10 FABULOUS FREE THINGS TO DO IN ROTORUA Enter email for instant access
Annual Rotorua Events By The Month
Annual Rotorua events, activities and festivals can be somewhat confusing for first-time visitors, and for the regulars wanting to find out what's on when and what each event involves. This by the month list, along with a brief description, will help in your planning as will the links provided to monthly calendars.
Early Morning Rotorua - Looking towards Mokoia Island
Unfamiliar with New Zealand's seasons, high-volume visitor periods and Daylight Savings dates? Check it out.
Summer: Dec Jan Feb Autumn: Mar Apr May Winter: Jun Jul Aug Spring: Sep Oct Nov
High season: Dec to Mar Shoulder seasons: Mar to May & Sep to Nov Low season: Jun to Oct
Daylight Saving begins: Last Sunday in September - Clocks advance from 2am-3am
Daylight Savings ends: First Sunday in April - Clocks return from 3am-2am
A compilation of happenings likely to be of interest to visitors (and locals) put together for each month. Together with the annual Rotorua events, you should be set. NB: It's a general guide only, sometimes organisers change the month.
Blue Lake Rowing Regatta: The second biggest rowing regatta held in the North Island makes this a popular event for novices and masters alike. It often coincides with Wellington Anniversary weekend.
Ecomist Blue Lake Multisport Festival: Five events are held over two days, often on Auckland Anniversary weekend (the Monday in Rotorua is a public holiday). Main events are: 1) an Aquathon with a 5.5k run followed by an 800m Open Water Swim, 2) a 2k swim across the lake, and 3) a Sprint Triathlon. Out of this a King & Queen is crowned. Kids can join in with their own Triathlon and adults can enjoy a social 750m swim and Forest Fun Run/Walk.
Rotorua Bike Festival: 10 days of biking events. Phew. Insane. Improvements see changes and new events being added each year.
Go By Bike Day - Getting
the festival off to a great start is this event that has everyone and
anyone biking to work, school or just playing around. Stop off at
any/all of the four checkpoints to pick up a spot prize and refreshments
plus go into the draw to win one of three $100 vouchers.
Redwoods Coast - Much
like a trolley race, the wheels are there but no pedalling as the
competitors coast down the Redwoods Nursery Hill. Get the furthest and
Giant 2W Gravity Enduro - A series of 3 one day downhill mountain bike races, spread out over the
months of October, December and February, getting harder every day.
Competitors have 6hrs to complete six races per day. Best time overall
each day wins. Tons of prizes for giveaway's, spot prizes and
performance-based prizes. Ride individually or socially. Limited
BMX Bike Festival Club Meeting - This event is open to affiliated BMX riders. Spectators are most welcome.
Runway Project & Flying Kilo - Biking wise,
biking on Rotorua Airport's runway goes down a
treat with families. You only have to see the tiny-tots taking part to
know this. The Project Excalibur NZ Bike Speed Record attempt will be
fun to watch as will the elitist Flying Kilo. That's where the top guns
come out to race for prize money.
Bow Ties & Bike Shorts MTBers Ball - Live music, auctions, supper and a cash bar make for a fun evening.
Bike the Lake - Bike one lap of Lake Rotorua
socially or, if you're a big gun, you can
go around again. This event is open to all ages. It's lovely biking on
the far side of the lake where it's fast and flat, more especially first thing in the morning
when the sun is sparkling on the water and the only noise is from the odd cow or rooster. This is when you want to be cruising because it's so
nice to take your time to enjoy.
MTB Rogaine Series 1 (of 3) - Orienteering on a bike challenge. It can
be serious or for fun so if you like, turn up on the day. You won't be
turned away. Free mapboards for newbies and free sausage sizzle to
encourage tall tales afterwards. Orienteering BOP is the organiser of this event.
MTB Beginner's Ride - Easy trails that are
flat, what a great way to get a taste of mountain
biking. (Must be over 8yrs. Under 12yrs will need a parent.) Your guide
will give you a basic skills
session then take you on a leisurely ride. Hire bikes are going to be
free and if you have a bike, you can get it checked out for free too.
How's that? Make sure to register as bikes are limited.
Triple D - Descend Downhill Dash - New in 2016 this will be fun for the family. Yes, the family, and the dog if you want. All classes of racing included.
Bike Photography Workshop - New in 2016, Mead Norton runs a hands-on workshop to teach you how to take better action shots.
Bike Speedway - 4 riders at a time race around the Government Gardens in a circuit. You can be a BMXer, mountain biker or a road biker.
The Big Bike Film Night - A guest speaker and short movies with action, drama, and even romance
(the bike kind). There's an afternoon matinee (teen screening) at 3-5pm and the
later evening screening for adults.
16 inch World Dual Slalom Champs - Small wheels they say, big action they say. This all takes place at Dodzy Memorial Skills Park.
Tykes on Trikes - They get them early here. Under fives can have fun riding their bikes around an obstacle course.
Revolve Rotorua Dipper Dash - Not
satisfied with the children, now they've got to drag women in. This is
the event where you get to (hopefully) fall in love with mountain biking
too. What a dastardly plan. I love it already.
