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Family Fun

12 awesome family friendly attractions in New Zealand

  • 5 minutes

(WHAT TO DO NEARBY)

Discover unleashed Aotearoa New Zealand attractions for kids and families. Weta Workshop Unleashed has personality plus oozing out of its fantasy figures. Visit places where the locals are largely underground at Waitomo Caves or fantails, tiny native birds flit at your feet in Rotopiko Wetland Centre. Discover the power of the earth at Te Puia geothermal park or the thrill of the race at Highland Park Car Museum, Cromwell. Your day needs to be filled with things to do with the kids. Check out what to do nearby, making holiday time a breeze.

TIP

Some places have free entry – yeah

@WetaWorkshop
@WetaWorkshop
  1. WETA WORKSHOP UNLEASHED – AUCKLAND

Immerse yourself in a wildly imaginative experience that invites guests of all ages, from the curious to the creative, on a thrilling guided journey into a fantastical film effects facility. Weta Workshop Unleashed is centred on three fully developed and original film concepts: a nail-biting horror Fauna, a fantasy epic Age of the Ever-Clan and the mind-bending sci-fi Origins.  There are film scripts and storyboarded scenes to create imaginative walk through realistic movie scenes.

TIP

Weta Workshop Unleashed is approximately 1 minute walk from the Sky Tower with its adrenaline pumping thrill of jumping off.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY WETA WORKSHOP UNLEASHED (AUCKLAND)?

There is plenty to do nearby Weta Workshop Unleashed Auckland

The Sky Tower has stood tall at 328 metres, owning Auckland’s skyline for over 20 years. It’s an exciting hub of adrenaline activities, superb dining and breathtaking views.

Auckland domain and War Memorial museum with residential suburb on the background. Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland domain and War Memorial museum
Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand @Auckland for Kids
Sky Tower, Auckland @Auckland for Kids

At the base of the Sky Tower, the SkyCity Auckland entertainment complex is home to two world-class hotels, Auckland’s premier dining precinct with over 20 bars and restaurants, a 700 seat theatre and a world-class Casino*. There is a lot to explore at SkyCity Auckland.

  • View the city from 220 metres high above street level.
  • Panoramic 360˚ views up to 80 kilometres in every direction.
  • Spot key landmarks, volcanoes and other historical locations within the greater Auckland area.
  1. WAITOMO CAVES

Waitomo Caves highlights what to see and do – Best Bits is a a natural underworld system where the kids and family members have the option of

  • Glide through the subterranean world on a quiet boat trip
  • Easy well lit boardwalks
  • Adrenaline laced Black water rafting
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato, New Zealand
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato
Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand
Marokopa Falls

WHAT TO DO NEARBY WAITOMO CAVES WITH THE KIDS?

There is plenty to do and see nearby Waitomo. Waitomo Caves, beyond the tourist circuit, what to see and best things to do

  • MANGAPOHUE NATURAL BRIDGE is a 17 metre high natural limestone arch.
  • Waterfall fans will not be disappointed with Marokopa Waterfalls, stunning lesser-known NZ falls
  • WAIKAWAU BEACH & TUNNEL, Sandstone cliffs are tinted with orange, yellow and creams. The beach and headlands remind visitors that there are places where people are few and far between.Waikawau beach is raw, elemental and wild. You feel like an adventurer especially after the journey to the location. The tunnel opens to iron black sands,
  • Otorohanga: Things To Do and See in a Travel Guide – Best Bits, kiwiana in glorious street art, sculpture and fun objects
  1. REDWOODS FOREST – ROTORUA

Why is the Redwoods Forest a great attraction for families?

