Rotorua is one of the most exciting cities on New Zealand’s North Island.

Packed with Maori culture, geothermal activity, and scenic views, there are plenty of adventures to be had.

Specifically, Rotorua is a great spot for families.

There are plenty of family-friendly attractions, making it the ideal spot for a weekend getaway in New Zealand.

From exploring Hobbiton to zorbing down a hill, you and your family are sure to love it here.

Check out the 22 best things to do in Rotorua for families.

1. Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Are you a fan of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings? 

Then you won’t want to miss this incredible Hobbiton experience.

Channel your inner Frodo and live like a hobbit in the Shire for a day.

Hobbiton was created by director Peter Jackson on a sheep farm in Matamata, New Zealand.

Located just 45 minutes from Rotorua, this guided tour will let you walk around the interactive movie set used in the films.

Have your kids pose in front of a hobbit hole and end the day with a drink at The Green Dragon Inn.

Tour details

  • Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Point: The Hobbiton Shop
  • Departure Times: 8:00am or 1:20 pm
  • Inclusions: Round trip transfer from Rotorua, guided tour

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2. Rotorua Eco Thermal Tour

Experience the wonder of Rotorua’s geothermal and volcanic activity on this geological tour!

There are morning and full-day tour options available.

Each tour will visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Lady Knox Geyser, and Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

You expert guide will teach you all about the science of these natural sites.

Tours are limited to just 12 people and are suitable for families with children of all ages.

Both educational and fun, this is a can’t-miss Rotorua tour.

Tour details

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Departure Time: 8:30 am
  • Inclusions: Driver/guide, entry fees, live commentary

Morning Tour Full-Day Tour

3. Rotorua Duck Tours

Discover Rotorua two ways: by land and water!

This unique 90 minute sightseeing adventure will have you and your family boarding a World War II amphibious vehicle.

Tours leave from the city centre and explore the region’s main attractions, including its 18 lakes.

You’ll even drive through the lush New Zealand forest.

Tours are fully guided and cover everything from Maori history to the area’s famous geothermal activity.

Stops include the Government Gardens, Blue Baths, Rotorua Museum, and Sulphur Point.

Tour details

  • Duration: 90-105 minutes
  • Departure Point: 1241 Fenton St, Rotorua
  • Departure Time: 11:00 am
  • Inclusions: Driver/guide, entry fees, live commentary, free “duck caller”

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4. White Island Helicopter Flight & Volcano Walking Tour

Soar high above Rotorua in this magical Rotorua helicopter tour.

The perfect activity for adventurous families, this tour will fly you to White Island.

You’ll whizz right by active volcanoes for a truly unique experience.

You’ll also fly over the city of Rotorua and the Northern Lakes district.

To top it off, thrill seekers will love that the helicopter actually stops on a lunar-like crater mid-flight.

This gives families the exclusive opportunity to discover the mining ruins and unique geological formats of White Island.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: Memorial Drive, Rotorua
  • Departure Time: 9:00 am or 12:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional pilot/guide, headsets to hear the guide

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5. Gondola Ride to Mount Ngongotaha

Fun-meets-relaxation on this family-friendly adventure.

First, hop on a gondola that will take you to the top of Mount Ngongotaha.

Enjoy panoramic views of the city and lake below as you travel to the top.

Once you’re at the summit, you can choose to take the gondola back down.

Or you can choose the more adventurous option, which is to grab a luge and slide down on one of three tracks.

A great activity for kids, you’ll have a blast exploring this Rotorua landmark.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure Point: Skyline Rotorua, 178 Fairy Springs Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Round-trip gondola rude, luge rides, entry fees, use of chairlift

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6. Jet Boat Ride on Waikato River

Get up close and personal with the Waikato River in this thrilling jet boat adventure!

Experience Rotorua on the water.

All tours are three hours in length and will have you and your family zipping past the Tutukau Gorge and the geothermal reserve at Orakei Korako.

See some of New Zealand’s famous active geysers.

Return at full speed via the Waikato River.

Tours leave from the Riverjet base, located less than half an hour from Rotorua and Taupo.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Times: 11:00 am or 2:00 pm
  • Departure Point: New Zealand Riverjet base
  • Inclusions: Drive/guide, hot drink

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7. Buried Village of Te Wairoa Tour

The Buried Village of Te Wairoa will have you exploring the country’s most popular archaeological site.

A guided tour will take you through the site’s historic exhibits.

They will even tell you about the famous eruption of Mt. Tarawera.

