26 April 2018

5 things to do in Rotorua with kids

by Karina Robertson

If you’re seeking inspiration for family fun and entertainment in Rotorua, then you’ll be pleased to know there is an abundance of unique activities and attractions to try out.

From forest zip lines, to bubbling mud pools and hot springs, to animal encounters on farms and conversation areas, it’s a hive of activity for outdoor adventures in a spectacular part of the world. Here are five of the best things to do with kids in Rotorua. 

1. Ride the Skyline Rotorua

Skyline Gondola, Rotorua

Famous for a reason, Skyline Rotorua is your ticket to an unforgettable holiday.
Begin your day with a tranquil Gondola ride up Mt Ngongotaha overlooking Lake Rotorua then wind your way down via the Luge or if you prefer to descend by mountain bike, weave your way through one of the newly created Gravity Park trails. Get the adrenaline pumping even more on the Zoom Zipline and the Sky Swing. Or for a more relaxed approach take a stroll through the stunning nature trails with informative and interactive panels along the way.

Left feeling a little peckish? Head to the Food Market Kitchen or the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar to fuel up again. While you’re there, why not also pop into the Volcanic Hills Wine Tasting Room and Winery while the kids explore the Jelly Belly Gallery and Store.

Finish the day with an out-of-this-world experience during Skyline’s Stargazing tour. It’ll have you exploring constellations and discovering planets invisible to the naked eye, at one of the top eight stargazing locations in New Zealand.

The Skyline Rotorua complex is just 5 minutes’ drive from central Rotorua, sitting atop Mt Ngongotaha providing unsurpassed views of New Zealand’s coolest hot spot. This is an all-weather must do attraction suitable for all ages. Open 365 days a year from 9am to late.

2. Animal encounters at Rainbow Springs 

A girl feeding a parrot at Rainbow Springs, Rotorua

Yes, we are unashamedly talking about our own business, but we’re really proud of it and it is our blog, after all! Rainbow Springs in an internationally recognised nature park in the heart of Rotorua. It has a history steeped in wildlife conversation and educating visitors on rare and endangered animals in Aotearoa (New Zealand). One of the main initiatives Rainbow Springs is known for is the amazing work it does around kiwi conservation. Visitors have the chance to get up close to these cute ‘fluffy’ birds and learn about their habitat and how to care for them if they join the behind the scenes kiwi encounter tour.

Whilst at the park there are plenty of other animal-themed activities to keep you busy. Popular family fun ideas include watching birds ride bicycles and clean up litter at the exotic bird shows and feeding the resident reptiles. Exotic birds such as the lorikeet, kaka, weka, kea and morepork are in residence for most of the year. For information about exhibit schedules and planning a Rotorua tour with the family visit the Rainbow Springs Plan your day page. 

3. Visit an authentic Māori village

The Living Maori Village, Rotorua

Whilst embracing the natural wonderland of Rotorua, don’t miss a visit to Whakarewarewa – The Living Māori Village. Here you can experience an authentic village that, is still home to the Māori people, after hundreds of years. A guided tour to will glean fantastic insights into both village life and Maori culture, as well as good hear all about the fascinating geothermal elements present. This is a real eye-opening fun day out, suitable for the whole family where you’ll all enjoy the Māori cultural performance, courtesy of the locals, who take the time to share the stories behind their beautiful song and dance. Take time to explore the village where you can see the local meeting house, communal living area, souvenir shops, artisan workshops and more. The nature trails are also not to be missed.

Don’t forget to check out the geothermal wonders of Pohutu and Prince of Wales geysers after the village tour. Natural wonders are a sight to behold – and guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the little ones. No authentic cultural experience would be complete without a treat for the taste-buds – try a ‘hangi’ meal cooked in boiling hot pools and steam vents, a tradition passed on from the kaumātua (elders). 

4. The magic of a Hobbiton movie set

Hobbiton Movie Set, Rotorua NZ

Just outside of Rotorua lies a majestic land you may recognise from Hollywood blockbusters Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The iconic movie set where these famous fantasy stories were filmed is called Hobbiton and it’s fast becoming one of the major tourist highlights in the north island of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

For those of you who think that a visit to Hobbiton is only for kids – how wrong you are! The tours operating in this spectacular Waikato setting are family-friendly but also appeal to big kids and anyone who loves the movies. On a typical day tour, you will experience how this 1.2-acre farmland was purposely transformed into The Shire from Middle-Earth. Its tiny wooden homes make for a fun photo opportunity! 

5. Agrodome Farm Show fun

Agrodome, Farm Show Rotorua

Another great option for seeing Aotearoa (New Zealand)’s animals in their natural habit is to visit the Agrodome working farm. Like Rainbow Springs, Agrodome is owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism – the largest Māori tribe in the South Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Agrodome is just a short journey of around 10 minutes from Rainbow Springs by car. The Agrodome Farm Show is full of amazing facts, stories and exhibits primed for family fun and keeping the kids entertained – witness the sheep shearing demonstration and take part in a sheep bidding auction to experience rural life in Rotorua!

There are over 19 breeds of sheep at the farm to interact with and learn about. Watch the obedient sheepdogs keep the herds in line and respond to commands from the Agrodome show entertainers. Kids can also volunteer to jump on stage and hand-feed a baby lamb or even milk a cow!

For more great ideas for things to do with kids in Rotorua, visit the Rainbow Springs Blog or Experiences and choose an activity to suit you.