The Redwoods Forest is a ideal place to visit with kids and family members due to the variety of climbing, walking options available

  • For free you can walk among the massive redwood forest and look upwards at the suspension bridges and ropes observing climbers exploring the canopy above – mobility issues and not comfortable with heights
  • Enjoy walking at xx height on flat easy to navigate suspension bridges between trees – fun for kids
  • Challenge your sense of height as you zipline and – teenages and beyond
  • Indulge the imagination as you discover the nightlife world of lanterns and strings of glowing beaded lights between the trees – a teenage delight
Redwoods Rotorua, New Zealand
Redwoods Rotorua
The fog of Rotorua, Kuirau park, New Zealand
The fog of Rotorua, Kuirau park

WHAT TO DO NEARBY ROTORUA REDWOODS FOREST?

The Redwoods Forest has attractions galore nearby; it’s Rotorua after all.  Consider

  1. TE PUIA GEOTHERMAL VILLAGE, Hangi lunch

Why is Te Puia a great place for families to visit?

Te Puia is an ideal family attraction as fussy eaters will enjoy the array of choices spread out before them at Te Puia restaurant. Then there is an extensive geothermal park to visit and a great kiwi enclosure.

@tepuia.rotorua.nz
@tepuia.rotorua.nz
TIP

Try to grab a seat outside to watch the endless display of geothermal wonder

@tepuia.rotorua.nz
@tepuia.rotorua.nz

The guided tour of the Marae and Maori Art and Craft Institute provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the locals. Yet for smaller kids the detail and focus could be a little too long with restlessness spoiling the introduction for the parents. Consider a shortened version with a self-guided tour of the geothermal park

  • Well signposted tracks with detailed information plaques
  • A rare occasion for many visitors (including New Zealanders) to view a kiwi bird foraging in the ‘night time enclosure. Beautifully designed sanctuary for endangered birds with three separate viewing opportunities
  • Ahua Gallery for authentic gifts from glorious unique art to reasonably priced collectables
TIP

Combine with a visit to Kuirau park – Best Bits its free and has a great geothermal area for kids to explore. There is a popular weekend market.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY TE PUIA GEOTHERMAL VILLAGE

Lime pool, heavily mineralised, Sulphur Bay boardwalk, Rotorua
Lime pool, heavily mineralised, Sulphur Bay boardwalk, Rotorua
Te Papa interior, Wellington, New Zealand
Te Papa interior
  1. TE PAPA MUSEUM

Why is Te Papa New Zealand National Museum a great place for families to visit/

Te Papa is a must-go attraction for Wellington visitors as its detailed family activities sheets for kids to ponder over. Te Papa is an interactive, innovative interpretation of New Zealand events and history. Five floors provide a snapshot of natural history, Maori culture and immigration patterns.  Remember to check out the forest of native plants that link the Museum with its outdoor environment. The Museum is tucked into the edge of the waterfront making eating choices easy with the numerous outlets nearby.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY TE PAPA MUSEUM  WELLINGTON?

@WetaWorkshop
@WetaWorkshop
Rotopiko National Wetland Centre floating pontoon over peat lake, Waikato, New Zealand
Rotopiko National Wetland Centre
  1. ROTOPIKO NATIONAL WETLANDS WALK – WAIKATO (NORTH ISLAND)

It’s free, responsible tourism and interesting with plenty of things for everyone to think about. Rotopiko National Wetlands Centre & Yarndleys Bush – Best Bits. Discover an original slice of Aotearoa New Zealand wetlands, flora and fauna now protected by a sturdy predator fence keeping out the bad guys such as rodents, possums and feral cats.

TOP SIGHTS – TURNEY BUSH RESERVE

  • Ancient swamp kahikatea trees giving a hint of what a mature swamp tree looks like
  • Fern birds intent on foraging at your feet
  • Inky deep still peat lake
  • Stunning contrast between the cultivated farmed dairy pasture and the reserve
  • Spaces for kids to jump, run and explore a nature sustainable environment

WHAT TO DO NEARBY IN THE WAIKATO (CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND)?

