Family experience ideas in New Zealand- Te Pa Tu

Family experience ideas in New Zealand- Te Pa Tu

One of the places that we stopped on our trip to the North Island in New Zealand was Rotorua. There's so much to do there, it's easy to find something that fits the whole family's interests.

Our first stop in Rotorua was Te Pā Tū- a cultural celebration of the Māori people. It features lots of interactive experiences where you learn about their culture in a fun way, a show highlighting traditional song and dance, and an incredible 3 course meal prepared by Māori chefs.

*Full Disclosure: We were hosted by Te Pā Tū for this experience but all opinions about it are my own based on our family's time there.

You start off with a cultural welcome which really sets the mood for the whole experience. Then, as you enter their village, you're greeted with food and drink prepared by their chef. Some of the food my kids liked, and some they didn't, but I was proud of them for trying everything and recognizing that it was part of the experience. And when they didn't like it, more for us!

There's a few "stations" that you rotate through where they teach you about their culture, history, traditional games, and war chants. Then you go into a show where they highlight their incredible voices and traditional dancing. This was probably my kids' favorite part. It was so fun to watch the performance. Afterwards, you sit down in a beautiful dining room for a 3 course meal. The food is based on the season and prepared by a traditional Māori chef. It was such an incredible experience and overall, everyone loved it! 

It's definitely a big ticket item on a trip, but it's something that was really cool to experience.

Can my kids really handle a 4 hour experience?
To be honest going into this, I wasn't sure how the kids would handle a 4 hour experience in the afternoon/evening, because that's a long time for their attention span. We have done cultural celebration experiences before in other places though and they have always been so fun, so we went into it hoping it would be a similar experience here. I have to say, I was so impressed with how Te Pā Tū set up the whole experience. There really wasn't a minute where my kids weren't interacting with one of the stations or playing a game with one of the performers, trying foods, watching a show, or eating dinner. For as long, as the experience was, it went by so fast. 

How family friendly is it? Should I go even with little kids or babies?
I was really impressed with how kind everyone was to my kids. If you aren't familiar with our family makeup, we have 4 kids ages 8, 6, 4, and 21 months. So I was a bit nervous going into the experience with little kids knowing it was such a must-see place in Rotorua with a fancy, chef catered dinner and lots of performances I didn't want my kids to disrupt. But again, I can't say enough how impressed I was with Te Pā Tū and their employees and performers. 

When the activities were too difficult for my kids to do, one of the performers pulled them aside and did a kid-friendly variation of the game. When one of the kids had to go to the bathroom during the presentation, someone was there to help show us where to go. During the performance they made sure the kids had front row seats so they could see everything, and they were smiling and making my kids laugh throughout it. At dinner, when our baby and 4 yr old were getting antsy, one of the employees brought out an activity cube from the back so they could play while we ate.

Tips on doing this with little kids
There are different times that you can book, but they are all in the evening so make sure to get good naps in for younger kids earlier in the day. Another thing to consider is if you have picky eaters. I would make sure to pack some snacks if you know your kids are hesitant to try new things, because the food is definitely unique. However, they do have foods I'd say are pretty "kid-safe" at dinner like rolls, potatoes, chicken.

How to book your experience
Check out their website to see what seasonal celebration they are offering at the time of your trip. One awesome thing about a lot of experiences in New Zealand (compared to the United States) is that kids 4 and under are free. So when you're looking into booking experiences, this is a huge bonus of making things slightly more affordable for families.


Back to blog