Auckland to Rotorua Pit Stops
There are an endless amount of sightseeing destinations and hiking trails to explore just a few short hours away from Auckland in the scenic and charming city of Rotorua. Our team has hand-selected some of the top tourist attractions, so you can spend your day touring the sights like the one-of-a-kind hot springs in the Waikite volcanic valley, soak up some sun at Lake Karapiro, and make memories of a lifetime at a real-life movie set of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, all on your way to your lavish stay at a deluxe Bachcare holiday home.
Stop 1: Wander into the Hamilton Gardens
Make your first stop one of the best by visiting Hamilton Gardens. The magnificent 58-hectare sprawling gardens span across 5 unique garden collections to explore the relationship between plants and people across multiple civilizations. Each garden is themed-based, highlighting the unique beauty of international flora, such as the Italian Renaissance Garden and Chinese Scholars’ Garden. Stop in for a pick me up at the Hamilton gardens Café and take a fresh cup of coffee or delicious ice cream cone with you for the road. If you have extra time, the Waikato River Cruise launches nearby Thursday through Sunday to take you on a relaxing riverboat tour of the city.
Private Bag 3010, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Directions: When traveling from Auckland, Hamilton Gardens is about a 90-minute drive. It is located halfway between Auckland and Rotorua.
Hours: The enclosed gardens are open daily from 7:30 to 5:30. The Gift Shop and Information Center each open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. All areas of The Hamilton Garden grounds are locked by 9 pm.
Stop 2: Walk along Lake Karapiro
Stop for a stretch and enjoy the beautiful waters at Lake Karapiro. If you need refreshments, you can stop in at the Podium café for a cup of coffee or snack alongside the stunning views of the lake. There are loads of picnic areas if you have your own food and a playground nearby for energetic kids. Being home to the National Dragon boat championships and renowned recreational sports competitions means there are always events to spectate when you stop by.
Directions: From Hamilton Gardens to Lake Karapiro is a short 30-minute drive, which is perfect for breaking up a long day’s drive.
Location: Mighty River Domain, Lake Karāpiro, 601 Maungatautari Road, RD2, Cambridge
Hours: Normal Park hours change seasonally; typically, the Lake recreation offices and amenities are open from 8:30-5:30 each day.
Stop 3: Trek the Te Waihou Walkaway
The breathtaking views at Te Waihou Walkaway are well worth another stop. Just 21 minutes away from Stop 2 and just 40 minutes away from your final destination Te Waihou Walkaway will leave you energized as the final stop on your trip with its beauty and otherworldly experiences. Marvel at the famous Blue Springs, which are responsible for nearly 70 percent of New Zealand’s bottled water. With mainly flatlands, this is a quick, easy hike. Park at the Leslie Road Car Park for a 15-minute hike past multiple small waterfalls and crystal clear waters.
Directions: Follow Thermal Explorer Highway down on a 17-minute drive to travel from Lake Karapiro to Te Waihou Walkaway
Location: 303 Whites Road, Putāruru 3483, New Zealand
Hours: The park is open 24 hours a day; however, guests are encouraged to visit between sunrise and sunset hours, which vary by season.
Stop 4: Hop on over to Hobbiton
If you are down for a detour, stop in for a fairytale movie experience and visit Hobbiton. This tranquil setting was the star of the movie set in the Hobbit and Lord of the rings. Come see why the hobbits inhabited this lush landscape surrounded by rolling hills. Book yourself a tour around the 12-acre set to discover the secrets of the Shire, where you’ll make your way to the Green Dragon Inn and enjoy a complimentary beverage as if you were a true Hobbiton resident. Opt for either a traditional apple cider or a nonalcoholic ginger beer and warm yourself near the cozy fire.
Directions: The fastest route to Hobbiton is down State Highway 27; the drive will take about 25 minutes from Te Waihou Walkaway.
Location: 501 Buckland Road, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Hours: They are currently open 7 days a week and typically schedule 5 tours a day, starting at 9:30 am. The tour lasts roughly 2 hours, and bookings are encouraged.
Last Stop: Gorgeous Geothermal Tour in Rotorua
Rotorua is well known for all of its geothermal offerings, unlike any other place in the world. Go off the beaten path to explore the hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and steaming vents of the volcanic valley. See the real Rotorua through the lens of a camera or as a wide-eyed tourist as you surround yourself in erupting muds and live waters. The Real Rotorua Thermal Path Tour will take you to majestic geothermal destinations like Rainbow mountain, where you’ll find towering steamy brown and red cliffs and unique vegetation. Next, head up the trail to the Wai-O-Tapu mud pool, where you’ll see a show of bubbling mud activity. Follow the trail to the Waikite Hot Springs- or nature’s hot tub. Dip just your toes, or dive in for a relaxing plunge into numerous hot pools.
Directions: These destinations are within 25-mile vicinity to the town center of Rotorua. Waikite Valley is located 25 minutes away. Rainbow Mountain scenic reserve is 20 minutes south.
Location: Waikite Valley is located at 648 Waikite Valley Road, Waikite Valley 3077, New Zealand. Waiotapu geothermal area is located at the southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre. Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve is located at Waiotapu 3073, New Zealand
Hours: Hours vary for each destination:
Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is open daily from 10:30 AM-8:00 PM. Waiotapu Geothermal Area has varying hours. Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve is open 24 hours a day. Guests that are not staying overnight can visit between sunrise and sunset.