New Zealand is home to so many fun things to do with kids, this article whizzes you around our NZ highlights,15 of the best things to look out for with kids, from all around the country. Let's start at the top and work down.
1) Explore 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga
The far north of New Zealand really is one of the most wild and rugged places on Earth and a must is to take the kids to see Cape Reinga - the furthest tip on the mainland and the iconic lighthouse. Here you can see two oceans colliding as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents. There are local companies that will take you on a tour that includes a visit to Cape Reinga, sand duning ~ you've got to join the kids and try this ~ so much fun! And of course the beach drive right down 90 Mile Beach.
2) Visit the Bay of Islands
Boat trips, beaches, sunshine, holiday parks, dolphins, snorkelling ~ summer with the kids doesn't get much better than finding yourselves a secret spot up in the Bay of Islands. Take a boat trip through the famous 'Hole in the Rock'.
According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space... and if you get dripped on, consider yourself lucky!
3) Butterfly Creek, Auckland
The kids will LOVE Butterfly Creek and it's a day of escape from city time and time to interact with animals. Butterfly Creek is home to NZ’s only giant saltwater crocodiles, Scar and Goldie, plus the Tropical Butterfly House which features over 750 free-flying exotic butterflies, as well as tropical fish, bird and lizards. Be amazed at Dinosaur Kingdom, featuring over 40 dinosaurs, some lifesize that roar and move! You will have the chance to see alligators and monkeys plus visit Buttermilk Farm, a petting zoo where children come up close to favourite farmyard animals like kunekune pigs, alpacas and cockatoos.
4) Waitomo Adventures - which will you choose?
The most amazing New Zealand caving adventures are in the Waitomo Caves area. Waitomo Adventure Centre is located just 3 hours south of Auckland, 1 hour south of Hamilton and 2 hours west of Rotorua and the unique and mind-blowing caving adventures offer something for all ages.
Have you ever thought of Black Water Rafting through an underground glow worm cave? Well, what are you waiting for?
5) Rotorua's Geothermal Valley
Resulting from the Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886, Rotorua's Geothermal Valley is an eco-tourism experience featuring spectacular volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, beautiful geothermal features, rare and unusual plant life, brilliantly coloured microbiology and a wide array of birds. Come face to face with the biggest, active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, Pōhutu Geyser and encounter jumping mud pools.
Look out for the many FREE geothermal mud pool locations in the area. One of our favourites is Waiotapu Mudpool, Waiotapu.
6) Hot Water Beach, Coromandel
Within two hours either side of low tide visitors flock to the usually deserted Hot Water Beach to find hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Families, kids and couples can be seen digging their own spa pool in the sand and relaxing in the natural springs. Often rated as one of the world's most renowned beaches - this is one experience that should be on your bucket list. A truly unique Kiwi experience that every New Zealander should experience at least once in their lifetime!
7) Kayak to the Maori Carvings on Lake Taupo
(Suitable for children 12 years and over)
Glide your kayak over Lake Taupo’s crystal clear waters as you paddle to the awe-inspiring Maori Rock Carvings.
Soak in the view across the lake to 3 live volcanos while you hear the history of the carvings, various Maori legends and facts of the local area from your guide before enjoying rock jumps and a swim in Australasia’s largest freshwater Lake.
8) Te Papa Museum, Wellington
There is so much to do at Te Papa for adults and children. There are four child-focused areas with exhibits and activities children can touch, create and have fun with. Be a detective and solve the murder, step inside a dinosaur print or learn about Maori culture. Go back millions of years on the Blastback or try a virtual tour fifty years into the future. For children aged 18 months to five years, StoryPlace offers 45 minute sessions of storytelling, songs, art and more to keep them amused. The events and exhibitions at Te Papa are changing all the time so check the website for current details. The Kids' Store at Te Papa is full of delightful gifts for children that are educational, fun, and distinctively New Zealand and two cafes offer a selection of food and drinks.
9) Kaiteriteri Kayak, Nelson
(Suitable for children 6 years and over)
Kaiteriteri Kayak in the Abel Tasman specialises in family kayak hire. It's simply a fabulous way to explore a stunning environment in peace and tranquility and it makes a fantastic and fun experience for the whole family. We are also the only kayak company to operate from Kaiteriteri Beach – the most sheltered area of the Abel Tasman and a perfect starting point for families and less-experienced kayakers. The coastline is not only sheltered but also compact. However the area retains all of the features associated with kayaking in the Abel Tasman - as well as the awesome Split Apple Rock!
10) Queen Charlotte Track, Picton
Whatever you do, we recommend you do something with the kids on the 71km long Queen Charlotte Track ~ you can walk it in a few days, with a wide choice of stunning and all-budget accommodation along the way. You can bike it and go light by getting your bags transported each day, kayak around the bays or take a boat trip. Whatever you do, the views from this showstopping New Zealand trail will blow you away. With a great climate too, there are plenty of beaches to paddle and swim in, all up making it one of the most diverse and accessible coastal tracks.
11) Christchurch Gondola
No visit to Christchurch is complete without riding the gondola up the Port Hills to take in the spectacular panoramic views. From here you will see Lyttelton Harbour, the Southern Alps and the ocean and sky stretching out in the distance. This promises to be a great day out for the family and the kids will really love riding the cable cars!
12) Swim with dolphins in the Banks Peninsula
Take a cruise around an extinct volcanic crater and experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife with Black Cat's Akaroa Harbour Cruises.
If your kids are 8 years and over you can even swim with the playful Hectors Dolphins ~ the world's smallest dolphin. Like a lot of adults, children love dolphins and swimming with them can be an unforgettable experience.
13) Family Adventures Rafting, Queenstown
This is a true family adventure, and you can do it with 2 year olds up! The drive into Skippers Canyon is one of the most incredible roads in the WORLD! You will be blown away by this ~ and then you get to the beach by the Shotover River where you will get changed and jump in your rafts. The river rafting section that this company takes you on has all the beauty and awe that you've seen in the rafting pictures, but the section is Grade 2 (baby rapids)! A MUST DO with the kids in Queenstown!
14) KJet ~ jetboat adventure Queenstown
We couldn't leave out a jet boat trip ~ as they were invented in New Zealand! Create special memories for the kids on an exciting 60 minute Jet boat trip with KJet. The 45 kilometre adventure highlights the stunning scenery of Queenstown’s waterways, in water that’s less than 5cm deep in some places.
15) Puzzling World, Wanaka
One of the most iconic things to do in the South Island, with its crazy 'Tumbling Towers' and wonky clock one of the most famous sights ~ Puzzling World has earned its reputation in any New Zealand list of must-dos.
Be amazed and amused for an hour or a day ~ whatever the case, this will challenge your reality, baffle your brain and leave you wondering!