Are you planning on taking a family vacation in New Zealand? Maybe combining it with a fabulous vacation in Australia? Well, if you are thinking about it, I have a few of the best things to do for families in each New Zealand region to share with you! New Zealand is an incredible country and I know you will love every minute you spend there. Your family will love it too! So, let’s start diving in and seeing what fantastic adventures are waiting for you in New Zealand.
In Northland, you will find the northernmost point of the country. That point is known as Cape Reinga. You must take your family there while on vacation in New Zealand. There’s a lighthouse where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. I recommend walking part of the Te Paki Coastal Track to check out the views.
Surfing adventures are best over at Shipwreck Bay. However, if your family is looking for a unique adventure, you will be better off heading over to the Glowworm Caves. Glowworms, or bioluminescent insects live within these caves. Seeing these insects glowing will be a highlight during your vacation in New Zealand.
Over in KeriKeri, you must stop at Rewa’s Village and the Stone Store. This is also where Rainbow Falls is located. You can see a rainbow from underneath the falls. That means a little swim is in order, unless you want to miss the rainbow!
One of the best things to do in New Zealand for families is riding the train in Auckland. The Northern Explorer will take you from Auckland to Wellington and back again. This journey is long at twelve hours. But the scenery and experience are well worth the time. Plus, you won’t need to deal with the hassle of driving a car or taking the plane.
When you decide to stay right in Auckland, head over to Cornwall Park. Think Central Park in New York City, but with a twist. This park is located on top of a volcanic cone. You can wander around a Maori fort. Pay your respects to Sir John Logan Campbell, who donated money for this park. And check out the views at One Tree Hill.
Some of the best restaurants and bars can be found at Viaduct Harbour. It is also an excellent place to wander around on nice days, because it offers gorgeous views. Other things to do in Auckland include visiting the New Zealand Maritime Museum and seeing the views from the Sky Tower.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is the must-see attraction in Waikato. The original Hobbit holes used in the movies can still be seen at this location. If any member of your family is a Hobbit fan, make sure this is on your list of things to do in New Zealand!
A little downtime can be found at Hamilton Gardens, Bridal Veil Falls, and Wairere Falls. More action can be found at Lake Taupo. Bungee jumping is quite popular there. Surfing is best at Ngarunui Beach. And warm water is always available at Kawhia’s Hot Water Beach.
The best beaches in New Zealand can be found along the miles of shoreline in the Bay of Plenty. There are quite a few surf schools in the area too. So, this might be your best option for learning how to surf while on a family vacation in New Zealand.
During a visit to Bay of Plenty, your family will want to make the trek to the top of Mauao. The walk is steep but short. Well worth it if you want an Instagram-worthy picture from your family vacation! You can easily soak in the Mount Hot Pools at the base of Mauao at the end.
Boat tours are a must in the Bay of Plenty. I recommend taking one out to see the dolphins and other marine life. If boats aren’t your thing, you can always take a helicopter ride for views from a different vantage point.
Your days will start early in Gisborne. Watching the sunrise from Maunga Hikurangi is a must for any family vacationing in New Zealand. Once you have this bucket list item checked off, you can head over to the Rere Rockslide. This natural waterslide will take you all the way down to a swimming hole. It’s one adventure you won’t want to miss!
A calmer adventure includes walking the Tolaga Bay Wharf. It is the longest pier in the Southern Hemisphere at just under a half mile.
Exploring the Kiwi Towns, climbing the steps to the top of the East Cape Lighthouse, and cycling the Motu Trail are other things to do for families in Gisborne, New Zealand.
Hawke’s Bay is the place to go in New Zealand when you want wine. Especially red wine. There are more than seventy vineyards to visit. Make sure Mission Estate is on your list. It is the oldest winery in New Zealand.
Riding a bike is the best way to see, and experience, Hawke’s Bay. The trail up Te Mata Peak is the most popular cycling option.
Taranaki is the starting point for the Forgotten World Highway. This adventure will take you through numerous quaint towns. Your adventures will allow you to see the Moki Tunnel, Mount Damper Falls, and Lauren’s Lavender Farm.
Another option is to walk along the New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway. You may also want to tackle the Pouakai Crossing with your family.
History is everywhere at the Tawhiti Museum. And you won’t be able to resist all the flowers within the gardens at Pukeiti Forest.
There are so many fun family adventures in Manawatu-Wanganui! Young kids will enjoy an hour or two at Kowhai Park. This is the best playground in Whanganui. The black sand of Kai Iwi Beach is also a hit amongst many families like yours.
