Just a hop, skip and jump from Australian shores and you will reach the land of the long white cloud. One of our closest neighbours, New Zealand is a magnificent country boasting incredible natural beauty. From Auckland’s remarkable harbour to the snow capped mountains of Queenstown, both the North and South Islands offer a bounty of family friendly activities. Here is our family guide on the highlights of New Zealand’s popular destinations.
Situated on the North Island of New Zealand, Auckland is the country’s largest city. Make your first stop a visit to the Sky Tower, New Zealand’s tallest building. At 328 metres high, the observation deck offers panoramic views of the picturesque harbour and beyond. The brave can venture on the dramatic SkyJump or enjoy a romantic meal at Orbit, the tower’s unique revolving restaurant. Take a tour through the Auckland War Memorial Museum or the popular Museum of Transport and Technology which offers hands on experience with old steam trains, trams and planes. Visit the city’s fabulous theme park Rainbow’s End or take a ferry over to the beautiful Waiheke Island.
For bubbling mud pools and rejuvenating hot springs, head to Rotorua. Also on the North Island, this little gem is famed for its geothermal activities. Spend time enjoying the soothing hot springs or indulge in luxurious spa treatments. Visit Rotorua’s Mitai Maori Village and learn of authentic Maori culture through a unique performance of song and dance, before tucking into a hearty hangi feast of succulent New Zealand fare. Kids will love Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park where they can get up close with cute kiwi chicks. For a bit of fun enjoy the latest craze known as zorbing, where you can roll down grassy hills inside a large inflatable globe.
New Zealand’s creative capital, Wellington boasts a prominent performing arts culture and a thriving restaurant scene. Take a ride on the historic red Wellington Cable Car to visit the city’s botanic gardens. Situated along the waterfront, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa is where you can view the heaviest colossal squid ever caught. In Miramar, you can take a tour of the WETA Cave, famous for creating characters seen in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Animal lovers can venture to the Wellington Zoo or Zealandia, a sanctuary housing some of the rarest wildlife in New Zealand. For the best of Wellington’s quirky cafes and lively restaurants, head to Cuba Street.
Jump over to New Zealand’s South Island and you’ll find the beautiful resort town, Queenstown. Commonly nicknamed the adventure capital of Queenstown, this is the place for outdoor sports. Whether sky diving, bungy jumping, canyon swinging or white water rafting takes your fancy, Queenstown has it all. In winter, this town becomes a magical place as the surrounding mountains are transformed into world class snow fields. Enjoy a ride on the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak to admire the spectacular scenery. From here you can venture on the Skyline Luge and ride a go-kart-like contraception down specially designed tracks.
The South Island’s Canterbury region is home to one of New Zealand’s largest cities, Christchurch. Famed for its remarkable beauty, this pretty city features flourishing gardens and peaceful rivers. Despite the damaging earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, Christchurch locals have worked hard to reconstruct the city and welcome visitors with open arms. The kids will relish time at the award winning park International Antarctic Centre, where you can see little blue penguins and enjoy a 4D Extreme Show. The Orana Wildlife Park is also a must, as New Zealand’s only open range zoo. For a heart pounding experience, enjoy the thrills of a wild jet boat ride along the Waimakariri River.