Government Gardens

Admire pretty roses and exquisite sculptures, relax at luxurious spas and discover the region’s remarkable history.

The well-kept lawns of Government Gardens house two spas and a museum as well as facilities for croquet and cricket. Find out more about the Maori culture of Rotorua and learn about the brutal volcanic eruption that rocked the region. Lie in the sun beside fragrant flowerbeds and submerge yourself in idyllic geothermal pools.

Gifted to the crown by the local Ngati Whakaue tribe during the late 1800s, this land has been fully utilised and is now home to a range of different facilities. Once an area of scrubland, the gardens have been replanted; however, you can still see Japanese firs and a weeping Californian redwood that have been here since the 19th century. Survey the newer additions of beds of bright roses, azaleas and perfectly landscaped lawns. Bring a football to kick around on the grass or just sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Look around the Rotorua Museum, which occupies an attractive Tudor-style building in the centre of the park. The museum contains exhibitions that pay tribute to the beliefs and skills of the area’s Maori population. Inspect intricate wood carvings and view old utensils used by tribespeople to hunt and eat. The museum also screens an interesting 20-minute film that documents the events of the Mount Tarawera eruption, showing how it decimated lives and destroyed the fabled Pink and White Terraces.

The museum started as a bathhouse and several bathing establishments can still be found in the gardens just a short stroll away. Step inside the ornate Mediterranean-style Blue Baths and choose from three heated pools or head to the waterfront Polynesian Spa where you can soak in the solitude of private baths and take in panoramic views of Lake Rotorua. The complex also has a family pool with a shallow toddlers’ area as well as a slide.

The Government Gardens are on the east side of town. The spas and the museum are open daily and both charge admission fees. Entrance to the gardens, however, is free.