New Zealand is an excellent country to travel around with kids.
Insanely beautiful, it is filled with stunning landscapes, incredible natural wonders, and a unique culture that makes it, unlike any other country in the world.
For families, it also offers an excellent range of activities and attractions that are sure to keep everyone entertained and engaged.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or just to spend some quality time with your loved ones, New Zealand really does have it all.
While there are a few things you should do if you are thinking of booking a family holiday to Aotearoa, here is our recommendation of some of the best places to go once you arrive there.
Geography and Climate
New Zealand is an island nation that is situated within the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It incorporates two major islands – namely the North Island and the South Island – as well as several smaller islands.
The landscape is diverse, ranging from sandy beaches and rugged coastlines to snow-capped mountains and glaciers. Much of which looks like it has changed little in millions of years.
Generally speaking, the North Island is more geologically active, containing a number of volcanic peaks, hot springs, and geysers, while the South Island is characterised by its stunning fjords, lakes, and beautiful mountain ranges, which include the Southern Alps.
In terms of weather, the country experiences a temperate maritime climate, with mild temperatures and high rainfall occurring throughout the year. This makes it an ideal destination for outdoor activities and nature exploration.
Best Places to Visit
If you are planning on exploring New Zealand with your family, there are several ‘must-see’ places you should visit.
These are located on both the North and South Islands, so we’ve split our recommendations equally across them.
The best way to see them all is via a car, as this provides a convenient way to get around. However, for those who don’t have access to one – particularly international travellers – you can always hire a motor with Go Rentals or any other similar provider.
Here are some must-visit places on the North Island in New Zealand.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is a terrific place to pencil into your family travel adventure.
The city is home to a range of family-friendly attractions. One of the most popular is Auckland Zoo, which showcases over 140 species of animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, and elephants.
Similarly, the Sky Tower is worth a visit on account of the panoramic views it showcases of the surrounding area. It also provides an excellent opportunity for bungee jumping or walking around the tower’s edge – if you are not afraid of heights, of course!
Quite simply, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland.
A truly remarkable place, the city is home to several geothermal parks, including Wai-O-Tapu and Te Puia, where you can see bubbling mud pools, hot springs, and geysers.
Children should also love the opportunity to learn about Maori culture at Te Puia, where you can see traditional carving and weaving demonstrations, watch a haka performance, and visit a kiwi bird enclosure.
If you love adventure sports, Rotorua is also home to several high-adrenaline adventure activities, including ziplining, mountain biking, and white-water rafting.
Whilst on the North Island, you should definitely make the effort to visit The Waitomo Caves.
The attraction is a network of underground limestone caves. It is famous for its unique natural phenomenon of thousands of tiny glowworms that light up the dark caverns like stars in the night sky.
Visitors can take a guided tour to explore the caves, learn about the history and geology of the area, and experience a magical boat ride through the glowing caves.
Once you have done this, you can also take part in several other adventure activities, including abseiling, zip-lining, and black-water rafting.
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, so it is well worth a visit.
Situated on the southern tip of the North Island, the city offers a range of cultural attractions and family-friendly activities.
This includes the interactive exhibits at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Wellington Zoo, and the Wellington Cable Car.
Families can also enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and visiting the nearby Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary, which provides a glimpse into New Zealand’s unique native flora and fauna.
Mount Maunganui is a small coastal town located in the Bay of Plenty. It is widely regarded as being the home of one of New Zealand’s best beaches.
Blessed with soft white sand and crystal-clear waters, you can spend many hours swimming, surfing, or kayaking in the ocean.
Alternatively, you can hike up to the top of Mount Maunganui, whereupon you will get to see stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Here are some must-visit places on the South Island in New Zealand.
Surrounded by stunning mountains and housing several ski resorts, Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s major drawcards.
It is particularly popular in winter when the snow season starts. However, in the summer it is also a renowned destination for hiking, mountain biking and water sports in and around the spectacular Lake Wakatipu.
Additionally, it is considered to be another prime sport for bungee jumping, skydiving, and jet boating as well.
Milford Sound is a stunning fjord located in the southwest of the South Island.
Flanked by towering cliffs, it is home to several waterfalls, including the iconic Mitre Peak which will take your breath away.
One of the best things to do here is going on a scenic cruise through the fjord, to spot dolphins, seals and penguins.
If you are up to it, you should also consider kayaking or hiking in the area.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located at the top of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is a spectacular coastal park that offers a range of activities for families.
Whether you choose to take a scenic hike along the park’s coastal trails, go kayaking or paddle boarding in the turquoise waters, or simply relax on one of the park’s stunning beaches is up to you.
But whatever you do, you are sure to have an amazing time in its stunning landscape.
Christchurch, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is a great travel destination for families with kids to visit.
Overall, the city is home to several child-friendly attractions. One of the most popular is the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, where kids can see native animals up close. Another is the International Antarctic Centre which enables them to experience a simulated Antarctic storm.
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens also offer a great outdoor space for children to run around and play in, whilst the Christchurch Gondola conveys outstanding views of the city and surrounding mountains.
However, one of the main reasons to come to Christchurch is to enable them to play in the fantastic Margaret Mahy Playground – which just happens to be the largest in the southern hemisphere!
Lastly, the Otago Peninsula is another destination on the South Island to take the kids to.
This area is home to a range of unique wildlife species, including albatross, penguins, and seals, which you can see in their natural habitat.
The Royal Albatross Centre offers guided tours to see these majestic birds up close. While Penguin Place provides an opportunity to see yellow-eyed penguins up close and personal.
Additionally, Larnach Castle, which is located on the peninsula, is well worth visiting. Not only does It provides a glimpse into New Zealand’s colonial history, but it also presents stunning gardens and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.