What to do in Rotorua? 10 sights in a row!
If you are visiting New Zealand’s North Island with your kids, Rotorua will undoubtedly be on your list. The city is a three-hour drive from Auckland and has several well-known attractions, so you can easily spend a few days in this village with your kids. We spent over a week there, so we almost did all the activities you can do in Rotorua. What to do in Rotorua? We list the best sights for you.
Table of contents
What to do in Rotorua?
Rotorua with kids #1 Tobogganing in Rotorua
One of the most fun activities to do with kids in Rotorua is tobogganing down the mountain. You go up by cable car and down by sleigh. Small kids can go down the mountain between their parents’ legs, making it a fun activity for the whole family.
You can buy tickets with different number of rides (the maximum is 7 rides down). We opted for 7 rides, so we spent the entire morning doing this.
There are three different courses that differ in difficulty. For all information on prices, opening hours and the different courses click
Rotorua with kids #2 Visit the volcanic park Wai-O-Tapu
The reason most travelers visit Rotorua is the volcanic park Wai-O-Tapu. This spectacular natural park has several colored lakes, geysers and mud baths. We visited the park early in the morning, so the park was not very crowded yet.
You have a total of three different trails you can walk and if you walk only route 1 then the estimated walking time is three quarters of an hour. If you walk a little faster than us, this route can also be done in half an hour. The trails are laid out so that you can ride Route 1 all the way with a baby carriage. For routes two and three add another three-quarters of an hour. You will then see all the sights of this park.
At 10:15 a.m. every day, the famous geyser Lady Knox spouts. A park employee then throws some soap powder into the geyser, causing it to squirt. Grandstands have been built around the geyser, which does make it very touristy.
What we found to be the most beautiful sight of this park was the Champagne Pool. This large lake full of minerals has different colors and the sulfur vapor hanging over the lake makes it a very photogenic place.
All in all, you can visit this park in a few hours in the morning. This was fine for our daughter and after this we went swimming in Kerosene Creek, close to the park. For more information on prices, opening hours and other facilities of this park click
Rotorua with kids #3 go Bathing in Kerosene Creek
Close to the Wai-O-Tapu is Kerosene Creek. This is a small hot spring. It is not an official attraction and the facilities are minimal, but it is great to swim here for free with your kids after visiting the volcanic park.
Standing under the waterfall gives you the idea of standing under a hot shower. For more information click
Tip: Keep in mind that around the stream it can be muddy and therefore slippery. To get there, you also have to drive a little off-road, but it’s only a short distance.
Rotorua with kids #4 Visiting a Maori village + performance
There are many different villages around Rotorua where they give travelers an insight into the life of the Maori people. In Rotorua you will also find lots of flyers of different offers from different villages. Consequently, prices vary widely and some tours even include a whole party night.
We did the tour at the Whakarewarewa village and it was not super expensive and very fun. They say this is still the only real Maori village in Rotorua.
You first get a tour of the village (where there is also a lot of volcanic activity) and then the villagers perform. The kids’ parents may also join in at the end of the show. Our daughter really enjoyed the performance and especially when daddy started performing as well.
A little further down near the village you also have a very large geyser, which does spray naturally. For more information about this village and its tours click
Other similar options to Maori villages are:
There is also an option to take tours to the various villages already
in advance online
Rotorua with kids #5 Hiking among the trees of the Redwoods forest
The Redwoods forest is a fun hiking activity with kids. There are several hikes among the mega-trees that dot this park, and these short hikes (the shortest is half an hour) are great to do with kids. In addition, you can walk with your kids at altitude on various paths among the trees for a fee. We also did this and is fun to do, but on the pricey side.
In addition, besides hiking in this forest, you can go mountain biking and horseback riding. For more information on the various trails in the forest click here and for the walk at altitude among the trees click
Rotorua with kids #6 Chilling at the various lakes
Around Rotorua you have several lakes that you can visit. You can do this through
, but that is quite pricey. You can also drive your own car or RV along the lakes.
Thus, we visited Blue Lake, Green Lake and Lake Tarawera. These are all along a similar route and can easily be visited by car in a short period of time. When we visited the lakes, it was not super warm and it was very quiet around the lakes.
What is a nice waterfall to visit on this route is the
. Even with small kids, it is a fun 20-minute hike to the waterfall. When we visited this waterfall, we were also the only tourists at this waterfall.
Program when it rains in Rotorua with kids
It often rains in New Zealand, making it convenient to have an indoor program. We had a day of rain in Rotorua and went to an
in Rotorua. This indoor playground is in a kind of arcade and is not super big. For a few hours of entertainment with young kids, the playground is a great alternative when it rains.
Other activities in Rotorua with kids
There are also a number of activities in Rotorua with kids that we did not do ourselves, but were on our list of activities we could possibly do.
- Rainbow Springs Nature Park. Defined natural park with the national animal: the kiwi. At this nature park are a number of small attractions over water.
- Swimming with wild dolphins in Tauranga. This is about an hour’s drive from Rotorua, though. Sometimes you can swim with the dolphins and sometimes you can’t. The tours run through May and are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the afternoon. For more information click
- Spa day at Hells Gate geothermal park. Here you can walk through the natural park and use the spa. Kids are welcome here, too, and they even have family packages. For more information click
- Kuirau Park. Free volcanic park. For more information click
where to sleep in rotorua with kids?
We ourselves slept in a family bungalow at the
All Seasons Holiday Park
and paid 110 euros per night. This campground included an (indoor) swimming pool, hot tub and large playground. Ideal for families with kids. The campground is quiet and while your kid plays in the playground, you can have a drink on your terrace. The pool was also very nice to relax in after a day of activities.
A cheaper option in Rotorua is the
Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday park,
where you can get a standard cabin for as little as 75 euros.
Another campground in Rotorua is the
Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park
, which also has a swimming pool and where prices for a cottage start from 71 euros. Then you do have a cottage with a shared bathroom.