MTB Adventure Quest - A navigation-based adventure suitable for everyone.
The Return of The Sprint Warrior - Set on Skyline's world class stage and accessed via a gondola ride,
this popular event is a 1.8km downhill trail. Spectators can watch at
the finish line or pay to ride the gondola to access viewing spots.
Sport Bay of Plenty Family Fun Ride - Aimed at beginners, recreational riders and families, two options have
you winding in and out the Natural Heritage Trail. That's around Sulphur
Point and the Government Gardens. A dress up theme, spot prizes and
WEMBO 24hr Solo World Championship - Look for some world class international riders in this event. The network of trails at Whakarewarewa
Forest teems with families and supporters too. Finishes on the Sunday
with the prizegiving.
Cycling Rotorua Hill Climb Fun Challenge - Everyone can take part in this hill climb. And what a hill it is for 2016.
Frocks on Bikes -
Always a popular event involving frocks and bikes, this leisurely ride
is for all ages and abilities.
More information about the Bike Festival together with links to organisers can be found at Rotorua Bike Festival.
Now let's continue with other events that may be of interest. (By the time you reach the end you'll swear we do nothing else except play outdoors.)
Lakeside Concert Rotorua: A free outdoor concert held at the
Village Green. Each year (it started in 1997) we see a line up of
stellar performers. Past acts include Dame Malvina Major, Kiri Te
Kanawa, Tim Beveridge, Jason Kerrison, Tina Cross, and so many more.
Tarawera Ultra Marathon: Only New Zealand's most prestigious ultra marathon. Just sayin'. Are you up for running the Rotorua to Kawerau 100km? No? Okay, how about the 85 or 60km races as alternatives? Just think, you'll be running through forests, around lakes, there's waterfalls and hot pools, and scenery, incredible scenery. What an experience!
Rotorua ½ Marathon, ¼ Marathon, 5km and Kids Race: Fun for all the family, this course is located at Whakarewarewa Forest. Scenic trails, forestry roads, ah, it's wonderful out there. Getting slightly crowded nowadays though.
Rotorua Walking Festival: Be prepared to walk your feet off with this two day festival. Forest walks of 10, 21 and 42Km take place on Saturday. Same again on Sunday except it's around town. The 10km is classed as a Fun Walk.
Classic Hits Easter Beach Dig: Could be March or April depending on when Easter falls. For kiddies 12 and under, join the Classic Hits 97.5 team for a beach dig to find a numbered stick that is buried in the sand. Every child is guaranteed a prize and there's a whole lot of Easter Eggs, hot cross buns and drinks for giveaways. Spot prizes and major prizes are up for grabs as well.
NZO Moonride: From 10pm Friday until 10pm Saturday, three
epic races take place at Waipa mountain biking area. Muc Off runs for
24hrs, Nature Valley 12hrs and Pig & Whistle 6hrs. The trails are
grade 2-3 so not too strenuous. Ride solo or as part of a team. Tent
city shoots up literally overnight and part of the 9km circuit wends its
way through that too. Much fun.
Rotorua to Taupo 100k Flyer & Vice-versa:
The Flyer starts at Rotorua on even-numbered years otherwise it starts
at Taupo - start point here is at Ward Ave, to the side of Copthorne
Hotel on Fenton St. You can enter solo, tandem or as part of a relay
team. The bikes can be an education too. Penny farthings, anyone? The
route takes you through scenic countryside and your audience - cows -
have been trained to applaud as you drift on past- joking. Even if you
miss out on winning, you might win a spot prize or one of many
, ½ or ¼ Marathon, 5.5km Run/Walk: Thousands head to Rotorua in April or May for the Rotorua Marathon. It's one 42km lap around the lake that starts and ends at Government Gardens. A very scenic route if you're in a fit state to be enjoying the view. And, as you can see, shorter distance races take place also.
Paymark XTERRA Festival: Without a doubt, the biggest EXTERRA event... worldwide. Eight events take place at Blue Lake (Tikitapu) and surrounding Whakarewarewa Forest. Social or competitive, you can choose between a 5.5, 11 or 21km run/walk, or a 26km mountain bike race. Individuals and teams can take part in short or long course tri events. Short is a 500m swim, 12km MTB and 5.5km run. Long course is 1,000m swim, 26km MTB and an 11km run. Good luck with that.
Nduro Super D: Shuttle up and race your bike downhill. Enjoy the 6-7km downhill and cross country route through the forest. Categories of riders begin with Little D at 8-14yrs on through to the Classics at 55+ yrs. There's also a Hard Tail (no rear suspension) race with no age grouping event.
Matariki: The Māori New Year has come to the fore in recent times with Matariki, our name for a cluster of stars more commonly known as the Pleiades taking center stage. The Matariki cluster rises late May, early June and and that's when the New Year celebrations begin. Spread out over more than a month, kite making takes place as well as star gazing, community walks and more. As it begins to take hold, this may very well turn into something else. Something bigger.
National Alpaca Farm Days - Normally held the first Sunday in May, alpaca farms throughout New Zealand open their doors to the public. For free. Meet and hand feed alpaca, learn about the industry by speaking to the owners and check out the alpaca products on display.
