New Zealand is a great destination for family-friendly holidays, and no matter where you travel or what your budget, there are always plenty of things for kids to do.
The great outdoors
New Zealand is best known for stunning untouched natural landscapes – so get out there and embrace them. You’ll find that our mountains, forests and coastlines are all surprisingly accessible. There are countless options for exploring on foot, even with little ones. Easy tracks for day walks abound, whether you’re looking for waterfalls, bush, lakes, cliffs, ocean, forest, or a combination of scenery. Interested in stepping up to some light hiking? There are trails to challenge all levels of trekkers – visit our Walking and Hiking section or this 11 great kid friendly bush walks to learn more. If you're visiting in winter be sure to teach the kids to ski or snowboard.
After sunset, the skies come alive with twinkling lights. Our nightscapes make stargazing in New Zealand a truly magnificent experience. In the South Island, the Dark Sky Reserve has been labelled as one of the best stargazing sites on earth.
Head to Big Sky Stargazing at the foot of Mount Cook or join one of Earth & Sky's tours at Tekapo's Mount John Observatory. Here, you'll enjoy professional telescopes and knowledgeable, passionate guides for an unforgettable stargazing experience.
Underground volcanic and tectonic activity have been shaping our land for thousands of years. As a result, our natural hot pools – particularly around Rotorua – are popular with locals and visitors alike; a soak in the waters of Kerosene Creek or Waiotapu Stream is uniquely relaxing. Hell’s Gate has the only geothermal mud baths in New Zealand, while Polynesia Spa is world-famous for its lakefront mineral springs. In the Coromandel, head to Hot Water Beach at low tide to dig your own natural warm spa in the sand. Thermal pool complexes are also found at the likes of Waiwera in the north and Hanmer Springs in the south.
New Zealand boasts some of the most unique birdlife in the world – a quarter of our birds are found nowhere else on the planet. As well as the famous flightless kiwi, this is the home of the colourful pukeko and takahe, the melodious tui, and the mischievous kea to name a few. We have three species of penguin, all found in the South Island. You may encounter them in their natural habitats, or in zoos or wildlife parks and sanctuaries. Discover some of New Zealand’s unique wildlife in one of the many animal parks and zoos. Meet the iconic white kiwi or see King penguins at play on an Antarctic Encounter.
This is also a fantastic country for whale and dolphin spotting - the rare Hector’s dolphin is a South Island exclusive. There are sightseeing cruises available wherever these astonishing creatures are found; you can even swim alongside them in the right conditions. See more here.
Get a feel for our history and culture at one of the country’s many museums. Auckland’s MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) is a hit with children and Wanaka’s Transport & Toy Museum appeals to all ages. Find out about New Zealand's first settlers at Otago Museum in Dunedin and have a look around Butterfly World and the Planetarium while you're there - kids and adults enjoy it equally. To find out more about the devastating Canterbury earthquake of 2011 make sure to visit Quake City at the Canterbury Museum. Every town and city has its own selection of museums, but whatever you do, make time to visit Te Papa – the Museum of New Zealand – in Wellington. Open every day of the year, its collections span art, history, nature, and Maori and Pacific exhibitions, and are renowned for being informative, innovative, and fun.
There are lots of family friendly activities that still have the thrill factor! Jetboating is suitable for youngsters; even bungy jumping is open to those 10 and over. The minimum age for zorbing – hurtling around in a giant transparent ball – is 6. For something a little more gentle, try the aerial adventure that is ziplining or the part go-kart, part toboggan fun of luging. Whether they're fascinatingly informative or thrilling and scary, New Zealand's theme and leisure parks offer conveniently concentrated fun.
These are only a few of the things you can do on a family holiday in New Zealand; the challenge will be deciding what to do first