You’ll find heaps of brochures for half- and full-day tours at the visitor center. Most of the tours take in the main geothermal attractions and are similarly priced.
Walking Legends Guided Walks (tel. 0800/925-569 in NZ, or 021/545-068; www.walkinglegends.co.nz) operates fully guided 4-day treks from Rotorua, in the Lake Waikaremoana Track in Te Urewera National Park, 150km (93 miles) southeast of Rotorua. It has its own launch to transport passengers and luggage to and from the start and finish of the track. You’ll get into real outback country with this one; the 4-day experience costs NZ$1,310 adults and NZ$1,000 children 12 and under. Moderate fitness is required. They also offer 1-day guided walks in Whirinaki Forest and the Tongariro Crossing from NZ$190 for adults and NZ$130 for children.
Get Out on the Water
The Lakeland Queen, Lakefront (tel. 07/348-0265; www.lakelandqueen.com), underwent a major makeover in 2006 and emerged 10m (33 ft.) longer and able to carry 300 guests. You can take a breakfast, lunch, or dinner cruise, or a 1-hour afternoon tea cruise (2:30pm). Breakfast cruises (NZ$45 for adults, NZ$23 for children ages 5–12) depart at 8am; the 1-hour Express Lunch Cruise (NZ$54 for adults, NZ$27 for children ages 5–12) departs at 1pm. The 2-hour dinner cruise, departing 7pm, includes a four-course menu and costs NZ$70 for adults, NZ$35 for children ages 5 to 12. Note: The Lakeland Queen does not land on Mokoia Island, the lake’s sanctuary for endangered native birds. If you’d like to explore Mokoia Island, contact Mokoia Island Experiences, Rotorua Lakefront (tel. 07/349-0976; www.mokoiaisland.co.nz). The company offers a number of excellent tours from a Maori perspective, including their Island Experience Tour—a 2 1/2-hour guided tour that includes a fast catamaran ride, a traditional Maori welcome, an exploration of the island’s flora and fauna, a soak in a hot pool, plus tastes of indigenous foods. This costs NZ$75 for adults, NZ$38 for children ages 5 to 15. This is a great place to go if you’re interested in conservation and bird life. The Wairua Package (NZ$170 adults, NZ$95 children), includes a visit to Mokoia Island, Hell’s Gate, a hangi, and time at Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort. It’s a 6 1/2-hour experience, starting at 9:30am.
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.