When contemplating how to spend a two-week family holiday in New Zealand, the country seemingly turns into one giant fantastical playground. From the sub-tropical treasures of the north to spending time observing nature's most endearing critters in the south, and always something delicious to fuel your journey along the way, there are a multitude of unforgettable moments ready for the making. From this two-week timetable brimming with family fun, you can cherry pick a few days escape or take it on as one epic journey – whatever budget or time you have, there is always exploring to be done and experiences to cherish. Read on for inspiration…
Fly to the winterless north, basing yourself at the resort-style Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands. Up this way, take your pick from a slice of history at the Waitangi Treaty Ground and Museum, or get water-bound with a Bay of Island Parasail tour. The next day jump in the car to head for the picturesque Hokianga - let your hair down with a whiz down the sand dunes, then fill your boots at the iconic overwater Boatshed Café in charming Rawene. On your way out of town, let the Maori guides at Footprints Waipoua introduce you to some of the ancient giants of the Waipoua forest. Need a pitstop on the way down to Auckland? Pick up some top-rate manuka nectar at The Honey Centre in Warkworth.
After resting your head in the big smoke, head south for two hours the next day and stop to smell the roses (literally) in the Hamilton Gardens. Lord of the Ring fans will want to take a detour to Matamata to connect with their inner hobbit. Then, the whole family will be rewarded when you get to Rotorua a couple of hours later; dip those weary bones at the famed Polynesian Spa before a good night's sleep at Holdens Bay Holiday Park. Wake up and get stuck into Rotorua's family friendly fun: the Skyline Gondola and Luge, and the geothermal and Maori culture wonderland at Te Puia. Time to jump in the car again and follow the road to New Plymouth, where you can find good grub and respite at the boutique Nice Hotel & Bistro.
Art lovers will want to wake up and take time to absorb the wonders of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. Or for something more active, there are some terrific walks in Taranaki; choose from the easy breezy New Plymouth Coastal Walkway or if you're feeling intrepid, head to the Mangorei Track at the Pouakai Crossing for a two-and-a-half hour self-guided trek. Two and a half hours drive away the next day and you're in peaceful Whanganui. A gentle meander down the Whanganui River on New Zealand's only coal-fired paddle steamer is a great introduction to these parts.
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An hour's drive away in Palmerston North lies a sports-mad family's dream with the New Zealand Rugby Museum to peruse, and a spot of go-kart racing to bring out your competitive side at the Daytona Indoor Raceway. Head to Rangitikei Farmstay in Marton for the night if you want to experience a slice of farming life; there's horse treks, farm tours and loads of furry friends to pat. Next, it's time to get cruising on the Interislander, a two-hour drive away in Wellington.
Travel over to the mainland and from Picton and grab a water taxi to Lochmara Lodge. This family paradise in magical Marlborough incorporates great accommodation, a waterfront café, and a permanently moored Underwater Observatory. If you can tear yourself away, take a peaceful drive to Blenheim where more treats await. Makana Confections is a must-stop for chocolate lovers and if you're up for something sophisticated, a lunch at Wairau River Wines certainly fits the bill.
What better way to start the day than spying some gentle giants of the ocean on a Whale Watch Kaikoura tour. Kayaking and fishing charters will also keep water lovers satisfied. Didn't catch anything? Not to worry, The Kaikoura Seafood BBQ and Karaka Lobster are a one-stop shop for delicious kai moana. Wake up the next day and drive two hours to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa for some serious watery fun and relaxation. Carry on to Banks Peninsula for a truly unique accommodation experience at Silo Stay, where you'll be housed in converted silos.
Rested and refreshed, you're not far from Christchurch where you can take a gondola ride for stunning views. Fill up on Christchurch activities (Christchurch Tramways, Adventure Park, Willowbank Wild Reserves) and then head back to your silo to rest up for day 13, where you should have time to slip in a Garden City bike tour with Chill in the morning, before heading three hours south for Oamaru. Come 5pm, head five minutes from the centre of town to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and get acquainted with these outrageously cute creatures. Dinner at the renowned Riverstone Kitchen would round out a great day.
Travel 45 minutes the next day to visit the famed Moeraki Boulders before heading further south to Dunedin, where you can walk the township, before a fish and chip lunch at the iconic Best Cafe. Since your two-week experience of a lifetime is drawing to a close, why not end things in style with a stay at the recently renovated Wains Hotel in Dunedin.
Please keep yourself and the rest of the country safe by adhering to all Covid-19 travel rules. Check current alert level restrictions before travel at covid19.govt.nz
House of Travel Deals:
5 nights in Northland including Hole in the Rock Cruise & Footprints Waipoua Twilight encounter from $598 per person family share.
4 nights Christchurch, Hanmer Springs & Kaikoura including Thermal Springs & Spa entry & Whale Watch trip from $499 per person family share.
Contact House of Travel 0800 713 715 www.houseoftravel.co.nz/holidays-at-home/family-breaks