Outline of Things to Do in Rotorua, December 2016

Looking for Christmassy things to do in Rotorua this December? We've got 'em. Twinkling lights, outdoor movies, suffering (do you really want to know), mystery and intrigue, little large men running around in red suits. I wonder why?
New Zealand's Christmas tree - PohutukawaNew Zealand's Christmas tree - Pohutukawa

Die-hard sports fans can still find a few events such as the Rotorua ½ and ¼ Ironman (where the suffering comes in, apparently), a canoe sprint regatta, downhill mountain biking - and kids can join in with mum and dad at the Great KidsCan Santa Run.

Don't forget to pop along to the Rotorua Markets. The Lakefront craft market will be winding up now and taking place every weekend in the lead up to Christmas. The Arts Village have a Christmas Market on the 6th, and the Night Market takes place each Thurs. The new Farmers Market is held each Sunday.

Things to Do in Rotorua this December Include...

The Great Grammy Bash

Date: Fri 2 Dec & Sat 3 Dec
At: The Blue Baths, Queens Dr, Govt Gardens
Time: 7.30pm-11.55pm
Cost: $75

Sold out. Another night has been laid on - Sat 26 Dec. Book fast!

It's party time for the stars (That's you by the way). Think fighting your way through paparazzi, strutting the red carpet, mixing and mingling with the glamour icons - at the Grammys! Celebrating stars who won, and those who didn't, it's bound to be fun.

Book at The Blue Baths

The Great KidsCan Santa Run

Date: 7 Dec
At: Village Green, Lakefront
Time: Registration opens 5pm, the event is 6.30pm and prizegiving at 7.15pm
Cost: From $5 - $75
Distance: 2-3km fun run/walk

Just think, thousands of Santas running or walking at 18 locations around the country, mostly at the same time. This event raises money for KidsCan, a charity that helps out children who can't help themselves. Wonderful.

Along with your adult entry fee comes a Santa Suit, aww, for the children it's a Santa hat, eww (they want suits too).

Read more: Great KidsCan Santa Run

Blue Lake Canoe Sprint Regatta No.2

Date: Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec
At: Blue Lake (Tikitapu), Tarawera Rd
Time: 8am
Cost: $30-$90 Competitors, Spectators free

This is the second round of the national canoe sprint regattas. This popular sport includes all age groups from novices to Masters. The sprints will cover distances of 200m, 500m and 1000m right up to a 5000m race. A fun day out for the family.

Read more: Blue Lake Canoe Sprint Regatta


Date: Tue 6 Dec
At: Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, 1170 Fenton St
Time: 8-10.30pm
Cost: From $55

Who doesn't know of Grease, the high-school musical that first premiered on Broadway in 1972, and made famous by the 1978 movie featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Expect an explosive high-octane energetic show.

Book at Ticketmaster: Grease

Operatunity's 15th Anniversary Gala

Date: Tue 6 Dec
At: Rotorua Baptist Church, 100 Malfroy Rd
Time: 11am-1pm
Cost: $32 or cheaper with groups of 10+ and 30+

Operatunity turns 15 so to celebrate the Christmas concert will be combined with all the different styles presented throughout the years. Think music halls, proms, opera, skits, panto and more.

Buy Tickets: Toll free 0508 266 237 or online: Operatunity

Open Mic Night

Date: Tue 6 Dec
At: Brew Craft Beer Pub, 1103 Tutanekai St
Time: 9pm-12am
Restrictions: All ages
Cost: Free entry

With all the gear provided you will hear some talented people performing at Brew Bar. And, if you've a mind to, get up yourself. Anyone can do it. You never know, it could be the start of something big. Oh, and Brew Bar has award-winning craft beers.

Giant 2W Gravity Enduro - Race 2 of 3

Date: Sat 10 Dec
At:  Waipa Mountain Bike Park, Waipa Mill Rd
Time: 9am-5pm
Race Entry Prices: From $89 - $129
Spectators: Free

The Whakarewarewa Forest sees downhill racing at it's best with this event for individuals, teams, serious racers and social ones too. Spectator or competitor, it doesn't matter, you'll have fun with the carnival atmosphere, delicious food and foaming beer available at the start/finish.

For the uninitiated, Enduro mountain bike racing has the competitors completing 6 stages, in any order, of downhill racing. In 6 hours!!! The riders can be shuttled back to the top for the next stage or bike back up. Apparently, it's all about strategising. They have to complete the stages and get back to the race HQ before the time runs out or risk incurring penalties.

Some huge prizes and spot prizes are up for grabs so it's every man, or woman, for themselves.

Learn more: Giant 2W Gravity Enduro

2016 Rotorua ½ Ironman & ¼ Ironman

Date: Sat 17 Dec
At: Blue Lake, Tarawera Rd
Time: 6.25am
Cost: Varies depending on team/individual and packs

'Suffer' is the catchword for this event and suffer the competitors will. The body shivers just thinking about it.

A 2km swim, 90km bike, 21km, and then there's the Quarter Ironman. If you're fool hardy enough to enter this event, good luck to you. I'll be on the sidelines cheering you on.

Learn more: Rotorua ½ Ironman & ¼ Ironman

Rotorua Museum of Art & History Things to Do in December

At: Oruawhata Dr, Govt Gardens
Opening Hours:
     Dec - Feb 9am - 6pm
     Mar - Nov 9am - 5pm
Admission Cost: Adults $20, Seniors $18, Children $8. Locals free with id.

