If you’re looking for a family holiday destination, look no further than New Zealand. This country of islands is made for family travel. Its moderate climate is perfect for the endless kid-centric activities the place is known for. You can find family-friendly accommodation easily and the food is chilli-free. All you need to do is pick a town with numerous amenities and excursions within a short drive.
Whether it’s Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty with its volcanic mud, stinky gas and Māori performances, or Wellington with a museum, a rickety cable car and bright cafes, or Queenstown and Wanaka for snow sports, or Christchurch and Canterbury for nature parks with pretty birds and animals, there are countless attractions for your kids to enjoy across New Zealand. The question is, are you ready to handle the excitement?
Here are ten amazing things that you can do in New Zealand when you travel with kids.
The native bird of New Zealand unfortunately is an endangered species. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get to see it. Visit Rainbow Springs, a wildlife centre and amusement park in Rotorua, for an opportunity to get up close to this unique bird. There is also New Zealand’s prehistoric reptile, the Tuatara, and the world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea for you to spot.
On your drive from Oamaru and Dunedin you will spot the Moeraki Boulders. This strange geological phenomenon will have your kids asking numerous questions. What are they? How did they get here? Do your homework and have the answers ready.
We might have missed the gold-digging period, but who says we miss the re-creation? Just head to Shantytown, a recreation of an ancient gold mining village from the 1800s. Get your kids to try their luck panning for gold; if they find anything, they keep it. Waltz in and out of an old hospital, saloon and jail even. Ride the steam train for good measure. Shantytown has been built for kids to enjoy, but it’s educational too.
Enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of Auckland from the top of one of the city’s volcanic peaks. There is no tree at the top today, but the city has constructed a monolith that commemorates the Treaty of Waitangi, an important part of New Zealand’s history. Do stop for a bit at the observatory and planetarium to allow your kids to gaze out in space.
If your kid is a history buff (or you wish to make her one) then a visit to Te Papa sounds like a good idea. This is the national museum of New Zealand in Wellington, and its informative and interactive displays will take kids through all of New Zealand’s history, geography, people and art. The museum is free but certain exhibits may have admission charges.
Are your kids and you ready for some excitement and thrills? Queenstown is loaded with endless opportunities for adventure. Jet boat rides, quad bike tours, the luge and the flying fox are just a few of the endless stream of activities that you and the kids can enjoy. If you’re visiting in winter, get on the ski slopes and pick up some tips at a ski school. Even a 3-year old kid can join.
New Zealand’s moderate climate means every day is a great day to hit the beach. For your summer holiday, the east coast beaches around Auckland, Northland or the Coromandel Peninsula are ideal for swimming, paddling and playing. If it’s winter season, the picturesque west coast beaches provide plenty of opportunity to play on black volcanic sand.
Step out and get away from digital screens when you are on the South Island. When you and the kids are on the nature trail, you cannot miss the spectacular Pancake Rocks at Punakaikai. The walk-through native bush land and flax is easy enough for young children to do. In fact, they love the challenge. Landed there on a wet and rainy day? Don’t worry; don some rain gear and head to the coast to watch see sea water gushing up between the rocks forming blow holes.
When in Christchurch, a visit to the Antarctic Centre will leave most kids (and adults) mesmerised. Christchurch airport is the jumping point for most expeditions to Antarctica, and the city has captured the buzz and interest in a unique manner with this centre.
Did we say locals? We mean the local wildlife. When on the East Coast of the South Island, you will spot some of New Zealand’s unique wildlife. Seals, penguins and even whale or dolphin spotting expedition by boat or plane can be arranged.
This is just a list of activities that you and your kids can indulge in when in New Zealand. But did you know that the country actually encourages families and makes it that much easier for you to visit? Here’s how they do it:
Admission fees and discounts: Many attractions, accommodation, tours, transport and other entry fees have kids' and family rates that can offer discounts of up to 50% off the adult rate. Toddlers (under 4) usually get in free.
Eating out with children: This can be tricky if you have picky eaters or if they tend to be noisy kids. Skip the fancy restaurants, and head to cafes that are children friendly. The kids’ section of the menu might be uninspiring in many places, but you can ask for a smaller serving of a dish from the regular menu. Look for farmers markets and find a spot for an impromptu picnic.
Accommodation: Some days you might not want to step out of the holiday home that you are staying at. Many of the motels and holiday parks have games rooms, playgrounds, fenced swimming pools, trampolines and acres of grass where the kids can burn their energy. You can choose from a myriad accommodation options, including the bach (a basic holiday home) that is a good value-for-money option, as well as a farm stay that can be quite entertaining for the kids with the many animals on site.
Take the kids to New Zealand on your next vacation. Here’s what you need to carry with you.
We are geared to plan and arrange holidays for families with kids across all age groups. Reach out to us today and together we will plan a smashing holiday to New Zealand for the whole family.