Road. Regular launch trips leave from here, cafe & restaurant located in the carpark area. Surrounded by scenic reserve. Short walks lead to the mouth of the Te Wairoa Stream and to the orchard and Tuhourangi rock paintings.
Lake Okareka Walkway- 5.5km return walk starts at Acacia Rd and follows the lake edge to the Okareka outlet. Walk features farmland, beach, lake and wetland scenery, expansive views and wildlife. 500m boardwalk into the wetland area.
Blue & Green Lakes- hiking trails, swimming beach, picnic area- only 10 mins from the city.
Hamurana-Located on the northern side of Lake Rotorua, large freshwater spring and huge trout, popular spot for shoreline fishing. Lake waters are shallow and provide safe swimming for children.
Hannahs Bay- Large flat area lies between the sirport and the shores of Lake Rotorua. All mobility playground, horse bridle trail & wheelchair accessible walkway through regenerating forest and wetlands. The beach is popular for swimming, windsurfing and has ski lanes.
Rainbow Mountain- south of Rotorua, great hiking trails, huge colour range of sulphur sands, thermal areas and mud pools.
Kerosene Creek- hot water stream located in native bush, has a few natural pools ideal for soaking in. Signposted Kerosene Creek Road on the left heading south just past Rainbow Mountain carpark on SH5 between Rotorua and Taupo. Travel 5 minutes down gravel road to an area on the right hand side, usually there will be some cars parked which will indicate you have arrived. Do not put your head under the water as there is a dangerous bug (amoebic meningitis)that lives in geothermal waters.
Butchers Pool- Free hot mineral pool located on the Broadlands Road, 1.8 km south of Reporoa. Reporoa is approx. 40 mins south of Rotorua off SH5. Mineral water is piped directly from adjacent spring. Keep your head above the water at all times to avoid the risk of contracting amoebic meningitis.
Kuirau Park- Informal park in the heart of Rotorua, 30 hectares, lots of bubbling mud pools and thermal streams. As in all geothermal areas, you are advised to stay on the walkways for your own safety.
Okere Falls- glowworms, walking track along Kaituna River, watch the white water rafts drop over the falls. Also check out lovely picnic spot at Otaramarae on the shore of Lake Rotoiti, lots of waterfowl.
Redwood Forest & Whakawerawera Forest-short walks, hiking trails, horse treks, mountain biking,
Ngongotaha valley- behind the mountain, beautiful scenery, rivers and bush.