Listen up parents! There’s good reason New Zealand is a go-to family destination.
With plenty of natural wonders, kid-centric activities and cultural experiences across two islands, the Kiwis sure know how to tire the kids out for you.
From snowy slopes to abandoned gold mines and water activities, New Zealand gives the whole family lots to love.
Whether you choose to hire a campervan for the full family bonding road trip experience or opt for spacious hotel rooms complete with buffet breakfasts, you’ll be spoilt for family-friendly activity choice in New Zealand.
1: Trek through the Karangahake Gorge and abandoned gold mine
Take a quick one-and-a-half-hour drive from Auckland and enter Karangahake Gorge.
The Gorge was once home to a booming gold mine, now turned hiking trail that hugs the banks of the Ohinemuri River.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a real-life treasure hunt, as you shimmy your way across swing bridges, through dark tunnels following the old railway tracks, and out to the abandoned gold mine.
Some of the tunnels go deep into the cliff with no source of light, so you’ll need a flashlight to navigate through the passages once frequented by miners.
If you feel like braving a moment of darkness, flick the light off to spot glow worms.
If you stay on the track, the hike will reward you with views of Owharoa Falls, which also double as a popular swimming hole for locals.
2: Spend the day at the Hobbiton™ Movie Set
Round up the kids, pack some snacks and make like Bilbo Baggins, and head to Hobbiton™ village.
Nestled in the heart of the Waikato region, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Auckland, you’ll find the magical world of Hobbiton™.
The Movie Set Tour departs daily from Shire’s Rest™ and you’ll need two hours on your side for a guided walking tour of where Lord of the Rings was set.
If you’re headed to Hobbiton™ later in the evening, book the banquet tour which includes a two-course feast at The Green Dragon Inn.
3: Step into the ‘secret’ Hamilton Gardens
Far from your typical garden, Hamilton Gardens explores the history and story of different civilisations that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into the realm of secret gardens.
Make your way through their many garden collections and step into the fairy-tale-like Fantasy Garden, before traveling back in time through the Chinese Sung Dynasty Garden and European English Flower Garden, to name a few.
4: Zipline across the canopies in Rotorua and experience Māori Culture
If you’ve been spending a few big days adventuring by foot, take a three-hour drive from Auckland to Rotorua and soar across the forest canopy by zipline.
The canopy tour will have you navigating your way through a 1000-year-old ancient forest by a network of swing bridges, treetop platforms, forest conservation trails, and zip lines.
You can’t leave Rotorua without experiencing their rich Māori culture.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the traditional customs is to visit one of the local Māori villages in the area -Tamaki Māori Village, Te Puia, Mitai Village, Ohinemutu Village, and Whakarewarewa.
The Living Māori Villages all welcome guided walking tours, giving you a personal insight into the historical significance of the land.
It’s a Māori tradition to cook a hangi meal (steam-cooked underground), so make sure you get involved in some meal prep.
5: Discover the magic of Taupō
A trip to Taupō tucked in the middle of the North Island, is an opportunity to be whisked into a wonderland of snow-capped mountains, geothermal valleys, and hot springs, surrounding the pristine, clear waters of Lake Taupō.
The best way to explore Lake Taupō, the largest freshwater lake in Australasia is by boat. Climb aboard a scenic cruise, a yacht, or rent kayaks and paddle your way to the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, only viewable from the water.
The lake is also known to be brimming with brown and rainbow trout, so if you’re a keen fisherman, Taupō is an angler’s dream.
If you’re feeling adventurous take on the adjoining Waikato River by jet boat and get up close to the Huka Falls, Aratiatia Rapids, and the ethereal Tutukau Gorge.
Got some time left in your day? Grab a toboggan and skis, and head over to Happy Valley.
The valley’s snow-making system guarantees great conditions regardless of the weather.
6: Traipse through the grounds of ZEALANDIA
ZEALANDIA is a lush ecosanctuary, home to some of New Zealand's rarest wildlife and native plants.
The sanctuary gives you a glimpse into how the land was many years ago, with over forty species of native birds and all kinds of reptiles and amphibians roaming the valley.
Explore ZEALANDIA at your own pace by map or take a two-hour guided tour, learning about the native flora and fauna as you go.
If you’ve got time to spare, return in the evening for a night tour to see crepuscular creatures like the Little Spotted Kiwi, cave wētā, and glowworms.
7: Explore Arctic terrains at the International Antarctic Centre
Just outside Christchurch Airport, the International Antarctic Centre will transport you to the icy land of Antarctica.
Each exhibition educates and entertains through immersive science-based activities including an Antarctic storm room, where the temperature plummets to -8°C by a -18°C wind machine.
If you’re keen to take a deep dive into the world of penguin welfare and get up close with the resident penguins, the VIP Penguin Backstage Pass is the way to go.
8: Have a close encounter at Orana Wildlife Park
Just a quick 30 minutes from Christchurch is Orana Wildlife Park, an open-range zoo, home to New Zealand's only gorillas.
Wander through the park's wildlife haven discovering over 400 different animals.
Hand feed the giraffes, drive through the lion reserve for a very close encounter and meet a rhino up close.
9: Grab a couple of melt-in-your-mouth sweets from Cookie Time Cookie Bar
Few things are more satisfying than eating a warm cookie, fresh out of the oven, yet Cookie Time Cookie Bar takes things to new levels with their cookie-inspired creations.
Think double chocolate fudge brownie shakes, hokey pokey ice cream cookie sandwiches, and of course, fresh, hot, cookies.
10: Visit Wanaka’s Puzzling World
Let your mind roam free at Wanaka’s Puzzling World, located an hour out of Queenstown.
Taking ‘weird’ to a whole new level, you’ll wander through illusion rooms, mazes, and try puzzles that will test your patience (and skill set).
Even the toilets prove a wacky lesson of perspective and history.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL
BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT
It may have been a while since you last flew overseas. It's a fantastic time to remember the basics of international travel as well as learn about what's changed.
We can’t wait to welcome you back to Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal, see you soon!