Bikes, hikes and temper tantrums. There are only so many nights you can spend under canvas. Holiday parks and campgrounds are a mainstay of family holidays. But as days grow shorter and the Easter school holidays come around, options with heating and a bit of privacy grow in appeal. Here's a selection of family-friendly holiday accommodation options from around the country that are as affordable as they are memorable.
From staying the night in a tree-top bird's nest to cooking dinner in a geothermal hot box, here are 24 stays that will live on in back-to-school stories.
At the head of Lake Monowai, near Manapouri, Borland Lodge is an adventure camp for all the family. Eight wooden chalets and family units, sleeping a double and two bunks, it's a base on the edge of pristine Fiordland for a family adventure. There is a climbing wall on-site and a network of day hikes and longer walks, with hut access around Monowai. Kayaking and rock climbing can be arranged.
Tui Base Camp in Tuatapere is another option for adventurous families. Outside Invercargill, at the jumping-off point of the Hump Ridge Track, there is motel-style accommodation, perfect for slightly older family groups. As well as access to Te Waewae Bay, there are activities available including farm tours, clay bird shooting and archery.
A family holiday by the blowholes and roaring Tasman waves is a memorable experience. The rooms at the Punakaiki Beachfront Motels are tucked between cliffs and shingle beach, with the caves of Punakaiki cavern and the famous stacks of Pancake Rocks lookout only a 15-minute walk away. These pet-friendly family units sleep up to seven and are an ideal base for a West Coast adventure.
At the other end of the Coast, in glacier country, Glenfern Villas offer two-bedroom, self-catered pads just north of Franz Josef town. Set in an alpine smallholding, outside the town the twin bedroom villas sleep five in the alpaca "farmlet" in the mountains.
The freshly renovated Jet Park Hotel in Rotorua is inviting all the family. Dogs too!
The Jet's family suites, with access to an outdoors play area and heated pools, are the ultimate no-worries set-up for a trip with all the whānau. This includes pets, with the "pampered pooch" package.
Aura Accommodation's family suites are sure to give a warm welcome, all year round.
Located near the Rotorua lakefront park, there is a pride in its sense of place with geothermal radiators, and access to private mineral pools. Cooking dinner on the geothermal steam box in the shared barbecue area is a novel touch for a family holiday. It's uniquely Rotorua.
ARROWTOWN & QUEENSTOWN
Arrowtown has everything you need for a family holiday on site. Arrowfield Apartments are self-catered units with plenty of space. Along with pool and tennis court facilities, it also has access to some of Queenstown's most scenic walks and ski fields, surprisingly good food options, plus the promise that you might find a nugget of gold while idly paddling in the River Arrow. It's twee, enjoyable family fun on the edge of the recently completed Mahu Whenua trail and some of New Zealand's really wild places.
The Coromandel Peninsula occupies a special place in memories of Auckland family holidays.
Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge is pet-friendly accommodation in the middle of Pauanui, a town that was made for holidays. Access to a swimming pool, tennis courts and free bike-hire mean this lodge is kitted out for a holiday with kids, exploring the boardwalks and beaches.
If you fancy branching out, on Whangamatā's safe surf beach the Palm Pacific resort is another family-friendly stay. Similarly kitted out for an adventurous beach holiday, the Palm has complimentary access to the Ridges MTB park.
There are plenty of options for families looking for a compact city break, exploring the botanic gardens and tram-lined streets of Christchurch.
BreakFree offers two-room family suites in the centre of the city, just five minutes from the Margaret Mahy Playground and the Little High food hall, with meal options to satisfy the pickiest of eaters.
On the other bank of the Avon, next to the Botanic Gardens and Christchurch Art Centre, the Hotel Give is a great value option that couldn't be more central to the city's family-friendly attractions. A brand new social enterprise for Christchurch, there is a range of family rooms, from two-bedroom apartments to triple-shares with ensuite facilities. Perfect for larger family groups looking for a stay that will do good in the local community.
Big starry skies and snow-covered maunga - Mackenzie is full of outdoorsy appeal for family holidays all year round. Whether you're looking to check in for a spot of stargazing over Matariki or explore some of the local skifields, South Canterbury is full of dream family accommodation options.
On the edge of Lake Tekapo the Cairns Alpine Resort's lodges have enough space to host the Von Trapps. You'll not be far away from the lonely goatherd, either. There's an on-site petting farm, which is home to alpacas and a kunekune pig called Whiskey. It's only a 15-minute drive to the Mt John Observatory and a short walk to the Tekapo lakefront.
