Winners of both the Māori Tourism Award and Resilience & Innovation Award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2023.

What is the best time to visit Rotorua? Summer usually gets all the fame; but we reckon Autumn and Spring could give the warmer months a run for their money! Packed with hidden treasures and stunning scenery, here’s why we think Autumn and Spring just might be the best time to visit Rotorua…

Rotorua starts to cool down later in Autumn so warm up in one of the Polynesian Spa's world-famous geothermal pools!

Autumn in Rotorua

It may seem backwards to our Northern Hemisphere friends, but Autumn in New Zealand is from March until May. You may not even notice that Summer is ending, with the sun still shining on through long days – it might even be warm enough for a dip in the lake early in Autumn (try a toe first!)

Autumn is a photographer’s dream! Most native trees in New Zealand are evergreen, but there are plenty of trees in Tihiotonga Centennial Park that change with the seasons. Red, orange and golden Autumn colours, lower light, and fewer crowds makes for the perfect photo opportunity.

Of course, things start to cool down later in Autumn, so warm up in one of Rotorua’s world-famous geothermal pools. When the first hints of winter start to cool the air, there is nothing better than soaking in the mineral waters of the Polynesian baths, which have stunning views over Lake Rotorua.

Tui bird Song
Tui bird song fills the air in Springtime, as they seek out their favourite flax (harakeke) flowers

Spring in Rotorua

Spring is from September to November, warming up to a summer New Years. In Spring, New Zealand bursts into life with lush green bush, Tui birdsong and woolly lambs prancing through rolling green hills. If you’re looking for that postcard perfect scenery, Spring is the best time to visit Rotorua!

Be sure to bring a jacket, because Spring can bring plenty of rainfall. With wet weather gear tucked away ‘just-in-case’, you can still plan on spending your days outdoors. Photographers and walkers alike will love how the awa (rivers) flow during this ‘waterfall season’, framed by a lush canopy and lacy ponga (tree ferns). All the rainfall in Spring means that Rotorua’s forests are incredibly lush at this time of year – bright green as far as the eye can see and filled with birdsong. Or you could see it all from the water! The Kaituna River is home to the Tutea Falls for rafting, which is heaps of fun after heavy rainfall.

Our native bush thrives in Spring rain and is lush, green and all-round pretty spectacular during September, October & November

New Zealand’s not all just about greenery! Stroll through the beautiful light pink cherry blossoms in Tihiotonga Centennial Park. Or snap a pic of the stunning Rotorua Museum, nestled amongst the Government Gardens – perfectly manicured with no stem or petal is out of place. The annual Tulip Festival takes place in early October, with more than 100,000 tulips blooming around the city, as well as events and activities for the whole family.

It’s never too busy around these parts, but any crowds disappear and it’s extra relaxed during these off-peak seasons. You can take in some of the most incredible sights in the world, with a dash of laid back kiwi attitude. We reckon that Autumn and Spring show off Rotorua at its very best!