Vacations are best when taken with family. But here’s how to amp up that bonding quotient while you are at it – take a road trip. That’s right! And what better place to do it than in New Zealand. Keep scrolling to find out WHY New Zealand family road trips are the best ever!
Reason 1: The Sights, duhh
World’s Forgotten Highway – Running between the towns of Stratford and Taumarunui this is a 3 hour drive passing through ample of rustic scenery of New Zealand. Climbing 3 saddles, it passses through the Moki Tunnel also known as Hobbit’s Hole.
Crown Range road – Although posing a challenging drive, this is placed at shortest distance between Wanaka and Queenstown. Setting out from Queenstown, you will chance upon views of Lake Hayes, the Crown Terrace, Arrow Valley and the Remarkables mountain range.
Mt Cook National Park:
In New Zealand there’s the perpetual dilemma of what is better: the journey or the destination. The drive to Mt. Cook from Lake Tekapo is one of the best. And just when you think you have passed the best, the Tasman glacier sits grabbing your attention with its all-encompassing charm.
Another picture perfect view New Zealand boasts of, this lake by the Fox Glacier is known for the beautifully reflecting Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in its deep, dark waters.
Among the many vast and beautiful beaches of New Zealand, your roadtrip most needs a drive and stop by the Koekohe beach, along the Otago coast. Home to the large and spherical Moeraki boulders, the fam-gang will all benefit from a splash in the waters and of course, the enviable photo sesh. Need to fill up that gallery, innit!
Truly turquoise blue, the waters of Lake Tekapo are hard to just pass by. It is so compelling that you will walk around the shores of this pristine beauty, maybe even walk up to the Church of the Good Shepherd – another beauty spot on Lake Tekapo. Sit down for a picnic with the kids running along the shore line, dangling their legs into the water.
And before you know, the skies have gone from blue to a dark shade of purple. And as night hovers, lean back and count the stars – maybe even spy on the Milkyway, making its uncanny appearance.
Isn’t the best thing about a road trip aimlessly wandering along the roads of foreign place? With that very same idea, wander into Arrowtown. You are in luck if you are doing this in Autumn because you may chance upon views like this –
Between April and May you can even join in on the Arrowtown Autumn Festival. It is all about the time and place.
Reason 2: Fun day, everydayKids + New Zealand = Best idea ever
Wanaka’s Puzzling World
With attractions ranging from Hologram hall to Hall of Following Faces to Leaning House and of course the Great Maze; the Puzzling World is half day’s worth of family fun. Discounting the photo session, of course. Located on the highway to Luggate, here is an accessible fun family on your road trip!
Sit in a luge, take control and get luging. Can’t stop, don’t stop. Available across many places in New Zealand, there will be no more of adult monitoring or kids waiting it out. All you fam gang can grab yourself a luge and roll down a track – of your chosen gradient. Peals of laughter and couple of shrieks later settle in for a late lunch or an evening feast. Got to eat up before you hit the road again.
Conventional entertainment is but an Auckland away. Enter Auckland and all the go-getters fun – your priority pitstop must be at Rainbow’s End Theme Park. With the dedicated section Kidz Kingdom, fun is guaranteed for the entire family. For those with an unquenchable adrenaline, we recommend the Stratosphere ride.
While in New Zealand be outdoors-y like the Kiwis are. While this would generally involve tramping, here’s what Kiwis do while taking a walk in the park. Frisbee / Disc golf. This involves aiming a frisbee into a basket. While you huddle in the garden next skip, skip the duck-duck-goose, maybe.
Reason 3: Meet the Wildlife
Wildlife is but a swim, a jetty ride and a drive away at New Zealand. Want to watch penguins wander and cross roads on their way home? Want to watch the iconic Kiwi bird take a beach break with its buddies? All and more, yours truly on your family road trip!
Head over to Penguin Place – a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve to watch them stroll, socialize and more in their natural habitat.
Splish, splash. Water is always a fun getaway from the grime of road travel. Just kidding, no grime. This is New Zealand. In Kaikoura Peninsula’s shallow waters splash around with fur seals with Seal Swim Kaikoura. The entire fam gang can jump in what with it being open to everyone 5 years and older.
And, of course, the classic Dolphin meet. At Paihia with the Dolphin Eco Experience, you get snorkel and spend half day with playful dolphins – getting to know their habitat under the guidance of crew well-experienced in dolphin behaviour.
