New Zealand For Families
New Zealand offers fun for the whole family, no matter where you are. With numerous wildlife parks and zoos offering encounters with exotic animals like the kiwi, museums on Kiwi culture that kids enjoy, water sports and other adventures that have a thrill factor but are still safe for kids, both North Island and South Island make for wonderful family vacations. NZ great walks for example, can be interesting for kids of all ages, and a self drive New Zealand tour allows you to see much of the islands from a more independent perspective.
North Island With the Kids
If you are in North Island with the family, a must-do is a dolphin tour at the Bay of Islands and a cruise through the Percy Island “Hole in the Rock”. The warm waters of the Ninety Mile Beach, along with its mountainous sand dunes, are great for swimming, sand boarding and watching spectacular sunsets. Further north is Cape Reinga, the Maori sacred site from which it is believed souls depart. Here you will find a lighthouse and a very old pohutukawa tree. Auckland with its zoo, parks and beaches makes for a good urban holiday destination. Wellington offers an old cable car ride with fantastic views to the Botanic Gardens from downtown. Lord of the Rings lovers will enjoy a visit to Hobbiton in central North Island. The Agrodome near Rotorua will get kids up close with charming farm animals and there is also the thrill of “zorbing” down a hill in a giant see-through ball.
South Island with Kids
South Island holds no fewer thrills for the whole family. From whale watching in Kaikoura to encounters with dolphins, seals and seabirds, there are wildlife adventures awaiting kids on the east coast of South Island. Lake Tekapo in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region is beautiful with its clear waters, blooming lupins and its position as a Dark Sky Reserve for stargazing. The West Coast is home to accessible glaciers like the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. It is possible to heli-hike to the ice fields so that you can reserve your energy for walking across these slow moving rivers of ice. For more urban adventures, Christchurch and its Avon river cruises, the International Antarctic Center and the Botanic Gardens are ideal destinations. Horse treks, farm tours and Lake Wakatipu cruises in Queenstown and illusion rooms and a 3D maze in Wanaka are other options.
Wildlife Reserves and Zoos
There are too many natural reserves and zoos to count in New Zealand. One of the most unique wildlife adventures you can have is a tour of albatrosses and penguins in Dunedin and Southland. The Royal Albatross Center in the Otago Peninsula houses a breeding colony of the royal albatross that you won’t see on any other mainland. Here you will also find the diminutive little blue penguins. To see the Kiwi in its natural habitat, the west coast of South Island is a good place to go, but the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park are also home to the kiwi. New Zealand’s bird life is some of the most unique – a quarter of them are found nowhere else.
The singing tui, the colorful takahe and pukeko and the naughty kea are native birds that will thrill kids, as will a walk through the Waitomo Glowworm caves. Kids will also enjoy visits to the thermal pools of around Rotorua or the Hot water Beach of the Coromandel Coast. With plenty of tour packages, excellent visitor facilities, great roads and friendly hospitality, New Zealand is a wonderful place for families to get away and enjoy unique adventures.