Family friendly activities in the South Island

Create memorable moments on your next holiday with the family.

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

Nelson Tasman


Nelson Tasman

A place to slow down, linger, savour and enjoy.


  • Make ‘billy’ tea over natural flames
  • Ride the world's longest flying fox
  • Try making your own peanut butter

Top 10 things to do in Nelson Tasman

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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 - Canterbury

Your South Island basecamp for your next family holiday.


  • Get up close to the animal kingdom
  • Experience the Antarctic life
  • Explore French town Akaroa

Top 10 things to do in Christchurch

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Explore Christchurch at your own pace - take a relaxing boat journey down the Avon River(opens in new window) 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. Just walking distance from the Christchurch Airport, you and the family can easily 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


West Coast

The untamed, natural wilderness.


  • Explore glacier country
  • Cycle through ancient rainforests
  • Walk 20 metres above the ground

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!




Offers diverse, world-class experiences for the whole family to enjoy.


  • Zoom down the Skyline Luge
  • Experience indoor skydiving
  • Horse ride alongside glacial-fed rivers

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 an extra night and stay at Te Anau. Travel 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.




Adventure at your own pace, in your own time, in your own way.


  • Find your way around the 'Great Maze’
  • Try fishing for your own dinner
  • Visit farm animals at the lavender farm

Top 10 things to do in Wānaka

Discover Wānaka

Escape the bustle of Queenstown and get away to Wānaka, 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 Wānaka, explore the purple fields at Wānaka Lavender Farm or change up the pace and go jet boating, or take on one of the many walking trails around the area.




One of the world's greatest small cities, filled with charm and character.


  • Explore New Zealand’s only castle
  • Voyage across Waikouaiti River in a waka
  • Get up close to unique marine life

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.

Popular family-friendly activities in the South Island

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