Spare the kennel with Jessica Cameron's top tips for dog-friendly holidays in Aotearoa
For pet owners, the family dog can make arranging a vacation tricky—and expensive. It usually means booking a kennel or pet sitter well in advance, then budgeting in the associated costs.
But there's another option: You could bring Fido with you. Travelling with your pet isn't just for camping holidays any more; increasingly, tour operators and accommodation providers are recognising that dogs are part of the family unit and shouldn't be left out of the fun.
Here's what to do, and where to eat and sleep in some of the country's best pet-friendly destinations.
Playtime: Kids and dogs will both love running around at the grassy Meola Reef Dog Park, which is the only fully fenced off-leash dog park in central Auckland.
Treat time: After you've worked up an appetite playing fetch, head over to Catroux for a scone and coffee. It's only a 15-minute walk from the dog park in Westmere and has outdoor seating, along with a kids' menu that's guaranteed to please. (Don't miss the French toast made with Duck Island's Fairy Bread icecream.)
Bedtime: For the most pampered paws, you can't get more luxurious than the designer bedding and bowls in QT Auckland's pet-friendly rooms. Catering to dogs 20kg and under, the hotel even offers a doggie minibar and a canine-approved in-room dinner menu.
Playtime: The Whakarewarewa Forest is both a mountain-biking mecca and a destination for dog lovers. If a little more freedom is in order, head across the road to the Scion Dog Park, where they're allowed free reign.
Treat time: After you've done your bike ride, call in to Secret Spot Hot Tubs for a "shinny dip". Here, you'll find craft beers for the adults, craft sodas for the kids, and craft dog treats for your furry friends.
Bedtime: For children, Jet Park Rotorua has dedicated outdoor and indoor play areas. For pooches, it has a Pampered Pets Package, which includes a pet bed, water bowls, toys and treats, and even access to an outdoor dog wash station.
Playtime: Chances are, you already know that your dog loves a good car ride. But what about a boat ride? Test the waters (literally) by taking Fido for a cruise with Ernest Kemp to the Māori rock carvings or on the Huka Falls River Cruise.
Treat time: The Two Mile Bay Sailing Club isn't just situated in one of Taupō's most scenic spots—it's also pet-friendly. You can attach your dog's leash to one of the provided table clips or let them socialise freely if they're well-behaved.
Bedtime: One of Taupō's only lakefront motels, the pet-friendly Cascades Lakefront Motel offers family suites, as well as paddleboard and kayak hire.
Bay of Plenty
Playtime: If you're looking for a spot to cool off, you'll find no shortage of them in the Bay of Plenty. A favourite is Waihī Beach; the two-kilometre stretch between Waihī Beach and Bowentown is off-leash, all year round.
Treat time: After your walk on the beach, head up the road to the Surf Shack Eatery. In the large garden, canine visitors are refreshed with free treats and doggie bowls. Meanwhile, kids will be won over by the playhouse and ice chocolates served with warm doughnuts on top.
Bedtime: Dogs are welcome guests at the Falls Retreat in Waihī, which is located just across the road from Owharoa Falls. With a children's playground on the property and self-contained cabins, it's the ideal getaway for families.
Playtime: Sure, your dog can dog-paddle — but can he human-paddle? Probably not, but he'll love being a passenger aboard the giant, family-sized SUP boards available for hire from Moana Paddle Nelson. Don't be surprised if he makes a friend, too — owners Toby and Bridget's dog often comes out for a ride with guests.
Treat time: On your paddleboard adventure up the Maitai, make a stop at the River Kitchen. Located on the riverbanks within Nelson City, the courtyard is both child and dog friendly.
Bedtime: Set on three acres of grounds, there's plenty of space for kids and their best mates to run around at Motueka Garden Motels, including in the kids' adventure playground.
Playtime: As one of the country's most pet-friendly destinations, Dunedin has six dedicated dog parks—many with agility equipment and some specifically for small dogs. You can even take your dog on the ferry from Port Chalmers to Portobello.
Treat time: Offering up epic views of St. Clair beach, the Long Dog Cafe has dog treats on hand and a dog-shaped statue for tying up your pooch. More than just a name, the restaurant regularly donates a portion of its proceeds to the Dunedin Dog Rescue.
Bedtime: All good dogs go to heaven, but the very best dogs go to Cloud 9. This luxury holiday home in Karitane welcomes up to two pets and has everything else you might need for an all-ages getaway.