Things To Do In Rotorua, New Zealand With Kids

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While planning our road trip around New Zealand, we decided that Rotorua had to be one of our stops. I started by googling “things to do in Rotorua, New Zealand with kids” and I was able to find plenty of options. Rotorua, New Zealand has plenty of points of interest and we had only 2 days to spend here so I had to plan wisely to ensure that we would be able to get the most out of our time. We eventually ended up spending three days in Rotorua.


When Did We Go There

We traveled to New Zealand the first week of February 2018 to celebrate Aiden’s birthday. We were in Rotorua about the 2nd week of February. Our road trip included Auckland, Waiheke Island, Rotorua and Coromandel.

What Was The Weather

It was sunny the first day we got there, and then it rained the following 2 days. We were really hoping for sunshine throughout our trip but that didn’t happen. Despite the rain, we still made sure to do all the activities we had planned. I’m glad we checked the weather before we traveled as that helped me pack accordingly. I usually just use Weather.com to check the weather utilizing the 10 day forecast option. If the trip is a while away and I can’t find what I need on Weather.com, then I use Holiday Weather which is great because it can give you an average of the weather by month.

How Did We Get There

We flew to Auckland on United Airlines for an error fare that cost us $360 round trip per person. We then drove from Auckland to Rotorua and that took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The roads were scenic and curvy.

How Did We Get Around

We got a Toyota Camry rental car from National Car Rental at the Auckland airport when we arrived. I booked the rental before hand on the National website. There are plenty other rental companies but I much prefer National as that’s the company I rent with in the US as well. I like to stay loyal to them as that helps me accumulate free rental days.

We also rented car seats for the boys along with the rental. Not something I’d do again though, as the boys had a hard time buckling their car seats which was quite odd because they do it at home with no issues.

Where Did We Stay

We spent 3 days and 2 night in Rotorua. We stayed at Jet Park Rotorua which was quite central and easily accessible to all the places we wanted to visit. We booked the family room which had 2 rooms with one queen bed in each room.

This hotel was super kid friendly; there was a kids play area as well as toys in the room for the kids. They also offered free wifi and breakfast with our reservation. The boys were so excited about the toys that the hotel had, especially the little play area outside our room that they just wanted to hang out and play there all day. Can you imagine? Who goes to Rotorua and wants to hang out and play in the hotel room all day? lol crazy kids. These kids have never been to a hotel with a kids play area or kids club and I’m 199% sure when that happens they will legit freak out haha.

What Did We do

DAY 1

The Redwoods

If your family loves being outdoors, and enjoy nature, then this is a must do in Rotorua. When I looked at their website and saw the Treewalk, I immediately knew that we had to go there. Even though this one wasn’t as high as some of the others we’ve done, it was still a great activity; and for the first time, I wasn’t scared. We’ve done the Tree Walk/Canopy Walk in Ghana (check my post on Ghana with kids for more), Nigeria and Vancouver. All of those were a bit much for me, but of course Aiden and my husband seemed un-bothered. I guess it’s safe to say I have a fear of heights, but I’d never openly admit to it though. Only in writing, lol.

In addition to the tree walk, you can also walk, bike or ride a horse. The tree walk is the only activity you have to pay for. The rest of them are free which makes it a great free activity in Rotorua especially if you’re on a budget. They have several hiking trails which are kid friendly and stroller friendly too.

    

Tamaki Maori Village

This was very high on our to do list as a trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without a cultural aspect of it. I wanted the kids to learn a bit more about the Maori culture, who they are and their traditions. You know what, I myself was curious and wanted to learn more too.

This activitiy was about 3.5 hours from start to finish. They picked us up from the pick up location in a bus and drove us to Tamaki Maori Village which is nestled in Rotorua forest.This included learning about the Maori way of life, participating in warrior training and learning the poi dance and the Haka which is a Maori war dance. The kids loved the Haka and still do it around the house, lol. We enjoyed a music show which I absolutely loved. This excursion also included a buffet meal which is called a hangi meal and was super yummy. It was cooked underground and watching it being lifted from beneath the ground was quite interesting. As soon as the boys could smell the food, they kept saying “Hungry” over and over and over and over again.

They also offer overnight stays which we really wanted to book, but were informed that it was sold out over 6 months ago. What? WOW! So yes, if you want to do the overnight stay experience, then book it early without a doubt.

My favorite part of this experience was everything. The Maori culture is amazing and I am so glad we were all able to experience it as a family and learn a lot from it. I highly recommend it without a doubt.

DAY 2

Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Bath Spa 

Hells Gate is the only acid sulphate geothermal system in New Zealand. It also has the most active geothermal features with water temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius which is equivalent to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you imagine how HOT that is. How can you possibly visit New Zealand and Rotorua and not add this to your list? It is also the only geothermal park to produce more than 2 tonne of geothermal mud each day. I had never experienced a mud bath and was so curious to learn all about it.

