New Zealand itineraries with kids: Itineraries for 3, 4 and 6 weeks
New Zealand is a wonderful country to travel to with kids. The nature is beautiful and the facilities for kids are great. But what is the perfect itinerary across the country when traveling with kids? You sometimes see blogs on websites with the perfect itinerary through a country, but of course that is nonsense. A different itinerary is perfect for every family. And when do you speak of a perfect itinerary? We will show our own itinerary and we will show the different options you have in this beautiful country.
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New Zealand itineraries with kids: Our own itinerary
We spent three weeks in New Zealand as part of a six-month trip around the world with our four-year-old daughter.
We visited New Zealand in April and had read many stories of families who had experienced a lot of rain during the trip. Because of this, we did not want to travel through this beautiful country for too long, as we were afraid of traveling around in the rain for 2 months. Afterwards, we had mostly beautiful weather (only two days of rain), but of course you don’t know that in advance.
In addition, we felt it was important to travel slowly through the country, since we were going to travel for six months and then you can’t move from highlight to highlight every day. We therefore chose to take a small tour of the North Island.
Our route across the North Island was as follows:
Auckland (day 1-2)
Coromandel (days 3-4)
Cambridge (days 5-6)
Rotorua (day 7 to 12)
Taupo (day 13 to 17)
Waitomo (days 18-19)
Auckland (days 20-21)
The advantage of the North Island is that the distances are not that great between destinations. We only sat in the car a few times to move from one destination to another. So our pace of travel was very slow and this can definitely be done faster. You can hit most places at a faster pace. The hours to count from one place to another are the following by car.
Travel time New Zealand North Island:
Auckland – Coromandel Travel time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Coromandel – Cambirdge Travel time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Cambridge- Rotorua Travel time: 1 hour
Rotorua – Taupo Travel time: 1 hour
Taupo – Waitomo Travel time: 2 hours
Waitomo – Auckland Travel time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
For us, this was enough travel time in three weeks. In total, it involved sitting in the car for 11 hours in three weeks. That, of course, is not so bad. For yourself and your children, make the consideration of what is comfortable for your kids. It will also depend on the age of your kids.
Auckland is actually fine to skip as a destination, but most families land there and after a long trip including jet lag, it is not very pleasant to travel right through. For example, you have fine public parks with fun playgrounds and you can visit the iconic Sky tower.
Don’t underestimate that you and your kids can be quite jet-lagged and that you will need a day or two to acclimate. For all the activities you can do in Auckland with kids click
We slept in VR Auckland City right in the center for a price of 87 euros for a two-bedroom apartment including breakfast. That was a great hotel to start at before picking up your rental car or RV.
The island of Coromandel is nice to visit, but it is not a must as far as we are concerned. The highlights here are Catedral Cove Beach and Hot Water Beach, and both beaches can easily be visited in one day.
At Hot Water Beach you can dig a hole on the beach with your kids and enjoy a nice warm bath, and Catedral Cove Beach is a very photogenic beach. If you are short on time, it is best to skip this and drive straight from Auckland to Rotorua. If you want to know what other activities you can do in Coromandel with your kids click
We slept in a luxury family villa at the campground here
Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
and this campground is right on Hot Water Beach beach. We found this accommodation a wonderful accommodation for two nights.
We spent the night in Cambridge because we were going to the Hobbiton Movie Set wanted to go, but the tours were already fully booked. So it is advisable to book tickets in advance. As a plan B we then visited Hamilton and there we visited the botanical gardens and the lake and we really had a top day here. Just goes to show that if you sometimes deviate from the route, you can also experience very fun things with your kids. For all the sights of the place Hamilton click
In Cambridge, we slept at the
. This Bed and Breakfast was fine (we don’t really like sleeping at the owners’ house), but it was all fine. It’s not for nothing that this accommodation is rated 9.6 out of more than 180 reviews. Yet even this stopover is not necessary if you are short on time.
We stayed in Rotorua for almost a week, which is a bit on the long side. We found the real highlights to be tobogganing down the mountain and the Wai-o-Tapu Nature Park. In addition, it is fun to take in some of the Maori culture here by going to a performance or visiting a village. If you have little time you can do these things in two days, but if you have a few extra days you won’t have to be bored. For a list of all activities in Rotorua click
We ourselves slept in a family bungalow at the All Seasons Holiday Park and paid 110 euros per night. This campground included an (indoor) swimming pool, hot tub and large playground. Ideal for families with kids. The campground is quiet and while your kid plays in the playground, you can have a drink on your terrace. The pool was also very nice to relax in after a day of activities.
