Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide to New Zealand with Kids 2024

The Ultimate Guide to New Zealand with Kids 2024

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to New Zealand with Kids 2024, your comprehensive insider’s manual to exploring the stunning landscapes and exciting activities that await you and your family in this captivating country. With its diverse natural beauty and thrilling adventures, New Zealand offers an ideal destination for families. Whether exploring the North Island’s geothermal wonders or the South Island’s pristine wilderness, this guide will ensure you make the most of your trip, creating unforgettable memories for you and your children.

1. Auckland, North Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Jules Amé

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is a vibrant hub combining urban attractions and natural wonders. The Auckland Zoo is a must-visit for families, allowing kids to encounter native wildlife up close. Another family-friendly attraction is the Auckland Museum, where children can delve into Maori culture and history through interactive exhibits. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Auckland Sky Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city and beyond. Exploring nearby Waiheke Island is also a fantastic way to spend a day with its beautiful beaches and family-friendly activities.

Insider’s Tip

Consider purchasing a combo ticket for the Auckland Zoo and nearby MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) for a full day of family fun.

How to Get There

Auckland is well-connected by air, with Auckland Airport being the primary gateway.

When to Travel

Auckland enjoys a mild climate year-round, making it a suitable destination at any time. However, spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) offer pleasant weather with fewer crowds.

2. Rotorua, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Stargrass

Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland where your kids can witness the Earth’s extraordinary forces in action. A visit to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a fascinating educational experience as children can witness erupting geysers, bubbling mud pools, and colorful thermal springs. A trip to the Lady Knox Geyser is a highlight where you can learn about the Maori legend surrounding this natural wonder. For relaxation and family bonding, a day at the Polynesian Spa, known for its therapeutic mineral waters, is a must.

Insider’s Tip

Make sure to schedule a Maori cultural performance experience for your family to gain insight into the rich indigenous heritage of the region.

How to Get There

Rotorua has its own airport, Rotorua Airport, offering domestic flights. Alternatively, you can drive from Auckland in about three hours.

When to Travel

Rotorua is a year-round destination, but spring and autumn offer pleasant weather for outdoor activities with smaller crowds.

3. Hobbiton, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrei Diomidov

Hobbiton Movie Set is a magical journey into the world of Middle-earth, making it a delightful destination for families. Your children will be captivated by the charming Hobbit holes and lush green landscapes that served as the backdrop for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film series. Guided tours provide fascinating insights into movie-making magic, and visiting the Green Dragon Inn allows you to experience the Hobbiton hospitality. Don’t forget to capture your family’s adventure in this iconic setting.

Insider’s Tip

Book the Hobbiton Movie Set tour in advance to secure your preferred time slot, as it’s a popular attraction.

How to Get There

Hobbiton is located near the town of Matamata on the North Island, approximately two hours from Auckland by car.

When to Travel

Anytime throughout the year is suitable for visiting Hobbiton, but the lush green landscapes are particularly enchanting during the spring months from September to November.

4. Waitomo Caves, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Shaun Jeffers

Introduce your children to the enchanting world of glowworms at the Waitomo Caves, a unique and mesmerizing experience. The Glowworm Grotto, illuminated by thousands of tiny lights, creates a magical atmosphere as you explore by boat. Kids will be awed by the bioluminescent glowworms that light up the cave ceiling. It’s an educational and awe-inspiring adventure that will leave lasting memories.

Insider’s Tip

Opt for an early morning or late afternoon tour to avoid the crowds and experience the glowworms at their most brilliant.

How to Get There

Waitomo Caves is located in the Waikato region of the North Island, approximately a two-hour drive from Auckland.

When to Travel

The Waitomo Caves can be enjoyed year-round, but consider visiting in spring or summer for pleasant weather and longer daylight hours.

5. Wellington, North Island

Image Credit: Pexels / 飞 谢

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is a family-friendly city with a range of attractions for kids. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, commonly known as Te Papa, is an interactive museum where children can engage with exhibitions that bring New Zealand’s natural and cultural history to life. Nearby, Zealandia is an eco-sanctuary where families can spot native birds and learn about conservation efforts. To add a bit of adventure, take the Wellington Cable Car to the Kelburn Lookout for stunning panoramic views of the city and harbor.

