With a direct flight from Auckland, this Texan city is worth a stopover or a family holiday in its own right.

1. Wet 'n' Wild Splashtown

It gets hot in Texas — and when they need a bit of a cool-off, Houston's biggest water park has them covered. Splashtown sprawls over 16ha with plenty of thrilling rides to enjoy — including the Stingray Racer, a five-storey, six-lane racing slide that looms large over the park. There's also an interactive children's area with tamer attractions for the younger members of the family.

The Matter Factory at the Children's Museum of Houston. Photo / Visit Houston
The Matter Factory at the Children's Museum of Houston. Photo / Visit Houston

2. Space Center Houston

You can't visit Houston without exploring all things Nasa — so a day at the Space Center is unmissable. With more than 400 space artefacts on display, including the world's largest collection of moon rocks, the kids will leave as budding astronauts. From the Build-A-Rocket display to Mission Kidtrol, they'll learn the concepts behind space travel — and older kids can take a Level 9 Tour for an in-depth look at the workings of Nasa. There is also a giftshop where you can stock up on souvenirs, gifts and Nasa-branded clothing.

3. Children's Museum of Houston

Rated the No. 1 museum for kids in the US by Parents magazine, the Children's Museum of Houston is packed with educational exhibits, interactive displays and plenty of places to play. It features a sprawling kid-sized city, called Kidtropolis, where children can experience a taste of adult life by holding jobs, compiling TV news reports or running for local government. For those under three, Tot Spot provides plenty of fun-filled activities.

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The Matter Factory at the Children's Museum of Houston. Photo / Visit Houston
The Matter Factory at the Children's Museum of Houston. Photo / Visit Houston