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Traveling New Zealand with Toddlers

Traveling in families is always a challenge, but toddlers are trickier than most ages. Traveling New Zealand with toddlers must be carefully planned Too active to nap through most sightseeing but too young to participate in activities their parents are interested in, toddlers need to be kept entertained throughout your holiday.

These are our top tips for traveling New Zealand with toddlers:

  • Plan around naptime and bedtime
  • Always come prepared with snacks
  • Minimize driving time
  • Plan out stops on long drives beforehand
  • Look for toddler-friendly attractions
  • Pack carefully
  • Keep an open mind

Follow this advice, and your next holiday will be easier than ever.

Top Tips for Traveling New Zealand with Toddlers

walter peak
TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruise

1. Plan around naptime and bedtime

The less you can disturb your toddler’s sleep schedule, the better.

Schedule activities outside of naptime, and save hotel time or driving time for your toddler’s usual naptime.

Stay away from evening activities that might keep your child up too late. Most evening experiences offer a daytime alternative for young families, which will keep your toddler from being cranky the next day.

2. Always come prepared with snacks

Driving time between towns in New Zealand can be long. In case you can’t find somewhere to reprovision along the way, make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand to keep your toddler happy.

If you have a picky eater, bring a few favorite snacks from home to help ease your child into the travel experience.

3. Minimize driving time

If you are traveling with young children, plan the shortest drives possible for your New Zealand holiday.

Two great options are doing a short road trip around the North Island (which has many highlights packed close together) or staying somewhere like Queenstown or Rotorua and taking day trips from there.

4. Plan out stops on long drives beforehand

If long drives are unavoidable, ask your travel consultant for suggested stops along the way to make these easier for your family.

In case your toddler demands frequent bathroom stops, plan out the best public restrooms en route. If you know your child will get stir-crazy afte several hours in the car, scope out playgrounds to burn off a bit of energy.

5. Look for toddler-friendly attractions

queenstown steam boat New Zealand with toddlers
Walter Peak Farm Tour

Your toddler is unlikely to pay much attention to the highlights of your holiday. Balance your own sightseeing with toddler-friendly activities and the whole family will have fun.

Pay attention to the playgrounds in each city–if you can stay nearby, you won’t need to jump in the car every time your child needs to burn off a bit of energy. (This is especially true in Christchurch, where the excellent Margaret Mahy Playground is located in the midst of a tangle of construction and one-way streets.)

Even a swingset or slide at your accommodation offers plenty of entertainment value for your toddler.

Other toddler-friendly activities include farm animal encounters and hands-on fun at the Christchurch Antarctic Centre.

6. Pack carefully

Traveling with a toddler can be a packing nightmare. In addition to your own luggage, you now have to deal with their toys, stroller, and clothes.

Don’t bring more than you need.

Car seats can be hired with any rental car. And rather than packing diapers, some savvy parents order these delivered to their first accommodation.

A stroller is a must, but make sure it can fold up for your flight.

Refer to our New Zealand packing list as a starting point.

7. Keep an open mind

maori village rotorua New Zealand with toddlers
Te Puia Rotorua

Your toddler is unlikely to remember their New Zealand holiday, but if they have fun, your whole family will be happy.

If your toddler is more excited about playing on the aquarium stairs than about seeing actual fish, let them enjoy those stairs for a bit longer. And if your toddler has a temper tantrum at the museum, maybe you should return to your hotel for a nap and cut the day’s sightseeing short.

Planning a Trip to New Zealand with Toddlers

As long as you think about what your whole family needs, traveling New Zealand with a toddler is sure to be a success.

Check-out our top three toddler friendly holiday packages here. All can be customised to suit your family:

  1. 7 Day North Island Family Hobbits Package
  2. 14 Day New Zealand Encounter Family Package
  3. 14 Day Southern Highlights Family Package

Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning the family holiday of a lifetime.


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