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Ideas for a New Zealand Family Holiday

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? These two ideas for a New Zealand family holiday will give you an idea of what can be accomplished at a comfortable pace.

The first itinerary is for the North Island, the second for the South Island. Each assumes you have a week in New Zealand.

If you have 10 days for your New Zealand family holiday, add nights to whichever destinations appeal most to your family.

And if you have two weeks, you can fly between the two islands and see the highlights of each.

Read on for more details of our recommended itineraries for a North and South Island New Zealand family holiday.

North Island New Zealand Family Holiday Template

zipline new zealand
Rotorua Canopy Tours

The North Island is a great destination for families with young children. Driving distances are shorter, and most of the highlights can be seen in an easy week.

This template is easy to add to–the Bay of Islands is a popular destination for families who are visiting for ten days or more.

Love this itinerary? See our 7 Day North Island Family Package for more information and pricing.

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

If you are traveling from far away, Auckland is a great place to add an extra night to allow your family to recover from jetlag.

This is also the place to add a 2- or 3-night visit to the Bay of Islands, if interested.

Day 2: Drive to the Coromandel Peninsula, stay 2 nights

With many beaches, coves, and cute towns to explore throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, this is a great place to stay.

Coromandel Peninsula

Day 3: Coromandel Peninsula

Discovering the stunning coastline by boat is must do and our top pick is the Glass Bottom Boat, which includes a visit to the famous Cathedral Cove. You can choose your own level of fun. Either sit back and enjoy the amazing marine life through the glass boat, or take the plunge and snorkel amongst the fish. All equipment supplied and no experience necessary.

glass bottom boat
Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga

Day 4: Drive to the Rotorua via the Hobbiton Movie Set, stay 2 nights

If you wish to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, it sits conveniently right between Whitianga and Rotorua.

Add an extra night in Rotorua if your family wants to spend time kayaking or biking around the lakes surrounding Rotorua or simply relaxing in the many hot springs.

hobbiton movie set
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Day 5: Rotorua

Relax in Rotorua for the day. You might like to take a wander through Rotorua’s public Kuirau Park and discover the steaming, hissing and bubbling geothermal activity.

You also have the option to visit the Redwoods Treewalk, which features 23 suspension bridges through 115-year-old redwood trees.

In the evening, enjoy dinner at Rotorua’s most spectacular location – Skyline Restaurant.

skyline rotorua
Skyline Gondola Rotorua

Day 6: Drive to Taupo, stay the night

Enjoy the short drive south to Taupo, rich in natural beauty and filled with family attractions such as the Huka Falls.

Enjoy a Taste of Taupo Scenic Floatplane Flight, with highlights that include flying over the ‘Craters of the Moon,’ something the whole family will enjoy!

Add an extra night in Taupo if you have teens who want to hike in Tongariro National Park.

things to do in taupo new zealand
Taupo’s Floatplane Flight

Day 7: Drive to Auckland, stay the night

Add a night in Hamilton along the way if you wish to visit the Waitomo Caves. If you want to fit in any extra city sightseeing, stay an extra night in Auckland before catching your departure flight. There is an opportunity to view whales and dolphins just off the coast of Auckland with a cruise departing daily from downtown Auckland.

Day 8: Depart Auckland

This itinerary includes mostly short drives, with the longest lasting just three hours. It offers the perfect introduction to the North Island at a pace that is manageable for all ages.

South Island New Zealand Family Holiday Template

queenstown steam boat New Zealand family holiday
Walter Peak Farm Tour

The highlights of the South Island are spread a bit further than on the North Island. This itinerary packs in as many highlights as possible without too much driving time. Is this the perfect trip for your family? See our 7 Day Essential South Island Family Package for more information and pricing.

This same itinerary can be accomplished by traveling down the West Coast rather than through Lake Tekapo, but driving times are much longer.

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Add an extra night in Christchurch to recover from jet lag or to explore family-friendly attractions such as the International Antarctic Centre and the Margaret Mahy Playground.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional Maori Cultural Experience including a Hangi Dinner.

christchurch activities
Maori Cultural Experience including a Hangi Dinner

Day 2: Drive to Lake Tekapo, stay the night

Break up the driving with a stop in Geraldine, where you can sample jams and fruit juice concentrates at the Barker’s of Geraldine shop.

horse trekking new zealand
Family-friendly horse trekking is on offer in Lake Tekapo

Day 3: Drive to Wanaka, stay two nights

If your family doesn’t mind long drives, make a side trip Mt Cook Village to see Tasman Glacier.

Day 4: Wanaka

Add a night in Wanaka if you want to enjoy down time in a relaxing destination.

If you plan to incorporate skiing in your holiday, stay long enough in Wanaka to hit the slopes at Cardrona Alpine Resort, New Zealand’s most family-friendly ski field.

queenstown ski season New Zealand family holiday
Playing in the snow at Cardrona Alpine Resort

Day 5: Drive to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

If you have two extra nights, you could head straight to Te Anau today and use that as a base for visiting Fiordland National Park before continuing to Queenstown.

In the afternoon, get a taste of New Zealand’s farming lifestyle at Walter Peak High Country Farm in Queenstown and enjoy a Queenstown Lake Cruise.

new zealand farm tours family holiday
Animal encounters on the Walter Peak Farm Tour

Day 6: Queenstown > Milford Sound

Milford Sound is not to be missed when visiting the South Island. The coach ride is reasonably long but equally as stunning. You have the option of replacing the return coach ride with a stunning 1 hour scenic flight, an epic family adventure!

overnight boat cruise milford sound
Milford Sound Cruise

Day 7: Queenstown

Queenstown has a huge array of family-friendly activities on offer. You can easily stay for up to a week, especially if you want to take day trips to Arrowtown or Glenorchy.

Active teens will love the adventure activities, from hiking and kayaking to ziplining and whitewater rafting.

Funyaks Queenstown New Zealand family holiday
The Dart River Jet Funyak Safari

Day 8: Depart Queenstown

This itinerary has two longer days of driving, but the relaxing stays in Wanaka and Queenstown will make up for any frustration with time spent in the car.

Book a New Zealand Family Holiday

Our New Zealand family holiday packages include:

  • Family-style accommodation
  • Age-appropriate activities
  • Rental car (with car seat if necessary).

We can help customize your holiday package to best suit your family. For example, we can swap out activities for options that better match your children’s ages and interests. Or we can change the pace or timing of travel to fit your schedule.

Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your unforgettable family holiday.

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