The Top Family Activities in Rotorua
Plan at least a couple of days in Rotorua because the array of family-friendly activities is huge. Surrounding its lake are geothermal hotspots, amazing exotic and native forests, adventure activities, unique sightseeing tours and a hub for the Maori culture. See what are the best ways to experience it all as a family with this list of the best things to do in Rotorua with kids.
For more trip-planning advice, check out The Guide to Rotorua for Families, as well as the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Rotorua.
1. Experience the Famous Sheep Show and Farm Tour of Agrodome
Something to Do in Rotorua with Young Kids
Let’s be honest, you probably told your kids that New Zealand is full of sheep before jetting off here. Make sure their expectations are lived up to by checking out the sheep show and farm tour at Agrodome! You’ll have the option to watch a show on sheep shearing and wool spinning or see the variety of New Zealand farming on the farm tour. Or you could do both! Farmers will introduce you to sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches to feed them, while you’ll also get a chance to feed yourselves with organic fruit orchard and honey tastings. Learn more about Agrodome on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.
Location: 141 Western Road, 10km (6 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
2. See the Forest From a Different Perspective on the Redwoods Treewalk
Daytime or under the beautiful night lighting, families can enjoy a unique eco-experience on the Redwoods Treewalk. Look out for native birdlife and see the forest from an unusual perspective on the 700m (766 yards) long walkway with 28 suspension bridges taking around 40 minutes to complete. As long as your kids can walk, the experience is suitable, safe and fun for children. When you’re done, enjoy some of the family-friendly walks and bike trails of the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest (more on that in point #5).
Location: 1 Long Mile Road, 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
3. Meet the Kiwi Birds, Giant Trout and More at Rainbow Springs
Something to Do in Rotorua with Toddlers
Learn more about nature, particularly New Zealand’s birds, the famous kiwi bird and rainbow trout at Rainbow Springs. It’s the most comprehensive family attraction in Rotorua with aviaries of New Zealand’s native birds, trout pools, a kiwi hatchery and nocturnal house and a few fun attractions to let the kids loose on, like the Playscapes and Water Play installations. Don’t miss the log flume ride on the Big Splash Water Ride too. Oh yeah, and a Maori show is also available… There’s so much going on here, you’ll need to spend at least half a day. Check out Rainbow Springs on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday.
Location: Fairy Springs Road, 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
4. See Rotorua’s Sights and Lakes with Rotorua Duck Tours
A duck doesn’t care if it’s raining and neither does Rotorua Duck Tours! Whatever the weather, jump in one of these unmissable WW2 amphibious buses for a comprehensive tour of Rotorua’s city highlights, hot pools and historical sites, as well as into the famous natural attractions, the Blue Lake and Lake Orareka. Learn more about Rotorua Duck Tours on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook. Plus, see more activities like this in the 15 Things to Do in Rotorua on a Rainy Day.
Location: 1241 Fenton Street, Rotorua city centre.
5. Do the Family-Friendly Walks or Bike Trails of the Whakawerawera Redwood Forest
There are plenty of natural attractions in Rotorua that you can enjoy for free, and the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest is a good place to start. There are two fantastic short walks for families, such as the Redwood Memorial Grove Track taking you on boardwalks over a thermal pond and the Waitawa Walk to spend more time among the giant Douglas firs and silver fern trees. Check out more walks in the 11 Must-Do Walks in Rotorua, as well as the family-friendly bike trails in the 10 Best Bike Trails in Rotorua.
Location: 1 Long Mile Road, 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
6. Take a Day Trip to One of the Lakes of Rotorua
Something to do in Rotorua with Babies
Speaking of free things to do, a day trip to one of the 18 lakes surrounding Rotorua is also an option to keep things affordable for families. We like Blue Lake (Lake Tikitapu), which has good swimming beaches, an easy-going walkway and a children’s playground. Alternatively, Lake Okareka is a great place for a picnic and has a stroller-friendly boardwalk in the wetlands. See more walks in the 11 Must-Do Walks in Rotorua, as well as day trips in The Best Day Trips from Rotorua.