  • Another 5 – 10 minutes is Yarndleys Bush. Kahikatea flourish in the 14 hectare council reserve. There is a short boardwalk with a stunning canopy tower giving visitors a bird’s eye view of the towering 30 metre high trees.
  • Check out Hamilton families & kids top attractions, places to go – Best Bits
  • Hobbiton for fantasy fans of the Lord of the Rings film locations
  • Sanctuary Mountain for natural scenic attractions (for younger children it could be a step or two too far as it is steep in places)
Hobbit house, Hobbiton, Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand
Hobbit house, Hobbiton, Matamata
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, New Zealand @Auckland i-SITE
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes @Auckland i-SITE
  1. WEST COAST CHARLESTON

Why is Charleston, NZ a great place for families and kids to visit.

  • Extraordinary story of a place with 37 hotels and now none
  • Nearby Pancake rocks a hot spot for selfies and wondering about nature’s ability to sculpt unusual rock forms
  • Underground caves and black water rafting

Charleston had 37 hotels, was the location for the first concrete building in New Zealand, had a regular shipping line to Sydney and Hobart and the first branch of Hannahs Shoes was located in Charleston. The often quoted story of the Post Office Bank Manager in Wellington who was thrilled, in 1868 to receive a promotion to the Charleston bank emphasizes the importance of the town. Today the bank has gone and largely so has the town. The town is now an adventure tourism destination with Metro Cave / Te Ananui Cave, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the Paparoa National Park offering plenty of opportunities to get out and around.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY CHARLESTON, WEST COAST (NZ)?

@paparoapaddleco
Paparoa National Park @paparoapaddleco
Waka tours, Kaiteriteri Beach, New Zealand @iantrafford
Waka tours @iantrafford
  1. NELSON WAKA TOURS TO SPLIT APPLE ROCK

Why is Nelson Waka Tours a great family attraction?

  • The combination of authentic Maori stories with a stunning coastline
  • Split Apple Rock is incredability picturesque and the perfect way to get there is under paddle power

Abel Tasman National Park is a must-go destination for lovers of nature, scenery, beaches and summer joy ladled out with lashings of golden sandy bays. Nelson Waka tours are a great combo of the summer holiday spirit with a locally led Waka tour to the iconic Split Apple Rock.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY SPLIT APPLE ROCK (NELSON, NZ)?

  • Coastal walks on gloriously accessible tracks through native bush reserves, and close to the urban delights of Nelson and nearby villages. A kiwi summer of sun and consistent weather is a given in the Abel Tasman park
  • Today there are still few roads in Abel Tasman National Park, and water taxi or kayak is the ideal way to commute between beaches. The park’s gateways, perhaps you will just stay put entranced by Kaiteriteri, Motueka and Marahua
Wainui Falls, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand in daylight and slow shutter speed during southern hemisphere summer in February
Wainui Falls, Abel Tasman National Park
@Wairau Bar
@Wairau Bar
  1. WAIRAU BAR – HERITAGE AND SHIPWRECKS – MARLBOROUGH

Why go to Wairau Bar, a windswept part of the Marlborough coast, NZ?

Wairau Bar offers families plenty to do and see from:

  • An evocative rusting shipwreck
  • Rustling sound of wetland rushes
  • Standing in a place where the earliest documented human habitation took place

Documented finds are exciting. Physical objects from the past shout the story of Te Pokohiwi o Kupe/Wairau Bar. The gravel bar is where the Wairau River flows into Cloudy Bay. The original height of the bar was likely 2 – 3 metres higher than today. East Polynesians (Society Islands, Marquesas) left archeological evidence from necklaces, bone hunting tools and middens. Today it is a windswept flat coastal landscape where your imagination provides the context for a village and its residents.

Combine a visit to Wairau bar with a visit to the Wairau Lagoon. For more information about the Wairau Bar site consult Wairau Bar.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY WAIRAU BAR, MARLBOROUGH?

