Rotorua Canopy Tours Blog

Best eco family activities

Sunday, 7 June 2020

If you're looking for fun family activities that are educational and do their part caring for the environment, we've got the perfect list for you. We’re lucky enough in New Zealand to have a lot of great family activities that don’t disturb natural areas – these are low impact and improve the environment for the native creatures that call these places home. Check our list of the top eco family activities in the North Island:

  • Rotorua Canopy Tours

  • Sail Barbary

  • Rainbow Springs

  • Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve

  • Waimangu


  • Rotorua Duck Tours

  • Dive Tatapouri

  • Sanctuary Mountain

Rotorua Canopy Tours

Rotorua Canopy Tours combines a thrilling zipline adventure with an engaging encounter with the natural world. This is one of the family activities mums and dads can get excited about too! You’ll explore ancient native forest via ziplines, cliff walks, tree platforms and swing bridges while your incredible guides teach you amazing things. A big part of what Rotorua Canopy Tours is all about is restoring the native forest back to its original state and every customer that goes on tour contributes to the conservation of the forest - they now have a massive pest trapping network covering 250ha!

Top family activities

Photo: Fly through the forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours and create unforgettable family memories 


Sail Barbary

On one of our more relaxing family activities you can sail across Lake Taupo. Discover our largest lake's natural wonders and hidden treasures while cruising the crystal clear waters with Sail Barbary. You’ll see hidden maori rock carvings and hear the maori legend on their zero emissions yacht. They use the sustainable power of the wind or a gentle eco-friendly electric engine so you can sit back and relax or learn to sail knowing you are helping to preserve and protect beautiful lake Taupo.

Sail Barbary family activities

Photo: Sail to the stunning maori rock carvings on lake Taupo


Rainbow Springs

Want to take the family to see a kiwi? Rainbow Springs in Rotorua is our top pick in the North Island. They are the world’s leading kiwi conservation centre and all tickets which include the guided tour of the kiwi hatchery go towards the recovery efforts of our national bird. You’ll be in for a fun-filled, day out with animal encounters, the Big Splash ride and an exciting Bird Show.  

rainbow springs family activities

Photo: Take the kids on the Big Splash and see our national bird at Rainbow Springs


Poor Knights Island Marine reserve

Have a tropical holiday without leaving New Zealand at Poor Knights Marine Reserve, a hidden paradise in Northland. Kids of all ages are sure to love this marine reserve which has over 120 species of fish. It’s a world renowned dive spot but with Dive! Tutukaka you can also go snorkeling, paddle boarding and explore the biggest sea cave on earth - you might even get to see dolphins or whales.

Family activities Poor Knights Island marine reserve

Photo: The Poor Knights Island Reserve is a great family activity with snorkeling, paddle boarding and more



Another one of our worthy family activities is Waimangu. See spectacular volcanic craters, rare and unusual plant life and a range of beautiful geothermal features at Waimangu, the world youngest geothermal system. You can choose to do a self-guided walk or go on a boat cruise to lake rotomahana where the pink and white terraces once stood. The team at Waimangu are committed to sustainability with their recycling, solar power and predator control practices.

waimangu family activities

Photo: Teach the kids about some of the most interesting volcanic landscapes in the world at Waimangu



The world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary, ZEALANDIA in Wellington, is home to some of New Zealand’s most rare and extraordinary wildlife. The ZELANDIA team are super passionate about wildlife and sustainability and have reintroduced over 20 species back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years! There are over 40 species of native birds, dozens of reptile species, hundreds of plant species and thousands of invertebrates to see.

Zelandia family activities

Photo: Explore the eco-sanctuary of ZELANDIA and see some of the most rare wildlife in New Zealand


Rotorua Duck Tours

Now for one of our family activities that's a bit different. Suitable for all ages, Rotorua Duck Tours is a one of a kind adventure that will take you from land to lake on New Zealand’s only genuine WW2 amphibious landing crafts. There are two tours to choose from and the kids will love their fully guided educational and entertaining commentary. Their newest 2-hour eco tour visits 4 lakes exploring the Tarawera area. They also work closely with the local council to stop the spread of aquatic pests.


Photo: Go on one of a kind adventure exploring land and lakes with Rotorua Duck Tours


Dive Tatapouri

Get up close and personal with majestic sea creatures in their natural habitat at Dive Tatapouri in Gisborne. They offer an interactive marine experience with Short-tail stingrays (Whai), Eagle Rays and other reef dwellers with their guided Reef Ecology Tour. The natural flow of conversation means that you and the kids will be learning about the magical marine ecosystem and the local culture every step of the way.

Family activities Dive Tatapouri

Photo: Get up close and personal with sting rays and other reef dwellers with Dive Tatapouri


Sanctuary Mountain

The last of our fun outdoor family activities is for all the kids who are animal lovers. Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is a great place to get up close and personal with native bird life and tuatara in their natural habitats. Located in the Waikato, this ancient rainforest is surrounded by one of the world’s longest pest proof fences. It’s a sanctuary for some of our most endangered species including birds, skinks, geckos, frogs, bats and insects. Choose from the many walking tracks or take a guided tour to learn about why this conservation project is so special.

maungatautari sanctuary mountain family activities

Photo: See some of our most endangered species and explore Sanctuary Mountain


If you're still looking for more info about eco tours, check out Conservation & Eco Tours in New Zealand.

Topics: Family-friendly activities in NZ, things to do in the central North Island