The Guide to Rotorua for Families© Agrodome Rotorua - Destination Rotorua
The Guide to Rotorua for Families

The Family Guide to Rotorua ♨️ [2024]

© Agrodome Rotorua – Destination Rotorua
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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How to Plan an Amazing Family Trip to Rotorua

It’s on the top of the itinerary for most families travelling around the North Island. Rotorua is the ideal place for families to adventure together, experience the wonders of nature and learn about the Māori culture, and then some! Packed with family-friendly activities to suit any family’s budget, style (and the weather), Rotorua is hardly a place where the kids can get bored.

Check out some of the top family-friendly activities, as well as family accommodations, in this travel guide to Rotorua for families.

10 Best Family Activities in Rotorua

What does a family trip to Rotorua look like? Before we dive into details, here are some of the best activities for families.

  1. See the forest from a new perspective on the Redwoods Treewalk
  2. Meet the kiwi birds at the National Kiwi Hatchery
  3. See Rotorua’s highlights and lakes on Rotorua Duck Tours
  4. Do the family-friendly walks of the Whakawerawera Redwood Forest
  5. Experience the famous sheep show and farm tour of Agrodome
  6. Take a day trip to the lakes of Rotorua
  7. Check out Rotorua’s amazing natural features at one of the geothermal parks
  8. Zip through the trees with Rotorua Canopy Tours
  9. Experience that famous NZ adrenaline at Velocity Valley
  10. Experience the Maori culture at Te Pā Tū or Mitai Maori Village.

For more information on each experience, check out the 20 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids.

The Guide to Rotorua for Families© Destination Rotorua

Family Adventure Activities

When it comes to outdoor activities in Rotorua for families, it’s all about experiencing the forces of nature!

Family-Friendly Geothermal Parks

Don’t miss the geothermal attractions like Wai-O-Tapu and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Wai-O-Tapu (201 Waiotapu Loop Road) is one of the most popular geothermal parks in Rotorua, 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.

Alternatively, enjoy the multitude of walks and even a boat cruise at the Waimangu Volcanic Valley (587 Waimangu Road). See spectacular craters, huge steaming lakes, bubbling hot springs and all sorts of geothermal features. 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 cut it short or give the little ones’ legs a rest. See Waimangu Volcanic Valley’s page on Viator or Klook for more details and (sometimes) discounted tickets.

Rotorua Canopy Tours

For families seeking adventure (and who have kids aged six years and above), try out Rotorua Canopy Tours (147 Fairy Springs Road). 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 22 m (72 ft) above the ground, but you’ll also learn about the forest on this educational eco-tour. Learn more about Rotorua Canopy Tours on Viator, Klook or KKday.

Redwoods Treewalk

Daytime or under the beautiful night lighting, families can enjoy an eco-experience on the Redwoods Treewalk (1 Long Mile Road). Look out for unique birdlife and see the forest from a whole new perspective on the 700 m (766 yards)-long walkway with 28 suspension bridges taking around 40 minutes to complete. When you’re done, enjoy some of the family-friendly walks and bike trails of the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest (more on that below).

More Family Adventure Activities in Rotorua

From cycling in the Whakarewarewa Forest to canoeing to glowworms, check out more outdoor activities in the 20 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids. And for more activities that don’t necessarily fit into the “family-friendly” category but can be just as awesome, check out the 50 Best Things to Do in Rotorua.

The Guide to Rotorua for Families© Agrodome Rotorua - Destination Rotorua

Family All-Weather Activities

Sure, the weather doesn’t always play ball in Rotorua. Luckily, there are plenty of activities to still have an amazing time with the family.

Rotorua Duck Tours

A duck doesn’t care if it’s raining, so why should you? Jump in one of these wacky 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 (departs 1241 Fenton Street) on Viator or Klook.

Rotorua Farm Show

Another way to enjoy a rainy day in Rotorua, or in any type of weather, in fact, is at Agrodome (141 Western Road). This is one of the top sheep shows and farm tours in the country, where you have the option to watch a show on sheep shearing and wool spinning or see the variety of farming that happens in New Zealand on the farm tour – or both! Farmers will introduce you to sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches to feed them, while you’ll also get a chance for a feed with organic fruit orchard and honey tastings.

More Family All-Weather Activities in Rotorua

Discover Rotorua’s quirky 3D art gallery and get competitive at Motion Entertainment, as described in the 15 Things to Do in Rotorua on a Rainy Day.

