Not one, but two long holiday weekends are just around the corner – perfect for booking in a family getaway to Rotorua!
Here’s a guide to help you pack in as much as possible on your three-day family itinerary.
Rotorua is the perfect playground for kids and kids at heart, so put your adventure pants on and head to Velocity Valley, Off Road NZ or Adventure Playground. All three have multiple activities to get the blood pumping and the laughter flowing. The fun can include Freefall Xtreme, jet boat rides, 4WD self-drives (pictured above at Adventure Playground), clay bird shooting, and the only place in the country where you can race karts imported from France on the same track as the professional racers.
Give yourself at least a couple hours at any of these spots as you’ll have trouble peeling the kids away from all the cool things.
Not far from these fun zones are ZORB and Skyline Rotorua, both taking advantage of the slopes of Mt Ngongotahā.
Pack your swim gear for ZORB and get ready to roll down the side of the mountain while inside a giant inflatable ball (pictured at top). Up to three people can ride together, and you have four tracks to choose from. Or do them all!
The fun at Skyline starts with a gondola ride up Mt Ngongotahā, then a Luge down the mountain. Take the chair lift back to the top, and repeat on a different track. The Zoom Ziplines and Skyswing will also get the heart racing, and the scenic Nature Trail is perfect for a more chilled-out activity and Instagram-worthy views.
You can feed hungry tummies up here at Market Kitchen Café where you’ll find everything from gourmet pies, to pizza, fish and chips, deli selections, ice cream and more. A barista is on hand too if you need a caffeine fix to keep up with the kids.
From Skyline, head to your 3.30pm pre-booked Tarawera & Lakes Eco-Tour with Rotorua Duck Tours (pictured above) for the chance to see our beautiful region from a unique perspective – aboard an amphibious WWII vehicle! Duck Tours’ guides keep everyone laughing while exploring some of the spectacular lake scenery and sharing our rich history. This two-hour tour on the back of a "duck" is a must-do.
By now, it’s probably time to refuel so head to Eat Streat where nearly a dozen restaurants offer something for even the pickiest eaters. Kids love the board games sitting around at Our House, keeping them occupied until their food arrives.
After dinner, head to the award-winning eco-tour, Redwoods Treewalk (shown at top). Starting this experience at dusk means you get great views of the forest around and below you. As the sun sets, the fairy lights and oversized lanterns come to life and 28 suspended bridges gradually take you from 9 metres to 20 metres in height among the giant, evergreen Californian redwoods.
Day 2If the sun’s out, you’re in the right spot! Rotorua is New Zealand’s lakes district, with 17 of our 18 lakes freely accessible for all your water-logged fun. Grab the togs, floaties, lie-lows, sun block and sun hats, and pick a lake.
Secret tip: Head down toward the end of Spencer Road, which takes you to to Stoney Point Reserve at Lake Tarawera. Because it’s just slightly out of town, it’s not as busy as some of our other lakes such as Tikitapu, Rotoiti and Ōkareka.
Your next destination is Hell’s Gate (picutred above) to enjoy Mother Nature’s amazing geothermal powers. Wallow in a mud bath and a soak in the sulphur spa. Parents will appreciate the revitalising feeling after this soothing experience, while the kids will just have fun covering themselves in mud (good luck recognising them afterwards!). Take the dare and jump into the cold plunge pool afterwards.
Wrap up your day with a sunset tour to see magical glow worms in their natural habitats. Real Rotorua offers a 2 to 3-hour walking tour starting at 7.30pm, or you can opt to explore via three-hour kayak tour with Paddle Board Rotorua at 5pm (on your way to meet the PBR team is when your snacks will come in handy).
Day 3If everyone’s energy is still going strong today and you’ve got a few hours available before heading home, there are still a couple experiences not to miss.
Ziplining through an ancient forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours is an experience you and your family will remember for a lifetime. The Original Tour was voted by TripAdvisor users as the World's Number One Adventure Activity! Tours run several times a day, starting as early as 8.45am, so it should be no hassle fitting this into your day as long as you book ahead.
If you’re up for something a bit more relaxed for the adults where the kids can burn off some energy, head to aMAZEme and tell them there’s a reward for the one who can get to the middle of the maze first. Bringing a picnic lunch is welcomed, and there are lawn games, McGregor’s Garden and a small-animal petting area too.
Another great way to wrap up your weekend is by visiting Waimangu Volcanic Valley (pictured above), the world’s youngest geothermal system. You and the kids will be amazed at the hot springs, mini geysers, electric-blue Inferno Crater, steaming lakes and more. The self-guided tour is fantastic, and if you arrive by 12.45pm, you’ll have time to add a relaxing boat cruise across Lake Rotomahana to finish off your day at 4pm.
Finding accommodationTo find the perfect place in Rotorua to match your budget and taste, we recommend booking in advance when possible and through our i-SITE team’s expertise and free booking services. 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 place 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 the only booking agent in New Zealand to guarantee that your accommodation will be exactly as they promise, or you’ll get your money back – no questions asked!