Locals’ guide to family fun

Locals’ guide to family fun

See, pat and feed the animals

If your kids are animal lovers, they’re pretty spoilt for choice here in Rotorua, with several places to get up close and personal with creatures great and small.
Rotorua Heritage Farm offers farm tours, bound to be a firm favourite with kids of all ages. Or discover the intriguing story about how there came to be African lions at Paradise Valley Springs and watch as the lion pride is fed at 2.30pm daily.
For some slightly different animal encounters, how about Mini Golf Rotorua with giant bunnies, or the small animal enclosure at aMAZEme, where you can literally lose the kids for a while!
Many of these animal experiences offer great deals for locals and run activities for kids during various holidays, so give them a call or check their websites for more info.

Get out into nature

We’re so lucky to have the Whakarewarewa Forest on our doorstep, mountain bike trails for all ages and abilities, a variety of walking tracks to while away 20 minutes or the full day, and of course the iconic Redwoods Treewalk.
Just 25 minutes’ drive south of town you’ll find Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. This stunning volcanic park has been thousands of years in the making and is arguably New Zealand’s most colourful geothermal attraction. The brilliantly coloured Champagne Pool and renowned Lady Knox Geyser are among the chief attractions. Wai-o-Tapu’s natural bush setting adds another dimension to the experience. Stroll clearly defined tracks varying in length and marvel at unique volcanic vistas.
No visit to the reserve would be complete without a stop at the Mud Pool, one of the best places in New Zealand to experience the unique character and sounds of erupting mud.

Continue further down SH5, cross the beautiful Waikato River and discover Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave. Also known as The Hidden Valley, Orakei Korako is another spot not to be missed. Load up the canine fur baby (plus his/her lead and poo bags, of course) as this place is dog-friendly.
Explore a world of gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and some of the largest and most amazing silica terraces in the world. Wander through the valley to see the thermal Ruatapu Cave which descends 23 metres to a hot pool named Waiwhakaata, or Pool of Mirrors.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley has a 4km walking trail weaving its way through native bush and stunning geothermal features along a steaming stream to Lake Rotomahana. Up the fun factor and hire a laser temperature gun so the kids can find out how hot the water really is. Another hiking trail rewards the more energetic with panoramic views across the geothermal valley, Lake Rotomahana and across to Mount Tarawera.

Rainy day activities for kids

If the weather isn’t playing ball, there are still plenty of options to keep the family entertained. The 3D Trick Art Gallery is a great way to spark the imagination and get creative. Put your acting and photography skills to the test as you jump into the frame and snap a heap of photographic memories to share.
If you’re looking for a physical and mental challenge, how about giving indoor rock climbing a go? The Wall has climbs to test all abilities and staff to show you how to use the equipment. At the same venue, the Basement Cinema offers a great selection of more independent movies than you’ll find at the larger complexes.
Motion Entertainment is a family favourite on a rainy day in Rotorua. Activities include escape rooms, mini golf, tenpin bowling, heaps of video games, and even an indoor tramp.
If you’re going to get wet anyway, why not head to the Rotorua Aquatic Centre for some water-based fun? The cooler months are perfect for a hot soak. Polynesian Spa, Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, and Secret Spot Hot Tubs are great places for families to enjoy together.