New Zealand is one of the world’s favourite family-friendly tourist destinations and a trip to New Zealand with kids is bound to be a great time for the whole family!
With an abundance of scenic natural beauty, heady adventure sports, fantastic gastronomic options, and a stunning coastline lined with idyllic beaches, New Zealand is a perfect travel destination for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Travelling Around New Zealand with Kids
Driving Around New Zealand with Kids
As a result of how well connected the motorways are in New Zealand, there will be almost little to no trouble faced while you’re travelling from one end of the country to the other. A popular way to explore the country’s beautiful rolling countryside is by renting a car and driving the length of the islands.
This is especially helpful when travelling around New Zealand with kids, as most car rental companies are acutely aware of the special requirements that come with driving long distances with children and car-seats for children can be availed at most rental services upon request.
The roads are also well-serviced and you can find rest stops along any major motorway to refuel and stock up on snacks and stop for meals. The beautiful roadside scenery and the undulating hills are sure to be a great treat for the kids in the car as the miles roll on by too!
Travelling by Train Around New Zealand with Kids
However if you do not plan on driving around in New Zealand with kids, worry not, because any manner of covering the area would be a treat for the senses.
The TranzAlpine train journey that snakes through the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island is a feast for the eyes and travellers get to see up close the stunning majesty of the snow-capped mountains and lush greenery that flanks them.
The half-day journey from Christchurch to Greymouth has been widely touted as being one of the best rail journeys in the world and is sure to keep the kids glued to the glass windows as some of the most amazing scenery passes by.
Flying Around New Zealand with Kids
Air travel domestically around New Zealand is another option and the flights relatively affordable airfare costs encourages travellers that don’t want to spend a majority of their holidays travelling from destination to destination.
While drastically cutting down travel time from destination to destination, it also gives families more time to immerse themselves in the culture of whichever region they travelled to.
Best Places to Visit in New Zealand with Kids
New Zealand is broadly divided into its two main constituent islands; the North Island and the South Island. Both islands are incredibly suitable for bringing your family and kids along for the ride.
The North Island is particularly well-known for its amazing beaches and for its well-developed urban centres like Auckland and Wellington. The North Island is also noted for its wide potential in experiencing traditional Maori culture.
Areas like Rotorua are known for being home to the Tamaki Maori Village, known as New Zealand’s highest rated tourist attraction.
Tamaki Maori Village
The Tamaki Maori Village is the ideal destination to learn about native Maori culture in New Zealand with kids. The famous war-cry the Haka is one of the highlights that visitors can indulge and be blown away by and is sure to entertain and educate the children as well.
The Hangi dinner that is prepared by cooking meats and vegetables in the geothermal heat of the rocks beneath the surface is sure to be another hugely appealing factor for the hungry children after a long day on the road.
Food in New Zealand with Kids
One of the biggest concerns when travelling with children or young kids is whether the food at the destination you’re travelling to will be suitable for your children. Travellers can rest easy knowing that at almost every Kiwi destination you head to, you will find easy to eat and kid-friendly menus and accessible food that isn’t overbearing with spices in any way.
New Zealand is also one of the easiest places to visit if you or your children have any specific dietary requirements and most restaurants in the country will try and cater to any specific requests you may have.
It is not guaranteed that every place will have these options so due diligence in this regard will be required.
Fish and Chips is a ubiquitous dish in New Zealand, with the abundance of fresh fish available on demand, and this kid-favourite is sure to satiate even the most ardent of picky eaters.
For children that are used to food from Asian sensibilities, worry not, because of New Zealand’s proximity to Asia and its influence on the country has resulted in many high-quality Asian restaurants across the country.
Sushi stops that serve good quality as sushi stored properly are a great road-trip and kid-friendly meal option.
It is also widely-known that ice cream is a firm favourite amongst most children and they will surely enjoy this in abundance in New Zealand. With some of the finest dairy farms and cattle, New Zealand is also home to some of the world’s most distinctive and famous ice cream.
The Hokey Pokey, fresh vanilla ice cream over honeycomb is one of the more notable flavours. The abundance of berry farms have also given rise to some ice creameries having the freshest available fruit to make the ice cream, resulting in flavourful and fresh ice cream for the whole family.