Reason 4: Celebrate a new culture
From the touching of noses in greeting hongi to hangi or food cooked underground, there is so much diversity and so many new things to learn from Māori culture. For those looking to celebrate the Māori culture, here’s a list of festivals you can coordinate your visit to. Through Northland’s Waipoua Forest you can take the Footprints Waipoua – a Māori guided tour into the world of legends and everything Māori.
Reason 5: Host your own beach party
The beach is never too far away while in New Zealand – unless you are too weary to rev up the engine and get moving. From a Hot Water Beach that lets you dig and build your own beachside sauna. .
To the Muriwai black sand beach enveloped by cliffs and colonies of gannets. .
To the cosy Bethells beach – a favourite among locals and celebrities – so replete with shallow lagoons
And if you are looking to survey and some local fauna, at Allans beach turn up around dusk and sight the yellow-eyed penguins heading home after a long, long day.
Beach day is more than sand castles, tanning and sandwiches at New Zealand. Beach days are endless and oh-so-full with adventure on your New Zealand family road trip. Carpe diem, fam gang!
Reason 6: Get close to Antarctic Circle
At Stewart Island, you are on a landmass closest to Antarctica! Which, doubtless, makes it one of the best places to spy the Southern Lights from. It is known as Rakiura – translating to the land of glowing skies – in Māori. A place where Kiwi birds outnumber humans, this is a sure-shot getaway from the world for your fam gang. Dive at Patersons islet or go Kiwi bird spotting on the Ocean beach. In the night, pitch a tent and watch the dark skies put on an exclusive show of stars and constellations. Astronomy classes on your New Zealand road trip. Fine idea?
Reason 7: Get your load of Q-U-I-R-K
Town of Oamaru
Before you dismiss it as just another town, head beach-ward. While most small towns possess character, few match Oamaru’s quirk. On heading inwards, you will be transported back to the Victorian Era. No, really. There’s the vague resemblance of Victorian architecture but there are also people dressed in Victorian attire and the unmissable, the one and only Steampunk HQ Museum. A thin line between a might-have-been bleak future and how-the-Victorians-invented-contraptions past, expect to sight a yard of industrial parts, a steam tractor and more. Among photo props and an amusing gallery, don’t miss out on the teapot race that is a regular.
Home of Lost Soles at Castle Point
On one of your beach wanderings, stop by the beach at Castle Point to sight this amusing display. The Home of Lost Soles hosts marooned or lost soles found on the beach – nailed to a pole. Take a quirky picture and maybe leave back a souvenir? Your own addition to this interesting display.
World’s steepest street in Dunedin
The world’s steepest street definitely reckons a visit. Located in Dunedin, it is 350 metres long and runs between Lindsay creek and Signal hill. Every July, 30,000 Jaffas – spherical confectionery-coated chocolate – are rolled down the road to raise charity. Each Jaffa is claimed by a person and the winner gets a prize.
Looking for more quirks? Here’s to recognizing all of New Zealand’s quakes. A section of Canterbury Museum called Quake City hosts a multi-sensory exhibition that retells the 2010 & 2011 earthquakes through personal experiences.
Reason 8: Out of Comfort Zone
Road trips are also great opportunities to push at comfort zones and try out new things. In New Zealand, fortunately, these opportunities are tagged fun. And adventure.
Shotover Jet ~
Through river gorges and channels, pass through jagged rocks and river banks at over 85 kmph speeds. The climax, of course, is the exhilarating 360 degree spin of the jet boat. A wild ride from the beginning to the end.
Glacier tour ~
Pull up your socks, fasten your laces it is hiking time. Although tramping is super popular in New Zealand, this walk around the glacier notches it up with scenic views. This glacier walk along the river banks may conclude with a picnic by Lake Matheson or drowning away an weariness in the hot pools. Or ,well you know, both.
Reason 9: Watch the stars and then some
Officially declared as the home to the darkest skies in the world, every night is an occasion to lay back on a beach, atop a hill or any topography of your choice and stargaze. Draw star figures, discuss constellations or just stare speechless. And if – IF – you are blessed or just get lucky, watch the Southern Lights streak the skies in pink, green, yellow and whatnot. We hear the Aurora Australis is more show and tell than the demure Arctic Princess. So you are set up for some scenic views. Plus you have the being on a road trip in New Zealand going for you. Every day is just an adventure OUT THERE.
If you aren’t upto pitching tents or a farmstay, New Zealand has many interesting accommodation options. From a Hobbit hole to Post Office stay to even a Lighthouse, get your fill of all the wackiest places you can treat yourselves to on your family road trip!