Rotorua is teeming with fast-paced opportunity, and everything is within easy reach. Ten minutes in one direction and you get jet-boating, Zorbing, luging, bungy jumping, four-wheel-drive safaris, off-roading, and horseback riding; just 20 minutes from Rotorua on the Tauranga Highway, you can raft the highest Grade V waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, leap in a jet boat, or go mountain biking, walking, or off-roading.
At Rotorua Bungy and Swoop (tel. 07/357-4259; www.rotoruabungy.co.nz or www.agroventures.co.nz), you can leap from a 43m (141-ft.) tower; but just when you thought things couldn’t get any more insane, they go and invent New Zealand’s first Swoop. You’ll be strapped into a hang-gliding harness with two others and lifted 40m (131 ft.) in the air. Pull the rip cord and experience the feeling of flying at 130kmph (81 mph) with a G-force factor of 3. You must be at least 1m (3ft., 3 in.) tall to swoop. For NZ$120 you can do the bungy plus either the Swoop, the Agrojet (jet-boating), or the Freefall Extreme (sky diving). The bungy alone is NZ$95 for adults, NZ$80 for children 15 and under; jumpers must be at least 10 years old (parental consent required for all under 16) and weight at least 35kg (77 lbs.).
Within minutes of the city, you can be in the thick of some of the best wild trout fishing in the country. Lakes Tarawera, Okataina, and Rotoiti offer the best chance of catching a trophy fish. They’re open for fishing from October to the end of June and hold both wild and stocked trout. The greatest trout population per acre is in Lake Rotorua, where wild fighting rainbow trout average 2 to 4 pounds and brown trout 5 to 7 pounds. Make sure you get your Rotorua fishing license before you start.
Bryan Colman Trout Fishing, 32 Kiwi St., Rotorua (tel. 07/348-7766; www.troutfishingrotorua.com), is run by a top guide—the longest-serving in Rotorua—who offers light tackle trolling and fly- and spin-fishing for rainbow trout for NZ$120 per hour, minimum 2 hours (this can be shared by four people). A fishing license is NZ$25 per person.
Volcanic Air Safaris, Memorial Drive (tel. 0800/800-848 in NZ, or 07/348-9984; www.volcanicair.co.nz), offers a range of helicopter and floatplane tours, from a 6-minute floatplane or helicopter spin over the city (NZ$80) to 3-hour volcanic tours all the way out to White Island in the Bay of Plenty (NZ$762 per person by helicopter, NZ$535 by floatplane). A tour of Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with a landing, by helicopter or floatplane, is a popular choice for NZ$445 to NZ$515.
Test your nerve at Off Road NZ, 193 Amoore Rd. (tel. 07/332-5748; www.offroadnz.co.nz), 20 minutes north of the city off State Highway 5. The four-wheel-drive bush safari departs daily, every hour from 9am to 5pm, and costs NZ$95 for adults and NZ$15 for children up to 16. You’ll find yourself in tunnels, waterfalls, mud, and more mud. Otherwise, try out the Monster 4*4 Thrill Ride designed to test the best at NZ$50 per driver.
The Arikikapakapa course at the Rotorua Golf Club, 399 Fenton St. (tel. 07/348-4051; www.rotoruagolfclub.co.nz), is a gently undulating, all-weather course with an international reputation. Greens fees are NZ$70 for international visitors, and club hire is NZ$30. Government Gardens Golf, Government Gardens (tel. 07/348-9126; www.governmentgardensgolf.co.nz), has a 21-bay driving range and is open daily from 8am to 8pm; greens fees run NZ$16. Miniputt is NZ$11 per player and the driving range charges NZ$9 for 50 balls, NZ$14 for 110 balls.
The Farmhouse, 55 Sunnex Rd. (tel. 07/332-3771; www.thefarmhouse.co.nz), is the largest horse-trekking facility in New Zealand, with over 100 horses for all ages and abilities. It’s a working farm and homestay as well, and all gear is provided. It’s open daily 9am to 7pm in summer (4pm in winter), and riding starts at NZ$26 per person for a 30-minute ride, or NZ$42 for 1 hour.
