Sara Dajani looks at the best winter destinations for family holidays around the North Island.

1. CAPE REINGA AND NINETY MILE BEACH

Avoid the winter by heading for the Winterless North. All Kiwi kids need to experience the fun of sand boarding down the dunes of Ninety Mile Beach. While you're in the neighbourhood, head for Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand, to see fantastic views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. The legendary lighthouse makes for a picturesque landscape that kids will remember forever.

2. HOBBITON

The Beekeeper's Hobbit Hole, from the Hobbiton movie set. Photo / Michael Craig
The Beekeeper's Hobbit Hole, from the Hobbiton movie set. Photo / Michael Craig

Famous around the world as the home of The Lord of the Rings and the The Hobbit, New Zealand's scenery was one of the major stars in the Tolkien-based films. Kids will be entertained for hours exploring the set of the Hobbit village in farmland near Matamata. There are daily tours of the movie set and grown ups can finish the day with a pint at the Green Dragon Inn.

3. WAITOMO CAVES

Black Water Rafting with the glowworms at Waitomo Caves. Photo / Supplied
Black Water Rafting with the glowworms at Waitomo Caves. Photo / Supplied

Kids will be amazed by the bright glow worms deep underground in one of New Zealand's iconic tourism attractions. Take your kids for a boat ride through the caves to experience a stunning starry grotto, a sight that will capture their imagination and never be forgetten.

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4. ROTORUA

Rotorua has long been one of the North Island's most visited towns during New Zealand's winter. Spend time at the Waiotapu geothermal park to see this volcanic crater's geothermal activity. There's fishing, biking, hiking, stunning Maori culture performances and —crucially — hot springs to finish the day.

5. WELLINGTON ZOO

Compact, but stylishly compiled like the city it's based in, New Zealand's first zoo is worth a visit. You can book in for a close-up encounter with the animals or make a night of it with a zoo sleepover.