We know that rain can put a damper on your holiday plans, but in Rotorua there’s still so much 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.
Here are nine of the best things to do for rainy-day fun in Rotorua.
Keep your feathers dry with Rotorua Duck Tours (pictured at top), a super-fun family favourite that, despite its quirky name, 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.
Hop into a fully enclosed Skyline Rotorua Gondola for a 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 the best grapes grown throughout New Zealand.
Volcanic Hills Winery is perfect for a fun and casual hosted wine tasting of VH wines, or if you know what you like, you're welcome to relax with a glass or two of your favourite VH variety while enjoying the epic views of Lake Rotorua, the city lights and surrounding natural beauty.
Volcanic Hills also has platters (including child-friendly versions) available to order.
Of course, you can purchase your favourites to take home with you, too.
Skyline Rotorua somewhat straddles the fence between a dry activity and one that might include precipitation, depending on what you choose to do. So, if you've made the trip up the mountain to Volcanic Hills Winery, and 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 it's been a while, you'll be glad to hear they've just built and opened three new Luge tracks which feature tunnels, corkscrew turns, and thousands of lights for awesome night Luge riding.
If you’re like a duck to water, pack 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. The team adds a bit of warm water to keep you sloshing around inside in comfort!
Four toasty hot tubs and a new sauna 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 and sauna use is complimentary for all participating riders. While you’re there, grab a barista-made coffee or hot chocolate.
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 umbrella and head to the world’s youngest geothermal eco-system for an incredible up-close-and-personal experience of its fascinating geothermal features. Sultry, steamy lakes, fumeroles and mud pools are at their best during dodgy weather, so make the most of your photography skills while you walk through this amazing valley.
If you have a spare hour up your sleeve, add on a cruise across Lake Rotomahana, the youngest of New Zealand's naturally formed lakes, and the country's original tourist attraction. The lake is a protected wildlife refuge, and large numbers of birds live here year round. Beautiful geothermal springs and geysers are on display along the southwest shoreline. It will always remain a beautiful, unspoilt, natural wilderness area.
Rain + dirt = one heck of a muddy fun time! Off Road NZ is already awesome, but even 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.
There are two options here for getting down and dirty. Either jump into a self-drive two-seater 4x4 buggy for the ultimate off-road tour, or, if you’d prefer to leave the driving to the professionals, choose the 4WD off-road buggy tour for up to four passengers. Both tours are guided by one of the experienced team members, and explore 750 acres of New Zealand native forest on 100-year-old forestry tracks. Don’t forget your camera to capture various scenic lookouts during a few stops along the way!
Trout season opened on the 1st of October, so renew your fishing license, dust off your gear, and head to one of Rotorua's 13 fishable lakes, or the rivers and streams running through the city. Get in touch with Rotorua Trout Guide or Cruise and Fish Rotorua for guided excursions, or you can bring your own boat, or fish from the shores.
Enjoy boutique shopping in Rotorua
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, Juniper Art + Home, and Grace & Glory for homewares and gifts; Mountain Jade Rotorua and Puawai Jade for a gorgeous greenstone jewellery; and 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.
As always, to find the perfect place to stay in Rotorua, we recommend seeking the expert advice from one of our Rotorua isite Visitor Information Centres. Whether you’re looking for a five-star hotel, luxury lodge, B&B, holiday home or holiday park, they'll help you find the perfect visitor-only accommodation to match your budget and taste. Many are in or within a short walk of the city centre, but if you’d like to escape to the country, there are also stunning lake and countryside options too.
The team is also the only booking agent in New Zealand to offer a 100% money-back guarantee that your accommodation will be exactly as they promise – no questions asked!