10 Family-Friendly Nature Adventures In Aotearoa

This great little country of ours has a fascinating a landscape, unique flora and fauna, plus a rich cultural heritage. Throughout Aotearoa there are a number of experiences designed to take you on a memorable journey of discovery about our place.

Here is a selection of some of the best places and activities that can educate and entertain your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

1. Footprints Waipoua, Northland

Footprints Waipoua

Local guides take you on a memorable journey through nature’s stages of evolution, whilst providing a mythological and interactive interpretation of life in the forest. Visit Te Matua Ngahere (‘The Father of the Forest’) estimated to be between 2,500 and 3,000 years old, and Tane Mahuta (‘The Lord of the Forest’) who stands an impressive 51 metres (150ft) tall.

Visit Footprints Waipoua

2. SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, Auckland

Sea life kelly tarlton's

Home to thousands of marine animals including penguins, sharks, turtles, stingrays, octopus, fish and more. Enjoy over 30 live animal exhibits in spectacular habitat displays, including the world’s largest Sub-Antarctic penguin colony exhibit and amazing underwater viewing tunnels.

Visit SEA LIFE Kelly Tarltons

3. National Aquarium Of New Zealand

National Aquarium, of New Zealand

Discover and learn about saltwater, freshwater and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world. Journey through the Oceanarium in an underwater viewing tunnel via a 50m travelator as fish swim and feed, above and around. Plus you can meet and learn about Little Penguins.

Visit the National Aquarium

4. Zealandia

Zealandia

Explore the native forest at your own pace or be led by a guide and discover more than 40 rare native species. During the day, walk amongst rare birds like hihi, kākāriki and takahē. Spot prehistoric reptiles like the tuatara bathing in the sun. After dark, search for thousands of glowworms and over 150 kiwi roaming free.

Visit Zealandia

5. Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Year round you can learn all about the giant sperm whale in their natural environment with New Zealand’s only marine based whale watching company. In addition you may see four other whale species, New Zealand fur seals, pods of Hector’s and dusky dolphins, the endangered wandering albatross plus a variety of seabirds.

Visit Whale Watch Kaikoura

6. West Coast Wildlife Centre

West Coast Wildlife Centre

An all weather indoor wildlife, nature and conservation centre. Learn about and see live Rowi kiwi and tuatara in a natural bush walk through, plus learn about how glaciers are formed.

Visit West Coast Wildlife Centre

7. Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Southland

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Cruise on Lake Te Anau then into caves where you can see and learn about fascinating glowworms as you explore the twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall.

Visit Te Anau Glowworm Caves

8. Royal Albatross Centre, Otago

Royal Albatross Centre

Learn intimate insights and view the breeding cycle of the northern royal albatross-toroa, a majestic giant of the seas with a three-metre wingspan. At sunset see kororā, the little blue penguin, scurry up the beach to their cliff-face burrows.

Visit Royal Albatross Centre

And some new locals…

9. Huka Honey Hives, Taupo

Huka Honey Hives

Indoor and outdoor, guided tours take you through the beautiful gardens, introducing you to busy bees. Learn all about bees and the importance of bees to our lives, their essential place in our world, and how you can encourage these fascinating creatures to thrive in your own backyard. In season, you can even extract your own jar of honey from the hive.

Visit HuKA hONEY hIVES

10. Cornerstone Alpaca Farm Tours

Cornerstone Alpaca Tours

Learn about the new locals – alpacas! – with a scenic alpaca farm tour where you can learn about why this non-traditional livestock is good to farm. Get up close with these cuddly animals – they will try not to spit!

Visit Cornerstone Alpaca Tours

Main photo credit: Camilla Rutherford

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Written by Kidspot New Zealand  in partnerships with Tourism New Zealand.

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