Not to worry though, the eruption dates back to 1886!

Peaceful walking trails coupled with educational actors in period costumes make this a must-visit for families.

Tours can be booked throughout the day and include all taxes and entry fees.

Tour details

  • Departure Point: Buried Village of Te Wairoa
  • Inclusions: Local guide, entry fees

Book Tour Official Site

8. Whakarewarewa Maori Village Guided Tour

Experience authentic Maori culture at Whakarewarewa.

This Living Maori Village is located in Rotorua and is one of the area’s top-rated attractions.

A local guide will take you through the village, teaching you about the history and way of life of the Maori people.

You’ll see two famous geysers along the way.

There will also be a cultural show to enjoy, filled with traditional Maori singing and dancing.

To cap off your tour, enjoy a hangi meal cooked in the boiling geothermal pools.

Tour details

  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Departure Point: Whakarewarewa, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Guided tour, entry fees, cultural show, hangi meal

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9. Maori Hangi Dinner and Performance

Indulge in one of the most beloved parts of Maori culture: the food!

A hangi is a traditional Maori meal, cooked by boiling the food underground in the geothermal hot pools.

The hangi feast you and your family will enjoy is just the tip of this cultural experience.

First, you’ll be picked up in an air conditioned vehicle and driven deep into the Rotorua forest.

Upon arrival, you’ll experience the powhiri welcome ceremony.

As you enter the village, you’ll see traditional Maori instruments, watch a haka performance, and learn about the daily activities in a Maori village.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 6:15 pm, 7:30 pm
  • Inclusions: Tour escort, entry fees, hotel pick up and drop off, hangi dinner, Maori performance

Tamaki Maori Mitai Maori

10. Deluxe Lake Spa Bathing

Rotorua has some of the most incredible hot pools in the world.

If you’re after a little R&R on your family vacation, a trip to the mineral pools might be just the ticket.

Embrace nature and swim in one of five hot pools overlooking Lake Rotorua.

The calmness of the lake and the heat of the mineral pools is the perfect combination for maximum serenity.

There’s also a cold plunge pool if you need to cool off.

Hot pools range between 36 and 42 degrees celsius.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1-4 hours
  • Departure Times: 5:00 pm, 6:15 pm, 7:30 pm
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, premium changing facilities, indoor relaxation lounge, plunge pool, 4 hot pools

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11. Agrodome’s Sheep Show & Farm Tour

New Zealand is known for its significant sheep population.

So when in Rotorua, why not get up close and personal with these adorable animals?

The city’s Agrodome gives families a chance to interact with these soft and fluffy creatures.

The Agrodome is a sheep and beef farm, so you can learn all about farming practices.

There is also a Woolen Mill where demonstrations take place.

By the end of the tour, you’ll have seen 19 different types of sheep, and even gotten to pet a few along the way.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: 141 Western Rd, Ngongotaha, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Entry fees

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12. Te Puia Maori Cultural Tour

Have you ever enjoyed a steambox lunch?

Now’s your chance!

A steambox lunch is cooked over steam vents, a traditional Maori technique.

While your lunch is being prepared, a professional guide will take you on a 2.5 hour tour of Te Puia.

You’ll visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and gain insight into Maori culture.

You’ll even get to watch a flax weaving demonstration.

There’s also a Kiwi House where you can view nocturnal birds.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Point: Te Puia, Rotorua
  • Departure Time: 11:00 am
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, professional guide, lunch, bottled water, flax weaving workshop

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13. Velocity Valley

Are you a lover of roller coasters?

Then Velocity Valley is for you!

Taking amusement parks to new heights, this daring adventure park has rides that are more like extreme sports.

An adrenaline junkie’s paradise, rides include The Shweeb, which has visitors hanging in pods from a monorail line.

There’s also a bunjy jumping experience and an agrojet.

The park is open from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm daily and tours are available throughout the day.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure Point: 1335 Paradise Valley Road, Ngongotaha, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, hotel pick up and drop off

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14. ZORB Inflatable Ball Ride

New Zealand is the place for zorbing.

This thrilling ride will have you jumping into an inflatable ball filled with water and rolling down a hillside track.

Tons of fun for families, the Rotorua Zorb track is one of the largest in the world.

Enjoy the twists and turns as you tumble your way down.

It’s essentially like a giant water slide, but even more thrilling!

