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.
1. Experience the Famous Sheep Show and Farm Tour of Agrodome
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 and Tripadvisor.
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). Check out tours that include the Redwoods Tree walk on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 1 Long Mile Road, 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
3. Meet the Kiwi Birds, Giant Trout and More at Rainbow Springs
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 and Tripadvisor.
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 and Tripadvisor. See more activities like this in the 9 Things to Do in Rotorua on a Rainy Day.
Location: 1241 Fenton Street, Rotorua city centre.
5. Do the Family-friendly Walks 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 Rotorua here.
Location: 1 Long Mile Road, 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
6. Take a Day Trip to One of the Lakes of Rotorua
Speaking for 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.
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 on Viator or Tripadvisor for more details.
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
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 and Tripadvisor.
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 and Tripadvisor.
Location: 1335 Paradise Valley Road, approximately 9km (6 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
10. Experience the Maori Culture
Finally, 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 and Tripadvisor) 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.