In Taupo you can do many active things with your family, such as rafting, skydiving and hiking to Huka Falls. As a parent, this is also a great place to walk the Tongariro Alpine Track alone. If you want to read our experiences about this fantastic hike click
. For more activities in Taupo with your kids click
In Taupo we slept at the
Taupo Debretts campground
, which also includes a spa. You do pay an extra fee for this, but for a few hours of bathing with your kids, this is really ideal. This way, one parent can take a day off on their own and the other parent can chill with the kids in the spa.
In Taupo, how many days you want to stay here depends a little bit on what all you want to do with the family. So look carefully in advance at what all you want to see and do and then weigh in on this.
If you also want to visit the South Island, drive toward Wellington. From Taupo, this is about a 5-hour drive. The South Island is known for its beautiful nature. Just keep in mind that travel times are a bit longer here and temperatures are also generally a bit lower than on the North Island.
Wellington is the departure point of the boat to the South Island. The highlight of this city with kids is the
Te Papa museum
, which is tremendously family-friendly and is also free to visit. Here you can easily spend a morning or afternoon with your kids.
In addition, there is a fun playground on the waterfront and you can ride the
up for a nice walk including nice views. A visit of two to three days to this city is therefore recommended.
In Wellington sits the
Wellington top 10 Holiday Park
. Here you can rent cottages from 69 euros and they also have a wide selection of different cottages on the campsite. We ourselves always thought it was important that our daughter and we both had separate rooms. At this campground, you also have cottages for this. Up to a maximum of 6 people, they have cottages.
New Zealand itineraries with kids: Crossing south island
The journey by boat from Wellington to Picton takes about 3.5 hours and there are several departures each day. You pay about 40 euros per person for the crossing, and with a rental car or motorhome there is an additional fee. Check the websites of the various organizations to see the exact cost of a crossing for your family. These boats operate between the islands:
There is not a whole lot to do in the town of Namur, so you may choose to take an early Ferry from Wellinton and then drive on from Namur to Nelson (1 hour and 45 minutes away). Most of the South Island’s highlights are in the west and are easy to travel to.
Nelson and abel tasman park
top 10 campground
in Nelson have some picnic tables near the playground, where you can have a nice drink while the kids play. There are only a few cottages available at the campground here and prices start from 73 euros. Families of up to four people can rent a cottage at this campground.
From Nelson you will drive to Abel Tasman Park in an hour. This national park has stunning white beaches and beautiful islands, and this is a beautiful destination especially in summer. In addition, you can spot seals, penguins and dolphins here. It kind of depends on the weather and the time you have how long you want to stay here.
To visit Abel Tasman National Park, you can stay overnight at Motueka Holiday park campground with a large swimming pool, playground and hot tub. Accommodations start from 89 euros per night and for a two-bedroom cottage you pay a price of 129 euros. Keep in mind that it is still quite a drive to the national park.
The campground at Pohara is closer to Abel Tasman National Park, but is a lot more austere. The campground does lie directly on the beach, so it can be a good option in the summer. Cottages here start from 56 euros for a family.
From Abel Tasman, it is a full morning drive (about 4 hours) to Paparoa National Park, where the beautiful pancake rocks are. Furthermore, near Hokitika there is a chance to see glow worms
see. So whereas in places like Waitomo you still have to pay a hefty entrance fee to enter the caves, here you can see the worms for free.
The Greymouth Seaside campground has many facilities for kids and is right on the beach. You have lots of different cottages here and prices start from 52 euros. Paparoa National Park is a 45-minute drive from here.
Franz Joseph Glacier
Among the highlights of the South Island are Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. To hike on the Glaciers, your children must be at least 9 years old, but you can walk to the glaciers with kids who are younger. The hikes to both glaciers are about the same difficulty, so that need not be the reason to choose one of the glaciers if you are short on time.
The hikes to both glaciers take about 1.5 hours from the parking lot and are doable with small kids provided weather conditions are good. Of course, with small kids, it’s a good idea not to hike to both glaciers in one day.
There are some points where you have to watch out for falling rocks and where it is advised to walk on. In addition, it is convenient that you walk these two walks with closed shoes.
