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Family Friendly Rotorua

Rotorua is fun, unique, smelly, and steamy. It’s also a living science, history, and Maori culture lesson. A great location for a family holiday. There’s no shortage of family friendly things to see and do in Rotorua, here are a few of my favourites.

Terrace Kitchen is at the lake end of Tutanekai Street and caters for kids, and their parents. The fully enclosed outdoor space, complete with balance bikes, trikes, a cubby house, and a blackboard wall keep kids entertained while adults relax and enjoy the great coffee and food.

Or start the day with coffee at the family friendly Café 171 located at Rotorua Heritage Farm then jump on the bright red trailer, towed behind the red tractor, for a farm tour. There are great photo opportunities here as kids mingle with the friendly farm animals for feeding and patting, or later over at the 3D Trick Art Gallery.

Image credit Destination Rotorua

The landscape in this geothermal wonderland is like nowhere else in New Zealand. Kuirua Park, New Zealand’s only public (no entry fee) geothermal park is just a 10-minute walk from the centre of town. Go to see the steaming water and bubbling mud, let kids “let off steam” at the fabulous playground or, go on Saturday morning and check out the market open 7am-1pm.

Image credit Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village

A “must do” on a visit to Rotorua is an immersion in the Maori history and culture. Take your time wandering through the living Maori village of Whakarewarewa. Your entry fee at Te Puia includes the guided tour where your Guide will share stories of their ancestors, talk to you about life on a marae and introduce you to the students at the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute – it ends sampling the steamed pudding that’s been cooking over the natural steaming vents while you’ve been enjoying the tour.

Image credit Destination Rotorua

The Redwood Forest at Whakarewarewa is the outdoor destination for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders with separate trails for each. The walking trails are stroller friendly – borrow a stroller for children under 10kgs and pick up a self-guided map from the information centre at the car park. There are specially made strollers to borrow if you upgrade to the Treetops Walk. To ride the myriad of mountain bike trails, hire bikes (or tag a longs) from Mountain Bike Rotorua. There’ll be hungry families after a day here, maybe end with something delicious and a shinny dip at  Secret Spot on the edge of the forest.

Image credit Polynesian Spa

Set at a balmy 33 degrees, the (chlorinated) family pool at Polynesian Spa is open, whatever the weather, year-round with the last entry 8.15pm! Check out their Day Spa too!

Where to stay during your Rotorua adventure? There’s a huge range of accommodation, from the affordable Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park, opposite Kuirua Park to the luxury of Pullman Rotorua in the town centre.

AURA Accommodation is more than just a place to sleep. It’s a compact little resort, arguably the most eco conscious accommodation in Rotorua. The communal barbecue is next to the year-round heated swimming pool (34-38 degrees in the winter!) which is next to the fully enclosed trampoline and not far away from the free kids scooters and toys! Have a soak in the mineral hot pools while dinner’s cooking in the geothermally heated steam oven! Aura’s also centrally located, just a 5-minute walk from the centre of Rotorua’s food scene at Eat Street

There’s a lot to see and do in Rotorua and its surrounds – my suggestion is to get in touch with the friendly people at Rotorua’s I-site before you go to ensure you make the most of your time. Rotorua’s lake front makeover is due for completion by December 2021, it’d be a great destination for your summer holiday!


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