Created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand
Formed more than 540 million years ago and with a unique mix of Māori and European culture, New Zealand has a fascinating history and interesting indigenous flora and fauna.
Across New Zealand there are people passionate about our special country. They have created fantastic destinations that are waiting to greet you and your family, to share their knowledge and passion with you. So take the opportunity to meet new animal friends, share adventures, and make lots of special memories.
Discover the wonder and wildlife of New Zealand with our guide to family-friendly nature experiences.
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.
Meet Hector’s dolphins
Hector’s dolphins are the world’s smallest and rarest, and are almost exclusively found around the South Island coast, although some have been seen in North Island waters. It’s estimated there are only around 15,000 mature Hector’s dolphins, so seeing one in the wild is a real treat.
Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula are passionate about the Hector’s dolphins and their conservation. Cruise with them in their catamaran to see the dolphins – they guarantee you will see some – as they share their knowledge and passion about these precious mammals.
Swimming with dolphins has been voted New Zealand’s number one bucket list activity! Black Cat Cruises also offer you the chance to tick this off your must-do list and you get the added thrill of swimming with the rare Hector’s dolphins!
Meet New Zealand’s rarest kiwi
In the heart of glacier country, on the friendly West Coast, you can meet Aotearoa’s rarest kiwi – the rowi. The West Coast Wild Life Centre shares their passion for this precious New Zealand icon.
This unique and interactive self-guided experience brings together nature, conservation, and wildlife all under one roof. You can see the rowi kiwi and prehistoric tuatara, as well as learn all about the glaciers that dominate this area.
With wing spans up to three metres, the majestic Northern Royal Albatross are the world’s largest sea birds. They normally breed on remote islands and spend up to 85% of their time at sea, so an opportunity to meet them is very special.
Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula is unique in that it’s the world’s only mainland breeding place. Although open year round, a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre in spring is ideal as this is when the new chicks take their first flight.
See a giant sperm whale
The seas around Aotearoa host a wonderful variety of sea life, but none as magnificent as the giant sperm whale. They grow up to 18 metres long and weigh up to 75,000 kg!
They can live for more than 70 years and these gentle giants have a big brain – in fact it is the world’s largest at a whopping five times larger than ours.
Kaikōura is home to a year round population of these amazing creatures – and Wings Over Whales can take your family on a flight to see them as they come to the surface to breathe and rest after diving down over 2000 metres! You might also be able to spot other species of whales, plus dolphins and seals.
Visit a volcanic valley
For 1.6 million years volcanoes have been erupting in New Zealand. The volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in the central North Island in 1886 caused the creation of seven craters, the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces, and creation of the world’s newest geothermal valley, Waimangu.
You can visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and explore at your own pace or take a tour where the passionate guides will share with you details about this fascinating area.
Glowworm glow up
New Zealand’s native glowworms (Arachnocampa Luminosa) welcome you with their twinkling luminescent light. Many of the guides at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Waikato are direct descendants of the Māori chief who originally explored the caves, and are proud to share with you the history of the world famous attraction.
Meet a rare takahē
Step back in to a past world and visit an ancient ecosystem where some of our most endangered species are thriving in their protected habitat. Sanctuary Mountain in Maungatautari, Waikato, has an ancient native forest that is home to many of our most endangered species such as birds, skinks, geckos, frogs, bats, and insects.
Sanctuary Mountain is also home to the endearing takahē. Thought to be extinct, happily some of these large flightless birds were found in Fiordland in 1948. There are thought to be only around 400 alive today.
Sea life on and under the water
The New Zealand coastline is brimming with marine life. Off the Tutukaka Coast, warm currents arrive from the Coral Sea enabling a stunning range of underwater plants, animals, and fish to thrive.
A Perfect Day can take you on a cruise out to the Poor Knights Islands where you can snorkel in this beautiful underwater world. New Zealand’s volcanic origins are evident in the island’s spectacular formations and the cruise Captain and staff love to share the local Māori history with you.
New Zealand’s native birds evolved over millions of years in splendid isolation. However, that all changed with the arrival of people and other predators. This has resulted in the reduction and in some cases extinction of some of our native birds.
Kāpiti Island is a nature reserve dedicated to conserving an environment for some of our most beautiful and endangered New Zealand birds. Kāpiti Island Nature Tours is run by kaitiaki (guardians) of Kāpiti Island and welcome you to come and share in their special nature reserve and to see rare birds like takahē, kākā, weka, tīeke (saddleback), kererū, kākāriki and toutouwai (NZ robin).
- Find more fun family adventure ideas
- Kids tell us about their favourite Kiwi holidays
- Plan a trip to Queenstown with our destination guide
- Family holiday experiences that inspire curiosity and celebrate culture
- Richie & Gemma McCaw’s top tips for family travel
Written by Kidspot NZ in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.