Insider’s Tip

Check Te Papa’s event schedule for special family-oriented programs and exhibits.

How to Get There

Wellington has its own international airport, with direct flights from major cities. Alternatively, you can take a scenic ferry ride from the South Island’s Picton.

When to Travel

Wellington enjoys a temperate climate year-round, but late spring (October to November) and autumn (March to May) are pleasant with less rainfall.

6. Taupo, North Island

Taupo, Central PlateauNew Zealand-November 25, 2021: Huka Lodge, Luxury Tourist Lodge buildings and grounds on the Waikato River edge, in Taupo, North Island, New Zealand.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / sma1050

Taupo, nestled on the shores of Lake Taupo, is an ideal destination for families looking to enjoy water activities and natural beauty. The lake offers a variety of child-friendly water adventures, such as kayaking and paddleboarding, suitable for all skill levels. A cruise on Lake Taupo to view the remarkable Maori rock carvings is a memorable experience for parents and kids. For those interested in geothermal wonders, a visit to Orakei Korako, also known as the Hidden Valley, provides an opportunity to explore terraces, hot springs, and geysers.

Insider’s Tip

Consider taking a scenic floatplane flight over Lake Taupo for a unique perspective of the region.

How to Get There

Taupo has its own airport, Taupo Airport, with domestic flights. Alternatively, it’s about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Auckland.

When to Travel

Taupo is a year-round destination, but summer (December to February) offers the warmest weather for water activities.

7. Abel Tasman National Park, South Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / jlazouphoto

Abel Tasman National Park, situated at the top of the South Island, is a coastal paradise offering pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests, making it an excellent choice for families seeking outdoor adventures. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is renowned for its stunning coastal scenery, and there are various family-friendly sections suitable for day hikes or multi-day treks. Alternatively, cruise a scenic boat along the coastline to spot seals, dolphins, and birdlife. Water taxis are also available for easy access to different sections of the park.

Insider’s Tip

If your family enjoys kayaking, consider a guided sea kayaking tour to explore the park’s beautiful coastline.

How to Get There

Abel Tasman National Park is accessible from both Nelson and Motueka airports on the South Island. From there, it’s a scenic drive to the park.

When to Travel

The park can be visited year-round, but summer (December to February) offers the best weather for outdoor activities.

8. Fiordland National Park, South Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / PTtravelphoto

Fiordland National Park, located in the southwest of the South Island, is a land of rugged fiords, towering peaks, and pristine wilderness. A must-do activity for families is taking a Milford Sound cruise to marvel at the stunning waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and wildlife, including seals and dolphins. For a unique adventure, explore the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, where your children can witness thousands of glowworms illuminating the cave walls. Additionally, the Kepler Track, a family-friendly hiking trail, offers the opportunity to immerse yourselves in Fiordland’s natural beauty.

Insider’s Tip

Consider taking an early morning or late afternoon Milford Sound cruise to avoid the crowds.

How to Get There

Fiordland National Park is accessible via Queenstown or Invercargill airports on the South Island. From there, it’s a scenic drive to the park.

When to Travel

Fiordland can be visited year-round, but summer (December to February) provides the most favorable weather for outdoor exploration.

9. Queenstown, South Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / ChameleonsEye

Queenstown, often referred to as the adventure capital of New Zealand, offers a wide range of activities suitable for families. Start your day with a ride on the Skyline Gondola, which provides panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. The adjacent Skyline Luge is a thrilling downhill ride for all ages. The Kiwi Birdlife Park allows your children to encounter New Zealand’s unique bird species. Consider taking a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu to enjoy the stunning scenery, and don’t miss a visit to the nearby historic town of Arrowtown.

Insider’s Tip

Arrive early at the Skyline Gondola to avoid the queues and make the most of your visit.

How to Get There

Queenstown has its own international airport, Queenstown Airport, with direct flights from major cities.