Climbing up the one hundred seventy-six steps to the top of the Durie Hill Memorial Tower brings gorgeous views of the area. And the Durie Hill Elevator will take you underground.
The best thing to do in this area of New Zealand though is the walk to the Bridge to Nowhere. It will take you approximately an hour and a half to walk to this abandoned bridge that doesn’t lead anywhere.
One of the best things to do for families in Wellington is riding the cable car. This cable car is bright red. It takes you from the Lambton Quay shopping area all the way to the lookout. During your ride, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Wellington.
You can also walk up to the Mount Victoria Lookout using the nature trails.
This city in New Zealand is known for its festivals and other events. I recommend planning your family vacation in New Zealand for a time when one of these events is taking place. Two of the most popular festivals include the World of Wearable Art Awards Show and the New Zealand Festival.
Abel Tasman National Park is one of the best places to visit when on a family vacation in New Zealand. The bays within the park are perfect for kayaking and sailing. Hiking along the Abel Tasman Great Walk is a must for those who want views from high up on the limestone cliffs.
If you really want incredible views, take a risk, and do a little skydiving with your family over this national park. If that activity is too adrenaline-filled for you, I can always arrange for a helicopter tour instead.
Other things to do in Tasman include checking out Golden Bay and Te Waikoropupu Springs. White water rafting through the Buller Canyon. Cycling the Tasman’s Great Taste Trail. And visiting the nearby Nelson Classic Car Museum.
One of the first things your family should do when arriving in Nelson is relax on Tahunanui Beach. On Saturdays and Sundays, I recommend venturing over to Montgomery Square to check out the markets before heading to the beach. The markets are the best places to grab some food for later in the day.
The Queens Gardens, the World of Wearable Art Museum, and the Broadgreen Historic House are all wonderful places to check out during a family vacation in New Zealand.
Now, if you are looking for thrilling adventures while in Nelson, cycle through Spooners Tunnel. Or go hiking in Mount Richmond Forest Park.
Everyone in your family will love heading out in the water to go swimming with the dolphins in Marlborough Sounds. If you don’t want to head out on the water, you can always stay on land. You can easily check out the dolphins from the shoreline, as you walk along the Queen Charlotte Track. This trail goes from Ship Cove to Anakiwa. You won’t be able to walk this entire trail is one day. It takes five days to walk.
The aviation history of Marlborough can be seen at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. A quick trip to the town of Havelock is a must. This old gold mining settlement is now known for its boutique galleries and restaurants.
Two of the most accessible glaciers in the world can be found on the West Coast in New Zealand. During your family vacation, you must take the time to check out the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers on the West Coast. You can simply see the glaciers from the air. However, I recommend taking a guided walk to one or actually heading out on the ice for a hike.
You should also check out the Pancake Rocks, complete with blowholes. It is best to visit during high tide because that is when the blowholes are active.
The Oparara Arches, Hokitika Gorge, and Haast World Heritage Site are other beautiful areas to visit during a family vacation in New Zealand.
Oh, and your family might be up for the challenge of cycling along the Old Ghost Road. This remote, and challenging, ride takes you from the West Coast all the way to the ghost town of Lyell in the Buller Gorge.
Driving along State Highway 72 in Canterbury is an excellent way to experience the beauty of the area. Over near Raincliff, you will see the largest collection of Maori Rock Art in the country. Preserved urban Victorian and Edwardian architecture can be seen in Timaru.
During a walk along the Waimate Walkway, you can check out The Cuddy. It is a thatched house that was constructed back in 1854.
Canterbury is also a wonderful destination for visiting vineyards and drinking wine.
If your family loves riding bikes, you must head out on the Otago Central Rail Trail. This trail follows the route of the old Otago Central Railway. The trail is approximately ninety-four miles long. So, we will need to plan carefully if you want to see it all.
While in Otago, you must make stops in Nugget Point, Arrowtown, Dunedin, and Queenstown. They will all offer extraordinary things for your family to do during this amazing vacation in New Zealand.
Water adventures are plentiful down in Southland. Lake Hauroko and the Wairaurahiri River are the two places to have those family adventures.
Over on nearby Stewart Island, you can spot dozens of kiwis. I recommend having me hire a guide to take you out on a kiwi spotting adventure. This will allow you to see the most of the island, while learning more about these native creatures.
Before leaving Southland, you must take a drive around the Southern Scenic Route. It will take a while to do if you stop everywhere you should. But it is worth the time spent for the opportunity to really embrace this area of New Zealand.
These are some of the best things to do for families in New Zealand. I know some of these will make their way to your list of things to do while on a family vacation in New Zealand. I can share other options with you as I am planning your trip.
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