The opportunity to experience an intimate lakeside picnic, hear tales of enduring love on an ancient island, soak in a warm natural spring or be enchanted by the luxury of one of Rotorua’s premier lodges is what dreams are made of. Rotorua gives couples the chance to embrace the beauty of this unique country – and each other, making it the ultimate destination for a romantic 3 night getaway.
Day 1 – Exploring the Lakes
Take a trip to Lake Rotorua’s Mokoia Island and hear historic love stories akin to Romeo and Juliet. Mokoia Island was where love blossomed between two young people from rival tribes – a Maori warrior, Tutanekai, and Hinemoa – daughter of the chief of another tribe. The island is now a sanctuary teeming with native birds, plants and wildlife. Daily trips run to the island where guides can offer insights into one of the most romantic and mysterious areas of the region.
Alternatively, spend your morning walking the lakeside trails, exploring dense native bush or checking out waterfalls along the banks of Lake Tarawera. Many natural springs can be found along the way. The most famous is Hot Water Beach (aka Te Rata Bay), accessible by walking the Tarawera Trail (5-6 hours one way) or getting dropped off by water taxi. Here steam rises sleepily from the edge of the lake where a hot thermal spring meets the cool water. Dig yourself a hot spa and spend a night camping under the stars.
Day 2 – Adrenaline and Adventure
Start your day with a strong coffee and shot of adrenaline at Velocity Valley. Located on Paradise Valley Road. Enjoy a tandem bungy or swoop with your partner, or race them in the Shweeb for a little more exercise. Or if you’d like to fall for each other again, try the ‘Freefall Xtreme’ where a giant wind turbine simulates the feeling of jumping out of a plane but with a much longer freefall. Test your skills trying to barrel roll or spin, and laugh at each other’s faces as the wind distorts your usual good-looks.
Later in the day you can explore the Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest – popular with both tourists and locals. A huge variety of walking trails are available ranging from 30 minutes to full-day hikes. Marvel at the California Redwood trees that tower more than 70m above the forest floor, and as the sun begins to set, explore the canopy with the Redwoods Nightlight Experience.
This romantic night-time journey lets you walk the Redwood canopy under darkness through a network of 12m suspension bridges. The bridges and platforms are illuminated by bespoke lanterns designed by kiwi artist David Trubridge and offer a unique twist to your usual bush-walk. Take a moment to sit on the platforms together and marvel at this sensory experience.
For those not interested in heights, spend the evening relaxing and rejuvenating at the Polynesian Spa. Velocity Valley offers a special Ride and Relax combo so you can enjoy both experiences in the same day. Treat yourself to a private pool and enjoy a therapeutic, geothermal bathing experience with views out over Lake Rotorua.
Day 3 – Craft Beers and Champagne Pools
Get hot and steamy exploring Wai-o-tapu Thermal Valley Formed thousands of years ago, this fascinating landscape of geothermal colour and energy will keep you captivated. Admire the bright orange and blue ‘champagne’ pool, bubbling mud, volcanic vents and steaming fumaroles. At 10:15 everyday witness the beauty of Lady Knox Geyser as she erupts at heights of 10 to 20 metres and listen to the interpretation from fantastic staff.
Around midday head to the Okere Falls Store for a gourmet lunch and craft beer. This secret little spot is best known for being eco-friendly, supporting local businesses and serving products that are gentle on both you and the environment. Just around the corner is the famous Kaituna River and popular white-water rafting destination. Choose to go rafting, or just enjoy a short walk alongside the river to Tutea Falls, where you can witness the rafters and kayakers plummeting 7 metres off the highest commercially raftable falls.
Tip: If you’re lucky enough to be in Rotorua on a Thursday check out the Rotorua Night Market. It runs from 5 pm – 9pm along Tutanekai Street, between Haupapa and Hinemoa Streets and offers a delicious selection of international cuisine that will cater to all.
If you are in need of a little bit more inspiration, check out our other Rotorua itineraries.