When to Travel

Queenstown is a year-round destination, offering a different range of activities depending on the season. Summer (December to February) is ideal for outdoor adventures, while winter (June to August) is perfect for skiing and snow activities.

10. Christchurch, South Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dmitry Pichugin

Christchurch, known as the “Garden City,” is a family-friendly destination with a variety of attractions. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens provide a tranquil environment for a family picnic and leisurely strolls. The Antarctic Centre offers an educational experience where kids can learn about the frozen continent and meet real penguins. For an up-close encounter with kiwi birds, visit the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. To enjoy panoramic views of the city and Southern Alps, head to the Port Hills.

Insider’s Tip

If your family enjoys cycling, consider renting bikes and exploring the city’s network of scenic bike paths.

How to Get There

Christchurch has its own international airport, Christchurch Airport, with direct flights from major cities.

When to Travel

Christchurch experiences a temperate climate year-round, making it suitable for family travel at any time.

11. Lake Tekapo, South Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Greybark Images

Lake Tekapo is a mesmerizing turquoise lake surrounded by the Southern Alps, creating a stunning backdrop for family adventures. With its picturesque setting, the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd is a must-visit and provides an excellent photo opportunity. For some outdoor fun, take your kids stargazing at the Mount John Observatory and witness the wonders of the southern night sky. Enjoy a relaxing soak in the Tekapo Springs hot pools in the daytime while taking in the breathtaking views.

Insider’s Tip

Check the Mount John Observatory schedule for family-friendly stargazing tours and astronomy sessions.

How to Get There

Lake Tekapo is approximately a three-hour drive from both Christchurch and Queenstown, making it accessible from either city.

When to Travel

Lake Tekapo can be enjoyed year-round. However, late spring (October to November) and autumn (March to May) offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

12. Stewart Island, South Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / The Nomadic Pear

Stewart Island, located off the southern coast of the South Island, is a hidden gem perfect for families seeking a remote and unspoiled natural environment. The island’s tranquil ambiance and pristine landscapes make it an ideal place to reconnect with nature. Rakiura National Park, covering most of the island, offers numerous hiking trails suitable for family treks. Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary, allows children to spot native bird species up close. You can also take a scenic boat trip to see the island’s resident seals and penguins.

Insider’s Tip

Plan your visit during the southern lights (Aurora Australis) season for a chance to witness this natural wonder.

How to Get There

To reach Stewart Island, take a ferry from Bluff, which is a short drive from Invercargill on the South Island.

When to Travel

Stewart Island is best visited in the summer months (December to February) when the weather is milder and outdoor activities are more enjoyable.

13. Oamaru, South Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Kristina Schultheiß

Oamaru, a charming town on the South Island’s east coast, offers a unique experience for families interested in history and wildlife. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is a must-visit, where you can observe the world’s smallest penguins returning to their nests at dusk. To delve into the region’s past, explore the Victorian Precinct, known for its beautifully preserved historic buildings and quirky shops. For a taste of adventure, the nearby Moeraki Boulders are mysterious spherical stones scattered along the beach, providing an intriguing natural wonder.

Insider’s Tip

Book your tickets in advance for the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony’s evening viewing to secure your spot.

How to Get There

Oamaru is a scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive from both Christchurch and Dunedin on the South Island.

When to Travel

Oamaru is a year-round destination, but the penguin colony is most active from September to February.

14. Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Francesco Ungaro

Westland Tai Poutini National Park, situated on the West Coast of the South Island, is a haven for nature-loving families. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, iconic natural wonders, provide an opportunity for an unforgettable glacier hike suitable for older children and teenagers. For a more family-friendly experience, explore the nearby rainforests, home to unique flora and fauna. A visit to the Ōkārito Lagoon is perfect for birdwatching and kayaking, where you might spot the rare white heron.

Insider’s Tip

Ensure you join a guided glacier hike for safety and to make the most of your glacier experience.

How to Get There

The West Coast region is accessible by road, and the nearest airports are Hokitika and Queenstown on the South Island.

When to Travel

Summer (December to February) provides the best conditions for glacier activities and exploring the region’s natural beauty.

