Free things to do in Rotorua - Rainbow Mountain

Maungakakaramea or Rainbow Mountain is just a 10 minute drive from Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. It is an ancient fortress used by the Ngati-Tahu-Ngati Whaoa people. The summit, known as Te Tihi o Ruru or Owl's perch was used to take up defensive positions and take refuge from attacks.

One of the best free things to do in Rotorua, Rainbow Mountain has walking and biking options to suit everyone!

Short walk option - perfect for little legs

A super rewarding short walk takes you to the crater lake lookout, where you'll see the colourful lakes set against a backdrop of brown, red and orange steaming cliffs. The walk is less than 1km and takes around 15 mins one way.

Summit track – more of a challenge

Perfect for those peak baggers or the more fit adventurers, continue on from the crater lake lookout to the summit track. This 2.5km track climbs steeply up to the top of the mountain, Te Tihi o Ruru,  where you'll get expansive views of the surrounding lakes, and even views out to the mountains at National Park on a clear day. 

Te Ara Ahi – New Zealand Cycle Trail

The Rainbow Mountain bike trails form part of the New Zealand Cycleway Great Ride, Te Ara Ahi. You can ride to Rainbow Mountain on the off-road trail right from Rotorua, and continue on to Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. Or for a shorter ride, start at Waimangu Volcanic Valley and ride by Lake Okaro to Rainbow Mountain and on to the Wai-o-Tapu Tavern. This section is grade 3 and has some steeper sections. 

Te Ranga – advanced mountain bike heaven

More advanced riders will love a loop ride branching off Te Ara Ahi and up to the summit of Rainbow Mountain. The Summit track is dual use for both walkers and uphill biking, and is a challenging climb with some steep pinches. One at the top, take a moment to appreciate the views from the summit before dropping into Te Ranga, a grade 4 downhill bike only trail with some technical challenges some epic flow.

Free things to do in Rotorua - Rainbow Mountain
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsFree things to do in Rotorua - Rainbow Mountain
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsFree things to do in Rotorua - Rainbow Mountain
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsFree things to do in Rotorua - Rainbow Mountain
Waikite Valley Thermal Pools