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Rotorua is one of the top destinations on the North Island of New Zealand for good reason! We spent two days exploring family-friendly destinations in town including the beautiful Polynesian Spa and the Redwoods Treewalk.
We’re visiting New Zealand by campervan since it’s the best way to see the country. We rented a motorhome from Wilderness Motorhomes. We rented from Wilderness back in 2018 during our first visit to this gorgeous country and hands down, they are the best rental company in the country. (Also in the world…Europe take note!)
Rotorua is a *literal* hotbed of geothermal activities. There are natural hot pools, creeks, boiling mud, and every type of geothermal pool you can imagine. The town itself is built in the middle of it all, giving a sniff of sulfur everywhere you go.
The thing to do is soak in the healing waters of the area. During our first visit to Rotorua in 2018, we went the natural route, walking down hot streams and soaking in questionable warm waters. This time we wanted to find something family-friendly. There are many remote, romantic hot pools where you can soak, but kid-friendly ones are much harder to find.
We chose the Polynesia Spa for its kid-friendly pools. We made a reservation for a private lake-view pool and got passes for the family pools as well.
There is motorhome parking—free and overnight—right across the street from the Polynesia Spa, so we arrived early in the afternoon and stayed overnight. This was the perfect setup to be able to shower, change clothes, and head home for the night.
The private pool was nice and hot and the kids were allowed in with us. The water was a little too hot for them, but luckily there was a small ledge of smooth stones where they could sit and splash. The private pool booking had a timer, so after an hour, we headed over to the family pools. There were three pools—two shallow pools and one large pool with a slide. The slide made it so fun and the pool was divided into a deep and shallow section so Ellie could walk around the shallow area.
This was one of our most memorable nights during our first visit to New Zealand and one place we wanted to return to in the light of day.
The Redwoods Treewalk is the longest treewalk in the world. It’s a series of over 20 bridges and platforms suspending you high in the treetops. It’s a beautiful way to experience the forest and a unique experience for the family. All ages are welcome to enjoy the bridges, but you aren’t allowed to carry children. The staff will provide a special stroller. They have multiple options depending on the age of your children. It wasn’t too difficult to maneuver on the tiny bridges and it kept our 18 month old safe.
After we explored the treetops, we went to ground and hiked some of the stroller-friendly trails through the forest. It was perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and a great way to spend our morning.
Where to Stay
Being such a popular destination, there are many holiday parks near Rotorua. To stay in town, we parked at the Hinemoa Street Carpark. There were many spots in the lot for campers, but it filled up fast. We arrived around 3 PM and the parking lot was getting close to full.
There are street lights and trash in the lot and it’s right next to a park. We easily walked through the park into the downtown area. There were so many restaurants in town to choose from. We found a cozy Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating and delicious tacos that I’m still thinking about…
If you can get a spot, we highly recommend parking at the free lot in town so that you can easily access everything the town has to offer.