15. Catlins, South Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Gilberto Olimpio

The Catlins, located on the southeastern coast of the South Island, is a hidden gem boasting rugged coastlines, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife. Nugget Point Lighthouse, perched on dramatic cliffs, is a highlight and offers fantastic photo opportunities. Children will be captivated by the fur seals and sea lions that inhabit the area. The Catlins Forest Park provides numerous short walks suitable for families, leading to picturesque waterfalls and native bush. Curio Bay is renowned for its ancient petrified forest, where kids can see the fossilized remains of trees that are over 180 million years old.

Insider’s Tip

Visit Curio Bay during low tide to see the petrified forest and perhaps even spot a Hector’s dolphin in the bay.

How to Get There

The Catlins can be accessed by car and is approximately a three-hour drive from Dunedin on the South Island.

When to Travel

The Catlins can be enjoyed year-round, but consider visiting in summer (December to February) for milder weather and longer daylight hours.

16. Waiheke Island, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Troy Wegman

Just a short ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is a paradise for families seeking a mix of relaxation and outdoor adventures. The island boasts stunning beaches, perfect for swimming and picnicking. The Oneroa Village offers boutique shops and cafes for leisurely strolls. For some educational fun, visit the Waiheke Island Community Cinema or the Waiheke Museum and Historical Village. Kids will love the EcoZip Adventures, which offers thrilling zipline experiences through the island’s lush forests.

Insider’s Tip

Consider renting a bicycle or e-bike to explore the island at your own pace and discover its hidden gems.

How to Get There

Catch a ferry from Auckland’s downtown to Waiheke Island, which takes approximately 40 minutes.

When to Travel

Waiheke Island is a year-round destination, but summer (December to February) offers the best beach weather.

17. Hauraki Rail Trail, North Island

Image credit: Shutterstock / Emagnetic

If your family enjoys cycling, the Hauraki Rail Trail on the North Island is a fantastic option. This 160-kilometer (99-mile) trail takes you through the beautiful Hauraki Plains, showcasing New Zealand’s rural landscapes. The trail is well-suited for biking, with gentle gradients and well-maintained paths. You can explore charming towns along the way, such as Thames and Paeroa, where you can sample the iconic L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) soda. The trail also passes through the picturesque Karangahake Gorge, providing opportunities for short hikes and gold mining history lessons.

Insider’s Tip

Plan your trail segments based on your family’s cycling ability and the distance you wish to cover.

How to Get There

The Hauraki Rail Trail can be accessed from several points, but Paeroa is a good starting location with parking facilities.

When to Travel

The trail is open year-round, but spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) offer milder weather for outdoor activities.

18. Hawke’s Bay, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Boyloso

Hawke’s Bay, located on the eastern coast of the North Island, is a region known for its sunny climate, making it perfect for family vacations. Napier, the region’s main city, is famous for its Art Deco architecture, which kids may find fascinating. Take your family to Splash Planet, a water theme park in Hastings, for hours of aquatic fun. The Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market offers an opportunity to taste fresh local produce, and nearby wineries welcome families with beautiful gardens and delicious food.

Insider’s Tip

Don’t miss the chance to visit Cape Kidnappers, where you can take a guided tractor tour to see the nesting gannets up close.

How to Get There

Hawke’s Bay is easily accessible by car, and you can also fly into Hawke’s Bay Airport.

When to Travel

Hawke’s Bay enjoys a Mediterranean-like climate, making it a year-round destination. However, summer (December to February) is ideal for beach activities.

19. Kapiti Island, North Island

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Camille NIEL

Kapiti Island is a wildlife sanctuary and a fantastic destination for families interested in nature and conservation. The island is home to various endangered bird species, including the iconic Kākā parrots and little spotted kiwi. Access to the island is restricted to protect the delicate ecosystem, and approved tour operators manage visits. Guided tours provide educational experiences for kids to learn about New Zealand’s unique wildlife and conservation efforts.

Insider’s Tip

Book your tour well in advance, as visitor numbers are limited to preserve the island’s environment.

