Things to Do in Rotorua on a Rainy Day for Families
If you are looking for things to do in Rotorua on a rainy day, you are spoilt for choice. From the hot pools and forest walks that make Rotorua one of New Zealand’s great natural wonders, to the many adrenaline-inducing activities such as roaring round in the mud at Off Road NZ or Zorbing, pack the umbrellas and get the family out and about to make the most of it! We’ve got 9 rainy-day Rotorua ideas below.
1. Whitewater rafting
Rotorua is a whitewater rafting mecca, and on the river, rain doesn’t make a difference because you’ll get wet anyway! There are many companies in the area, offering trips on different rivers and river sections. Grade 1 or 2 river sections are calm or have only small rapids, and are great for children 5-10 years old (with an adults). Grade 3 gets a bit more exciting with whitewater, rocks and drops – this is more for the teens and adults. Grade 4 and 5 are very intense with large drops, this is fuel for the ultimate adrenaline rush! For a grade 5 experience we would recommend Kaituna River rafting at Okere Falls just 20 minutes out of Rotorua. For a more gentle grade 2-4, you could drive an hour out of Rotorua to the Lower Rangitaiki, and raft with River Rats Raft & Kayak.
Zorbing, which has you rolling down hills inside inflated balls, is a worldwide phenomenon – but did you know it was invented right here in New Zealand by brothers Andrew and David Akers? They sold the idea around the world, then sold the business, but then bought back the Rotorua Zorb business and are running it themselves. Rotorua is the only place in New Zealand where you can Zorb, and the landscaped site on Mt Ngongotaha has four different ball rolling tracks – zig zag, straight, steep and one where you get big air.
The classic Zorb ball, H2OGO, has 40 litres of water inside it and has you slipping and sliding around the bottom of the Zorb – so take your togs, enjoy getting wet, and relax in the hot tubs afterwards (they also have heated changing rooms). However, if it’s really nasty and cold outside, they may be operating the Drygo option – you don’t spin as much inside the ball, and you don’t get wet! Kids have to be over 5 to ride.
3. Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest
The Redwoods in the Whakarewarewa forest at the edge of the city is one of the most beautiful places in the rain – the canopy protects you from the worst of the rain, and world underneath is luminous and calm, the colours of the forest brought to life. You can walk or bike the extensive tracks for free, or you can pay to do the Redwoods Treewalk. The Treewalk features 28 swing bridges suspended 20 metres above the forest floor, threading their way past 118 year old Redwood trees. There’s also a nightlights option, where 30 David Trubridge-designed lanterns light up the trees for an amazing evening experience.
4. Offroad NZ Monster 4×4 Thrill Ride
At Offroad NZ we LOVE rain – because mud makes our adventures so much better. On our Monster 4×4 Thrill Ride we strap you into our massive 4×4 monster jeep and take you roaring through native bush and over obstacles with massive drops, 45 degree tilts, swerves, buckles, and all sorts of nerve-wracking and adrenaline-inducing stunts! There is a minimum height restriction of 1.2 metres, and the ride takes about 10 minutes. It is guaranteed to inject some adventure into any grey and drizzly day.
5. Wai o tapu
Plopping boiling mud, geysers, pools of bright oranges and turquoises – it’s a veritable thermal wonderland at Wai o tapu. This park can be very popular so going on a rainy day means you might have some areas all to yourself. There is an entry fee, so if you would rather see thermal attractions for free, check out Sulphur Point, Wai o tapu mudpool (just outside Wai o tapu), Ohinemutu Maori Village, or Kuirau Park. The free thermal attractions are nowhere near as mind-blowing as at Wai o tapu, but still worth a look.
6. Kerosene Creek
This free hot spring in a river was once Rotorua’s secret spot, half an hour south of Rotorua. It has a warm pool under a small waterfall – you can’t get more magical than that! And still beautiful and warm even in the rain. In recent years its popularity has seen the place get a lot of visitors, so we recommend you go early in the day, and because this is an isolated and unguarded spot, don’t leave valuables in the car.
7. Polynesian Spa
If you’d like to pay to swim somewhere more sophisticated, the Polynesia Spa is gorgeous in the rain and is somewhat of a Rotorua classic. The adults pools overlook Lake Rotorua and are very tranquil, think tendrils of mist, birds on the lake, and deliciously hot mineral pools. The family pools are less tranquil as you’d imagine, but great for getting the kids’ energy out somewhere warm on a cold and rainy day!
8. Coffee at a cosy café
Rotorua is packed with cafés so jump on TripAdvisor and take your pick for where to while away a cosy hour inside with good coffee and food. One of our favourites currently is Scope – the coffee at this award-winning cafe is amazing and there is a great selection of delicious food (with rave reviews) from the menu and the cabinet, and they have highchairs.
Capers is another popular cafe, the décor is lovely and they serve anything from steak to pecan pie, good coffee to cold beer. They also have a really good kids’ menu. Bird the Word is a new, modern-industrial café on Fenton Street that is getting great reviews – they do a full cooked traditional breakfast but also vegetarian, think ingredients like chickpea fritter, eggplant kusandi, avocado and roasted mushroom.
9. Zipline with Rotorua Canopy Tours
Love heights? This vertiginous activity has you flying through the canopy of pristine native forest on a network of ziplines, swing bridges, cliff-walks and more – and the company will kit you out with wet weather gear. The guides have great senses of humour (and are good with kids) and will get you out of your comfort zone, and also tell you about all the conservation projects happening in the surrounding forest.
Rotorua certainly does pack in the rainy-day activities – there’s no way you’ll be fighting boredom when the weather sets in here. We hope you find something enjoyable for you and your family – get in touch if you’d like to take opportunity of a gorgeously muddy and exciting afternoon at Offroad NZ.