This was a super fun activity as the kids loved every bit of it. We started of with a guided tour of Hells Gate which was nice because our guide explained everything to us. We walked by super smelly areas of hot boiling water, and then lots of beautiful greenery. After the tour was over, we enjoyed a 20 minute mud bath, rinsed off with warm water and then went into the sulphur spa pool. Both were super warm and such a nice feeling to be in it. The kids didn’t even want to leave. They also have a cold plunge pool which I dipped myself in. The boys said no way, as they wanted to stay warm. I am usually scared of cold water but after sitting in a hot mud bath and sulphur spa, I needed it.

It drizzled the whole time we were there but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our day. During the tour the boys borrowed an umbrella from our tour guide even though I didn’t think they needed one, lol.

Prior to getting a mud bath and dipping in the sulphur springs, we went on guided tour . The boys enjoyed every minute of the tour as it was very informational. They wanted to know why the area smelled the way it did [think rotten eggs] 🤣, why there was steam coming out of the ground and much more. @hellsgatenz #Rotorua #NewZealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #HomeSchooling #Worldschooling #Unschooling #HomeEducation #HomeEducator #PlayAndLearn #HomeSchoolMom #HomeSchoolLife #HomeSchoolKids #HomeschoolBlogger #HomeSchoolLife #LearningTime #HomeschoolRocks #HomeschoolCollective #JetSetKids #JetSetFam #KidsAdventures #TravellingFamily #FamilyTravel #BlackTravel #TMom #KidsTravel #TravelWithKids #TravelKids #MomsWithCameras #TravelGoals #FamilyJaunts #JetsettingKids #TravellingWithKids

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Thing to remember:

  • This place STINKS, haha, like rotten eggs, but you’ll be fine. Just expect it!!
  • Keep an eye on your kids during the guided tour, as mentioned above there are active geothermal features which are boiling hot and are very dangerous
  • Mud baths are recommended for kids over 2 years old
  • Make sure to stay hydrated, the mud bath and sulphur spa are very warm and it is easy to get dehydrated
  • Pack goggles for the kids, the sulphur spa and mud bath can sting if gotten in the eye. And you know how kid are, if they mistakenly rub their eyes they will be miserable
  • There’s a changing room so that you can change into your swim suit
  • Take your own towel, or rent one for $5 NZ

 

Flip Out Rotorua

Because it was raining and we couldn’t do one of the outdoor activities we had planned, we decided to head to Flip Out Rotorua so that the boys can burn some energy. They were so excited as they have developed a new found love for trampolines. Truthfully, my husband and I had fun too. Shockingly enough, it was my first time ever at a trampoline park and I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t visited one before. I decided that when we get home we’d find one close to us and go there. It was soooo much fun !!! Now I know why the kids enjoy it so much, lol. They also played a round of table tennis, and yes they both suck at it lol.

Eat Street

We decided to head on over to eat street to see what the buzz was about. We had just had dinner so we decided to grab an ice cream instead at Lady Jane’s Ice Cream. Eat Street is said to have some of the best restaurants in Rotorua. It’s also super convenient because you can walk around and decide what you’re in the mood to eat. The Rotorua Lakefront is across the street which is great for an after dinner stroll.

The Rotorua Lakefront and the Rotorua Lakefront Volcanic Playground are right next to each other. Both of them are right across from Lady Jane’s Ice Cream and Eat Street. The kids wanted to play there but it was raining and the structures were wet so we passed on it. However they still had fun running around the park and looking at the seaplane. This is the perfect spot to burn off all the ice cream sugar and calories.

Rotorua Lakefront

Rotorua Lakefront Volcanic Playground

DAY 3

Skyline Rotorua

After we had breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and went straight to skyline Rotorua. It was still raining, more of a drizzle, but we couldn’t leave without visiting. We were actually supposed to head to the Coromandel Peninsula, this morning but it was raining even more down that way and our snorkeling tour was cancelled. So we figured, why rush there when we can do more in Rotorua.

Skysline Rotorua has plenty of things to do; gondola, mountain biking, luge, stargazing, zoom ziplines, skyswing, jelly belley store and much more. You can spend quite a few hours here and have lots of fun!! The boys really wanted to zipline, I did too; but they did not meet the requirements for height and weight.

When we got to Skyline Rotorua, the boys were excited about taking the gondola up the hill. We paid for a combo that included a gondola ride and 3 luge rides. We should have probably picked the combo with 5 luge rides as the boys wanted to ride over and over again. They were not satisfied with 3 rides. We were able to ride down on the luge, and then take the lift up which had amazing scenery. Aiden did something similar on the Great Wall of China when he was 3 so he was thrilled about this.