How to Get There

Kapiti Island is located off the Kapiti Coast, just a short drive from Wellington. Tour operators arrange boat transfers to the island.

When to Travel

Tours to Kapiti Island operate year-round, but it’s advisable to check for seasonal variations in wildlife sightings.

20. Kaikoura, South Island

Image Credit: Pexels / Mark Macnamara

Kaikoura, on the eastern coast of the South Island, is a coastal paradise known for its marine wildlife and stunning landscapes. It’s an ideal destination for families who love nature and adventure. Take a whale-watching tour to see magnificent sperm whales, dolphins, and seals in their natural habitat. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers scenic views and the chance to spot seabirds. Kids will enjoy exploring the rock pools at South Bay, and you can even go horse trekking along the beach for a unique experience.

Insider’s Tip

Try the local seafood, especially crayfish (lobster), at one of the town’s renowned seafood restaurants.

How to Get There

Kaikoura is accessible by car, approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Christchurch. The Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch also provides a picturesque journey to Kaikoura.

When to Travel

The best time to visit Kaikoura is during the spring and summer months (November to March) when the weather is pleasant, and marine wildlife is abundant.

The Bottom Line

New Zealand offers an abundance of family-friendly destinations and activities that cater to travelers of all ages. Whether you’re exploring the geothermal wonders of Rotorua or cycling the scenic Hauraki Rail Trail, this guide has provided a comprehensive overview to help you plan your ultimate family adventure in this stunning country. Your kids will undoubtedly cherish the memories made during your New Zealand journey, creating lasting family bonds and unforgettable experiences. Enjoy your travels!

More From The Green Voyage

12 Best Practices for Sustainable Travel in 2024 – How to Travel With Minimal Environmental Impact

Unlocking Hotel Perks – A Traveler’s Guide to Maximizing Hotel Reward Programs for Optimal Benefits

Travel Hacks for Frequent Flyers – 6 Tips and Tricks to Make the Best of Air Travel

The post The Ultimate Guide to New Zealand with Kids 2024 first appeared on  The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / PTtravelphoto.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Related posts:

Volcano Surfing - The Ultimate Adrenaline Rush 2024
12 Ancient Temples and Ruins of Asia and the Americas 2024
10 Tips for Accessible Travel for People With Disabilities 2024 
Country Guide to India 2024 – 20 Destinations of Colors, Cultures, and Experiences
4 Indulgent Spa Retreats in Iceland’s Geothermal Pools 2024
12 Top Tips to Long-Term Travel 2024
Mastering Food Photography on Your Travels
Ras Al Khaimah: 7 Unique Travel Experiences in the UAE’s Northernmost Emirate
5 Luxury Expeditions to Antarctica 2024
One Day in...Machu Picchu, Peru
A Country Guide to France 2024 - Explore 15 Enchanting Places
The 6 Best Luxury Train Journeys Around the World
11-Step Guide to Manifesting and Embracing Gratitude on the Road 2024
Discovering the 7 Best Hidden Summer Spots and Events in London 2024
5 Secret Villas of the Greek Isles 2024
Exploring Sustainable Destinations in Europe 2024
12 Best Travel Books 2024
A Journey Through 10 Historic Prisons Around the World 2024
15 Sustainable Winter Escapes - Exploring Nature's Cold-Weather Wonders 2024
15 Sustainable Wine Tours Around the World 2024
A Country Guide to Egypt
The Spice Routes 2024 – 8 Culinary Tours in India
12 Essential Tips for Travelling With Children 2024
The 10 Best Places for Via Ferrata – Breathtaking Climbing Routes 2024
Beyond Mexico’s Beaches 2024 – Exploring 10 Hidden Gems
Exploring 10 of Ireland's Majestic Castles - A Journey Through History and Heritage 2024
12 Wellness Retreats in Europe - Destinations for Mind, Body, and Soul
12 Green Hiking Trails Around the World 2024 - Environmentally Conscious Trekking
15 of the World’s Great Deserts - Adventures in the Sahara, Gobi, and Beyond 2024
10 Tips to Recognize and Avoid Travel Burnout