North Canterbury, Family Activities

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  • Ages 3+

    Whale Watch - Kaikõura

    Situated against an absolutely stunning backdrop that takes in views from the alps to the ocean is a pretty special township called Kaikõura, where Whale Watch operates its tours y... read more

  • Ages 5+

    Bird Watching - Albatross Encounter | Kaikoura

    The amazing albatross is one of the most recognised sea birds in the world. With an amazing wingspan of up to 3.4 metres (the largest wingspan in the world), these majestic birds are hard to miss but are still a fairly rare sight. Thanks to the Kaikoura Albatross Encounter by boat, it is easy to visit these remarkable pelagic birds in their natural habitat.  During your (twelve passengers maximum) boat tour, you will get up close to Northern and Southern Albatross, penguins, petrels, shearwaters and many other rare and common seabirds.

    The two and a half hour tour caters for ages five and up (although, if the conditions are suitable, 3-4 year olds may be admitted at the captain’s discretion) and is family friendly.

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  • Ages 6+

    Seal Swim Kaikoura

    Seal Swim Kaikoura Invite you to join them for a truly unique experience – swimming and snorkelling with New Zealand fur seals in their beautiful natural environment.  As you dive into the shallow waters of the peninsula, you will be amazed at how inquisitive the fur seals are and how quickly they feel comfortable around you. You will get to witness these frolicking, playful, friendly and curious creatures as they swim around you, under you and beside you. This is truly the best way to come face-to-face with a fur seal and you will remember your experience for the rest of your life!

    Seal Swim Kaikoura are extremely dedicated to protecting the seals, so they work hard to not disturb their natural behavioural patterns. They are also licensed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, so you can be sure your experience will have minimal negative impact on the precious seals and their magnificent surrounding environment.

    Minimum age 6 years.

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  • Ages 3+

    Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura

    Found off the coasts of Kaikoura all year round, the Dusky dolphin typically exists in large pods consisting of hundreds of members. Dusky dolphins have a playful, sociable characteristic, which makes them absolutely perfect for swimming with. Now you can watch or swim with the Dusky dolphins, under the guidance of the friendly team at Dolphin Encounter (Encounter Kaikoura). Imagine jumping into the dolphin's natural habitat and sharing a special moment with these gorgeous mammals. Certainly, an experience that will put a smile on your face for years to come.

    If you choose not to swim with the dolphins, you will still have the chance to experience the entertaining actions of the frolicking, acrobatic dolphins as they interact with the other swimmers – a delight to behold.

    Minimum age for watching is 3 years.
    Minimum age to swim with dolphins is 8 years.

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  • Ages 3+

    Kayaking - Kaikoura Kayaks

    Sea Kayaking, the ideal fun activity for families visiting Kaikoura!

    Our highly stable sea kayaks allow children to safely enjoy the kayaking experience with an adult paddling right behind them.

    Enjoy paddling around Kaikoura's aquatic wonderland at a leisurely pace taking in the views and enjoying the thrill of getting right up close to New Zealands marine life.

    Our professionally qualified guides will be right beside you in your watertight kayaks as your family take snaps of playful New Zealand Fur Seals with an awesome backdrop of mountain views, craggy rocks and sheer cliff faces.

    We recommend the morning tour as the sea is generally calmer and with the best interactions with marine life.

    Paddling time is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

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  • Ages 3+

    Hanmer Springs Attractions

    The gateway to the natural beauty of Hanmer Springs is the historical Waiau Ferry Bridge, home of Hanmer Springs Attractions. Our shop, cafe and activity base overlook the river, c... read more

  • Ages 2+

    Alpine Jet Thrills

    A thrilling NZ adventure the whole family can share! Experience the shallow, twisting streams, turquoise water and swaying broom of the mighty Waimakariri. Jet boating is a truly u... read more

  • Thermal Pools and Spa - Hanmer Springs

    Nestled in a beautiful alpine setting you will find Hanmer Springs, an idyllic village just 90 minutes north of Christchurch.   Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa includes relaxing rock pools, soothing sulphur pools - at varying temperatures, private pools, saunas and steam rooms.
    The network of rock pools are linked via gentle rapids and shallow waterways with the temperature varying between 33 to 37 degrees.  The  natural water comes straight from a nearby thermal bore and is rich in minerals such as sodium, chloride, boron, calcium and carbonate.

    There is also a kids' area for the little ones with two hydroslides, a dumping bucket, water fountain, cave, waterfall and lizard slide, you'll hear squeals of delight and see giggling children of all ages.  Under 3 year olds are FREE.

