NZ Family Self Drive Holiday Itinerary

Girl screaming with joy with head out of car window gulping New Zealands fresh air.

Welcome to New Zealand!

Haere Mai Welcome to the 'City of Sails' Auckland

Relax, you are officially on holiday! We have arranged for you to be met and transferred to your accommodation. The remainder of the day is yours to do as you please and to let the family get over the time difference as tomorrow is the start of your New Zealand Family Adventure. Take a stroll around our beautiful city with your family, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Some Activities and sightseeing options if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Accommodation Auckland - 2 nights

The skyline of Auckland by night.
Located in Auckland CBD (Central Business District), 100 m from the iconic Sky Tower, President Hotel Auckland offers spacious accommodation, a fitness room and fully equipped meeting facilities. Guest receive free WiFi on unlimited devices.
President Hotel Auckland - close by to the Sky Tower


Kelly Tarltons Underwater Aquarium

Be immersed in our underwater world, and discover the learning opportunities at Kelly Tarlton’s.

Highlights of a trip include getting up close to New Zealand’s only colony of Sub-Antarctic Penguins – the majestic Kings and playful Gentoos. Come face to face with thousands of marine creatures including sting rays, sharks, octopus and more.

Auckland Waterfront


Hahei, Coromandel Peninsula - Lifes a Beach!

Its time to collect your rental car and head to natures playground - the beaches of  Coromandel Peninsula. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula - it’s bordered on each side by kilometres of spectacular coastline.

The idyllic seaside village of Hahei, (HA-hey) is a small settlement situated on the eastern side of the Peninsula.  Yes there are a couple of restaurants, cafes and fish and chippy but essentially this is a secret hideaway were Kiwi families take their holidays – its all about the beach, where
the waves are generally safe for children and the wide beach is ideal for a game of volleyball or to throw a Frisbee. 

We recommend you take the scenic boat trip to the spectacular Cathedral Cove and sit on one of the world’s best beaches for the afternoon - only 10 minutes away by boat or an hours walk.  Alternatively you can arrange to snorkel the fantastic Hahei Marine Reserve or explore the stunning coastline by kayak.

Approximate Distance: 170 kms | 105 miles  
Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

​Accommodation Coromandel - 2 nights

Coromandel New Zealand

Nestled within 1.5 acres (half a hectare) of beautiful tropical gardens, Tatahi Lodge offers you space, privacy and comfort with all the little extras to make your visit to Hahei a truly memorable one. Conveniently situated being only a 400m (1300 feet) level walk to the white sands of Hahei Beach, 50m (160 feet) to local cafes, restaurants & amenities and within walking distance of Cathedral Cove, you won't need your vehicle again until its time to leave or to visit nearby Hot Water Beach.

Tatahi Lodge


Free Day - Try Hot Water Beach

We are going to continue the same theme today - Relax!

Head to the beautiful Hot Water Beach, you will find hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Families, kids and couples can be seen digging their own spa pool in the sand and relaxing in the natural hot springs - this is one experience that should be on your New Zealand bucket list and a truly unique Kiwi experience, perfect for a New Zealand Family Adventure Holiday.

Recommended excursions in and around the Coromandel:

Dive the Aldermans   Soak in the Lost Springs  Visit Cathedral Cove
Soak in Hot Water Beach  Rainforest Rail JourneyExplorer Cruise
Water Works ParkGuided Sea Kayaking Kauri Forest Guided Hike
Hot Water Beach Coromandel


Rotorua: Thermal Wonderland & Natural Hot Pools

Rotorua is awesome for kids and being the Geothermal and Maori cultural center of New Zealand, Rotorua offers some really unique experiences. When you think about it, its obvious why early Maori settlers were attracted here, imagine living in a world without power and stumbling across an endless supply of boiling water making the usually laborious tasks of cooking, bathing and heating very easy - no effort required. The area quickly became a significant Maori stronghold and remains so today.

Approximate Distance: 217kms | 135 miles  
Total Driving Time:
2 hour 55 mins

​Accommodation Rotorua - 3 nights

Geothermal Rotorua
Located only a short way from the town centre and the lake front, our motel in Rotorua has been independently assessed by Qualmark as 4 star quality accommodation. Easy to find on Lake Road and from the moment you arrive, you'll enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the nearby aquatic centre, the CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Bella Vista


Rotorua: Climbing Trees and Wildlife

Today the kids will be in their element as tree climbers and nature lovers. 

Treewalk amongst the Redwoods is a one of a kind eco-tourism walk that provides a unique experience for visitors to Rotorua. It offers an accessible, low-level adrenaline experience for all ages that captures the beauty and spirit of this famous forest.

Following these lofty heights set off to drop in and meet New Zealand's national bird - the Kiwi - at Rainbow Springs Nature Park. Rainbow Springs is proud to be home of the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa, the world's leading kiwi hatchery - with over over 1900 kiwi chicks to date, making us the world's largest and most successful hatching centre. Learn all about the efforts of our kiwi husbandry team, discover what it takes to hatch a chick...and if you're really lucky, see baby chicks in person!

