Looking for some family fun in Rotorua? This popular North Island destination has a wealth of great attractions and activities suited to kids of all ages, and there are ideas to work into your itinerary no matter if you’re visiting on a day excursion from Auckland, a long weekend or an extended trip around the area. There are activities to keep tiny tots amused, things to do that will appeal to the older kids, and fun-filled family attractions in Rotorua that will tempt the young at heart too. From exciting outdoor activities to immersive cultural experiences, there are plenty of ways to keep the kids entertained during your time in Rotorua.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Located less than 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre, a visit to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a great way to learn more about the region’s world-famous geothermal activity. The park features large volcanic craters and brightly coloured natural pools, as well as bubbling mud patches and the Lady Knox Geyser. Spend a while admiring the park’s natural wonders and do your best to time your visit to coincide with the Lady Knox Geyser’s daily eruption at 10.15am – your chance to see the water spout reach heights of up to 20 metres.
Rotorua’s Agrodome is set within 350 acres of farmland and is best known for its Farm Show, which introduces visitors to more than a dozen breeds of sheep, the sheep shearing process, and more. City slickers can try milking a cow, find out about the importance of farm dogs, or settle in and watch a live dog trial. Stop by the Farmyard Nursery to see cute and cuddly baby animals up close, join a tour to learn more about how a working farm operates, or take up the chance to hand feed some of the farm’s furriest and friendliest residents.
From its suspended rigging between towering redwood trees, the Redwoods Treewalk not only offers fantastic forest views but a great opportunity to reconnect with nature. The award-winning treewalk spans a total of 700 metres and 28 bridges, and leads you through lush forest and passed trees that are more than 100 years old. Considered to be one of the best tree top walks in the country, this is a fantastic Rotorua attraction to explore during the day or after dark, when the forest is illuminated with dozens of lanterns. For safety reasons, young children are not permitted to be carried or pushed in a pram along the treewalk.
aMAZEme is located to the north of Rotorua’s city centre and is well worth a visit if you’re on the hunt for great family activities in Rotorua. The main attraction of aMAZEme is, unsurprisingly, the large maze and its 1.4 kilometres of hedge-lined pathways to navigate. There are puzzles to solve and plenty of fun to be had along the way. After defeating the maze, make a beeline to any of the other things to see and do throughout the aMAZEme grounds, including a small petting zoo, a playground and McGregor’s Garden, which is planted with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Tamaki Maori Village
Introduce Maori culture to your little ones with a trip to Rotorua’s Tamaki Maori Village. This attraction hosts interactive activities, traditional performances and captivating storytelling, all which provide the chance to learn more about the rich Maori culture and its history. You can even take up the opportunity to spend the night in the village. Tuck into a Maori hangi feast, warm up around a bonfire and soak in a private forest spa pool before settling in for the night in a traditional carved wharemore (sleeping house).
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
Animal-loving kids will love seeing the different native species on show at Rainbow Springs Nature Park. From the iconic kiwi and the mighty tuatara, to the prehistoric weta, there’s a fantastic selection of birds, fish, reptiles and more to see throughout this Rotorua attraction. The park’s firm focus is animal conservation, and visitors can see these efforts first-hand with a guided tour of the National Kiwi Hatchery. More than 2,000 kiwi eggs have been hatched so far, and the hatchery continues to play an important role in the survival of NZ’s most emblematic bird. If the animals of Rainbow Springs Nature Park aren’t reason enough to visit, the park also features a playground, a number of play installations, the Big Splash ride and more.
Skyline Rotorua takes sightseeing to new heights – and is a thrill kids are sure to love. Clamber into one of the cabins and soar above the ground on this 900-metre-long trip to peer out across the fantastic 360-degree views of the city and its surrounds. If your family prefer something a little more fast paced, take on the the Rotorua Luge, Zoom Ziplines or the Skyswing Rotorua. Be sure to stop by the Jelly Belly Store to stock up on sweet treats for later (there are almost 100 different jelly bean flavours!) before you head back to your hotel or accommodation.
For a high energy day of family fun in Rotorua, look no further than ZORB. Riders looking for their next thrill climb into a giant inflatable ball, known as a zorb, and roll down Mt Ngongotaha along one of four tracks – standard straight track, a zig-zag path, or the exciting Mega and Big Air tracks. Choose to ride in your zorb with or without water, on your own or with others. Riders must be aged five years or older for safety reasons.
Buried Village of Te Wairoa
The Buried Village of Te Wairoa is a 12-acre archaeological site that offers insight into the devastation caused by a volcanic eruption in 1886. Following several excavations throughout the 20th century, the park was established to showcase the fascinating artefacts discovered and to preserve the history of the village. Stop by the Museum of Te Wairoa to discover interesting relics, learn about the geology of the area, or set out on a self-guided tour of the site. Kids can explore the museum’s Children’s Discovery Room, which has stories and interactive exhibits designed with young history buffs in mind. Special challenges around the archaeological park from Smithy the Archaeologist help to bring the site to life for kids too.
Hell’s Gate is said to be one of New Zealand’s most active geothermal parks, but there’s one thing that sets it apart from others in the country: its mud baths and sulphur spa. Pack a swimsuit and take a dip in one of the naturally heated pools. Your paddles in the pools are timed, and sessions run for 20 minutes. When you’re not soaking in the warm waters or lathering your skin up in the healing mud, you can see some of the other sights, such as the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, land coral or mud volcano eruptions. Note that children must be aged two-and-a-half or older for a mud bath experience.