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  • Hanmer Llamas

    From a day leisurely village walk to overnight or multi day wilderness treks. All fitness levels, fully guided and catered. Our guided day tours take a gentle stroll around the hidden beauty spots of the Hanmer village surrounds. The tour runs approximately 9.30am-3pm and guests join their llamas and our guide for a relaxed sit down lunch at a local restaurant.(Lunch is included in the tour cost).
    Llamas are the perfect low impact, high altitude animal. Our boys will happily carry the load leaving you hands free to walk at a comfortable pace and enjoy the scenery. For our multi day tours there’s the added bonus of the level of comfort that pack animals can bring with our ample and delicious, freshly prepared food and comfortable sleeps, not to mention that extra photographic equipment or warm jacket.


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  • Kowhai Farm - horseriding and lessons

    All things horse!  Treks, lessons, care - complete beginners to advanced level riders are always welcome.  Your full day ride includes helping to catch, groom, saddle and bridle your horse
    followed by a flat work group lesson with a helpfull instructor working on basic position and control of the horse.
    Lessons available for different levels, or jumping for experienced riders.

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  • Bains Classic Motor House - Amberley

    Bains Classic Motor House specialises in classic and sports cars from all eras. Motorbikes, both modern and classic also grace the showroom floor, along with a select range of models, books, art and memorabilia. The Castle Park complex where Bains is located also has a Café and children’s play area, and is perfect for a coffee or light lunch after visiting.

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    • Phone: 03 312 9396
    • Location: 16 Ashworths Beach Road, Amberley
  • Weka Pass Railway - Waipara

    Weka Pass Railway is a historic rural railway that uses both vintage steam and diesel-electric locomotives on 12.8 km of scenic line through the unique limestone beauty of Weka Pass out of Waipara. The public trains run every 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, every Sunday in January and most public holidays. Pre-schoolers travel for free and family passes are available.

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  • Ages 5+

    Weka Pass Horse Treks

    Weka Pass Horse Treks provides quality tutors and guides for you and your family to trek through the beautiful areas of Hurunui, Canterbury and North Canterbury. Horse Trekking is a great way to have fun with the family! Run by caring and highly skilled Riding School tutors their local knowledge will ensure you have the most amazing experience possible.

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    • Phone: 0278 735 797
    • Location: 54 Weka Pass Road, Waikari Amberley54 Weka Pass Road, Waikari, Amberley
  • Maori Tours - Kaikoura

    Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Maori with a mix of fun and learning. We offer an authentic experience full of the spirit of age old knowledge yet entirely of today. It is a boutique tour by mini coach where you will discover our history and understand how that shapes our fundamental relationship with the environment today.

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    • Phone: 03 319 5567
    • Location: 10 Churchill Street, Kaikoura (pick up available from your place of accommodation)
  • Alpine Village Cruisers - Hanmer Springs

    Alpine Village Cruisers are the fun transport around Hanmer Springs! Built for 2 to 6 people you just sit back and pedal gently around the flat streets of Hanmer Springs Village. Enough storage to take a picnic and head to Hanmer Forest, or use as infant seats with seat belts.

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    • Phone: 03 315 5177
    • Location: Opp Heritage Hotel, Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs
  • A-Maze-N-Golf - Hanmer Springs

    Come and solve the mystery of the Lost Temple and be in for lots of surprises along the way or play our Gold Rush themed 18 hole mini golf course. Located on the Main Rd into Hanmer Springs. Just a 2 minute drive or 5 minute walk from the village centre.

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    • Phone: 03 315 7272
    • Location: 1 Fraser Close, Hanmer Springs
  • Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre - Mountain Bike Hire

    Quiet roads with stunning Alpine backdrops provide easy access to the mountain bike tracks, forest and hills around Hanmer Springs Village. The forest rides are particularly suited to families - you can ride from 20 minutes to 2 hours around the weaving mountain bike tracks, and it's mostly flat.

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    • Phone: 03 315 7233
    • Location: 20 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs
  • Oxford Farmers Market

    The Oxford Farmers' Market is a friendly country Farmers' Market where the seller is the producer.  There is a wide range of meats, fruit, vegetables, flowers, fresh fish, baking, preserves, sauces, brunch and coffee from more than 25 stalls for locals and visitors alike.  Open year round, every Sunday 9am-noon.

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    • Location: Main Street, Oxford, North Canterbury
  • Waipara Valley Farmers Market

    The Waipara Valley Farmers market are a passionate group of growers and producers from the local Waipara Region, sharing great produce to locals and visitors alike.  All our Stallholders come from the region and offer you a delightful selection of fresh and hand made produce.  Operating every Saturday (year round) from 9am-12noon.

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    • Location: 66 Carters Road, Amberley
  • Alpine Crazy Putt - Hanmer Springs

    Alpine Crazy Putt is Hanmer Springs central mini golf course. Located just past the Heritage Hotel, this course has been recently rebuilt with lots of new and exciting holes!  Stage 2 will include water features and landscaping. Watch this space!

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    • Phone: 03 3155177
    • Location: 1 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs, North Canterbury
Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • North Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2

Auckland

New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!

Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.

Christchurch

With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.

Queenstown

With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.

Rotorua

Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!

Northland

Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.