Aside from its rich biodiversity and stunning scenery that extends as far as the eyes can see, New Zealand boasts a variety of family-friendly adventures that make for an unforgettable holiday. We list down a few that you can do in the Middle-earth with the fam.
Explore the glowworm- and troll-filled caves of Waitomo
Traveling by boat into spectacular underwater caves illuminated by glowworms is an experience unique to New Zealand.
For youngsters seeking thrills, Waitomo also offers the Troll Cave experience, an interactive cave tour encouraging kids to search for something big, ugly, and mean—Tom the troll. While the quest can be a bit scary initially, with flooding rooms and collapsing walls, those who dare to try something new will find themselves braver than before after accomplishing their task.
Take on the challenges at Wanaka Puzzling World
The Puzzling World in Wanaka has been challenging people’s wits since 1973. Children love to get lost in the great maze, solve problems in the puzzle center, and enjoy optical illusions which appear to defy gravity, physics and common sense.
The smallest members of the family can see how they would look like “taller” when they go into a room which uses a technique featured in The Lord of The Rings in creating the illusion of tall and tiny people. Meanwhile, in the Illusion Roman Toilets, visitors are told “Don’t be shy, take a seat alongside our Romans and snap yourself within the scene—pants on please!”
Learn about MÄori culture
The unique combination of geothermal wonders, MÄori art and culture makes Te Puia a special place to visit.
A stroll around Rotorua’s Te Whakarewarewa Valley in Te Puia is a fascinating experience. Children can visit the bubbling mud pools or watch the world-famous PÅhutu Geyser catapult water 30 meters into the air.
Te Puia is also the home to the New Zealand MÄori Arts and Crafts Institute, where children, or tamariki in MÄori, can watch master carvers and weavers at work, and hear the guides share stories passed down from their ancestors. In the evening, visitors are invited to a feast, which begins with a traditional welcoming ceremony by fierce warriors called pÅwhiri. This is followed by a rousing concert, where kids can join the performers on stage to learn the haka MÄori dance or poi performance, where a ball of flax is swung rhythmically on a string.
Go behind-the-scenes in Wellywood’s Weta Workshop
Wellington’s Weta Workshop is New Zealand’s renowned special effects and props company. Cinephiles can go on a journey from Middle-earth to Thunderbird’s Tracy Island and beyond. Snap a photo with life-sized statues and find souvenirs to take home.
The Weta Workshop studio tour reveals secrets behind the making of much-loved films, such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The tour allows visitors to get up close and personal to the artistry behind 20 years of Weta creativity, while learning about the processes that turn imaginary worlds into reality.
Winter wonderland in Queenstown and Wanaka
Queenstown and Wanaka offer the perfect base for families looking to make long-lasting memories while also enjoying winter wonderland scenery and New Zealand’s famous Kiwi hospitality.
Queenstown and Wanaka share four major ski fields—all with naturally formed, diverse terrain to choose from. Closest to downtown Queenstown is Coronet Peak, which offers visitors a unique night skiing experience called Park after Dark. A 45-minute drive from Queenstown brings visitors to the Remarkables mountain range. The alpine terrain, north-facing slopes, dedicated learning area, lessons, kids club, and free day lift passes for under 10s make this ski-field a great place for families and novices to get their first taste of a fun-packed snow adventure.
For those who are not up for some heart-racing skiing, Queenstown has an array of beautiful scenic walks, local wineries, fine dining establishments, and historical attractions including the 103-year-old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, which takes visitors on regular scenic tours of Lake Wakatipu.