Written by 9:06 am Family Fun

Top 10 Fun Adventures for Family and Kids to Experience in New Zealand

Kia ora! In case you didn’t know, New Zealand is now welcoming visitors, including Singaporeans. So if you’ve been dreaming about visiting The Land of the Long White Cloud for skiing or to visit Lord of the Rings shire Hobbiton, this is the time to do it. Bring the kids too, of course. New Zealand is extremely family-friendly, and there are tons of attractions that little ones will enjoy. 

Read on for some insider recommendations for families to do in New Zealand. Oh did we mention that our insider is none other than Clarke Gayford, TV host and partner of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern? The couple, parents to three-year-old Neve Te Aroha, were in Singapore last month for a meeting between the Prime Ministers.   

(See also: 7 Awesome Staycations for Families to Play and Learn in 2022)

GETTING AROUND

Singapore is on the list of visa waiver countries hence we do not need to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand. The only thing we need is the NZeTa, which can be easily done online. 

New Zealand is a huge country, so unless you have loads of annual leave, you’ll probably break up your travel into different trips. For instance, some families focus on the North Island (Auckland and Wellington) first, then the South (Christchurch and Queenstown). 

If everyone’s up for some adventure though, why not consider a campervan trip from tip to end? That way, you’ll get to visit ALL of the destinations below for 100% New Zealand fun – guaranteed.

NORTH ISLAND

AUCKLAND

Image: Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo

Take a walk on this award-winning Zoo’s newly completed boardwalk that snakes across the Zoo’s lake, bringing you close to its high canopy orangutan and siamang shelter (where these primates may be swinging above you!), lush new plantings, and wetlands. You can also see the tuatara, the sole surviving species of an order of reptiles from the dinosaur age, as well as Gálapagos tortoises, and endangered Tasmanian Devils.

Good to know Single and double strollers can be rented, and there are baby changing facilities throughout the Zoo. Parents’ rooms with breastfeeding facilities are also available. 

Find out more https://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/about-the-zoo

Image: Rainbow’s End

Rainbow’s End 

New Zealand’s premier theme park has been delighting family and friends with the biggest thrills in town since 1982. Scream your way all day on over 20 rides and attractions, from daredevil rides like the Corkscrew Coaster, to fun ones like Dodgem cars, and even an XD ride with seven dimensions of special effects including laser blasters! 

Good to know Kids under 8 can play rain or shine at Kidz Kingdom, where all 11 rides and attractions are under shelter.

Find out more https://rainbowsend.co.nz/

KING COUNTRY

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves 

One of three stunning caves in the Waitomo cave network, this offers a magical exploration into a different world. Try to see the top of the cave’s tallest chamber, the Cathedral, then embark on a boat ride through the glow worm grotto where you can watch the magical creatures light up the cave. Kids will learn about glow worms (spoiler alert; they’re not actually worms), as well as Maori history, myths and legends.

Good to know Ruakuri Cave is the only wheelchair accessible cave in the southern hemisphere, while Aranui Cave has spectacular pale brown, pink and white stalactites and stalagmites.

Find out more https://www.waitomo.com/glowworms-and-caves

WAIKATO/TAUPŌ

Image: Orākei Kōrako Cave and Thermal Park Facebook

The Hidden Valley of Orākei Kōrako Cave and Thermal Park

See active natural geysers at New Zealand’s largest geyser field and the 150-metre silica terrace known as the Artist’s Palette. Explore on your time using the walking trails, look into the crystal clear waters of the Pool of Mirrors at NZ’s only natural geothermal cave – the Ruatapu Cave (Sacred Hole) – and more. An off-the-beaten-track attraction can only be reached by a 25-minute ferry trip over Lake Ohakuri, this spine-chilling insight into earth’s power will leave you breathless, and the kids fascinated. 

Good to know Complimentary baby carriers are provided. Allow at least one hour for this self-guided tour. The boats do not run to a timetable, but on demand. 

Find out more https://www.orakeikorako.co.nz/

GISBORNE

Feed Stingrays with Dive Tatapouri

Image: Dive Tatapouri Facebook

Gear up in waterproof waders and go on a reef ecology trip with Dive Tatapouri, located just 10 minutes north of Gisborne. On this interactive tour you’ll learn about the region’s environment, and get to see a variety of marine species – such as wild stingrays, eagle rays, yellowtail kingfish, and octopus among others – that can be found in the shallows of the reef. 

