For those that have struggled with the eternal quandary of where to go on the next family holiday, your questions have been answered! New Zealand. Overseas, but not too far, it calls to families looking for fun and adventure. This is especially true of the North Island where natural beauty and rich culture provide new experiences for all ages.
Start In Auckland
Auckland provides a perfect starting point for any holiday itinerary. It is an international transport hub and gateway to many of the North Island's best sights. It also happens to host a generous selection of its own family-friendly highlights with shopping, dining and entertainment to spare.
A stay in the downtown area will put you within walking distance to many city attractions, including the famed Sky Tower and the retail hotbed of Queen Street. Toward the harbour, visit the Maritime Museum or board a ferry to one of the islands off the coast.
A Day Trip To Hobbiton
Departing from Auckland, easy day trips are one of the best ways to experience some of the North Island's many offerings. Watch the cityscape slowly give way to rolling green hills as you venture two hours south to Hobbiton. A fine family destination, this real world realisation of Tolkien's Shire is a great way to spend the day.
Get up-close views of the set used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, as expert guides provide commentary about the location and film production. Children and adults are sure to delight in the amount of detail that has gone into constructing Middle Earth, and opportunities such as a refreshing beverage at the Green Dragon Inn ensure a special experience for all.
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Culture meets Adventure in Rotorua
Rotorua sits at the heart of New Zealand's north island, beating with Maori heritage, high octane thrills and stirring geothermal activity (which accounts for the tinge of sulphur in the air). Te Puia is a particularly engaging experience with its bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers.
Visitors are invited to delve into Maori culture through traditional performances, learning about the significance of song, dance and ritual. Ladies have the opportunity to participate in the Poi Dance, while the men can master the Haka. Cap the night off with a traditional Hangi dinner, prepared in the geothermal steam.
For families that appreciate adrenaline pumping, heart stopping fun, Rotorua is also home to Skyline Rotorua, Off Road NZ and Agroventures. This is your chance to zipline, luge, bungee, 4WD and jet boat the day away. The selection of thrill rides seems endless, but these places also offer options for younger children and those that prefer to adventure closer to the ground.
Day trip from Rotorua to the Ruakuri and Waitomo Caves. The journey is less than two hours and it provides an opportunity to appreciate New Zealand's unique subterranean landscapes. Both of these cave systems are suitable for all ages with marked trails throughout. View impressive mineral formations as you walk through Ruakuri. Waitomo, on the other hand, is famous for its glow worms, which light up the roof of the cave like a sweep of glimmering stars.
Just over an hour from Rotorua, Lake Taupo is another fantastic day trip for those that appreciate the great outdoors. It's the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and it's crystal waters are perfect for a day out on the boat. Fishing charters will have you reeling in brown and rainbow trout, or take a dip in the cooling waters. If you get the chance, stop off at the Mine Bay Rock Carvings before heading back to shore.