Strategically located at the center of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua makes a popular basecamp for exploring the surrounding sights. After exploring its geothermal attractions and Maori cultural sites, here’s where to head for a day trip.
Hobbiton — 43 miles (70 km) northwest of Rotorua
A must-see for fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, Hobbiton tours give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the set that were built for the films. Pose for a photo outside Bilbo Baggins’ home; stock up on Hobbit-themed souvenirs; and grab a bite at the Shire’s Rest café or a pint of ale at the Green Dragon Inn.
Taupo — 51 miles (82 km) southwest of Rotorua
New Zealand’s largest lake is a spectacular setting for outdoor activities, with popular choices including sailing, jet boating, rafting, hiking, and even skydiving. Make a day of it by including a stop at the Wai-O-Topu Geothermal Wonderland, Huka Falls, or the Wairakei Thermal area.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves — 87 miles (140 km) west of Rotorua
Discover the natural wonders of Waitomo with a visit to the Glowworm Caves, one of the best places in the country to see glittering glowworms. Marvel at the dramatic limestone formations, take a boat ride through the glowworm grotto, or try activities like cave tubing or rafting along a subterranean river.
Auckland — 142 miles (228 km) northwest of Rotorua
New Zealand’s largest city is a scenic 3-hour drive from Rotorua, which leaves plenty of time to drive across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, take in the views from the Sky Tower, or walk up One Tree Hill. One-way tours are also a great way to maximize your time, starting in Rotorua, ending in Auckland, and taking in sights such as the Mamaku Ranges, Fitzgerald Glade, and Waitomo caves along the way.