Here are a few recommendations from the locals – junior travel guides from Bound Round, the travel app for kids, by kids.
Ever wanted to milk a cow, feed a lamb, cuddle a rabbit or pat a bull? All this is possible at Agrodome, a 140-hectare farm on the outskirts of Rotorua, where kids can see how all the elements of a working farm come together.
You can watch sheep shearing and see how the clever sheep dogs round them all up, hand-feed loads of friendly animals at the nursery and sample some delicious kiwifruit juice. “I got chased by a sheep – it was really fun! We saw baby lambs, rabbits and ducklings, and they were really cute.”
2. Hobbiton Movie Set
As you wander through the picturesque set of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, it’s hard not to imagine bumping into Bilbo Baggins. The Hobbiton village is built on the Alexander family farm, with hobbit holes created using untreated timber, ply and polystyrene. Make sure you order a ginger beer in the Green Dragon Inn.
3. Huka Falls Jet Boat
The Huka Falls Jet Boat will take you skimming past rock walls and overhanging trees with just millimetres to spare before arriving at the thundering Huka Falls themselves, where the boat does a few 360-degree turns. “Not only is it the scariest most exhilarating high-speed ride you can imagine, it's actually hilariously fun and utterly awesome.”
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4. Geothermal Wonderland
Rotorua is surrounded by geothermal activity, which can best be witnessed at Waimangu Thermal Valley and Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland. The walk through Waimangu takes you past a boiling lake, bubbling boiling creeks and the Inferno: a phosphorescent pale blue lake of sulphuric acid.
Wai O Tapu is home to a completely different set of natural wonders, including the Champagne Lake, so named for the size of its bubbles. The colours are amazing, with the edges of this crater resembling bright orange coral and a centre of aquamarine bubbling water.
Kuirau Park – take a walk through this public park and watch the hissing, bubbling geothermal activity that surrounds you. There are many geothermal parks surrounding Rotorua, including the famous Champagne Lake.
5. Cultural Experience
You can learn a lot about the traditional Maori lifestyle at one of the nearby Maori Villages, such as Mitai Maori Village or Te Puia. Te Puia is a Maori arts and craft institute and home to the Whakawerawera thermal hot springs.
After a traditional welcome ceremony (the powhiri), you’re invited into the Rotowhio Marae for an impressive performance of song and dance, a vigorous haka, ending with the beautiful love song Pokarekare ana before heading next door to feast on the hangi-prepared food.
At Mitai Maori, the Mitai family will host you in their village for a night of celebration and story-telling. See an ancient waka canoe, listen to the history, learn about weaponry and hunt for glow worms. “The Maori warriors were really interesting and it was really fun to watch.”
6. Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park
At Rainbow Springs you can get up close and personal with endangered Kiwi birds and hand feed Kakas and greedy gigantic trout. You’ll also get to meet prehistoric tuataras, watch bird shows and reptile talks before cooling off in The Big Splash, a log ride that takes you past animatronic prehistoric creatures before you plunge down to the finish, creating a hug plume of water.
About Bound Round
For more recommendations on activities for kids in New Zealand (and the world), get your kids to check out Bound Round, the kids travel app by kids for kids. The app is full of fun facts, games and video guides to all the best activities and attractions, narrated by local kids, the experts on what’s fun in their home town.