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Three-day itinerary for a fun-packed family holiday in Rotorua

Another long holiday weekend is just around the corner, and Rotorua is the perfect family-friendly place to be. The only tricky thing is there’s so much to do here, how do you choose?

Our friendly travel experts at two Rotorua i-SITE locations are happy to help advise and even make bookings, but we thought we’d give you a head-start by suggesting what a fun-packed three-day family itinerary could look like.

Day 1

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), and so much more.
Not far from these fun zones is Skyline Rotorua which 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 2.15pm pre-booked Tarawera & Lakes Eco-Tour with Rotorua Duck Tours (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.
Soon, the winter sun will start setting, providing the perfect time to head to the award-winning eco-tour, Redwoods Treewalk (shown at top). Starting this experience at dusk means you get a great perspective 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 2

Let’s get the adrenaline flowing again by rafting the world-famous Kaituna River. River Rats, Rotorua Rafting, Kaituna Cascades, Raftabout, and Kaitiaki Adventures offer tours here that start out in a gentle Grade 2 scenic section and work their way up to full-on Grade 5 action featuring the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall at seven metres tall.
Following your rafting adventure, stop at Okere Falls Store for a delicious lunch while you relive your rafting thrills. Grab some snacks from the store to squirrel away in the backpack. We’ll tell you way later.
Your next destination is Hell’s Gate (above) to warm up using Mother Nature’s amazing geothermal powers. Enjoy a mud bath, tn 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!).
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 3

If 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 virgin forest with award-winning Rotorua Canopy Tours is an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime. Both the Original and Ultimate tours run several times a day, starting as early as 6.30am with a final tour at 2.30pm, 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 (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 accommodation

To find the perfect place in Rotorua to match your budget and taste, we recommend booking as far in advance as possible and through our i-SITE team’s expertise and free booking services.
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!


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