Wynyard Quarter in Auckland
Picnic in Rotorua
Dolphin Watching in Kaikoura
Anyone travelling as a family will know the importance of ensuring that the journey has something for everyone. Whether it’s coastal escapes, city breaks or everything in between, New Zealand offers travellers an itinerary with many more experiences than your mainstream family holiday.
From the North Island to the South, holiday goers are genuinely spoilt for choice. With activities ranging from adrenaline pumping Zorbing to family strolls around famous movie sets, you can jam your trip full of fun (trust us, you’ll never hear the dreaded “I’m bored!” from your children when in New Zealand!)
Flying into Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is the best way to start getting acquainted with the country. Known as the City of Sails due to its harbourside lifestyle, it’s no surprise some of the best activities are on or by the water, even in the cooler months. The Viaduct Harbour is where all the action is – thanks to the country’s America’s Cup successes, which ensured a lifelong love of sailing and boating. Take a stroll around the harbour and view some of the amazing boats, yachts and cruise ships dotted along the boardwalk.
If you’re keen on getting wet, have a splash on the water by sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing. Don’t forget to pop into the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum to explore the country’s seagoing history, before taking the family around Silo Park (catch a movie at the open-air cinema if you can!) and the ever-expanding Wynyard Quarter. This vibrant part of the harbour has a huge array of restaurants, cafes and bars to fill hungry little pukus (the Maori word for belly).
Next, start your journey south, stopping off at Matamata to put yourself in an appropriately Middle Earth frame of mind! The Hobbiton Movie Set is an absolute must for the whole family, and is the actual movie set for The Hobbit Trilogy. It’s a truly awe-inspiring experience to go inside a real Hobbit Hole, not to mention The Green Dragon Inn, the mill and the double arched bridge all specially-built for the films.
When you head further south towards Wellington, New Zealand’s “coolest little capital”, you can top up this experience by visiting the Weta Cave Workshop in the suburb of Miramar. In fact, Wellington is affectionately known as Wellywood and is home to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson, whose creative entities 3 Foot 7, Wingnut Films, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital are housed there. Take a tour behind the scenes to see the imagination that goes into creative film process. It’s absolute movie magic.
While in Wellington, you’d be missing out if you didn’t visit the incredible Te Papa Tongarewa (known as Te Papa), the national museum of New Zealand is a family-friendly destination filled with interactive history and creative works from New Zealanders past and present.
If adventure sports is more your family’s idea of the good time, then Rotorua cannot be missed. As well as being a cultural centre for New Zealand’s Maori people, it is known for its geothermal activity, roaring geysers and bubbling hot mud pools. But what really sets it apart for the thrill seekers is Zorbing – a giant plastic ball that spins downhill at up to 50kph. Oh, did we mention you’ll be inside it?
Zorbing was invented as an attempt to walk on water, but has since gained huge traction for Kiwis and visitors alike as the ultimate adventure sport. Not many people can say they’ve rolled down a hill inside a huge inflatable bubble! Head to the Agrodome to give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
The further south you head, the more wild it gets – wildlife, that is! New Zealand is known for its truly magnificent natural features and beauty, which extends to the whales, seals and dolphins found all around the country’s extensive coast. The best time for whale spottingis in winter, when they are often seen close to the shore. Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is one of the only places in the world you can easily see sperm whales, which can grow to over 15 metres in length. Between June and July you might also see humpback whales, and if you’re lucky you could spot the endangered southern right whale.
Dolphins and seals are also regularly spotted around New Zealand. The award-winning Kaikoura Dolphin Encounter runs special tours to swim with or watch Dusky dolphins in their natural habitat, while in the calm waters of the Malborough Sounds, Dolphin Watch Nature Tours will take you to see several species, including the bottlenose, Dusky and Hector’s dolphins.
With all this and more, families are bound to make lasting memories in one of the most epic countries in the world. More information can be found at http://www.newzealand.com/my/