Adventure Activities in New Zealand with Kids
While Queenstown is widely regarded as being the Mecca for adventure sports in the world, it is also a hugely accessible resort town that caters to the needs of the whole family. This includes children and children are sure to have a whale of a time in the adventure capital of the world.
Bungy jumping at AJ Hackett’s location has an age restriction, allowing only people above the age of 10 to do the bungee jump, but still leaving room for many children to enjoy the thrill of jumping off a standing platform over 60 m in the air.
Activities like white-water rafting in the nearby Kawarau River or the Shot-Over Jet Ride can also be ridden by children of most ages, with an accompanying parent or guardian. Skiing and snowboarding in the nearby Pinnacles mountain ranges are another adventure activity that’s sure to get the kids’ adrenaline pumping.
Even if you or your child are complete novices at the sport, ski and snowboarding schools at the snow resorts will be more than willing to take courses to teach people of all ages how to ski or snowboard.
Kayaking and canoeing around the north island’s tip at Whanganui is another adventure experience that your kids will never forget. The 3 or 4 hour canoe trip that takes you gradually along the northern coast of New Zealand and allows your kids to immerse themselves in the beautiful coastal region of the country.
Another famous feature of New Zealand’s unique geography that most children will absolutely adore is the proliferation of hot pools and springs found across the country.
These vary from the hot pools that are geothermally heated and are out in the open where anybody is welcome to just sit around and lounge in. There are also the varieties that include the indoor hot pools that shelter you from the elements and can swim a few laps around in complete comfort.
One of the country’s most famous beaches is Hot Water Beach where kids can rent spades and shovels and dig around the beach to create their very own hot pools. The water pools around the region of Rotorua such as the Waiotapu Stream are popular haunts amongst both the locals and travellers alike.
Animal parks, zoological reserves, safaris have long held deep-rooted affections for children and wildlife sanctuaries hold an esteemed place in the hearts of kids worldwide.
New Zealand is this respect, another perfect holiday destination for children because of the sheer number of wildlife sanctuaries that showcase the region’s endemic and unique wildlife.
The elusive and famous flightless kiwi bird that is unique to New Zealand is also a feature at many of these wildlife and kiwi sanctuaries. Sanctuaries such as the ones on Rotorua Island houses over 20 North Island Brown Kiwis.
Overnight accommodation can be arranged to maximize your family’s and kids’ chances of seeing a kiwi in its natural setting and is sure to be a delight for everyone.
An hour and a half’s drive away from Rotorua lies the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park which is notable for being a kiwi conservatory since 1971.
Most of the wildlife sanctuaries in New Zealand can be found on the North Island. Trips to sanctuaries such as the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre which, in addition to being a kiwi conservatory, is also home to some of New Zealand’s most rare birds are sure to rank as a highlight amongst kids, especially.
One of the most emblematic and most enduring symbols of New Zealand is their haka battle-cry. While most of us would have seen it in the context of their famed rugby team the All Blacks, the Maori culture that envelopes the Haka is beautifully tapestried and rich.
Travellers can dive right into the depths of Maori cultures at places like the Tamaki Maori Village which showcases how vast Maori culture is. In addition to giving travellers authentic portrayals of different types of Hakas and greetings such as the Hongi, the touching of noses, the village also promises to be a rich source of learning for children about New Zealand’s diverse history.
The world renowned trilogies of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were both famously shot in New Zealand and in locations such as Rotorua and Matamata are set locations that were used and have been preserved as they were.
These were then turned into tourist locations that have since become regularly voted as being amongst New Zealand’s highest-rated tourist attractions. Kids are sure to love seeing Hobbit holes that Bilbo Baggins’ lived in and the famous Party Tree and other iconic scenes from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
Hobbiton also features an Evening Banquet Tour that takes visitors on a guided tour of the Shire Village and ends with a beautiful banquet feast at the Green Dragon Inn, complete with a menu offering exotic foods from the land of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
All of this is sure to forge unforgettable memories in the minds of the whole family but is sure to take special pride in the hearts of children that are fans of the movies!
New Zealand is also notable as a kid-friendly tourist destination as a result of the discounts they offer at most museums, some even offering free admission for children. Museums can be found at most New Zealand destinations but a notable must-see is the Te Papa - Museum of New Zealand in Wellington.
It's simultaneously engaging and informative museum displays are a favourite amongst children, as are the ones at Auckland-based Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), which feature displays of planes!