Plan your future holiday in Rotorua: 4 unmissable eco hotspots

Start planning a future holiday in Rotorua when travel restrictions have lifted.

While the world pauses and we stay at home and keep ourselves safe, many of us are reminiscing of our past trips, or are dreaming up our future holidays, which for the short-term will most likely be enjoyed in New Zealand. Here are some amazing eco hotspots in Rotorua that you might want to put on your planning list to visit later in the year when our national rāhui is lifted and we are all safe to travel again and explore our beautiful country.

Mokioa Island — jet boat to a famous island

The small and very famous island that sits in the heart of Lake Rotorua is Mokioa Island, and is one of those places that you’ve probably looked at each time you’ve visited the city. It is now accessible, thanks to Katoa Lake Rotorua. Take an adrenaline-fuelled trip to the island in V8 powered jet boats or choose a more leisurely water taxi, then settle in for a short, but fascinating, guided tour.

This historical and iconic landmark that dates back to 1350 A.D is the location of Aotearoa’s greatest love story between Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Remember Hinemoa swam from the shores of Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island to be with her love Tutanekai; you probably know the rest of the story, but see for yourself the exact location of where she landed on the island (and much more!). The island is surrounded in native bush including ferns and Kawakawa and is a bird watcher’s delight; home to 25 pairs of breeding Kiwi, North Island saddleback (tīeke), native robin (toutouwai), ducks and more.

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All of this wonderful New Zealand native flora, fauna and wildlife are in abundance. Stroll around this untouched sanctuary, taking a step back in time and feeling the presence of the city’s famous Māori ancestors. A percentage of each fare is paid to the Mokoia Island Trust. This koha goes towards the development and maintenance of the island, which relies heavily on this income to sustain the wildlife sanctuary and preserve the habitat for future generations. This tour is suitable for all ages from 2 years old and they provide life jackets.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Head 20 minutes south of town to Waimangu Volcanic Valley for an up-close-and-personal view of the fascinating geothermal features created by the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera. Now a protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge in pristine New Zealand bush, Waimangu offers a range of self-guided eco-tours of varying length along crater walkways, and boat cruises on Lake Rotomahana to see the reserve’s volcanic activity from a unique perspective.

Rotorua Canopy Tours – Zipline Eco-Adventure

Rotorua Canopy Tours maintains their business was never about the ziplining; it was about protecting an ancient forest first. Their vision was to heal a forest they discovered on the outskirts of Rotorua that was overrun by pests that were destroying the bird life. Spending over half a million dollars, they removed every rat and possum from the environment and the native birds returned and the trees flourished. A pre-human environment was resurrected, and New Zealanders were able to experience this magical forest, without disturbing it, via the peaceful art of ziplining.

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The Rotorua Canopy Tours experience combines adventure, education, conservation, natural beauty and people with heart and has resulted in numerous conservation awards.

There are two experiences; the first is the Original Canopy Tour, or for the more adventurous the recently opened Ultimate Canopy Tour, which is higher, longer and even more spectacular.


Wingspan is recognised as one of our country’s leading conservation, education and research organisations for birds of prey. At Wingspan’s core is a commitment to the conservation of the threatened kārearea, the New Zealand falcon, which is a taonga (treasured) species to tangata whenua (Māori).

The Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre is a place where people can visit and see birds of prey up close during interactive flying displays, hosted by the country’s leading experts. The displays showcase the spectacular flying skills of these amazing birds and are a unique educational experience enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Wingspan supports wild populations directly by releasing captive bred falcons and rehabilitating injured wild birds.

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