Targa Rotorua - May or June: New Zealand's largest competitive rally series
visits Rotorua. The cars range in age from classics to modern day super
cars. The general public get to see the cars up close at some point
while they're in town. Have a bite to eat and chat to the competitors
before this event whizzes on by.
Rotorua Blues Festival: Five days of feasting on Blues. There's free live performances indoors and outside (think, street parties), a workshop, a seminar for youngsters, and even a cruise. Hollie Smith didn't disappoint in 2015.
Thermatech 3D Multisport Festival: Oh you're in for a treat with these events. What's your pleasure? Mountain biking, off road running, kayaking, or one of the many paddling disciplines? From 50km at the most, right down to 2km, there's something for absolutely everyone. And a heap of prizes too.
Slam Rock - Roller Derby: Pop along to watch the all female Motley Crew in action. Roller skating has come a long way that's for sure. Actually, this is the world's fastest growing sport for women. Unreal huh? Spectators might like to get glammed up because there are prizes. Look for other opportunities to win too.
N-Duro Winter Mountain Bike Series - July/August/September: Based at Waipa mountain bike car park, this series includes a short course (12-20km) for those new to MTB or just wanting a challenge, medium (25-35km) with harder trails, and long (35-50km) with up-hills. Also a kiddies U8yrs course of about 1km.
Tough Guy & Gal: I don't know why this race takes place mid-winter. Brrrrr! If you're over 13yrs you can enter. Races are 12 or 6km. Run, walk and wade through swamp crossings, climb a spiders web net, crawl under barbed wire, and slap some mud on while you're at it. Good for the skin I hear. Don't know how well clothing handles it. There's also a Junior and a secondary school version of this event.
KurungaitukuNetball Tournament: Held over three weekends, this Netball tournament is huge. First up are the CDEF Grades, then ABCD and masters Grades. Schools feature on the final weekend. It definitely makes for a great girls weekend.
Tulip Festival: Rotorua's up to 100,00+ tulips planted throughout the city centre, entirely for your pleasure. A large range of tulip themed activities take place over the span of 9 days that take in 2 weekends.
Okere Falls Store Beerfest: Happy hours, beer tastings, live music, locals night, a Schweinshaxe dinner, platters, an all day Weisswurst brekky and lots more. Does that sound Beerfestive enough? Buses are laid on as the store is about 20min out of the city and cost about $10 return. The Friday and Saturday events also cost to get in. Around $20 and $30.
Ekiden Relay: Teams of 3-6 people make their way around the beautiful shores of Lake
Rotorua in this fun event. Six segments are broken into distances of
5-8km. Get a group together, make it a family event, a work challenge.
Look forward to making friends with 2,000 odd people.
Nduro Whaka100: Race or ride 100km of the best mountain bike trails. Too much? Try the Whaka50 or Whaka25 events then. Trails are
lovingly hand crafted by mountain bikers, then there's the ones
untouched by man, apart from his wheels that is, unless he takes a
header and leaves it traumatised. The trail, that is.
Rotorua District Festival of Gardens: (NB. Working towards Nov 2017) Spanning three days every 2yrs (odd-numbered) and timed to catch the Rhododendrons, Roses etc. flowering, this festival attracts gardening fans from all over. The forty-five plus gardens may be small or veritable estates, professionally designed or brought to life with love. Some even have items to sell like plants, artworks and food (cash only). The gardens are spread out widely and how it works is, you buy a pass and receive detailed listings
and location maps. It's a self-guided ramble so you can visit any garden in any order over the three days.
Podium Rotorua Running Festival: Five running events take over the lakefront end of town. The City of Rotorua Half Marathon, Brooks 10k Classic, Novotel Community 4k, 2k Kid's Dash, and the BOLT Relay.
Open to everyone from 3yrs and up, these flat, fast courses are suitable for novices on through to the elite. It's a weekend of fun, medals by the ton, food and entertainment. What are you waiting for?
Tikitapu Off-Road Adventure Runs: Something
for everyone can be found with these Rotorua events. 18km or 21km takes you
offroad into the heart of our forest, or for less adventurous people, a
5.5km and 11km run or walk around the Blue Lake.
Rotorua ½ Ironman:
A 2km swim, 90km bike, 21km run. Based at Blue Lake, this is a bugger of an event with the flattest part being the swim. True. And the only good thing about the run is that it's off road. It's tough, really tough. This event is a good lead in to the Taupo Ironman, a much flatter course. Pussies. If the distance is too much presently, being part of a team would be a good option or the Quarter Ironman might be more achievable.
GLO Festival: 3 days, 3 locations, 3 events culminating in a 'GLO Party in the Park' on Day 3, New Years Eve. Day 1 is the result of an online busking competition with the top 10 vying for a win at Government Gardens. Day 2 is a family picnic and movie screening at Blue Lake. Lots of fun for all.
If you're local and know of any annual Rotorua events I may have missed, get in touch and I'll add it.
Visiting? Unless you visit Rotorua regularly, you're going to be wanting to find out a whole lot more yet. Use the following quicklinks to do this.
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