Top 5 family activities in Rotorua
Looking for the best things to do with kids in Rotorua? There’s no better destination for an exciting few days of family fun, which will captivate both young and old. Discover natural hot springs, stunning lakeside scenery, emerald-green forests, adrenalin-fuelled adventure and most importantly, genuine Māori culture. Here’s five of the best Rotorua family attractions to add to your ‘must -do’ list.
Rotorua on the water
Surprise the family with a fast and furious jet boat ride across stunning Lake Rotorua. Katoa Lake Rotorua Jet is one of the best activities in Rotorua hands-down delivering a thrilling experience from start to finish. Once kitted out in life jackets, your expert driver guide will whizz you from lake’s edge at speeds of 85km per hour, fishtailing and throwing the boat into mind blowing 360˚ turns. Hear the kids scream and holler with delight over the thundering noise of the boat’s powerful V8 jet engines, as you speed across Lake Rotorua. Discover secluded hot springs, an island bird sanctuary and cruise past peaceful native wetlands only accessible by boat. Your expert guide will point out scenic Sulphur Bay and Kawaha Point in between 360-degree spins and high-speed turns. Return to shore exhilarated and beaming from ear to ear.
Tiptoe through the treetops at night
Immerse the family in nature with a visit to the historic Redwoods in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest. Wander down pine-needled paths which meander through ancient giant trees. Planted in 1901 the Redwoods were later declared a living memorial for the New Zealanders lost in both World Wars. Discover the Redwoods Tree Walk, a one-of-a-kind attraction featuring suspension bridges connecting 27 towering Redwood Trees.
Enjoy walking through the trees along elevated walkways to wooden platforms, featuring information panels. One of the best Rotorua family attractions at night, is the Redwoods Nightlights experience. This popular evening attraction features 34 exquisite lanterns floating between 9-20 metres above the forest floor, which magically light up the trees. Nightlights gets booked out so buy tickets in advance.
A rainy day in Rotorua
When the weather doesn’t play ball, discover a ray of sunshine at Motion Entertainment, one of the best family activities Rotorua has under the one roof. With ten diverse attractions, challenge the kids to an epic game of Laser tag or lock them in an Escape Room to figure their way out (while you take some time out). Or enjoy a relaxing round of 18-hole mini golf followed by a fast-paced session of tenpin bowling. This all-weather venue is a fun destination and just the ticket if you need to pull out the ‘rainy day activities Rotorua’ plan.
Another entertaining indoor option is at the 3D Trick Art Gallery
One of the best things to do with kids in Rotorua. This one-of-a-kind illusion experience will see you escaping against a great white shark, perilously crossing a thundering waterfall and battling a giant octopus (and so much more). Unleash your inner child (and selfie elf) as you pose, pivot and ham it up in front of the 50 life-size 2D murals. This attraction is guaranteed to get the family laughing and generate hilarious images to last a lifetime.
No bookings required are required for either Rotorua attraction, so just rock on up!
Discover the best of Māori arts and culture
Photo: Te Puia | NZMACI
If Aotearoa New Zealand embodies tikanga Māori, then Rotorua is the beating heart of the country’s indigenous culture. And one of the best things to do with kids in Rotorua is a visit to Te Puia, home to the National School of New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts, an outstanding Kiwi bird Conservation Centre and the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere.
A 90-minute guided tour of Te Puia reveals what life was like for Māori prior to colonisation, including time-honoured traditions, food, stories, songs, traditional carving and performing arts which are passed down at the New Zealand Māori Art and Crafts Institute. Here students learn the ancient art of wood, stone or bone carving and weaving from master tutors. Watch talented craftspeople at work, transforming native materials into intricately detailed art. Along the way, hear te reo spoken aloud and learn common phrases New Zealanders use every day; words like hangi, hongi, haka, poi, whanau, marae, tiki and Aotearoa.
The kids can also experience a spine-tingling traditional pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony) and learn how to swing poi or perform the haka (challenge).
Enjoy the flavours of a delicious traditional hāngī buffet lunch or dinner. This steam-cooked food will be served up in the comfort of Pātaka Kai, the only restaurant in the world overlooking a magnificent steam-charged geyser. Sample corn and watercress soup, a range of freshly caught kai moana (seafood) followed by mustard glazed ham on the bone, minted roast lamb, hāngī style chicken and for vegetarians, a watercress and potato bake.
Follow this with the amazing Geyser by Night tour, a multisensory guided experience that takes you deep into the mystical Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, after dark.
Te Puia is regarded as one of the best Māori experiences in Rotorua, providing a living history of the local iwi (tribe) who have graciously shared their way of life with visitors for more than two centuries.
Plan your visit to Te Puia Rotorua. Check out experiences here including how to buy a day pass and book in for a delicious hāngī lunch or dinner.