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Magical Rotorua

‘New Zealand’s coolest hot spot’ for making magical memories with the family

Deciding where to go for a family holiday can be a tricky process. While you might want to take in some beautiful scenery, the kids are likely to prefer something a little more adventurous. Then there’s the budget to consider: the bank account doesn’t always support our grand ideas for rest and recreation, especially when we throw a few children into the mix!

Rotorua is a local destination that truly ticks all the boxes for the whole family. It has the breathtaking scenery that we New Zealanders have come to expect, but this city goes several steps further by boasting a plethora of adventure activities, mystical bubbling mud and steam around every corner, plus opportunities to take in some local history and experience Maori culture. And there’s plenty on offer to suit every budget. In short, Rotorua is a magical place for a family holiday!

It’s a given that visitors will want to get out and explore the stunning surroundings. Well, the options are many, starting with a simple stroll around one of the numerous local walking tracks. The Lake Okareka boardwalk is a great start: it’s pushchair-friendly, so you can include your littlest tourists in an easy 5km walk that loops around the pristine lake.

With verdant parks throughout the city, many dotted with playgrounds, Rotorua delivers plenty of inexpensive avenues for fun and exploration for the little ones. If your kids are a bit older, they’ll love taking the mountain bikes for a spin through the spectacular Redwoods Forest, where Disney’s Pete’s Dragon was filmed.

For a higher perspective, more adventurous families will love soaring through the ancient native forest on zip lines, with Rotorua Canopy Tours. Canopy tourists (aged six years and older) will love the thrill of whizzing through the beautiful treetops and hearing gorgeous native bird song, while they learn about the conservation of this national treasure from guides who take their responsibilities seriously, but who also have a lot of fun.

Alternatively, Rotorua Duck Tours provides an iconic way to see the sights of the city and some of its surrounding lakes. Suitable for all ages and most weathers, authentic WWII amphibious craft carry passengers around town and splash down in a lake or two.

If it’s people and history you’re after, Rotorua will not disappoint. Te Puia offers a gateway to Maori culture, where visitors can take in performances, taste traditional hangi and observe taonga being made as master craftspeople pass on traditional arts such as carving and weaving to their students. Te Puia has a daytime experience (Te Ra) and a night-time one (Te Po), so there’s something on offer for all ages.

There is no place like this bubbling utopia to open young minds to the magnificent forces of nature. Children will be fascinated by the area’s geothermal activity, and there are numerous sites to fit everyone’s finances within and close to the city – from free-access hot water pools, suitable for swimming or foot-soaking, to the more spectacular experience offered by Te Puia, the home of Pohutu, the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere!

When the kids want a change of scene, there are plenty of other places to explore. If animals are their thing, they’ll love a visit to Rainbow Springs Nature Park where the family can spend hours admiring beautiful trout in the crystal clear water and getting up close and personal with reptiles and native birds such as the iconic kiwi.

When it comes to burning off some energy, the Skyline is the ideal spot: family members can ride the gondola up, and then have fun racing each other down on the luge! If the kids are still feeling bouncy, they’ll love a trip to OGO where they can roll down a hill in a gigantic inflatable ball – a wet or dry experience, depending on whether or not they mind messing up their hair!

If the weather is less than desirable, the enormous Motion Entertainment complex houses a Chipmunks Playland for the younger family members and numerous other fun activities such as tenpin bowling and gaming for the older kids. Perhaps most importantly, the building houses the Revived Cafe which provides important fuel for tired parents!

No matter what the weather is doing, regardless of the ages of your children, or the size of your budget, Rotorua is a fantastic holiday destination for families. With pristine lakes, spectacular waterfalls, bubbling geysers and ancient forests, and an array of activities that cater for all ages, interests, fitness levels and thrill thresholds, Rotorua truly is ‘New Zealand’s coolest hot spot’.


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