New Zealand is what I like to call a chameleon country. You can get any type of holiday you like there; beach, skiing, food, adventure, off the beaten track and family-friendly, or you can combine them all! The North Island is packed with adventures to suit every age range and keep everyone in the family happy.
Travelling New Zealand with Toddlers
Your toddler will delight in catching a lift to the top of the highest tower in Auckland. At 328m tall, Sky Tower is an Auckland landmark. Little ones will able to see the whole city, distant volcanoes and the harbour from the top of the tower. Being brave enough to step on the glass floor and look down on everyone below is a thrill no toddler should miss.
Auckland Harbour Cruise
Auckland is a water city, and sailing is a big part of its culture. A short boat trip around Waitemata Harbour will keep even the most adventurous toddler busy. With full commentary from the crew, you will be able to spot Bean Rock Lighthouse, Devonport Naval Base and enjoy a stopover to explore volcanic Rangitoto Island, now a haven for native wildlife.
The best way to explore the forest with a little one is Rotorua’s Redwoods Treewalk, a 553m-long walkway with a series of suspension bridges. Not scary, but scary enough to be exciting. Walk suspended through the forest, feel the majesty of the giant redwood trees surrounding you, and experience the feeling of treading lightly through one of nature’s wonders. The walk is best done early in the morning as the fog slowly lifts to reveal the grandeur of the ancient trees.
All kids will love the Agrodome, which is an action-packed farm tour and show. On the tour, the kids can feed the animals, including sheep, deer, llamas, pigs and alpacas, taste fresh kiwi fruit juice and pick their own kiwi fruit. This can be combined with the farm show that stars a wise-cracking sheep farmer and several cheeky farm dogs. The kids can get up on stage and feed baby lambs during the show, and with a cuddle afterwards in the animal nursery, you won’t be able to wipe the smiles off their faces.
Travelling New Zealand with Tweens
For an action-packed day, catch the Skyline Gondola up Mt Ngongotaha. Enjoy the views and then luge down the mountain and catch the chairlift back up. While up the mountain, go on the sky swing – not for the faint-hearted – and try zip-lining. Lunch is also covered with a full buffet in the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar, a great easy option with kids.
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
This Rotorua park showcases NZ’s native wildlife with plenty of up-close animal encounters to bring out the park ranger in any child. Make sure you book a behind-the-scenes Kiwi Encounter at the kiwi hatchery, and the kids will also be fascinated with the daily juvenile tuatara feeding. There is also a log flume ride that you won’t be able to get the kids off, so leave plenty of time for that and grab a coffee while you wait.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
A tour through huge caverns, filled with amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations created over thousands of years and finishing with an eerily silent boat ride through caves with ceilings covered in glowworms is a breathtaking experience not to be missed.
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Travelling New Zealand with Teens
If you have a movie fan or a Tolkein fan or both, they will be thrilled with the Hobbiton tour. Try and watch the Lord of the Rings movies before you come and you will marvel at seeing the movie set in real life. The tiny houses, the hobbit gardens, the water wheel and the pub are all exactly as they are in the movies. The tour is also fascinating, because it describes the sheer scale of attention to detail that goes into making movies. The tour finishes with a quick drink (non-alcoholic for kids) in the Green Dragon Pub – a lovely way to come together at the end of the day.
For the thrill-seeking teen, rolling down a hill in a giant plastic ball is something they’ll be jumping for the chance to experience. The balls are towed to the top of a hill, with water put into them to help with ballast, and then pushed down the hill. Stay warm in the spa, while waiting for your next turn, or chill out on the beanbags provided. It’s a really chilled, relaxed vibe and a definitely a teenager’s idea of a fun activity.