New Zealand with Children

New Zealand is a dream destination for families, offering stunning natural landscapes, unique cultural experiences, and family-friendly activities. This comprehensive guide will cover what to see, where to go, what to eat, parks and attractions for children, the best time to visit, and an approximate three-week travel plan.

What to See

North Island Highlights:

  • Hobbiton Movie Set: A must-see for fans of The Lord of the Rings. Take a guided tour that ends with a drink at The Green Dragon Inn.
  • Rotorua: Known for its geothermal activity, Rotorua offers geysers, mud pools, and hot springs. Visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to explore colorful crater lakes and volcanic formations.
  • Tamaki Maori Village: Experience Maori culture through interactive exhibits, traditional songs, and a Hangi feast. Both educational and entertaining for all ages.

South Island Highlights:

  • Nelson Lakes National Park: A tranquil escape with stunning mountain and lake views. Enjoy a family picnic by Lake Rotoiti and feed ducks and eels.
  • Wanaka: A charming town with attractions like Wanaka Puzzling World and the Wanaka National Transport and Toy Museum. Enjoy kayaking on the lake or take a scenic hike.
  • Queenstown: Known for adventure sports, but also offers family-friendly activities like the Skyline Luge and nature hikes around Lake Wakatipu.

Where to Go

  • Renwick and Marlborough Wine Region: Stay in a vineyard cottage at Straw Lodge for a relaxing countryside experience. Parents can enjoy wine tastings while children play on the lawns.
  • Abel Tasman National Park: Accessible from Motueka, this park offers stunning coastal walks and boat tours. A great spot to explore New Zealand’s natural beauty.
  • Glacier Country: Visit Fox Glacier and take a forest walk to admire the glacier. If the weather permits, a helicopter tour is an unforgettable experience.

What to Eat

  • Traditional New Zealand Fare: Try Kiwi staples like meat pies and fish and chips.
  • Family-Friendly Cafes and Restaurants: Enjoy delightful meals at The Shire’s Rest Café at Hobbiton or Lake Matheson Café near Lake Matheson. After a hike, stop at Fergburger in Queenstown for their famous burgers.

Parks and Attractions for Children

Explore the Auckland Zoo, MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology), and the Butterfly Creek for a fun day out with kids.Auckland Zoo offers a wide variety of animals and is perfect for a day out. If you’re interested in marine life, make sure to check out Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium with its interactive exhibits. In Rotorua, head over to Rainbow Springs Nature Park to see the iconic kiwi bird in the nocturnal house. Queenstown has something for everyone – kids can enjoy a thrilling and safe downhill ride at Skyline Luge, while the whole family can experience a Shotover Jet Boat Ride through canyons, but keep in mind it may be too intense for very young children.

The best time to visit New Zealand with children is during the summer months, from December to February. The weather is warm, and most attractions are open and accessible. However, spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are also good times to visit, as they offer mild weather and fewer crowds.

Here is an approximate three-week travel plan

Days 1-2: Arrival in Auckland. Explore Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.

Days 3-4: Drive to Matamata and Rotorua. Visit Hobbiton Movie Set. Explore Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Tamaki Maori Village.

Days 5-6: Fly to Nelson. Relax and explore Nelson Lakes National Park. 

Days 7-8: Drive to Renwick and Marlborough Wine Region. Stay at Straw Lodge and tour local wineries.

Days 9-10: Travel to Abel Tasman National Park. Take a boat tour and enjoy coastal walks.

Days 11-12: Drive to the West Coast. Visit Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. Stay in Greymouth.

Days 13-14: Glacier Country. Explore Fox Glacier, weather permitting.

Days 15-17: Wanaka. Visit Wanaka Puzzling World and the Transport and Toy Museum. Enjoy lake activities and scenic hikes.

Days 18-20: Queenstown. Experience the Skyline Luge, go on nature hikes, and try optional adventure sports.

Day 21: Drive to Te Anau. Prepare for a day trip to Milford Sound.

Days 22-23: Milford Sound. Take a boat tour through the fjords.

Days 24-25: Return to Christchurch. Explore Christchurch and prepare for departure.

Tips for Tourists

  • Book car rentals in advance and ensure the vehicle is suitable for your family’s needs.
  • Family-friendly accommodations like holiday parks and self-contained units are widely available.
  • New Zealand’s weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for rain, especially on the South Island.
  • Supermarkets are well-stocked with familiar items, but it’s a good idea to pack snacks for long drives and hikes.
  • Ensure children are supervised during outdoor activities, especially near water and in geothermal areas.

New Zealand is a fantastic destination for a family adventure, offering a mix of nature, culture, and fun activities that will create lasting memories for both parents and children.

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