There's a golfing green to pacify older family members, too.
Musterers in Fairlie has the makings of a South Canterbury holiday, with Mt Cook on your doorstep and local ski fields. Made of individual chalet-style cabins, each cottage has a double and two single beds. There are also bookable hot tubs and a shared barbecue area. Later in the ski season, Dobson and Roundhill snow areas are within easy reach, perfect family snowfields with a more laid-back atmosphere than other South Island resort towns. The Famous Fairlie Bakery caters to your appetite for holiday treats.
Antique Lodge Motel in Clyde is a golden gold-rush oldie, run by Felicity "Fizz" Hunter-Weston and her two golden retrievers.
On the edge of the Clutha and Clyde dam the apartments have plenty of outdoors appeal and are conveniently located at the end (or start) of the Lake Dunstan cycling trail. Perfect way to bookend a day exploring the Clutha valley and the autumn colours of Central Otago.
At the other end of Lake Dunstan, the western-like settlements of Cromwell and Bannockburn have found new appeal with the completion of the cycling trail. The floating burger bars and Carrick Vineyards are a gentle bike ride around the lakefront.
Accommodation options include the Central Park Apartments which - to the delight of children of all ages - is across the road from the Highlands Motorsport Park. Modern and spacious family units are a great base for passing through, although the microwave kitchenette is limited. The three-bedroom option has a more fully equipped kitchen and sleeps six.
The Heritage Lake Resort is sure to be a hit with older families, despite some waterborne parental paranoia. Built over the water with lakefront access, the Family Villas sleep up to six. With boat access and plenty of options for wakeboarding, kayaking and paddleboarding, gear hire can be arranged through the hotel.
Holidays you have to get a water shuttle to are the kind of natural adventure that will stick with kids for years, but it helps to do your research.
Lochmara Lodge has a hippie-ish vibe, in the best way possible. The cove's natural amphitheatre is covered in sculpture gardens, glow-worms and fairy glens, and there are free-range pigs and llamas. Help-yourself access to kayaks and paddleboards on a very safe portion of Lochmara Bay makes it the stuff family holidays are made of. There's also direct access off the Queen Charlotte Track, although adults need permits to access the route.
Accommodation is basic but good value and in an idyllic setting. The family units sleep up to 5 in two rooms, but self-catering options are limited. The cafe is far less laid back - particularly the pricey dinner menu - although bar meals are available all day round with a children's menu also available.
Punga Cove might be a more expensive accommodation option at Endeavour Inlet but offers far more spacious lodgings. Some family suites include kitchens and self-catering options, such as the budget Basecamp apartments which have a two-bedroom option.
For ease of mind there's always the crowd-pleasing Boat House pizzeria and cafe on the wharf.
What could be a more memorable setting for a family holiday, than in the grounds of an actual castle? On the seaward side of the Larnach Castle estate, the Castle Stables are on the more affordable end of the spectrum. The family room sleeps five in the original stable buildings. With complimentary access to Larnach Castle and Gardens and dinner reservations, you can lord it over the famous castle and explore the nearby Otago peninsula.
Practical in layout, fantastic in design, Piwakawaka Family Hut is your chance to go on holiday in a tree-house bird's nest. Sat above the canopy of the Pukeiti Garden, it's a Taranaki Park hut with a difference. It does take a good hour to reach, but little trampers will be rewarded with a night in the trees and 360-degree lookouts. With 12 bunks at $150 per night, it's an ideal group booking. A perfect introduction for a first overnight walk.
BAY OF PLENTY
Bay of Plenty is a favourite family destination. Waihī's 9km strand is a self-contained beachy option, that has something for all generations to enjoy. Waihī Beach Paradise Resort has a couple of higher-end beachfront apartments. The twin-room options are a great option for those after comfort on the coast and come with bike hire and complimentary pool access.
On the main Maunganui beach, Cutters Cove apartments make an easy beach getaway even more hassle-free. Set in Maunganui town, there's a good mix of beachy activities. Separate lagoon and laned swimming pools help keep the kids in check, plus plenty of on-site activities like mini-putt golf. The cream-coloured apartments are on the pricier end of the spectrum, but sleep up to seven guests giving you plenty of living space, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and uninterrupted sea views.
Plan an alpine break with the family in the middle of Ruapehu's National Park Village. The Plateau Lodge offers self-contained accommodation options in newly built studio pods and lodges for larger family groups. The rooms are a good solution for a family long-weekender away, up the maunga or exploring the mountain trails. There is a shuttle service into the park and ski and bike storage on site.
For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.
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