New Zealand is a great place for a family vacation!
You can find various activities to do for families no matter the season.
The places are beautiful, the drives are scenic, and there are so many activities that kids will love!
For travel in the North Island, Rotorua is most certainly a place not to be missed!
We recently traveled spent 11 days in New Zealand of which 4 days were in Rotorua.
We usually keep our day’s schedule rather light.
We’d prefer not to rush from one place to another and also not have to rush everyone out of the house in the morning.
After all, a holiday should be relaxing. More importantly, it’s about spending quality time as a family!
You would be able to visit all these five places in Rotorua in four days. This would still be very manageable with young kids in tow!
Check out our list for the Five Best Things To Do In Rotorua For Kids!
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Agrodome is a lovely place to see farm animals!
I love the fact that we didn’t have to walk around and could still get up close and personal with the animals.
The farm tour took about an hour. It was drizzling in winter but we still managed to feed the animals.
The experience was totally amazing! The sheep were practically nudging us and urging us to feed them.
My boys were so tickled when they kept getting bumped by the wooly sheep which were so friendly.
The boys also made new furry friends amongst the alpacas. Feeding them was such a great joy for both children and adults!
The tour was followed by a farm show which included a sheep shearing demonstration.
The host, a sheep shearer, was funny and engaging. We learned a lot about the different types of sheep and even saw sheepdogs doing some really amazing stunts with the sheep!
The kids taking pictures with the award-winning sheep after the farm show.
Do check the website for the farm tours and farm shows timings to plan for your trip to Agrodome.
2) Mitai Maori Village
We had a minor mishap and had to send our rental car in for servicing.
So we spent a day indoors playing games and chilling out before heading to Mitai Maori Village in the evening.
The program started at 5:30 pm and lasted for three hours.
I thought the tickets were quite pricey but actually, the experience was really wonderful!
The Maori host warmly welcomed us and impressed all the visitors by greeting all the different nationalities in our native languages.
We saw how our food was cooked using traditional Maori methods.
The potatoes, lamb, and chicken were cooked in the ground for 4 hours. And boy, did they make a sumptuous dinner!
The cultural performance far exceeded our expectations. The singing and dancing were mesmerizing!
The chief of the Mitai tribe even explained to us several of their traditional practices and mannerisms.
It was most certainly an eye-opening experience.
I would say that if it’s your first time to New Zealand, a visit to a traditional Maori village is a must!
Since the program at the Mitai Maori Village only starts at 5:30 pm, you can probably visit Agrodome earlier in the day since the earliest farm show starts at 9:30 am. You would need about 2 to 2.5 hours for Agrodome.
3) Paradise Valley Springs
Paradise Valley Springs wasn’t originally in our itinerary. The cab driver who drove us around when our rental car was sent for servicing highly recommended the place for kids.
The highlight of the place is the daily lion feeding that takes place at 2:30 pm.
And truly, the lion feeding session was absolutely fascinating!
The lions are kept in a huge enclosure. They prowled around looking at us like we were their food.
When some kids got a little too noisy, the lions even started growling at them.
To my amazement, the lions waited patiently to be fed and seemed really obedient to the keeper.
They were tamed yet wild if you could understand what I mean.
What I really loved about Paradise Valley Springs was how we could leisurely take a walk through the ‘forest’ and see the animals up close in their natural environment without jostling with a crowd.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed feeding the various animals too!
A word of advice: purchase more animal feed before you begin the journey and remember to save the feed until the very end!
I would say this is definitely one of the top-ranking best things to do in Rotorua for families!
(Great for quiet play, road trips, and plane rides!)
4) Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
You have to reach by 10:15 am if you want to witness the Lady Knox geyser erupt.
My recommendation would be to purchase tickets online so that you can head straight to the geyser.
Otherwise, you would have to purchase tickets at the visitor center which is 5 minutes drive away from Lady Knox. Not a good idea if you are rushed for time.
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My kids were amazed by how high the geyser erupted into the sky. But to be honest, I thought the geyser show was rather disappointing.
It was manually triggered by pouring some chemicals into the geyser. And it took about 2 minutes before the bubbling reaction became a full-blown 32- to 65-feet high eruption.
The sight of the 65-feet high geyser was still rather impressive. Just don’t expect it to the excitingly explosive.
Apart from Lady Knox, the rest of the thermal wonderland consists of hot around and mud pools.
There are three paths that you can take with the shortest walk being about 45 minutes.
We took the shortest route and honestly, that was great enough for us. Not to mention I had to carry my 12kg daughter the entire time because the paths were, in her words, “Too rocky! I don’t like it.”
The colorful hot springs were quite a sight to behold and photographs just don’t do justice for their true beauty.
It was also a rather educational tour because we got to learn about how these hot springs were formed.
Definitely a unique place for a visit in Rotorua!
Needless to say, Hobbiton is a must-see for fans of the movies Lord Of The Ring and The Hobbit Trilogies.
However, I have to admit I’m a fan of neither and none of my kids have watched any of the shows.
Yet the place was still exceptionally enchanting, even to us!
There were so many photographic spots and my kids had lots of fun taking pictures.
The hike up and down the rolling hills was like a little adventure for my boys.
The green pastures and blue sky littered with white clouds provided a beautiful view no matter where you stand.
The colorful hobbit holes were built with so much detail. The entire place was whimsical and it really felt like we had stepped into another world.
The drinks provided at the Blue Dragon Inn at the end of the journey were a great treat.
Do grab an umbrella from the umbrella shed at the start of the journey. The umbrellas proved to be very useful for wet winter days and also great for support hiking up the steep paths.
We actually visited Hobbiton en route from Auckland to Rotorua.
It took us two hours to drive from Auckland to Shire’s Rest. We had some coffee and snacks at the cafe before the tour started.
If you are unable to drive to Shire’s Rest, the Hobbiton tours provide transport to and from several places, including Auckland, Taupo, and Rotorua.
Hobbiton is about an hour’s drive from Rotorua. A great place for a day trip or as a pit stop.
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There you have it! The 5 best things to do in Rotorua for families!
Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!