You can spin out on the Agrojet, available through Agroventures (tel. 07/357-4259; www.agrojet.co.nz or www.agroventures.co.nz) on a special man-made watercourse that will see you reach speeds of 100kmph (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds. Don’t forget to check out the Agrodome combo packages. A single Agrojet ride is a good value at NZ$49.
Take it easy on Rotorua’s lovely lakes with Adventure Kayaking (tel. 07/348-9451; www.adventurekayaking.co.nz). Half-day paddles with a thermal pool swim cost NZ$85; full-day tours are NZ$120; and individual kayak hire goes for NZ$45 per seat per day.
See the “Attractions” section, earlier in this chapter, for information about the endlessly popular Skyline Skyrides luge (tel. 07/347-0027; fax 07/348-2163).
Rotorua is a mecca for mountain bikers. Visit www.riderotorua.com for every last detail on trail updates, maps, and activities. Go it alone on rented bikes from Kiwi Bikes, 1128 Hinemoa St. (tel. 07/348-2929; www.kiwibikes.co.nz), and head for the trails at Redwoods Forest, Whakarewarewa. You’ll pay NZ$55 for a half-day rental, NZ$70 for a full day. Or team up with the crew at Planet Bike, Whakarewarewa Forest (tel. 07/346-1717; www.planetbike.co.nz), which caters to all levels. Prices start at NZ$45 per person for 2 hours. Half-day tours and full-day adventure combos are available.
Leap out over Rotorua at around 2,850m (9,348 ft.) with NZONE–The Ultimate Jump (tel. 0800/376-796; www.nzone.biz), and be prepared to drop around NZ$299. Courtesy transport from the city is provided.
Apart from numerous strolls around the various lakes, the Whakarewarewa Forest offers six well-marked walking tracks for all ages and levels of fitness. You can spend half an hour or a whole day making your way through the forest. The beautiful Redwood Memorial Grove Track is the most popular. It meanders through giant 60m (200-ft.) California coastal redwoods and takes 30 minutes from the forest visitor center on Long Mile Road. Also popular is the Motutara Walkway, which wanders around the lakefront to Sulphur Bay. The 1 1/2-hour walk passes through unusual “moonscape” outcrops of sulfur along the way. Lake Okareka Walkway, located 12km (7 miles) southeast of Rotorua, is a pretty walk that takes you 2.5km (about 1 1/2 miles) around the lake shore. The roundtrip takes around 1 1/2 hours and you’ll see plenty of bird life. The walkway and composting toilets (at Silver Beach) are stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Whirinaki Rainforest Guided Walks, Whirinaki Forest (tel. 0800/869-255 in NZ, or 07/377-2363; www.rainforest-treks.co.nz), offers 1- to 3-day fully catered treks led by professional Maori guides, starting at Rotorua or Taupo. You’ll pay NZ$175 for a 1-day ecocultural walk; NZ$375 for a 1-day private guided walk; or NZ$775 for the 3-day Rainforest Trek.
If you want world-rated championship rafting guides, head for Kaituna Cascades Raft & Kayak Expeditions, Trout Pool Road, Okere Falls, Rotorua (tel. 07/345-4199; www.kaitunacascades.co.nz). It’ll give you the best time you’ve ever had, including a 7m (23-ft.) drop over the Southern Hemisphere’s highest commercially rafted waterfall. The company operates on the Kaituna, Rangitaiki, and Wairoa rivers. Prices range from NZ$82 to NZ$120, depending on the river you choose. River Rats Raft & Kayak (tel. 0800/333-900 in NZ, or 07/345-6543; www.riverrats.co.nz) is another excellent company. It operates on the above rivers, plus the Tongariro; trips cost NZ$99 to NZ$130, depending on the river. Also dependent on the river is the minimum-age requirement (usually 10 or 13).
Where else can you find yourself inside a giant plastic bubble, with the option of being wet or dry as you roll 250m (820 ft.) down a steep, slippery slope? It’s like nothing you’ve ever done before. A wet or dry ride costs from NZ$45 per person. Ask about combo deals. The Zorb™ is at Agrodome, Western Road, Ngongotaha (tel. 0800/227-474 in NZ, or 07/357-5100; www.zorb.co.nz), and it’s great fun to watch even if you don’t want to participate.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.