Pamela McIntoch and her family make memories and enjoy unique expereinces in Rotorua
When they named this region the Bay of Plenty, it was for good reason. Rotorua in particular is abuzz with activities and experiences for families with children of all ages. Stay a while, because there’s so much on offer.
GET PERSONAL WITH KIWI
What sound does a kiwi make? Who are their predators? How big are their eggs? We found out the answers to these questions and more at The National Kiwi Hatchery, which offers up-close experiences with our beautiful native bird and insights into incubation, the hatching process, and newly-hatched kiwi chick care. 100 percent of ticket entry goes straight back to their kiwi hatching programme.
FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN A FAIRYTALE
Forest and fantasy come to life at the must-see Redwoods Treewalk – a 700-metre award-winning eco-tourism walk on suspension bridges, giving you the chance to see a bird’s eye view of the forest floor or – as we experienced – the Nightlights walk. Twinkling lights and more than 30 lanterns had us feeling like we were in a fairytale. Ideal for all ages, with custom pushchairs (with some fitted with infant capsules) available that fi t on the suspension bridges for younger ones who won’t be able to walk the distance.
ADRENALINE FOR ALL AGES
Take the Skyline Gondola up the hillside (a ton of fun itself) and once you’ve admired the impressive views over Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island, select your entertainment of choice from zip-lining, mountain biking, luge, sky swing, Volcanic Hills Winery, and the jelly belly store. A three-ride luge pass gave our little tribe enough time to try a variety of tracks with the smaller ones in tow. To say we had a blast is an understatement.
Understanding the lay of the land and its descendants’ way of life is a humbling and important experience, and at Te Puia you’ll come face to face with a naturally active geyser, bubbling mud pools and a geothermal area with so much history. Mosey through the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute, where talented students and teachers are carving, weaving and curating traditional, sacred objects and art so detailed you have to see to believe.
SOAK IT ALL IN
Slow down, breathe, and bathe away your bothers at the Polynesian Spa mineral pools nestled on the edge of Lake Rotorua (the slightly acidic pools relieve aches and pains, and alkaline waters nourish skin). After a serene soak, we took our kids to the family pool where they swam, released their rowdiness and swooshed down the waterslide. And with two mineral pools within eye-view of the family pool, Tim and I were able to tag-team between rest and responsibility.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Spread across 350 acres of lush land, Agrodome is a working farm that gives guests the chance to hand-feed animals and be wowed by an interactive Farm Show, where you’ll get to meet some talented sheep, farm dogs, ducks (and humans too!). Many children (including ours) were lucky enough to feed a lamb – and I got hands-on milking a friendly cow!
We loved the land and water tour on a genuine amphibious WWII landing craft that included comedic and informative commentary, good tunes and great sights. The 90-minute tour explored lakes, the Government Gardens, and dived into volcanic history that blew our mind! Check out rotoruaducktours.co.nz for more info
Where to stay in Rotorua
Jet Park Rotorua is the ideal hotel for family respite. Spacious family suites offer a separate bedroom for the kids, a spa bath (a great incentive for bathtime), and a coffee machine (essential for tired parents). Centrally located with indoor and outdoor kids’ play areas.
Where to eat in Rotorua
Grab fresh and tasty cabinet food or something prepared by the chef at Scope Cafe, which caters for all ages and dietary types including Keto and vegetarian – with curly fries, hotdogs, waffl es and bacon and eggs for the little hungry caterpillars.
Take advantage of the Skyline combo and add on a buffet lunch with something for everyone at Stratosphere – plentiful with starters, seafood, pasta, roast meats, vegetables, dessert – with priceless views over Rotorua.
Tip: If you can’t travel with your own capsule, car seat, buggy or cot, hire your baby needs from Baby Gear Hire. They have a wide range of equipment to take the hassle out of your break.