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For family holidays, fun comes first!
New Zealand offers an abundance of opportunities for you and your children to engage in educational and cultural activities as well as enjoy the natural outdoors. New Zealand is like one giant, natural theme park.
Often it is the simple things that create the most fun, such as building sandcastles on the beach, tucking in to a delicious picnic lunch on a remote river bank or taking a gentle hike through native forest in the evening to see glowworms.
Connecting with wildlife is quite enchanting, whether it be in a reserve such as Willowbank, Wild Kiwi, Kiwi Birdlife Park or Rainbow Springs where you can see local birdlife up close, or in the wild when a kea, our native parrot, perches on the rear vision mirror of your car - which can also be very close! In Oamaru and Dunedin there are opportunities to see penguins coming in to shore early evening after a day fishing. Dolphin watch cruises in Akaroa, Kaikoura and the Bay of Islands are a wonderful way to see how these amazing creatures love to play in the waves.
Safe swimming, golden sand beaches such as Kaiteriteri near the Abel Tasman National Park offer an inexpensive way to spend the day outdoors with the kids. Take a picnic - treat yourselves to delicious New Zealand ice cream. Lake shores and rivers are also wonderful swimming pools, but take care to swim with others and check the depth of the water first.
Of course, farms are all over New Zealand and there are plenty of opportunities to see sheep, cows, deer etc as you drive through the rural regions. Spring, Aug/Sept, is the best time to see the cute lambs frolicking in the paddocks. For a more up close encounter, visit Walter Peak High Country Farm near Queenstown or the Agrodome in Rotorua where there are oppourtunities to get up really close and touch the animals.
New Zealand's unique Maori culture offers entertainment as well as an educational experience. Rotorua in particular is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, displayed when visiting a Maori marae (village) for a hangi (traditional dinner) and evening of chants and songs, including the renowned Haka, made famous by the All Blacks. If you are only travelling to the South Island, check out Willowbank for a guided kiwi tour followed by Ko Tane Maori cultural performance and Kiwi Haka at the Skyline in Queenstown.
Sports are an integral part of our New Zealand culture and you will easily find sports grounds, adventure playgrounds etc as you travel around. Saturday mornings are for family sports, so why not head to the local sports ground and watch some rugby, soccer or netball or hockey from the sideline? Take some Cadbury chocolate to keep up your energy levels.
When you are travelling with children, family-friendly accommodation is important. New Zealand's family-style motels are a great way for everyone to enjoy living space and kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals if you like. Self catering is convenient and helps the budget too! Many motels have BBQ facilities, swimming pool and playground for children. Plan your trip well so that you have "stay put" time at key destinations so you can relax and enjoy some fun together. Consider sample itineraries as a helpful start to your family holiday and ask for advice so you make the right choices.
New Zealand is perfect for exploring and learning. Simple and fun.
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