From wildlife encounters to relaxing boat cruises, the whole family will be spoiled for choice in things to do in the spectacular South Island of New Zealand.

Learn to fish with Hook Wanaka, New Zealand

Nelson Tasman

Renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, from long golden beaches to untouched, wild forests, Nelson Tasman offers plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family. Ride on the world’s longest flying fox at Cable Bay Adventure Park, go on a kayaking adventure, or visit Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, one of South Island’s largest wildlife sanctuaries and meet some native birds.

Explore Nelson central and the Botanic Gardens, book a tour of Pic’s Peanut Butter World and let the kids have a go at making their own peanut butter! Or venture a little further and do one of the many stunning walks around Abel Tasman National Park or Kahurangi National Park.

Christchurch

Explore Christchurch at your own pace - take a relaxing boat journey down the Avon River in a punt or stroll through the perfectly manicured Botanic Gardens. Go to Riverside Market(opens in new window), an enclosed fresh farmers’ market open 7 days, which offers various locally-owned food outlets and fresh produce – there’s sure to be something for everyone in the family.

Take the family on a day trip to Orana Wildlife Park and get up close with the animal kingdom. Visit the International Antarctic Centre and experience what polar life is like – find out what it’s like to be in the midst of an Antarctic storm.

West Coast

Explore glacier country with the kids. With Fox Glacier and Franz Josef being the most easily accessible to visitors, you can book a guided walk and take the family out to get a closer look at these large natural wonders. Heli-hiking is also a great way to get up onto the glaciers with plenty of energy to spare for walking across the ice.

Grab some pancakes and then check out the Punakaiki Pancake rocks, cycle on the Wilderness Trail, or admire the blue waters at Hokitika Gorge. For a more educational experience, visit the Brunner Mine Site or the Shantytown Heritage Park – there are plenty of things to do for all ages to suit any type of family holiday!

Queenstown

For epic views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, bring the family up the Skyline Gondola. Zoom down on the luge and re-energise at the café. Down by the lake, take a cruise on the classic steamship TSS Earnslaw – this can be combined with farm tours, horse treks or simply a tasty lunch or dinner option.

If you’re up for travelling further out of Queenstown, take a day trip to Milford Sound by road or air, or explore Lord of the Rings filming locations by 4WD or on horseback, or discover nearby towns such as Arrowtown or Glenorchy.

Wanaka

Escape the bustle of Queenstown and get away to Wanaka, another lakefront destination with a laidback vibe. Relax waterside among the cafes and restaurants, with perhaps a jaunt over to Puzzling World – a truly unique place with the world’s first 3D ‘Great Maze’, illusion rooms and other eccentric activities and architecture.

Try out fishing with the family at Hook Wanaka, explore the purple fields at Wanaka Lavender Farm or change up the pace and go jet boating, or take on one of the many walking trails around the area.

Dunedin

Known for being one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere, Dunedin is the home to New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle. Add to the educational experience and visit Tūhura science centre at Otago Museum, which takes science to another level with more than 43 hands-on interactive activities for the kids.

Home to penguins, seals, albatross and many more species, there are plenty of wildlife tours available for the family to experience. The Royal Albatross Centre, found at the tip of the Otago Peninsula, is the only mainland in the world with a breeding colony of northern royal albatross. Colonies of little blue penguins - the smallest species of penguin of all – are also found in this region.

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