Location: Blue Lake – Tarawera Road, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Rotorua city centre. Lake Okareka – Acacia Road, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
7. See Natural Wonders at Rotorua’s Geothermal Parks
Of course, Rotorua is famous for its geothermal wonders, so don’t miss the geothermal parks like Wai-O-Tapu and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Wai-O-Tapu is one of the most popular geothermal parks in New Zealand, home of the orange-lined Champagne Pool, the vibrant green Devil’s Bath and the Lady Knox Geyser. A walking tour around Wai-O-Tapu is ideal for families on limited time. Learn more on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Alternatively, enjoy the multitude of walks and even a boat cruise at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley with spectacular craters, huge steaming lakes, bubbling hot springs and much more. While families can enjoy a longer outing at this geothermal park, there is a bus running up and down the valley should you want to give the little ones’ legs a rest. See Waimangu Volcanic Valley’s page on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook for more details and (sometimes) discounted tickets.
Location: Check out the geothermal parks and their locations in the 8 Insane Geothermal Parks in New Zealand You Won’t Believe Exist.
8. Zip Through the Trees with Rotorua Canopy Tours
Something to Do in Rotorua with Teens
For families seeking adventure (and who have kids aged six years and above), try out Rotorua Canopy Tours. This small-group tour takes you on a thrilling experience ziplining on six huge ziplines through centuries-old forest. Not only will you soar some 22m (72ft) above the ground, but you’ll also learn about the forest on this educational eco-tour. Learn more about Rotorua Canopy Tours on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday.
Location: 147 Fairy Springs Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre. Accommodation pick-ups are included.
9. Get a Dose of that Famous New Zealand Adrenaline at Velocity Valley
New Zealand is famous for its adrenaline experiences, but there are not many places where you can experience them with the kids… Introducing Velocity Valley! This adrenaline-fuelled theme park features four family-friendly rides, as well as the “Rotorua Bungy” which is only suitable for those over the age of 10. Jump on the giant swing called “Swoop”, experience the thrills of skydiving at “Freefall Xtreme”, feel the speed and sharp turns of the jet boat “Agrojet” and race each other in the rail capsules of the “Schweeb Racer”. Check out more on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook.
Location: 1335 Paradise Valley Road, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
10. Experience the Maori Culture
Another must-do in Rotorua is experiencing the captivating cultural performances of the Maori culture. Great options for families are Tamaki Maori Village (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) and Mitai Maori Village (on Viator and Tripadvisor), which begin with traditional welcoming ceremonies, before you’re allowed into their villages where there are various interactive workshops to learn Maori games, about their tattoos and the infamous Haka. After an enthralling cultural show, you’ll dine on traditional Maori food in a hangi buffet. See more options for Maori shows in the 10 Best Maori Tours in New Zealand.
Location: Tamaki Maori Village transport departs from 1220 Hinemaru Street, Rotorua city centre. Accommodation pick-ups are available. Car parking is available at the attraction on 103 Highlands Loop Road, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Rotorua city centre. Mitai Maori Village offers Rotorua accommodation pick-ups.
11. Race Each Other on The Luge
Something hilariously fun for all ages, The Luge at Skyline Rotorua is a must for families! Challenge each other to Rotorua’s three downhill Luge tracks in go-karts that are easy to use by simply running on gravity. There are plenty of twists, turns, tunnels and dips to keep the tracks exciting. Plus, if you’re little ones are too small to kart themselves, they can easily sit on mum or dad’s lap. Book your Skyline Rotorua & Luge Rides on Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 178 Fairy Springs Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
12. Roll Down a Hill in an Inflatable Ball
Another wacky family activity in Rotorua is the weird yet ridiculously fun Zorb. Your hollow inflatable hamster ball is filled with a little bit of water on the bottom, as well as several family members at once. Then your ball is unleashed to roll down a hill! Choose from different tracks for this nonsensical tumbling experience. Be aware, once you ride you’ll want to do it again and again… The rides are suitable for ages five years and up. Learn more about this activity with Zorb on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook.
Location: 525 Ngongotaha Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
13. Hit the Hot Pools
Rotorua is the place to be for unwinding in a naturally heated hot pool. The best hot pools in Rotorua for families include Polynesian Spa (more info on Klook, KKday, Viator and Tripadvisor) with its hydro slide and Waikite Valley Thermal Pools (on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor) nestled in native bush. For families feeling more adventurous, seek out the free natural hot pools spots like Kerosene Creek. We list those ones for you in 5 Free Natural Hot Pools in Rotorua, as well as paid hot pools in the 10 Best Hot Pools in New Zealand.