Now if you really want to do something special with your family then a helicopter ride to the glaciers is an idea. We read from more and more travelers that they
book this tour, despite it being quite pricey of course.
Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park
has a beautiful view from the campground over the mountains. This small-scale campground has a few different cottages on site and the cheapest cottages start from 97 euros.
From the glaciers, it’s another morning’s drive (just over 4 hours) before you arrive in Wanaka by car or RV. However, you do drive through beautiful scenery with rain forests, valleys and stunning waterfalls along the way.
There is a very nice hike you can walk with older kids to Roy’s Peak. The view of the lake is fantastic. For young kids (who cannot be carried), this climb is a little too tough. With small kids, then, it might be better to drive on to Queenstown.
For a full list of activities to do with kids here click
The Wanaka campground is beautifully situated among the mountains and has views of Lake Wanaka. It is also possible to take a free bus to downtown Wanaka. The price of a family studio is from 121 euros.
From Wanaka, it is about an hour’s drive to Queenstown. In terms of activities, this place can be compared to Taupo. After all, you can also Skidive, Lugen, Bungee jump here,
and Mountain biking. Of course, luge with kids here is a lot of fun to do and from the starting point you have a magnificent view of the area.
top 10 camping
in Queenstown is also praised for the facilities available for kids such as bike rentals and the presence of a playground. A cottage here starts at the price of 83 euros, but then you have to share the bathroom with others. If you don’t want this then prices start from 134 euros.
Milford Sound is known for its sixteen-kilometer-long fjord. It is one of the highlights of New Zealand. To get here from Queenstown, you have to spend another four hours or so in the car with your kids. Milford Sound goes deep into the country and the mountains there are beautiful and along the way you see beautiful waterfalls everywhere. After arriving in Milford Sounds, you can book a boat tour at the port
or online in advance.
The campground in Te Anau (departure points for most tours) is a two-minute walk from downtown. The campground has extensive gardens and a modern playground for the kids. The price for an economy triple room here starts from 68 euros, but if you really want a two-bedroom cottage you pay 149 euros per night.
From Milford Sounds, it is quite a drive to Mount Cook (6.5 hours by car). Given enough time, you can make another stop in Dunedin (if you missed the penguins and dolphins at Abel Tasman Park).
In Mount Cook, you can take a fantastic boat ride on Mount Cook glacial lake. You sail very close to ice floes here. You can also land on this glacier with a
helicopter to land
and take a hike.
If you want to rent a cottage at a wonderful campground on Lake Tekapo, then the
Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park
is a good option. You have great views of the lake and mountains from the campground. You have many different cottages to rent here and the price for an overnight stay starts at 91 euros.
In Christchurch, you are back in a big city and lovers of good food and drink can indulge. The city has many beautiful gardens, where you can take nice walks with the family. From Christchurch, for many travelers, the plane departs back home. Also from this city you can
to various places of interest.
In the town of Christchurch there is a
top 10 Holiday Park campground
with indoor pool with hot tub. This can be a huge godsend with kids, especially in bad weather. In addition, there are quite a few activities for kids to do at the campground. Cottages start from 57 euros and there are even four-bedroom cottages that can accommodate 11 people.
travel time new zealand south island
Travel time New Zealand South Island:
Picton – Nelson Travel time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Nelson – Abel Tasman Park Travel time: 1 hour
Abel Tasman – Paparoa NP Travel time: 4 hours
Paparoa NP – Hokitika Travel time: 1 hour
Hokitika – Franz Joseph Glacier Travel time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Franz Joseph Glacier – Wanaka Travel time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Wanaka – Queenstown Travel time: 1 hour
Queenstown – Milford Sounds Travel time: 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Milford Sounds – Mount Cook Travel time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Mount Cook- Christchurch Travel time: 4 hours
Christchurch- Picton Travel time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Exactly how long you stay everywhere and which destinations you all visit with your family depends very much on how much time you have in this beautiful country. You can choose not to drive the entire way back and return your motorhome or rental car in Queenstown and then take a short flight to Auckland or Christchurch. This saves an enormous number of hours by car or RV. Of course, again, it depends on how much time you have. If you have two or three months to spare, you can easily travel back to Christchurch or Auckland via the east side of the island. And if you have a few months to spare, it’s also nice to combine a trip to New Zealand with a sun destination on one of the nearby islands. We flew on to Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Hawaii during our world trip, but you have many other tropical destinations near New Zealand like the island of Tahiti, for example.