20 of the BEST things to in Rotorua on a family holiday

20 of the BEST things to do in Rotorua on a family holiday

Hamaurana Jetty overlooking Lake Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

Rotorua is a fun destination for a family holiday in New Zealand. There are lots of activities and places to enjoy with the kids. Here is out pick of 20 of the best things to do when you visit Rotorua next.

1. Wonder at the geothermal sights of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderal

If your family havent seen geothermal activity up close before, then a visit to Wai-O-Tapu is a must do when you are in Rotorua. Explore the trails to see the gurgling mud pools, volancic craters and steam lakes. If you time your visit right, you can see the daily controlled eruption of  Lady Know Geyser too. If you have younger children, most of Wai-O-Tapu is assessable with a stroller too.

Colourful geothermal wonderland Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua
Photo: Wai-O_Tapu - Colourful geothermal wonderland

2. Catch the gondola to take in the view of Lake Rotorua and  ride down on the luge

Catch the 8 seater Skyline Gondola with your family to take in the stunning views of Late Rotorua. At the top there is a Jelly Bean Store that the kids will find fun and you can dine at the family friendly Market Kitchen.  Then you can have fun ride back down on the Rotorua luge. The 2km scenic luge track is perfect for all ages, and children under six can go down in tandem with their parents.  There is an intermediate 1.7km track and lastly for riders over 10 and over 135cm tall there is the advanced 1km track with tight bends, dips and a tunnel.  Skyline Rotoura sell family luge packages with the gondola and 2 to 5 luge rides included.

3. Go on a family walk though the giant redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest

Go on a walk through the Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest to see the giant Californian Coast Redwood trees.  There are 2 short walks for families. The Redwood Memorial Grove Track takes about 30 mins and goes through the redwoods and over the boardward across the thermal pond. There is also the slight longer 1 hour Waitawa Walk which takes you on an extention of the Redwood track into the Douglas Firs and giant silver ferns.

4. Watch the farm show at the Agrodome

Take the kids to see the legendary  Farm Show at the Agrodome. See the 19 breeds of sheeps, farm dogs and a live sheep shearing demonstration. Plus you you can go on the stage to feed the baby lambs or mild a cow.  After the show you can visit the Farmyard Nursery and watch a live dog trail.

5.  Go swimming in the historic Blue Baths

Go for a swim in the historic geothermally heated pools at the Blue Baths in the Government Gardens. The Juvenile Pool is around 30 degrees and the two hot soak pools are between 37 and 42 degrees celcius.

6. See the giant trouts at Rainbow Springs Nature Park

Enjoy seeing and feeding the trouts,  watching the live bird show and visiting the kiwis at Rainbow Springs.  Plus enjoy the water ride on the Big Splash. (Our tip is pack a spare change of clothes for the day, as you may end up wet on the Big Spash.) There is a fun playground for the kids and playscapes and water play installations throughout the parks for children to enjoy.

7. Walk high in the Redwoods Tree Tops

The Redwoods Treewalk is a walkway of suspension bridges between Redwood trees over 100 years old and up to 75 metres tall.  The eco-suspended bridges gradually incline from 6 metres to 12 meters above the ground at its peak. You can either go on a daytime or night time tree walk.  The walk is easy and suitable for children, as long as they can walk.

Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua
Photo: Redwoods Treewalk - Treewalk in the Redwood Forest, in Rotorua, New Zealand
Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua
Photo: Redwoods Treewalk - The suspended bridge treewalk at night time.

8. Go for a swim in the hot Kerosene Creek

Enjoy a free soak in Kerosene Creek, a natural hot spring in the middle of the bush.

9. Relax and enjoy the government gardens

Orginially know as Paepaehakumanu Motutara, the Government Gardens are a beautiful spot for a family picnic or to relax. The flowers are stunning and there are facilities for bowls, croquet, pentanque and golf.