  • Visit Omaka Aviation Centre where the talents of movie magic, vintage planes and stirring stories of heroic actions in World War I and II offer plenty of entertainment for family members
  • MAKANA BOUTIQUE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Nothing like a chocolate factory to sample local treats, to witness the melting chocolate being folded around carmel, adding sweet delight to dried ginger or coating buttery shortbread. Try out various combinations and your gifts for family and friends are sorted
  • Visit Pelorus Scenic Reserve, take a plunge in the rock pools and consider a safe kayak down the water where the Lord of Rings was filmed
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Hanmer Springs @ Stuff
Hanmer Springs @Stuff
  1. HANMER SPRINGS HOT POOLS RESORT

Why go to Hanmer Springs with family and friends?

  • Hanmer Springs is a resort that effortlessly offers a diverse range of things to do for kids with a themed waterpark stocked with places to explore.

Bliss, one of the world’s spa resorts, Hanmer Springs offers families as well as couples a chance to indulge or spend the day gleefully splashing, sliding down various waterfalls, chutes and jumping through fountains. Perhaps an adult or two can find the time to soak away a few hours in nature’s geothermal waters gently cocooned in the warmth.

HANMER SPRINGS – WHAT TO DO NEARBY

Other than the day spent soaking, playing and relaxing into the Hanmer Experience the region offers a variety of things to do.  Some highlights include

  • Quirky Llama Trekking with llamas or simply hanging out with your new best buddies.
  • Got the kids with you? Then check out Art in the Forest, look around the corner and meet the dog at the entrance to the Hanmer Heritage Forest in Hanmer Springs. Keep an eye out for his friends along the Forest Amble walk. How many can you find? Don’t forget to look up.
  • Nearby is Conical Hill and Heritage Forest offering intriguing fantasy walks for all age groups as well as spectacular lookouts.
  • Winter ski and soak option with MOUNT LYFORD ski field. The area is accessible from Hanmer Springs with a shuttle pick up at the access gate/ top of the village: 9:30am, returns at 4pm from the mountain $20/person. Booking is essential.

TIP: This is a multiple day option (overnight minimum).

  • Shop in the Hanmer Experience retail outlet for handcrafted body lotions, skincare products and a gift voucher for a special someone.
Mt Lyford Ski Resort, New Zealand @Mountainwatch
Mt Lyford Ski Resort @Mountainwatch
International Antarctic Centre, New Zealand @trip
International Antarctic Centre @trip
  1. ANTARCTIC CENTRE – CHRISTCHURCH

Why go to the International Antarctic Centre, NZ?

  • Family focused with a detailed kids programme as part of your entry ticket
  • Plenty of snow equipment for kids to clamber over
  • Pop on an Antarctic coat and experience the deep cold

Handy location next to the airport can make for a thrilling introduction to the city.  While definitely catering for the kids in all of us the Antarctic Centre provides a detailed understanding of the importance of one of Aotearoa’s nearest neighbours, the Antarctic.  Kids will thoroughly enjoy the experience of a blizzard and the sense of isolation that extreme cold creates.  A place of imagination, play and learning makes for a great educational experience that is not dull at all.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY THE ANTARCTIC CENTRE?

Christchurch vintage tram Canterbury, New Zealand
Christchurch vintage tram
Classic Sports Car Museum NZ, New Zealand @Highlands Museum
@Highlands Museum
  1. HIGHLAND PARK MUSEUM CROMWELL – OTAGO

Absolutely the best place to experience the exhilaration of a race track, a car museum and the best toilet stop in New Zealand.  Toilets with plate glass windows are rooms with a view. It is fun and an insta moment for your holiday.

WHAT TO DO NEARBY HIGHLAND PARK MUSEUM & RACE TRACK, CROMWELL

  • E-bikes around Lake Dunstan on Highlands and Trail Journeys have teamed up to bring you Central Otago’s best E-Bike experience. As an exclusive bonus, EVERY bike hire includes access to the World Class 4.2km circuit at Highlands – The Power Hour.
  • Cromwell is an authentic Victorian gold mining town where you can try your hand at gold panning,
  • Wander among the ruins of gold mining dreams at Bannockburn
The Bannockburn Sluicings, Central Otago, New Zealand
The Bannockburn Sluicings

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