The Government Gardens in central Rotorua are so bountiful, they resemble an old picture postcard from the English countryside. If not for the telltale scent of sulfur from the nearby thermal springs at Sulphur Point, visitors might forget where they’re standing, given the Edwardian architecture and dignified landscape.
The Government Gardens are the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll in Rotorua. This 50-acre (20-hectare) compound on the shore of Lake Rotorua was given to the Crown by local Maori tribes (iwi). The area was transformed from a patch of scrubland peppered with therapeutic hot pools into a public park with manicured lawns.
A bowling club, petanque club, and croquet lawn appeal to all ages, while children can also make use of climbing structures and a shaded play area in the rose garden. Opt for a narrated sightseeing tour of Rotorua highlights, combined with other points of interest, or ride an amphibious “duck” vehicle that takes you past the Government Gardens before cruising the lake.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors can combine a driving tour that visits landmarks in the public park with guided sightseeing beyond Rotorua.
- Guests can also swim or soak in geothermally heated pools at the historic Blue Baths, but call ahead to make sure the baths are not closed for a private event.
- The Government Gardens offer one of the city’s most serene spots for a picnic.
How to Get There
The Government Gardens are located on Queens Drive, on the shores of Lake Rotorua in central Rotorua. Pickup from centrally located hotels is provided on most tour itineraries, but the site is an easy stroll from downtown.
When to Get There
The gardens are open daily from 10am until 6pm. Spring is a delightful time to visit, when visitors can listen to the birdsong that rains down from the branches of exotic trees, and take time, literally, to smell the abundant roses and other flowers that burst with color.
Stepping Back in Time in Rotorua
To add to the impeccable nature of the gardens, an ornate Bath House building was constructed on the property and now stands as a piece of architectural history. The building houses the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, though it was damaged in a recent earthquake. The museum is well worth a visit when it reopens.