24 Jan Top Family-Friendly Experiences in New Zealand – Part I
New Zealand is truly a holiday destination for the whole family. It’s very safe, offers a huge variety of fun activities that will pull them away from their iPads, and it never takes too long to get from one place to another (anyone who’s travelled with kids knows this is a definite plus!). In this week’s travel journal we bring you Antipodean experiences that parents will love too.
Meet Maori Warriors
Journey back to a time of proud warriors and ancient traditions at Tamaki Maori Village, the most award-winning cultural attraction in New Zealand.
This is a 3+hour evening experience that takes you deep into a 200-year-old native forest (in Rotorua, in New Zealand’s North Island) and into an authentic Maori village.
Upon your family’s arrival, you’ll be welcomed into the tribe with a sacred ceremony, and can then explore the village as open fires blaze. See Maori weaponry displays, traditional Maori carving and flax weaving, and hear the fascinating history and stories of the villagers’ ancestors. You’ll then make your way through the village grounds and into the sacred meeting house, where you’ll enjoy a traditional performance of song and dance, including the famed, fearsome Haka, and the beautiful Poi dance.
The evening culminates in a traditional feast (with Kiwi desserts!) including Hangi – food cooked by steaming underground on hot rocks. Not all Maori cultural experiences include this authentic element – and we think it’s a must-try.
Lights, Camera… Action!
Truly a one-of-a-kind in New Zealand, Whoa! Studios is a state-of-the-art working film studio, open to the public. Book in to see the world-class stage show, Custard’s World – featuring a mix of awesome puppets, impressive digital effects, and lots of interactive action, all happening inside a treehouse movie set (built by the set builders who brought us Lord Of The Rings, Narnia and the Hobbit!).
Fuel up after the live show in Whoa! Studios’ contemporary family eatery, The Grounds. Helmed by one of New Zealand’s best chefs – Ben Bayly – the ‘family fine dining’ menu is designed to please young and old – and is definitely a step above your average family restaurant.
After lunch, let the kids burn off all that energy and wear themselves out on the Whoa! Zone adventure playground, also created by movie set designers and builders.
The playpark includes the Rocket Ship and Mission Control, the Dragons Castle and the Pirates Cove, and the Whoa! Web – a huge, mid-air-suspended crochet climbing net. Also opening this year is the Monstromental Water Slide (3 stories tall, 50 metres long) and inflatable Obstacle Course.
Fly Down a Mountainside
Is it a bird? Is it a plane! No, it’s your little ones flying through the air on a zipline! At the new Christchurch Adventure Park, you can zipline down and through the forest valley. It’s epic fun!
There are four stages, ranging in length from 400 metres to over 1 kilometre, and the tour takes around 2.5 hours. The zipline is dual lined, meaning you can race other people through the Park (or ‘fly’ side by side – this is great for younger children who may feel more secure ziplining next to mum or dad!)
Christchurch Adventure Park is also home to world-class mountain bike trails. Rent quality bikes for everyone in the family and then take them on the chair lift (with stunning views, riding the Chair Lift is an attraction in itself!) and ride 1.8kms to the top of the trails.
Whether your family is quite new to mountain biking or are keen riders, there are fun and challenging trails to suit. The Park offers an excellent introductory package which includes all the right gear, bikes, protectives, and an instructor to take your family through the basics.
There’s also an onsite café – and trust us, the kids will have worked up an appetite after all that adventure!
A Close Encounter with Giants
Let your littlies experience the magic of seeing whales in the wild.
Kaikoura – in New Zealand‘s South Island – is one of the most popular whale watching locations in the world. The waters off the Kaikoura coast are home (year-round) to giant sperm whales, magnificent creatures that can grow up to 20 metres long, and weigh over 50 tonnes. Humpback whales can also be seen here.
Board large, purpose-built vessels and journey out to the deep water to meet the whales. You’re likely to see a few other special sights on the way – like the playful and plentiful Dusky dolphin, the rare and endangered Hectors Dolphin and New Zealand fur seals.
Middle Earth Movie Magic
Step into the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies on a visit to The Shire movie set. Whether your family are fans of the blockbuster movies or not, this is a great day out.
Hear fascinating stories from the filming as you see and explore over 40 Hobbit Holes (including Bag End), and other fabulous features of the movie set.
If your children are a little older, we recommend the Evening Banquet experience. You’ll explore The Shire™ and all its magical little details at dusk, making your way to The Green Dragon Inn where a banquet feast (including dessert!) has been laid out for you. The tables are heaving and – as is tradition for Hobbits – second helpings are encouraged!
After dinner, you make your way back through The Shire, the way illuminated by the moonlight and handheld lanterns. The village is breathtakingly lit up, with Hobbit Hole chimneys smoking, and lanterns glowing in the darkness.
Remember, when you plan your New Zealand family holiday with Antipodean Luxury Travel; we take care of all the little details for you, things like dietary requirements, age/height/weight restrictions, or child car seats in your modern rental car. Because we know that a superb family holiday is one that feels easy and seamless.
Tell us about your family, and let us create an itinerary that everyone – from the eldest to the littlest – will enjoy; the stuff that awesome childhood memories are made of.