Rotorua Walking Festival

16 - 17 March 2024

Welcome to the Rotorua Walking Festival

The Rotorua Walking Festival is an annual event organised for the community by the NZ Walking Association Inc. Our 2024 event is our 31st event in Rotorua.

Rotorua Walking Festival 16/17 March 2024

We look forward to seeing you all in 2024.

Day One involves walks in the majestic Whakarewarewa Forest with distances of 10km, 21km and the 42km marathon walk. On Day Two you will see Rotorua’s unique parks and urban environment displayed. Walking past café’s, through the lakefront and around the Government Gardens with distances of 10km, 20km, 30km and the new 42km. You can enter through the brochure or online. Now is a great time to set goals for 2024 such as walking a dual marathon, single marathon, half marathon or 10 kms! What a great way to discover Rotorua.

Click here to register online

On Saturday, we have the 5km Family walk. Entry for this walk is a $5 donation. Proceeds for this go to the Rotorua Parents Centre.

On Sunday we have the 5km S.P.C.A. dog walk. Entry for this walk is a gold coin donation per dog or $5 per family. Proceeds for this will go to the Rotorua S.P.C.A. This walk starts at 10:30 am.

All participants for the small walks these will receive a certificate of participation.

Unique geothermal areas, lakes and the majestic Redwoods are just some of the sights that walkers will be treated to on the 2024 Rotorua Walking Festival. These walks will take in amazing geothermal features alongside special walkways, areas adjacent to Whakarewarewa (a Maori village and an area of hot thermal springs and bubbling mud pools), Te Puia (NZ Maori Arts and Crafts institute) and then into unique stream, forest and bush areas. While Day One has walks of 10, 21 and 42 kms, Day Two has walks of 10, 20, 30 and new 42 kms marathon walk through Rotorua’s lakefront, parks, reserves, and geothermal areas. You can walk on either day or both days and choose any distance that suits you.

Outside of the Rotorua Marathon and the Kurungaituku Netball Tournament, there are not many annual sports/recreational events that have been around in Rotorua for over 30 years! Why has the Rotorua Walking Festival endured? Firstly there were visionary people in the Rotary Club of Rotorua West such as Evan Jordan, Henk Bussink, Roger McElroy, Neil Goodwin, Sue Marsh and Rod Davenhill that got involved in establishing and operating the event for 18 of its 31 years. Secondly key organisations such as Rotorua Lakes Council and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust support it on an ongoing basis.

Thirdly the Walking Festival established partnerships with many groups and organisations that provided facilities, such as the Rotorua Netherlands Society and Lakes City Athletic Club that assisted the organisers through the use of facilities and volunteers. On a similar basis CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd and Timberlands have allowed our walkers access to our wonderful forest areas. St Chads has been a long-term supporter with the use of their facilities during their Sunday city walk.

Significantly after just three years the Walking Festival established international credentials around the event becoming a member of the IML Walking Association and IVV, which make the event part of an international calendar of walking events around the world. A significant factor in its success are the thousands of walkers that have participated in the event over its history. These people have come from Rotorua and other parts of NZ, but also from the far reaches of the world (eg, Finland, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Germany and Australia). We look forward to our international walk friends joining us. While the festival has ebbed and flowed over its 30 years, the walks in the forest on Saturday and street walks through the parks, reserves and geothermal areas on Sunday have been independently rated as some of the best of their type in the world. Many locals are great supporters of the event, but most people in Rotorua have not undertaken the event.

Why should locals do it? People are motivated for different reasons. The walks are recreational, and some believe that they are not enough of a challenge! To walk a double marathon over two days is a unique challenge. The appeal is that you could be aged between 8 and 80 and you can equally find a walk that is a test, whether you walk 10 kms on one day or if you wish to walk for both days. Some locals also say they can do these walks every day without paying a fee. That is correct, but you cannot find live entertainment by our local artists (at the start/finish area), walk with people from all over the world and challenge yourself with others in a very social setting and receive a medal for doing it.

This year we are challenging local organizations to form a team and come and walk the event and challenge yourself for a fun time! Over many years we have found families that have grown up around the event and come back each year. This makes the festival a very personal thing. To our local people, put a walk in the Rotorua Walking Festival on your bucket list! Go to

We look forward to seeing you all in 2024 on 16/17 March (note registrations and celebrations commence on Friday 15th March with a nocturnal walk also on 15th March at 8pm).

The walks are conducted over two days and walkers can participate in one or both days.

Details to walks are as follows. Please show up at least 30 mins before your start time to attend the walk safety briefing.


  • 42km Whakarewarewa Forest Walk starts at 8am.
  • 21km Whakarewarewa Forest Walk starts at 9am.
  • 10km Whakarewarewa Forest Walk starts at 10am.
  • 5km Parent Centre Walk starts at 10.30am.


  • 42km Challenge Town Walk starts at 7am
  • 30km Challenge Town Walk starts at 8am
  • 21km Town Walk starts at 9am
  • 10km Fun Walk starts at 10am
  • 5km S.P.C.A. Walk starts at 10.30am.

    Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you over the weekend!

    Deryck Shaw
    Rotorua Walking Festival Committee

    Click here to register online