There are lots of walks within 2 hours drive of Rotorua that are amazing to do. Check out these half - full day walking tracks that have scenic forest and spectacular views. All of these tracks make for an unforgettable day of Rotorua Sightseeing:
Tarawera Outlet to Tarawera Falls : 10km return
This track begins at the Tarawera outlet which is about 1.5 hours drive from Rotorua. The easy walking track goes through native bush while following along the rivers edge. The river is crystal clear, with pohutukawa and rata trees surrounding the track making it the picture-perfect landscape. At the Tarawera Falls water gushes out of the 65m rock cliff face, hence why it is the most spectacular waterfall in the Rotorua region.
How to get there : Collect an access permit from the Kawerau iSite to access the forest road. Check out the directions from Rotorua iSite to the Tarawera outlet here to enjoy some more Rotorua Sightseeing.
Photo : Tarawera Falls. Photo Credit : http://mapio.net/o/1984953/
Mount Ngongotaha Scenic Reserve : 4.8km return
Mount Ngongotaha is a volcanic dome that looks out over Rotorua city 757m above sea level. Native forest surrounds the track and is home to one of the largest rata trees in New Zealand. IThe track is rooty and at times can be steep. Read the information boards along the way and learn about the native forest and the conservation work that has been done on Mount Ngongotaha.
How to get there : The track to the summit is well sign posted and starts from Violet Bonnington Reserve. The reserve is located at the Rotorua end of Paradise Valley Road. Here is how to get to the start of the track from the Rotorua iSite.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing : 19.4km one way
The Tongariro crossing is an iconic walk and known as one of New Zealand's greatest day walks. Thousands of people walk the crossing to capture the stunning landscape that is a feature on the famous Lord of the Rings movies. The emerald lakes, volcanic peaks and the 360 degree views that look over to Mt Ngarohehe are spectacular, totally worth the 6-7-hour hike. Prepare for all weather conditions because the weather can change very quickly.
How to get there : It is a 2 hour drive to the start of the crossing. Start driving early so you can return at a reasonable time for more Rotorua Sightseeing. Here are the directions from the Rotorua iSite.
Photo : The Emerald Lakes at Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Photo Credit: http://shafir.info/plain/new_zealand~tramping~tongariro~tongariro_crossing_2.htm
Whakarewarewa circuit - 34km return
The Whakarewarewa circuit trail follows forestry roads and tracks in the Redwood forest, popular for it's walking trails. This 8 hour trail passes by the Blue and Green Lakes as well as some fantastic points where you can view Rotorua. The track has all sorts of different terrain along the way so it makes for an exciting walk.
How to get there : Here are the directions from the Rotorua iSite to the beginning of the Whakarewarewa cicuit. While at the Redwood Forest head into the Information Center and collect a map of the track.
Rainbow Mountain Summit Track - 5km return
Rainbow Mountain Summit Track has amazing 360 degree views out over the Rotorua region. Either at the beginning or end of the walk make a turn onto the Crater Lake track. There are two amazing, emerald coloured lakes there which are worth the extra 10 minute walk. While at the summit take in the views of Mt Tarwera, Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotomahana. On a clear day you might even get a glimpse of the Tongariro National Park volcanic peaks in the distance.
How to get there : Rainbow Mountain is 26km south-east of Rotorua on the Rotorua-Taupo highway. The car park is on the left hand side of the road just after the SH38 turnoff towards Murupara. Here are the directions from Rotorua's iSite to the Rainbow Mountain Summit Track.
Photo : Rotorua Sightseeing at the top of the Rainbow Mountain summit. Photo Credit: https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/28955o/state_highway_5_between_taupo_and_rotorua_from/