The best things to do as a family in New Zealand
From whale-watching and go-karting to spending the day as a sea postie and the night in a haunted castle, there’s no shortage of family fun to be found here.
It’s time to discover the best things to do as a family in New Zealand: 88 to 95 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
For those dreaming of Rotorua, we also have 12 reasons that prove it is the best family holiday of the lot right here.
88. A truly unique family trip to Northland
The promise of a truly unique New Zealand experience should be motivation enough to journey to Northland/Te Tai Tokerau, the northernmost region of the North Island/Te Ika-a-Māui. Head to Cape Rēinga, homeland of the Ngāti Kuri tribe, to enter the spiritual home of the country, a place known as Te Rerengawairua.
89. A delivery of family fun on the water in Marlborough
In the north-east pocket of the South Island/Te Waipounamu lies the popular holiday spot of the Marlborough Sounds. Made up of steep bluffs and river-carved valleys, the Sounds are ideal for active families who love getting out on the water. Dotted with homes for hire, as well as plenty of family-friendly lodges like Punga Cove and Furneaux Lodge, the Sounds offer a range of single-day and multi-day hiking, boating, kayaking and fishing adventures.
90. Go-karting, cars & mini-golf in Cromwell
The Central Otago township of Cromwell is known for delicious wine, fresh produce – and a motorsport park to thrill even the most hardened revhead. Then there’s the Highlands Museum collection of rare cars and motorsport memorabilia or a round of mini golf.
91. Kayak with dolphins and whales in Kaikōura
Fancy getting the kids up close to giant sperm whales in their natural environment? Then make your way by car, bus or scenic train to Kaikōura, a coastal village on the east coast of the South Island/Te Waipounamu blessed with marine wildlife, sparkling blue waters and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Homeland of the Ngāi Tahu tribe, Kaikōura is a culture-rich township packed with fun things to do.
92. Stay in the haunted Larnach Castle
Larnach Castle, a foreboding-looking Victorian castle on the Otago Peninsula, is the ideal place to spook the kids. Built in the 1870s in the Gothic Revival architectural style, the castle started out as the home of Aussie expat and prominent Otago businessman and politician William Larnach. Today it’s a tourist attraction and the country’s only haunted castle.
93. Learn about science, sea lions & stars at Otago Museum
Science nerds of the family rejoice! Otago Museum on Dunedin/Ōtepoti’s Great King Street is calling your name. Home to the country’s biggest science centre, the museum is literally the hottest place in Dunedin.
94. Cruise back in time on a coal-fired steamship
Here’s a question for the family quiz champ: what does the alpine town of Queenstown have in common with the lush river city of Whanganui? Give up? Both places offer the chance to partake in a unique shipping adventure.
95. Hop aboard New Zealand’s only coal-fired paddle steamer
Meanwhile, in Whanganui, hop aboard New Zealand’s only coal-fired paddle steamer, Waimarie, and cruise the Whanganui River. You’ll learn about the river’s significance to local Māori, who have lived on the river for hundreds of years, as well as to the European missionaries and settlers who arrived in the 1800s.