Created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand
With overseas travel being pretty much off the cards, more and more Kiwis are discovering the beauty and wonder in their own backyard. It really is true that you don’t have to leave this magnificent country to enjoy the best the world has to offer, with amazing activities and scenery right here in New Zealand.
Come with us as we show you how your family can “explore the world” without leaving New Zealand, to create special holiday memories.
Beaches, glaciers, and natural wonders
New Zealand’s natural landscape and excellent tourist destinations offer some of the world’s best sights and attractions.
Aotearoa has golden sandy beaches that would rival anything you can find on the Gold Coast. Head to Tutukaka’s Matapouri Bay, Bay of Plenty’s Mount Maunganui, or Cathedral Cove in The Coromandel, for beaches you will never want to leave.
Moving on from those warm sandy beaches, discover the coolest ice without a trip to Iceland. Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are just two of New Zealand’s wonders that are among the most accessible anywhere in the world.
The Clay Cliffs near Omarama, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hokitika Gorge, and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks are just some of the destinations that offer those “wow” moments to rival any worldwide natural wonder.
Hawaii is famous for its volcanoes, but the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park are in a rare Unesco Dual World Heritage site, while Rotorua’s geothermal activity puts Yellowstone National Park in its place. And forget Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, the lakes at Taupō, Tekapo and Wānaka have the most stunning vistas.
After all that exploring, you deserve some time to relax. Sydney may have famous oceanside pools, but you can soak away your stresses at the St Clair Hot Saltwater Pool on Dunedin’s coast, the Mount Hot Pools in Mount Maunganui, or Polynesian Spa in Rotorua with a view out over the lake.
The scenic beauty of the Scandinavian fjords are matched by the beauty of the New Zealand region that’s named specifically for them – Fiordland! Doubtful Sound and the famous Milford Sound can be explored by boat or kayak. Southern Discoveries offer a range of Milford Sound cruises featuring views of waterfalls, marine life, and towering Mitre Peak.
Surfer dudes may love the waves in California and Hawaii but New Zealand has plenty of great surfing beaches too. Raglan in the Waikato and Whangamatā on The Coromandel are are just some of the best places to hang ten. At Westport’s Tauranga Bay, West Coast Surf offer surf lessons with a local legend, or hire a board if you’re ready to hit the waves.
Bora Bora eat your heart out! The Coromandel has a secret – a beautiful hidden lagoon at Whenuakura Island. Surfsup in Whangamatā offer guided kayak tours to the island for an experience to share.
Hitting the slopes
Give the Swiss Alps a miss and get your skis on at one of New Zealand’s world-class skifields. In the North Island, Tūroa and Whakapapa ski fields can be found at Mt Ruapehu. In the South Island, NZ Ski have a range of ski and snowboard packages, lift passes, lessons, and rental options at some of the best skifields – Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt.
Stunning places to visit
As well as natural beauty, New Zealand also has a wonderful array of man-made attractions. Hamilton Gardens has themed gardens to rival any international botanical collection and New Zealand even has it’s very own castle! Pretend to be a Lady or Lord at Larnach Castle in Dunedin with beautiful gardens and impressive views from the turrets. Or discover a multitude of Kiwi towns with quirky or just massive icons, like the L&P bottle in Paeroa or the corrugated-iron sheep and dog buildings in Tirau!
California has redwoods – we’ve got them too! Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest has trails through the redwood trees for walking or mountain biking. Waipoua Forest in Northland is home to magnificent kauri including the largest of them all, Tāne Mahuta, while Fiordland National Park is the largest of New Zealand’s national parks and is one of the most dramatic and beautiful destinations in Aotearoa. Near Hokitika, you can explore the rainforest at the West Coast Treetop Walk, an exhilarating treetop adventure along a steel platform 20 metres above the forest floor.
Canada has amazing clear water lakes, but Rotomairewhenua (also known as Blue Lake) in Nelson Lakes National Park is recognised as being the clearest body of water in the world! You will also find stunning clear water at Te Waikoropupū Springs in Takaka and Blue Spring in the Waikato. Just one hour from Wānaka is the stunning glacier-fed Blue Pools which can be seen after an easy walk from the Haast Pass and across a swing bridge.
Become a Kiwi Guardian! Print off the Blue Pools adventure map before you head out, then find the Kiwi Guardian post and submit the special code word on it to receive a Kiwi Guardians certificate and medal.
South America has some of the world’s most amazing wilderness, but over 10% of the land area in New Zealand has been set aside for national parks so we’ve got outdoor adventures covered! Explore the beautiful Queen Charlotte walking track in the Marlborough Sounds, paddle the stunning waters of Abel Tasman National Park, or be treated to an alpine wonderland in Mount Aspiring National Park. For more fun than you can shake a stick at, Dart River Adventures Funyaks near Queenstown offers an unmissable adventure with a thrilling jet boat ride and a leisurely float through some of NZ’s stunning wilderness.
Move over Hollywood! Although we’re tucked away, some say at the bottom of the world (although Māori belief has us at the top), Kiwis still make a huge impact on the international stage with filming and production of blockbuster films and TV series taking place regularly around the country. Lord of the Rings is probably the most famous movie franchise filmed here and you can check out the filming locations in multiple places around NZ including the famous Hobbiton Movie Set. At Wellington’s Wētā Workshop you can immerse yourself in Wētā’s creativity, physical effects and movie-making magic with a behind-the-scenes tour.
For years Kiwis have found exhilarating ways to get the adrenaline pumping. From ziplining through the forest canopy in Rotorua and bungy jumping in Queenstown, to jet boating on New Zealand’s beautiful rivers, there’s plenty of scream-inducing fun on offer. But if the idea of jumping into a giant inflatable ball and rolling down a hill is more up your alley, then ZORB Rotorua is the place for you!
Main image credit: Tourism New Zealand
- Find more fun family adventure ideas
- Why now is a great time to visit NZ’s iconic spots and hidden gems
- Richie & Gemma McCaw’s top tips for family travel
- Nature experiences around New Zealand that are made to share
Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”