The Government Gardens in central Rotorua are so bountiful that they could easily be mistaken for a piece of the old English countryside. If it weren’t for the telltale scent of sulfur that wafts through the air from the nearby hot springs, many visitors would forget where they’re standing, due to the Edwardian architecture and dignified landscape.
As it happens, this 50-acre compound on the shore of Lake Rotorua was gifted to the Crown by Maori tribes. Taking what was once a patch of scrubland peppered with therapeutic hot pools, the area was transformed into a public park complete with manicured lawns and the famous baths. To add to the impeccable nature of the gardens, an ornate bath house was constructed on the property and now serves as a piece of architectural history. Standing stoically above the flower gardens that burst with color each spring, the building houses the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, which is also well worth a look. Outside, the Government Gardens are the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll in Rotorua. Listen to bird-song as it rains from the branches of exotic species of hardwood, and take time to literally smell the roses that spring from the Earth with abundance. The Government Gardens are one of the city’s best gathering places for a picnic or a drink at the café, and it’s also one of the best free activities you can find in downtown Rotorua.