Warning: Don’t allow you or your kids to put their heads underwater at the thermally heated mineral pools, including the free hot pools. There is a risk of contracting amoebic meningitis. Additionally, test the temperature before throwing the kids into any of the free hot pools – there are some dangerously hot patches.
Location: Polynesian Spa – 1000 Hinemoa Street. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools – 648 Waikite Valley Road, Waikite Valley, approximately 29km (18 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
14. Let the Kids Loose at Motion Entertainment
Enjoy some quality time at Motion Entertainment. The all-in-one indoor entertainment centre is one of the ideal things to do in Rotorua on a rainy day or at night with an array of activities to get stuck into. Try the mini golf course, which takes you through mining tunnels, or work together to solve the puzzles of the escape rooms. Bowling, arcade games, a trampoline park, laser tag and a bar and restaurant are also on the entertainment menu.
Location: 346 Te Ngae Road, Lynmore, approximately 4km (2.5 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
15. Get Some Hilarious Photos from the 3D Trick Art Gallery
Speaking of indoor attractions, the 3D Trick Art Gallery isn’t just any old art gallery. Your family will become part of more than 50 pieces of art, from 3D wall murals to convincing portraits. Find out more about 3D Trick Art Gallery on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook.
Location: 171 Fairy Springs Road, Fairy Springs, approximately 4.5km (2.8 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
16. Check Out the Bubbling Mud and Dip Your Feet in the Hot Pools at Kuirau Park
A free geothermal park right in the centre of Rotorua is Kuirau Park. Kids love checking out the steamy lakes, pools and bubbling mud. You can even bathe your feet in the hot foot baths. Check out more attractions like this in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.
Location: Kuirau Street, Rotorua city centre.
17. See the Glowworms of Lake Rotoiti in the Big Kanu
Suitable for all ages, the Big Kanu Starlight Tour with Waimarino Kayak Tours is a unique way to experience Rotorua’s lakes. The two-hour tour takes the family on the calm waters of Lake Rotoiti in a giant canoe where kids can be as involved in the paddling as they want. The destination is a cave with a magical constellation of glowworms.
Location: Pick-ups offered from Rotorua accommodations.
18. Have a Soak at the Secret Spot
A hot pools experience with a difference, Secret Spot Hot Tubs is where you can treat the family to their own private hot tub – big enough for up to six people! Nestled in the lush forest of the Waipa Valley are 12 cedar hot tubs with fresh water, so you don’t need to worry about the whole “putting your head under the water” scenario, as mentioned in our listing for the other hot pools. Book your hot tub session on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.
Location: 13/33 Waipa State Mill Road, Whakarewarewa, approximately 5.5km (3.4 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
19. Play Mini Golf with Rabbits!
Certainly one of the quirkiest attractions on this list of things to do in Rotorua with kids, Rotorua Mini Golf is not just a mini golf course but an animal attraction. You’ll share the course with giant flemish rabbits that the kids will adore. Come after dark and the course is lit up with fairy lights.
Location: 152 Fairy Springs Road, Fairy Springs, approximately 4.5km (2.8 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
20. See Awesome Birds of Prey at Wingspan
Finally, treat and educate the kids about some of New Zealand’s unique bird species by visiting rare birds at Wingspan, the National Bird of Prey Centre. Visit the aviary of these birds in rehabilitation close up, such as the New Zealand falcon and the dwarf owl called a morepork or “ruru” in Maori. Arrive at Wingspan for around 2pm and you can even watch the New Zealand falcon’s daily flight displays.
Location: Paradise Valley Road, approximately 8.5km (5 miles) from Rotorua town centre.
More About Rotorua for Kids
That’s it for the best things to do in Rotorua with kids. For more experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “family” category but are just as wonderful, check out the following guides:
- 10 Things to Do in Rotorua at Night
- 20 Rotorua Must-Dos
- 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua
- 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Rotorua
- 8 Things to Do in Rotorua for Foodies
Finally, discover even more family activities in 20 Best Things to Do on the North Island with Kids and plan your family road trip with the North Island Family Itinerary: Two Week or North Island Family Itinerary: One Week.