New Zealand provides travellers with a variety of choices in the Top 10 Family Destinations New Zealand. Start by choosing the areas in New Zealand most suited to families. Just remember, most holidaymakers to New Zealand have a time frame of 10-14 days. So where are these Top 10 Family Destinations in New Zealand? Here’s a selection of key family destinations and sample itineraries to help you along the way.

Top 10 Family Destinations New Zealand

1. Bay of Islands – family beach and fun

The Bay of Islands is an ideal base from for a fun time with your family. But you’re probably wasting your time if you stay less than two nights. So have a 3-4 night stay at least.  That way, you’ll get so much more time to go sailing, riding the sand dunes or swim with dolphin. A day tour to Cape Reinga and the Waipoua forest is a great treat for both children and their parents.

2. Coromandels for Kauri trees and hot water beaches

If you happen to be a little time short, then the Coromandel would be a great alternative to the Bay of Islands. It’ll take you less time to get there and you’ll love the stunning hot water beaches. There is a wonderful opportunity here to enjoy kayaking and snorkeling. And lets not forget the historic gold mining walks and Kauri forest hikes – fantastic activities for the more active family party.

3. Rotorua for Hobbiton, Culture and Agrodome shows

A great way to reduce travelling time, is to base yourself in the centre of the North Island.  Rotorua is the perfect place for that. Many major attractions, such as Canopy Tour, Hobbiton, Waiotapu and Lake Taupo are quite close by. The local Maori concert evenings are incredibly popular with families. These guys make learning about Maori culture and traditions, so entertaining.

4. Abel Tasman/ Nelson for kayaking, nature tours and walks

At the top of the South Island, lies the Abel Tasman region. This is possibly the sunniest place in New Zealand! The great outdoor lifestyle here makes it perfect for family travellers. Yet again, you’ll get beautiful beaches, kayaking and hiking. There are some fabulous cycle trails in the Tasman and no one needs to miss out. If you’re not that fit, beautiful e-bikes are available.  A great draw-card of course is the delicious seafood and wine. This region really does have it all – its a great lifestyle kinda place, where art flourishes.

5. Hanmer Springs for hot springs and cycle trails

If you arrive in Christchurch for a night or two, but want to get out of the city, Hanmer Springs is a good choice. It’s only 1.5 hrs drive north of Christchurch airport and it is a lovely alpine retreat. You may have heard already about its hot springs and fun pools.  Both locals and travellers come here for spa & health treatments. Actually, after a long flight, can you think of anything more relaxing!

6. Wanaka/Central Otago for lake tour, flights and the maze

I guess everyone has pretty much heard about New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. But just an hour’s drive from Queenstown, is Wanaka.  Now Wanaka is a little more ‘kiwi’, more local and smaller than busy Queenstown. We love the great access to Lake Wanaka and the Mt. Aspiring National Park. There are 500 kms of cycle trails along the lake and the Buller River. For more action, the Wanaka River Journeys are a must-do. There are plenty of local walk, 4WD tours and stylish wineries. Plus there’s a very good choice of restaurants and cafes. Families would be right at home here!

7. Fiordland for wilderness, fjords and walks

Fiordland is a mystical, under-explored and evocative area. If you love the wilderness and remote places, take a water plane and fly into one of the fourteen fjords. Your family will never forget this truly unique place and will probably want to include  Milford of Doubtful Sound in their travels. There are plenty of walks to suit most fitness levels – from 15 minutes to hours. One of the classics, is on the Kepler Track, starting from Rainbow Ridge bridge to Lake Manapouri.

8. Stewart Island – go back in time

New Zealand’s third main island is Stewart Island and tends to be missed by travellers. In fact, only 5% of travellers visit the place. Basically it’s a 1746 sqkm national park, wilderness and remoteness.But this small underpopulated island holds great appeal for families wanting a true nature experience. The bird life is the best you’ll find in New Zealand and there are some pretty cool trips. Fly into Masons Beach in a small plane and start hiking through the ‘Chocolate Swamp’… most kids would find that pretty appealing, right? So if you want to show your kids one of the last remote places on planet Earth, Stewart Island would be a great choice.

9. Mt. Cook/Lake Tekapo for glaciers, sky watch and hikes

After all the beaches and rainforests, you’ll find Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo a totally different terrain. This area has some of the best glacier tours – either as a lake or heli hiking option. Its hard to beat walking into the Hooker and Tasman Valleys on a nice day. This region is also famous for its night sky and sky gazing. The light pollution is very low, so you’ll be gazing at a diamond-studded heaven. As you can imagine, the Mt. John Observatory does a roaring trade with family travellers keen to see Jupiter and Saturn through the telescopes.

10. Banks Peninsula for dolphin swim and hidden bays

If you depart in the evening from Christchurch, you’ll have plenty of time for a relaxing day trip to Banks Peninsula. Just relax in one of the bays or do a dolphin swim or boat ride. Akaroa is a little village with a French influence from bygone days. There’s no better way for a family to complete their New Zealand itinerary!

Summary on your Top 10 Family Destinations New Zealand:

Here’s some key points to remember: a) stay longer at one location, b) spend 1/3 of your time in the North Island and 2/3 in the South and c) use 1-2 domestic flights to reduce the travel times (especially when you’re short on holiday time). There’s a reason why parents enjoy planning a holiday to New Zealand – there are so many choices for their children.

view sample travel itineraries

Some more interesting link for family travellers:

Happy family travelling in New Zealand!

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