Must-do New Zealand Attractions For Under Fives

Family holidays with under fives can be full of exploration, discovery, excitement, and fun!

Check out our top picks for must-do attractions and experiences that are great for families with little kids.

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. 

Nature lovers


New Zealand is blessed with an amazing array of flora and fauna, much of it unique to our shores. At Wellington Zoo and Auckland Zoo you can meet native inhabitants as well as exotic and intriguing creatures from around the world. They make a great day out for exploring at your own pace, with play spaces, picnic areas, and pushchair-friendly paths for when little legs get tired.

The Agrodome in Rotorua is the place to see the world-famous Farm Show starring a cast of talented animals. The Farmyard Nursery is home to baby animals, ready for cuddles and photos. The Farm Tour offers more friendly animals to hand-feed.

A local family favourite for decades, Staglands Wildlife Reserve & Cafe north of Wellington provides a fantastic day out. Meet the friendly animals including native birds, waterfowl and farmyard animals, plus enjoy tractor-trailer rides and The Bush Railway.

At Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, you can see kiwi along with a range of farmyard animals including rare breeds. Kids will love the adorable Valais Blacknose sheep as well as the otters and ring-tailed lemurs straight out of Madagascar!

A visit to Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Waikato will have the kids wide-eyed at the amazing caves full of stalactites and stalagmites, plus the fascinating, twinkling glowworms on a gentle boat ride. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour is free for kids aged under 4 years old (just remember to book them in to secure a place on the tour).

Underwater adventures

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, Auckland

Even though your under-five is probably not yet ready for diving gear, they can still experience the wonders of the sea.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium in Auckland is 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 penguin colony that’s viewed from the fun Snowcat ride. The amazing underwater viewing tunnels with a moving travelator will have the kids requesting to go round again and again!

Napier’s National Aquarium of New Zealand includes an impressive 1.5 million litre Oceanarium exhibit. Watch as sea creatures swim and feed, above and around you. There’s a fun reef fish feeding show each morning, plus you can meet and learn about little penguins and see many saltwater and freshwater creatures.

For those wanting to get out on the water, a two-hour tour with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga takes in local sights like Cathedral Cove plus marine life under the water through the cool glass viewing panels.

Curious kids

Te Manawa

New Zealand’s museums are full of interesting and interactive exhibits that allow kids to get hands-on with history. Some of the best for kids include Te Manawa in Palmerston North, the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland (check out their Iti Rearea | Little Explorers programme), Auckland Museum, the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin, and the Museum of New Zealand | Te Papa Tongarewa on Wellington’s waterfront where Bush City is a particular favourite with the kids.

At Waiouru in the central North Island, you can’t miss the National Army Museum – there’s a tank right outside! In the museum, Kids HQ is a designated interactive space for children where kids can play and even dress up in authentic Army uniforms from different periods.

Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre shares the wonders of the Antarctic in an interactive experience where you can ride an amphibious snow vehicle, be immersed in another world in the 4D Theatre, brave -18°C windchill in the Storm Dome and so much more. The kids will love meeting the huskies (who are on-site Thursday to Monday) and the adorable rescued kororā (little blue penguins).

Kids on the move

Driving Creek Railway

By train, by boat, or by zipline, kids love to be on the move!

The Coromandel’s Driving Creek Railway is a spectacular train ride on a narrow gauge railway that winds its way up to the Eyeful Tower for amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf. Along the route, spot hidden gems including quirky pottery, sculptures, and artworks.

The iconic Wellington Cable Car may be a short ride but it’s a highlight of any trip to the Capital. As you climb up to the top, watch for the eye-widening light displays.

For a unique way to travel, Rotorua Duck Tours will take you from land to lake in a genuine WW2 amphibious landing craft. The kids will be fascinated by this seemingly impossible vehicle.

For tots with a bit of thrillseeker in them, the Tandem Comet Line at Buller Gorge Swingbridge is a safe, seated ride that takes two people on a zip line over the Buller River. You can also cross NZ’s longest swingbridge, pan for gold and enjoy short bush walks.

Wide open spaces

Redwoods Treewalk

When the kids need to burn off some energy or stretch their little legs, New Zealand is bursting with beautiful gardens and short walks to landmarks, waterfalls, and other sights. On the South Island’s West Coast, the easy walk to the stunning Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes features pancake rock formations and thrilling blowholes, while the Glow Worm Dell near Hokitika is a 5-minute return walk for a pre-bedtime treat after dark.

The Wānaka Lavender Farm is a beautiful spot to stroll amongst the flowers. The kids will be lining up for the lavender ice cream after meeting some friendly farm animals and playing games in the garden.

North of Auckland, meander through the 1.4km of accessible pathways at the Sculptureum and discover over 650 works of art from local and international artists. Don’t forget to visit the resident bunnies and turtles.

Perfect for little legs and strollers, the Redwoods Treewalk™ is an award-winning, eco-tourism walk that will take you among the 120-year-old giant redwood trees in Rotorua for a birds’ eye perspective.


Puzzling World

There’s always time for play! For fantastic playgrounds, here are our top five:

  • Margaret Mahy Family Playground (Christchurch) – A playground that caters for all ages and abilities with some of the coolest play equipment.
  • Levin Adventure Park (Manawatu) – A huge choice of play equipment including an under-fives area and a miniature train on weekends.
  • Hare Puke Park Destination Playground (Hamilton) – Award-winning playground with scooter track, social swings and sensory play.
  • New Brighton Beachside Playground (Christchurch) – Featuring water cannons, musical toys, swings, slides and a large waka that children can play in.
  • Motutawa Avalon Park (Lower Hutt) – Based around a river theme, this playground features amazing play equipment plus water play, sensory elements, a mini-road bike park and even a giant T-Rex!

In Wānaka, Puzzling World is a great topsy-turvy attraction for kids of all ages! There are lots of illusions with opportunities for funny photos, plus a challenging maze that you can get lost in together.

Snowplanet (30 minutes north of Auckland) is New Zealand’s only indoor snow resort and is open 365 days a year. Away from the skiers and snowboarders, you will find the family-friendly Winter Wonderland alpine village with snow tubing tracks, tobogganing, and lots of snowy play space for kids and grown-ups.

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