Five-year-old Tui Stokes-Kaukau is full of excitment about his first day at school - it's his parents who are the nervous ones.

He is one of the thousands of Rotorua kids heading to school after the summer holidays, and it's been a long wait for his first day at school after his 5th birthday on December 23. Schools around Rotorua start to return from today.

Thursday will be Tui's first day at St Michael's Catholic Primary School and he said he was excited to go to school so he could have fun and because there were games on the tablets.

"I have to listen to the teachers and we will sing songs and write."

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Tui was looking forward to drawing and playing with his friend who went to playcentre with him and would be starting on Thursday, too.

"He's coming to St Michael's too!" .

Tui's dad Malcolm Kaukau said he and Tui's mum, Rhonda Stokes, were feeling a little bit nervous because Tui was their first child to go to school and they wanted him to do well.

"We just don't know how he is going to go, but it's pretty special that he is going to St Michael's School because I went to that school, so he will be going to the same primary school as I did," Miss Stokes said.

Miss Stokes said Tui also had a 9-month-old brother who would keep them busy now Tui was going off to school.

"It will be good break for us during the day while he is at school, but we will still be busy." .

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Senior Sergeant Graeme Hill said the key message with children heading back to school was traffic safety.

"There will be increased pedestrian traffic, increased bicycle traffic and increased car traffic."

He said it was important that people adhere to the traffic rules and speed limits.

"There will be new road users and people need to be very cautious of this. The weather has been a bit up and down lately as well so people need to drive to the conditions."

Officer in charge of Rotorua road policing, Senior Sergeant Nicky Riordan, previously told the Rotorua Daily Post it was crucial for motorists to take into consideration the unfamiliarity and unpredictability of children.

"Children will be excited to see their friends and will not necessarily take the same precautions as an adult would when crossing the road. Be aware of this and make sure you have reduced your speed to 40km/h in school zones."

Back to school traffic:

* Reduce your speed to 40km/h around school zones.

* Leave for work earlier to avoid getting caught in school traffic.

* Be prepared to stop for children crossing the road.

* Reduce your speed to 20km/h when passing a stationary bus.