The Travel Guide to Rotorua for Families ♨️ [2024]© Destination Rotorua

Free Family Activities

Surrounded by stunning lakes, geothermal features and various types of forests, Rotorua is a place you can also enjoy for free with its breathtaking natural attractions.

Family Walks in Rotorua

The Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest is a good place to start when it comes to free walks in Rotorua for families, home to two fantastic short walks. Take the Redwood Memorial Grove Track (1 Long Mile Road) on boardwalks over a thermal pond or the Waitawa Walk to spend more time among the giant Douglas firs and silver fern trees.

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 (Tarawera Road), which has good swimming beaches, an easy-going walkway and a children’s playground. Alternatively, Lake Okareka (Okareka Loop Road) is a great place for a picnic and has a stroller-friendly boardwalk through the wetlands. See more walks in the 20 Best Walks in Rotorua.

For more free ideas on what to do for free, check out the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.

The Travel Guide to Rotorua for Families ♨️ [2024]© RotoruaNZ

Family-Friendly Dining

When it comes to food, although self-catering is a great way to stick to a budget, it’s worth treating you and the family to some of Rotorua’s enticing eateries.

The 5 Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Rotorua

  1. Eastwood (Longmile Road) – Wood-fired pizzas, nibbles and sharking platters at Whakarewarewa Forest
  2. Fat Dog Cafe (1161 Arawa Street) – A long-established favourite with quirky decor and crowd-pleasing meals
  3. Arts Village Café (1240 Hinemaru Street) – Your cosy town centre cafe with art, coffee, food and easy-going vibe
  4. Pig & Whistle Historic Pub (1182 Tutanekai Street) – Family-friendly local with cosy booths and historic decor
  5. Lady Janes Ice Cream Parlour (1092 Tutanekai Street) – Eat Street favourite; what kid doesn’t love ice cream?!

For more inspiration across all gastronomical genres, check out The Food Guide to Rotorua: Places to Eat & Food Tours. Plus, stick to your budget with The Top Cheap Eats in Rotorua.

The Guide to Rotorua for Families© NZPocketGuide.com

Frequently Asked Questions About Planning a Family Trip to Rotorua

Now down to the nitty gritty. Here’s an FAQ guide to help you plan a memorable family trip to the dynamic destination of Rotorua.

When is the best time to visit Rotorua with family?

The best time to visit Rotorua with the family is during the warmer months, from December to March. This period offers pleasant weather suitable for outdoor activities and exploring Rotorua’s many attractions. The shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also good times to visit, with fewer tourists and mild weather. For more on the subject, check out our guide, When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?

What should we pack for a family trip to Rotorua?

For a family trip to Rotorua, consider packing:

  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring geothermal parks and adventure activities.
  • Swimwear for enjoying the hot springs and aquatic activities.
  • Light rain jackets, as Rotorua can experience rain throughout the year.
  • Warm layers for cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Insect repellent, especially if you plan to hike or visit forested areas.

For more advice, don’t miss our New Zealand Packing List: What to Pack for New Zealand.

How can we keep safe while exploring geothermal areas?

Geothermal areas in Rotorua can be dangerous if safety guidelines are not followed:

  • Always stay on marked pathways and observe all signs and barriers.
  • Keep a close watch on children and explain the importance of not straying from the paths.
  • Avoid touching hot pools or geothermal features, as they can cause serious burns.
  • At hot pools, make sure heads stay above water to avoid amoebic meningitis.

Any tips for making the most of our family trip to Rotorua?

To make the most of your family trip to Rotorua:

  • Consider purchasing a multi-attraction pass for savings on popular attractions.
  • Plan your visit to geothermal parks and cultural experiences early in the day to avoid crowds.
  • Allocate downtime between activities to relax and enjoy Rotorua’s natural beauty.
  • Try local cuisine and consider a traditional Māori hāngi experience for a cultural feast.

See The Food Guide to Rotorua: Places to Eat & Food Tours for recommendations.

More About Rotorua

That’s it for our guide to Rotorua for families, but not the end of our Rotorua advice! Check out these other guides that might not necessarily fall under the “family” category, but are still pretty useful:

Finally, discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families and plan your family road trip with the North Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks or North Island Family Itinerary: One Week.

Sources:

The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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