Don’t miss out on this bucket list activity.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure Point: 525 Ngongotaha Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Zorb rides, use of hot tub, free wifi

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15. Guided Horse Trekking Adventure

Get a true Lord of the Rings experience by hopping into the saddle and experiencing Rotorua on horseback.

This 1 hour horse trekking adventure is great for families and will allow you to spend some quality time together outdoors.

Your tour will take you to Mt. Ngongotaha and working farmlands.

You’ll also get incredible views of Lake Rotorua.

Tours are available both in the morning and afternoon.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure Times: 10:00 am, 11:30 am, 2:00 pm, or 3:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, guide, horse safari, safety gear

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16. Native Forest Zipline Adventure

Soar through the trees on this unique ziplining adventure.

This is hands down the most fun way to explore New Zealand’s stunning forest.

Experienced Kiwi guides will guide your family through the entire experience, from harnessing you in to sending you flying.

You’ll come face to face with native New Zealand birds and lush flora.

Float above the treetops on this 3 hour tour.

Tours can be booked throughout the day.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: Rotorua Canopy Tours, 147 Fairy Springs Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua
  • Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off, two professional guides, safety equipment, entry fees, wet weather clothing

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17. Rotorua 4WD Bush Safari Tour

Get off the beaten path – literally – and explore nature in 4WD!

Navigate water falls, tunnels, and more on this awe-inspiring adventure as you go through challenging trails in the New Zealand rainforest.

You can choose from multiple vehicles, including Freak of Nature, Driver’s Obsession, and The Ultimatum.

Your experienced guide will take your family on the adventure of a lifetime.

All tours depart from the Rotorua Adventure Centre.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure Point: Rotorua Adventure Centre
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, safety equipment, 45-minute 4WD experience

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18. Rainbow Springs Kiwi Bird Encounter

New Zealand is famous for its kiwi birds.

However, what most people don’t know is that kiwis are nocturnal.

This makes them very hard to spot in nature.

While in Rotorua, take advantage of Rainbow Springs, which provides an opportunity for visitors to see the kiwi bird up close.

Rainbow Springs is New Zealand’s largest conservation centre.

More than the kiwi bird, you’ll find keas, Maori culture, and even the Big Splash water ride.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Departure Point: Rainbow Springs
  • Inclusions: Entry fees, 45-minute guided tour, unlimited rides on Big Splash water ride

Book Tickets Official Site

19. Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park

Are you a family of animal lovers?

Then Paradise Valley Springs is for you!

This unique adventure park allows visitors of all ages to interact with incredible wildlife.

At Paradise Valley Springs, you’ll find many of New Zealand’s native animals, including birds, farm animals, and trout.

However, there are also animals from other parts of the world, like a pride of lions from Africa.

To top it off, there are plenty of beautiful walking trails within the park.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Inclusions: Entry fees

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20. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is just that – a wonderland!

It is a great activity for families that combines science and fun.

This thermal park is part of the Reporoa Caldera, formed 230,000 years ago.

Today, the site is open to visitors, giving you and your family the chance to see geysers and volcanoes in person.

Informative panels line the walking trails so you can learn about the history of this special area.

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland even has a geyser that erupts daily at 10:15 am, so be sure to time your tour accordingly!

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure Point: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
  • Inclusions: Entry fees

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21. Government Gardens

For a picturesque family activity, why not take a stroll through Government Gardens?

The Government Gardens in central Rotorua give off major English garden vibes.

This tranquil setting is complemented by Edwardian architecture that provides the perfect photo backdrop.

Colourful flowers and historic gazebos fill the park, making it a great spot for a family walk or even a picnic.

There is even a bath house on the property.

The 50 acre park is located near the shores of Lake Rotorua.

Inclusions for most tours

  • Entry fees
  • Bottled water
  • Lunch

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22. Rotorua Museum

Rotorua has a rich and complex history.

The Rotorua Museum is the best way of learning about this history.

From Maori culture to European colonial explorers, the museum has exhibits that showcase artefacts of both periods.

There is also an exhibit dedicated to the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the Bath House.

The Bath House was used in the early 20th century and encouraged locals to bathe in the natural mineral waters.

Inclusions for most tours

  • Entry fees
  • Bottled water
  • Lunch

Check Tours Official Site

History, adventure, nature – Rotorua has it all.

This family-friendly destination is perfect for parents and children of all ages.

We hope this list has provided some inspiration for your upcoming trip to this North Island city.

Also read:

Find more Things to do in Rotorua

Emily is a freelance writer from Canada and it was during her time studying History that she became interested in travel. Countries I've visited include the United States, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.