Always thought you would love to try ziplining, jet boating, or another fun experience, but never quite got organised? Now is the perfect time for you and your family to give something new a try!
Spring weather is on the horizon and the busy roads and queues of summer are still a way off, so it’s a great time to show your kids how to try something new, even though it might put you outside of your comfort zone. We’ve picked some of New Zealand’s must-do experiences to inspire you to create new memories with the 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. Regions and venues may have travel and access restrictions due to the Covid-19 Protection Framework.
Many of the South Island’s most iconic landscapes were forged by glaciers over millions of years. These slow-moving rivers of ice are an awe-inspiring sight. Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island’s West Coast is one of our most well-known glaciers. Known in Māori legend as Kā Roimata-a-Hine Hukatere (the frozen tears of Hine Hukatere), the glacier starts high in the Southern Alps and travels down through the native rain forest for 11 kilometres. It actually moves at over 50cm a day, so it’s constantly changing and evolving.
Franz Josef Glacier Guides can take you onto the glacier itself. You travel by helicopter across a stunning landscape, then trek across the glacier through tunnels and between walls of ice! Your knowledgeable and experienced guides will find the safest and most spectacular route while regaling you with information about this stunning place. You might also get to see some cheeky kea and tick off another iconic New Zealand experience.
Kayaking can be enjoyed by all the family from about three years old and up. Easy to learn, it’s surprising how far you can explore in a short time.
Coromandel Adventures can take you on a kayaking adventure through sea caves, round rocks, past lots of marine life, and to stunning New Zealand beaches. Best of all, you can also tick off a visit to beautiful Cathedral Cove.
Zooming down a zipline gives you a pure adrenaline rush! Safely harnessed and clipped on, you glide down over the tree canopy and through the forest for a thrilling scenic ride.
Christchurch Adventure Park have four ziplines – including New Zealand’s highest and also one that’s more than a kilometre long! Suitable for people from 27 to 125kg, ziplining is the chance to show your kids that you’re willing to take on a challenge and fly with them.
The first settlers arrived in New Zealand by waka and since then they have become an important part of Aotearoa’s cultural heritage. Built from tree trunks, the beautiful big New Zealand native trees like tōtara and kauri proved to be ideal to make large, stable waka.
Waka Abel Tasman Te Tai o Awatea welcome you to their Kaiteriteri base in Tasman Bay and share this special heritage with you. The trip starts with a blessing (karakia), then you learn the etiquette (tikanga), before setting off, paddling as a team.
Whether you rode when you were younger and would love to share the thrill with your children, or you have never experienced it, horse riding is a fun family activity.
Sandy Bay Horses on the Tutukaka Coast in Northland can get you up on horseback and enjoying beautiful trails, beaches, and valleys. They have a range of horses, from gentle and quiet for beginners through to a bit more expressive for the more experienced.
Camping is a quintessential kiwi experience. Some families go to the same spot for years, or even generations! At the campground you can pitch your tent and set up all your cooking and living equipment, or bring a self-contained campervan or caravan.
There are hundreds of fantastic camping grounds all over New Zealand including more than 200 DOC Conservation Campsites in forest, lake, and beach settings. Now is the perfect time to give your family the true camping experience and find out what all the fuss is about.
Although they are our national icon, spotting a kiwi in real life is not easy. These unique, inquisitive birds are rare, nocturnal, and live in the bush, so our chances of stumbling across one are slim. In order to preserve our precious kiwi, there are a number of conservation places around New Zealand dedicated to breeding the birds in captivity, then releasing them back into their natural habitat. Living in specially-designed nocturnal enclosures, the day is turned into night, and this provides the perfect opportunity for your family to see a kiwi pottering around, feeding, preening themselves, and generally doing what they do in the wild.
The Otorohanga Kiwi House in North Island’s King Country have been looking after and breeding kiwi since 1971. Visit them to learn all about our special bird and see the brown kiwi probing for insects and earthworms in the soil, bathing in the ponds, and digging burrows or climbing logs.
Geothermal springs can be found in select places all over New Zealand. Created by groundwater heated by the earth, the water is not only warm (or hot!) it’s also thought to be therapeutic as it often contains dissolved minerals. If you haven’t soaked, relaxed or played in thermal water, now is the perfect time to do so.
At Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa you can choose from action-packed fun or relaxed soaking. Choose from 22 pools including relaxing rock pools, soothing sulphur pools at varying temperatures, exciting water slides, and a lazy river.
Sir William Hamilton’s childhood dreams for a boat that would take him up rivers came to fruition with his invention of the Hamilton waterjet – the genesis of today’s must-do kiwi experience of jet boating. Able to travel over shallow water or across fast flows, the modern jet boat can travel at nearly 100km per hour.
Huka Falls Jet in Taupō can take you on an awesome experience on the Waikato River, right up to the base of the impressive Huka Falls, and past steaming geothermal spots and sheer rock cliffs, with an exciting 360 degree spin!
In Aotearoa we have our own special glowworm. It’s a species of the fungus gnat and at certain stages in its life cycle it produces bioluminescence and glows – hence the name.
At Spellbound Glowworm and Cave Tours you can enjoy a boat ride through a cave beneath thousands of glowworms that create a magical, galaxy-like experience.
- Find more fun family adventure ideas
- Explore the world without leaving New Zealand
- Now’s a Great Time To Visit New Zealand’s Iconic Spots and Hidden Gems
- Nature experiences around New Zealand that are made to share
Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.