10. Go on a family zip line eco adventure in the Rotorua Forest canopy.

Three hour adventure flying above the native forest for families with children aged 6 years and over with Rotorua Canopy Tours. Families will enjoy the mixture of zip lines, swing bridges, walking trails and tree top platforms.  As well as flying over the trees you get to feed the native birds too.

11. See if your family can find their way out of the giant maze

See if you family can find your way out aMAZEme‘s giant 1.4 km hedged maze.  There is a small animal enclosure, giant games and kids activities and a picnic area too.  The maze is wheelchair and buggy accessable.

Amaze Me
Photo aMAZEme - Fun giant maze at aMAZEme in Rotorua

12. Ride in a ZORB

Ride in a giant ball at ZORB. As long as your children are 6 years old, then this is an activity your whole family can enjoy. You can choose to go solo in the ZORB, or on a double or triple ride.  There are dry and wet track options too. Plus you can enjoy the onsite hotpool, and picnic areas afterwards.

Zorb ball in Rotorua, New Zealand
Picture ZORB- Giant rolling ball experience in Roturua

13. Ride on the self-drive rail cars

Ride through the scenic Rotorua countryside with your family in your own Railcruising self-drive railway vehicle. Each vehicle is just for your own group and can carry up to four adults, or 2 adults and 2 older children, or 2 adults and 3 smaller children. From Mamaku Railway Station you go 10km to Tarukenga Railway Station and then back to Mamaku.

14. Take a trip to one of Rotorua’s nearby lakes

There are 18 lakes around Rotorua. Some of our favourites are:

  • The Blue Lake (Lake Tikitapu) which has good swimming beaches on the south side of the lake which are accessible from the walkway and has a children’s playground and picnic tables.

  • Lake Tarawera which is one of the largest lakes in New Zealand and is famous for its rainbow trout. Punaromia (Tarawera Landing) is a fun place for families to swim and in autumn months you can go trout fishing.

  • Lake Okareka has a picnic area with Boyes Beach at one end perfect for paddling and a children’s playground. There is a boardwalk that make for a fun family walk that goes though the wetlands.

15. Take a walk in Kuirau Park

Kuirau Park is a free public geothermal park and has mud pools, hot springs, free thermal foot baths and a children’s playground.   Make sure you keep the kids behind the safety fences in the park and also don’t let them swim in the foot bath. There is a market on Saturday mornings in the park too.

16. Have dinner at the Tamaki Maori Village

Journey back in time to discover the ancient traditions at the Tamaki Maori Village. Experience the ceremonial rituals, watch the performances and enjoy a hangi dinner.  Tamaki village is wheelchair and buggy accessible and high chairs are available.

17. Enjoy the family pools at the Polynesian Spa

The deluxe lake spa and deluxe private pools at the Polynesian Spa for families are stunning.  There is a fun family pool too with a large freshwater chlorinated heated pool with a slide and two mineral pools that overlook the main pool.

Polynesian Spa overlooking Lake Rotorua, New Zealand
Slide in Polynesian Spa Family Pool

18. Go on a family river rafting adventure

River Rats over rafting experiences for the whole family (children aged 5 and up) on their Rangitaiki Grade 2 scenic expedition. Rafting expeditions start at the base of Aniwhenua Falls in the lower Rangitaki River.  past waterfalls, native forest, and a rock gorge.

19. Go mountain biking

Hire a bike at Ride Rotorua and take the family for a mountain bike ride on one of Whakarewarewa’s trails.

20. Take a twilight paddle board and glow worm tour

For families with children aged 10 years and over, you can enjoy stand up paddle boarding on the Rotorua Lakes as the sun sets on Paddle Board Rotorua tour. Then venture on your paddle board into the secret hidden caves to see the glow worms.

Glow Worm Paddle Board in Rotorua, New Zealand
Picture: Rotorua Jet Board - Twilight Rotorua Lakes pladdle board and glow worm tour

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