After we did the gondola and luge, I decided to see how brave the kids and I were. We went on to try the Skyswing. Children have to be at least 5yrs old and 110cm tall. Perfect, the boys checked off those two. They seemed okay about getting on there with me. Aiden wasn’t too thrilled, but Ethan seemed like he got this. As soon as we were strapped in the swim started going up, Ethan said “Oh Oh, this is higher than I thought.” OMG I laughed so hard. Not sure if that was the best decision as I started to get scared the minute we were lifted very high haha. Ughhh, and then the drop!!! I kept my eyes closed because I would have probably passed out if my eyes were open.

There is a Jelly Belly store which the kids loved. This was our first time visiting one. The boys don’t really eat candy, so they were curious about jelly belly. The bean boozled game was sooooo funny and the kids loved it so much that we bought a small one to play at home. Basically you have to spin the wheel, and then taste the jelly belly that it lands on. But here’s the trick, you could get a yummy flavor or a really disgusting flavor. Aiden got rotten egg and as he was chewing, he said “Mom this taste funny” I tried it and spit it out so fast. He was definitely bean boozled.

The boys enjoyed playing with the Mini Diggers. This however is coin operated, but would have been nice if they had a package too. They were sad when we ran out of coins but because there was so much else to do, they quickly moved on. It’s actually pretty cool. The coins get the diggers to work and you can operate it by trying the different controls which in turn dig the sand. It reminded me of a super small version of Diggerland USA which is located in New Jersey.

The Nature Trail was a pretty fun activity too. In addition to the beautiful scenery and spectacular views, we were able to spot Alpaca’s grazing.

We checked out of our hotel prior to going to Skyline Rotorua. after a fun day there, we grab some snacks and started the 3hr drive to the Coromandel Peninsula.

Where Did We Eat

Capers Epicurean

We had breakfast here and it was spectacular. We choose this place because of the reviews and we were not disappointed. They also have a small kids play room which was super convenient as our table was right by it. The boys were able to hang out and while waiting for their food.

Fat Dog Cafe

The atmosphere here was great and the kids loved the fish tank. They have lots of different great options too.

Lady Janes Ice Cream

Super yummy ice cream with lots of flavors to choose from..

Can you tell who didn’t like their choice of ice cream, lol

Tips



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12 Comments

  1. Lisa
    February 23, 2018 / 8:46 am

    You had so much fun here, I wish I had come too! I’ve still yet to visit New Zealand, but Rotorua looks really great! The Redwoods look gorgeous, and I love the Maori photos too! Definitely one to add to the bucket list.

  2. February 23, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Ohh your post came on a great time because we are doing a road trip in New Zealand at the end of this year and Rotorua is very child friendly destination indeed! There are so much fun things to do but I have to be honest, visiting that Jelly beans store is something I am exicted the most as I love them and we dont have it here in Switzerland. And the hotspring looks special too! Hopefully we dont get as much rain but if we do, we will try to be as positive as you guys! My daughter will love Rotorua!

  3. February 23, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    Rotorua sounds like a wonderful place to spend time on a family holiday. We’re looking forward to visiting NZ at some point again soon, and aill be aiming to rent a car to get around too. Good to hear you had a good experience with National. Tamaki Maori Village sounds like it was a blast, and the kids look like they’re having so much fun! The overnight stay really would be cool, so thanks for the tip on booking well in advance – crazy that it books out that fast!!

  4. February 23, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    I had never heard of Rotorua before reading your post. It sounds like an amazing place though, especially with the geothermal action and the bountiful nature all around. Your kids’ happiness can be discerned from their faces 🙂

  5. February 24, 2018 / 2:34 am

    Wow what a family holiday! If I were your kids, I would have absolutely loved all the exciting activities you got to do in Rotorua. Jet Park Rotorua sounds like a great hotel for a family, it’s wonderful that they offer toys for the kids to play with. Skyline Rotorua looks unreallll!!! How much fun! And ohhh man, I am pretty sure I would pee my pants on the Sky Swing, but man your kids are brave!

  6. February 24, 2018 / 9:17 am

    firstly what cute little kids and their smile lights up the pictures. I went to Rotorua just over 20yrs ago and apart from the smell, I loved it there so very pretty. Tamaki Maori Village looks like a lot of fun and it is cool that the participating in warrior training and learning the poi dance and the Haka which is a Maori war dance.

  7. February 25, 2018 / 1:46 pm

    Oh my! I didn’t know of error fares at all! That’s something new I learnt… I’m in a phase now to explore places in a slow phase with a kid. Looks like a lot of fun at Rotorua. I’ve not yet even considered trekking with my little one. Let’s see!!!

  8. February 25, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    Looks like you guys had an amazing trip. Luck was at your side, for bagging an error fare. Haven’t heard of Rotorua before, but definitely going on my travel list.Would love to check out the Eat Street and the geothermal spa for sure.

  9. February 25, 2018 / 6:42 pm

    Rotorua seems to be a great place for family vacation. They offer a lot of activities to its tourist. I recently met Maori people recently in an event and since then I am very fascinated to visit and stay at Maori Village. You have taken some of the best shots of your kids. Rotorua is high on my list now.

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