NB: Due to an earthquake on 14 Nov 2016, the museum sustained considerable damage which has necessitated closure for the foreseeable future. Exhibitions have been moved to external locations.

As well as exhibitions, the Rotorua Museum always has something of interest happening for everyone. Activities and fun learning is the common order of the day for children so you know what to do, keep an eye out.

Special Events

Visiting Exhibitions
Davinci Machines & Robots: Over 80 replicas of machines and robots invented by Leonardo da Vinci over 500yrs ago. It's an interactive exhibition on loan from the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci.
Dates: Until 26 Mar 2017
At: Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, 1170 Fenton St

Permanent Exhibitions (Included with admission):
Taking the Cure - The story behind the Bath House Building: Find out why and how this world famous building came into being by exploring from the deepest recesses of the basement, through the mid-section, then on up through the roof-space and out onto to the rooftop viewing platform - with a birds-eye view over Rotorua. You can't help but be wowed.

Tudor Towers Restaurant, Cabaret and Night Club: From 1966 when the Bath House closed until 1990, the Towers was the place for entertainment. In that time it saw fine dining, cultural shows, and cabaret. Ah, those were the days. For many locals, it's a good place to relive those times - and fashions.

Ake! Ake! The story of B Company Māori Battalion: Set up to honour the young Māori men who fought in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy during World War II, there are many photos, objects, and stories to read about in this exhibition. Follow that up with the 30min documentary about these young men in the small theatre.

Ngā Pumanawa o Te Arawa (The Beating Hearts of Te Arawa): There are many stories told in this exhibition. About the Te Arawa people's journey to New Zealand, and the events that have taken place since that shaped the people, the area, the settlers that came later, right up to the present time. Irreplaceable taonga (treasures) are found within these walls too.

Visit website to see more: Rotorua Museum of Art & History - What's on.

Burger King 3x3 Quest Tour

Date: Sat 17 Dec
At: Energy Events Centre, Queens Dr, Govt Gardens
Time: 9am-4pm
Cost: Free admission
Age Groups: U14, U16, U18, Open grades for men and women

More commonly known as street ball or street basketball, 2 teams are made up of 3 players each and one hoop. Like you see on American TV programmes I presume. It's called the largest urban team sport in the world. Who knew? It would be worth a visit.

Learn more: About 3x3

Rotorua UkeBox Ukulele Jam & Open Mic

Date: Sun 18 Dec
At: Rotorua Museum, Oruawhata Dr, Government Gardens
Time: 3-4.30pm
Cost: Free

Pop along to the mezzanine level of the museum to enjoy free ukulele music. The local Thermaleles group get things going with a short session before everyone joins in with singing or playing.

Visit Santa's Wonderland

Date: Daily to Sat 24 Dec
At: Redwoods Visitor Centre, Long Mile Rd
Time: Santa on hand 10am-3pm
Cost: Free

Take the family along to see a large Christmas display that includes Santa's sleigh the children can climb on and meet Santa. Make sure they've written their letter to Santa which can be posted in the Santa mailbox. One lucky child will have their letter drawn to win a prize.

Daily Outside the Walls Guided Tour

Date: 22-23 Dec and 26-30 Dec
At: Rotorua Museum, Oruawhata Dr, Government Gardens
Time: 11am-12pm and 2-3pm
Cost: Free

Since the earthquake damaged the museum building, staff are now offering tours that take in the surrounding grounds. The stories are fascinating and you will learn about battles, buildings, gardens and more. Just turn up with walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and water.

Mega Fun Carnival

Dates: Mon 26 Dec to Sun 8 Jan 2017
At: Lakefront Village Green, Memorial Dr
Times: 1-5pm and 7.30pm till late (weather dependent)
Cost: Various

Rides, food and fun. The place for families or friends to come together and enjoy some light-hearted on the Dodgems, Train, Explorer etc. and for the first time, the Flying Dragons. Make sure your wallet is full.

52nd Annual Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo

Date: Mon 26 Dec
At: Rerewhakaaitu Domain, 91 Ash Pit Rd
Time: 9am-3pm
Cost: Door sales only. Adults $10, Children 5-15yrs $5, U5yrs Free

Competitors from all around the country follow the rodeo circuit building up enough points to take part in the National finals. Food and drink will be available.

Interislander Summer Festival Rotorua Races

Date: Tue 27 Dec
At: Arawa Park Racecourse, Fenton St
Time: 11am
Cost: Adults $10, U18 $0

Take a picnic and relax with live on-course music, lots of More FM activities for the kids, oh, and racing of course.

Find out more: Racing Rotorua

Princes Gate Dinner & Cabaret Show

Date: Every Sat
At: 1057 Arawa St (by entrance to Government Gardens)
Time: 7pm-10pm
Price: Adults $89.00 & Children under 12yrs $44.50

The place to go in Rotorua for live cabaret entertainment. Can feature Broadway, Opera, Las Vegas and more, designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes. The food's undeniably tasty too. Look for the Dinner, Show & Accommodation specials.

Bookings: Princes Gate Dinner & Show

Rotorua Glo Festival

3 Days - 3 Locations - 3 Fun Events

Save the Date - 29, 30 & 31 Dec

The holiday season is in full swing in January so you can look forward to lots happening. Here's a teaser. Think seafood!

If you need a place to stay for any of these events or activities, here's where you can check out your accommodation options.

Happy Holidays!

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