Rain may be a frequent visitor in winter but if you also plan to visit Rotorua, never fear, there’s still so much for you and your family to do here when it’s raining – whether you prefer to stay as dry as a feather, or you’re a true duck at heart.
Keep your feathers dry hereDespite their name, Rotorua Duck Tours (pictured at top) is a super-fun family favourite that keeps you dry. Climb aboard New Zealand’s only genuine WWII amphibious vehicle for a tour that takes you over land and lakes for a chance to see and learn about some of our most spectacular scenery from a whole different perspective. Duck Tours’ guides have a definite knack for making history and geography fun, too, keeping everyone entertained – while they keep your heads well above water.
Skyline Rotorua somewhat straddles the fence between a dry activity and one that might include precipitation, depending on what you choose to do. Hop into a fully enclosed gondola to ride to the top of Mount Ngongotahā. Disembark inside and head straight to Volcanic Hills Winery to enjoy the wines that are made right at the bottom of the mountain from grapes grown throughout New Zealand.
If the rain isn’t bucketing, a bucket-list activity you must try is the Luge. Built right here in Rotorua in 1985, it has become a household name and a favourite for locals and visitors alike. When did you last head up on the gondola with your kids or mates to race down the tracks on Mount Ngongotahā?
If you’re like a duck to waterPack your swimwear and roll down Mount Ngongotahā in a giant inflatable ball called a ZORB. Choose from four different tracks (or all of them!), including the world’s longest zig-zag Sidewinder Track. In colder weather, the team adds a bit of warm water to keep you sloshing around inside in comfort!
Four toasty hot tubs are located throughout the park. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view at the top of the hill and the bottom of the tracks after your rides. Hot tub use is complimentary for all participating riders. While you’re there, grab a barista-made coffee or hot chocolate too.
If there’s anything that improves with dicey weather, it’s the geothermal sites around Rotorua. It must be something about the extra humidity in the air, but the steam vents, bubbling mud, geysers and crater lakes look even more moody and surreal – perfect for your social media posts.
Grab your camera and umbrella and head to Waimangu Volcanic Valley for an incredible up-close-and-personal experience of the world’s youngest geothermal eco-system and its fascinating geothermal features. If you’ve got a full day open, check out the newest-oldest option at Waimangu, The Round Trip tour.
Water + dirt = FUN for all ages!
Off Road NZ is awesome and possibly better with rain. Take the wheel as you journey into the unknown with the ultimate 4WD Bush Safari (pictured above), the first self-drive adventure of its kind in New Zealand. Make your way through spectacular native forest with fun obstacles to negotiate along the way and under the guidance of your instructor through a CB radio. Buckle up tight for the Monster 4X4 Thrill Ride as your expert driver negotiates impossible obstacles with twists, turns and plenty of thrills in a custom-built monster Jeep.
When in doubt, retail is your friend
Don’t forget that retail therapy always helps if you find yourself with the rainy day blues. A few shops well worth visiting are Ahu Boutique for beautiful Rotorua-designed clothing, indie bookstore McLeods Booksellers, Curiosity Blooms and Grace & Glory | The Living Room Collective for homewares (or to kick-start your Christmas shopping), Mountain Jade Rotorua for a special gift, or Rotorua Antiques & Collectables for a unique treasure to remember your visit by.
For more ideas, check out these places to wine and dine, where to enjoy our famous hot pools, and what to do if the sun chases the rain away.