Good to know The 1.5-hour tours are suitable for all ages. You may even get to stroke a friendly Short Tail stingray! 

Find out more https://mustdonewzealand.co.nz/tours/stingray-tours-tatapouri-bay-gisborne-attraction/ 

ROTORUA

Polynesian Spa, Rotorua

Image: Polynesian Spa Facebook

Relax and unwind on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua at Polynesian Spa – a world-leading, natural mineral bathing and luxury spa retreat. The 28 mineral pools are fed from two natural springs (one alkaline and one acidic) and their waters are said to nourish the skin and relieve muscles, aches and pains. For ultimate pampering, opt for body wraps, massage and facials at the Spa, which combines ancient healing practices with modern techniques, and is recognised as one of the top 10 spas in the world. 

Good to know Kids will love the large freshwater chlorinated swimming pool which has a dedicated toddlers section, as well as a deeper section with a small hydro slide. There are also two family-friendly alkaline mineral hot pools (at 37℃ and 40℃). 

Find out more https://www.polynesianspa.co.nz/

WELLINGTON

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 

Image: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa website

Rated by the Lonely Planet travel guide as one of the top 500 places on earth, New Zealand’s interactive national museum features six storeys of cutting-edge exhibitions housed in an architectural wonder. There’s lots for kids to discover as they follow in the footsteps of Māui the explorer, investigate geological forces, immerse in birdsong, and more. Little ones need a nap? Take a break in the spacious, family-friendly Te Papa Hui (Backyard) lounge area.

Good to know Admission is free for all (charges apply to some short-term exhibitions and activities).

Find out more https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/

SOUTH ISLAND

CHRISTCHURCH

Kaikōura

Kaikōura is the northern-most district within the Canterbury region and is easily accessible with a 2.5hr drive from Christchurch. There’s so much to do here, you’ll want to stay forever! We recommend renting a set of wheels to go on a self-drive Family Weekend on the Alpine Pacific touring route. Highlights include whale watching, hand-free kayaking with seals, the family-friendly Kowhai Bike Trail, sheep shearing shows, and even trekking with a llama!

Good to know For a unique experience if you have older children (as it’s a maximum of two per accommodation), stay in a beautifully restored train carriage and its neighbouring cottage which was renovated using recycled materials, right on the beach at Hapuku!

Find out more https://www.kaikoura.co.nz/

QUEENSTOWN

Skyline Luge Queenstown 

Image: Skyline Luge Queenstown

Located an easy five-minute walk from central Queenstown and exclusively accessed by scenic Gondola, this is a ‘must-do’ attraction during your visit to Queenstown. Enjoy the spectacular 220-degree panorama views before getting your adrenaline fix on the Luge. Then catch the chairlift back to the start zone and do it all over again – once is never enough! The Blue Track is a leisurely ride with a gentle gradient, easy bends, tunnels and dips. The steeper Green Track offers a more adventurous ride with banked corners, tunnels, dippers, and cuttings. 

Good to know Preschoolers (2-5 years, NZD5) can ride tandem with an adult. Other heght restrictions apply. 

Find out more https://www.skyline.co.nz/en/queenstown/

HAMPDEN

Moeraki Boulders 

Moeraki is famous for these mysteriously spherical stones scattered across a beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high. Scientists say the boulders are calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. According to Maori legend though, they are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall hundreds of years ago. Which do you think it is? 

Good to know The boulders are located on Koekohe Beach, between the towns of Moeraki and Hampden, an easy (and very scenic) drive on State Highway 1 from the north or south. From here you can go on to Oamaru where kids can play at a steampunk-inspired playground and see the world’s smallest penguins at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. 

Find out more https://www.newzealand.com/in/feature/moeraki-boulders/ 

Hello New Zealand!

If you’ve spent the last two years snug in our city-state yearning for wide open spaces, vast blue skies, and nothing but nature, New Zealand is where you can find all that and more. When to go? December to February have warmer weather and sunshine, and while June to August is perfect for sweater weather, snow, and skiing. Happy travels!

Featured image: Skyline Luge Queenstown

(See also: A Day In a Life of a Mum in Lockdown (in Canada, the USA, and New Zealand))

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