Rotorua Tree Walk


Visit a Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland
Just south of Rotorua lies Wai-O-tapu, a wonderland of stunning geothermal activity and a really exciting place for both kids and adults to visit. Wai-O-Tapu means 'Sacred Water' and it is easy to see why as the hot pools range in colour from turquoise blue, rich green and gold to an almost olive/yellow, make the water at Waiotapu a dazzling kaleidoscope of natural colour caused by the many mineral salts in the water including arsenic, gold and silver. This is the home to the world famous Champagne Pool, seen by many as the most beautiful example of geothermal activity around. The steaming vents with New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool while being surrounded by huge volcanic craters make the experience very other worldly - but wait, there is more... the Highlight is the Lady Knox Geyser that spectacularly erupts daily at around 10.15am (ish) - The kids will love that.

Shhh here’s a little Secret: Take the family for soak in a free natural hot pool. Just past the 1st entrance of 'Waiotapu Thermal Park' is another about 500 meters (1640 ft) further down the road, take this second entrance and drive another 500 metres (1640 ft) down this tiny winding road and you'll come a across a small bridge. Make your way down the bank into the steamy stream.

Wai-o-tapu geothermal park


Fly to Christchurch & Board a Tram

*Fly south to  Christchurch

Hop on board one of Christchurch’s heritage trams to explore the city from a unique vantage point. The Christchurch tramway weaves through the city, down streets closed to other vehicles, and past some of the city’s key attractions such as the iconic Re:START Mall, Cathedral Junction, the Avon River, Gothic-style Arts Centre, and New Zealand’s most beautiful street – New Regent Street.

It’s a kid-friendly attraction with an ongoing narrative of the sights and history of the area. In our experience, the tram drivers are friendly and engaging. 

*flight not included in costing

Accommodation Christchurch - 2 night

Travel by tram in Christchurch
The Quest Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square in the heart of the commercial, arts and tourist precinct. This purpose built property is on Christchurch's famous inner city Tram Loop and features a mix of new and heritage architecture. Incorporated in the complex are a variety of retail shops, cafes and restaurants. All the serviced Apartments have free Wi-Fi & Fully Equipped Kitchens.
Quest Hotel in Christchurch


Visit Quirky Lyttelton

A short 15-minute drive from Christchurch city will see you in the quirky portside town of Lyttelton. The town itself is well worth a stroll, as it’s brimming with boutiques selling locally made art and delicacies. Ferries depart Lyttelton mid-morning and return mid-afternoon, leaving you just the right amount of time to walk, explore and enjoy a picnic lunch on the island. Quail Island is uninhabited and it’s a great place to discover at your own pace. Kids will love passing the island’s shipwrecks, former leper colony and early European quarantine station. Stop to swim and build sandcastles on the island’s beaches and keep an eye out for NZ’s native birds who call the island home – including the white flippered penquins.

You must also visit the best playground ever - named after Margaret Mahy a Christchurch resident and New Zealand's most beloved childrens author of a Lion in the Meadow, The Man whose Mother was a Pirate, Down the Back of the Chair, and my favourite a Summery Saturday morning - all worth tracking down.

Approximate Distance:  12 kms | 8  
Total Driving Time:
 20 mins

Quail Island half day trip


Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook

On the way to Mt Cook a picnic at Lake Tekapo  is recommended. This superb high country location offers some stunning photo opportunitys and is a great place to let the kids go for a swim. Golden tussock grass carpets the surrounding hillside and roll away into the distance where the Southern Alps frame the horizon. The charming 'Church of the Good Shepherd' sits alone on its shores and the views to our highest mountain, Mt Cook, are remarkable.

Approximate Distance: 333 kms | 206 miles  
Total Driving Time:
3 hours 45 mins

​Accommodation Mt. Cook - 1 night

Mt Cook
Located within the Aoraki Mt Cook Village approximately 800 metres (2,600 ft) from the main Hermitage Hotel. Perfect for families or self-catering travellers, the newly renovated motel units have an outside patio area that lets you enjoy modern comforts in an iconic environment. All units include kitchenettes, ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning, complimentary car parking and an outdoor patio area so you can soak up the spectacular mountain views.
Family Mountain Chalets - Mt Cook Village


Solve a Puzzle in Wanaka - then Continue to Queenstown

Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's second resort town after Queenstown. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. Here you can absorb the unstoppable beauty of pristine wilderness and know that it will be easy to find a great restaurant for dinner. The township of Wanaka is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury. There are comfortable places to stay, great shops and eateries — and all the time there's the call of the wild. 

The drive from Cook to Wanaka takes just over 2 hours - a great place for a break before a short but dazzling 1 hour drive to Queenstown. In Wanaka if you do get into town before lunch and want to get the kids out and about, then we suggest visiting  Puzzling World, with a Maze and several bafflling rooms to explore.

Approximate Distance: 274 kms | 128 miles  
Total Driving Time:
 3 hours 40 mins

​Accommodation Queenstown - 3 night

Lake Wanaka
Just 5 minutes’ walk from Lake Wakatipu, Blue Peaks Lodge offers heated rooms with satellite TV. The property offers free parking and 500mb of free Wi-Fi per stay. Blue Peaks Lodge Queenstown is 3 minutes’ walk from Queenstown Gardens, and 10 minutes’ drive from the popular Onsen Hot Pools. Queenstown Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
blue peak


TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm

Full Steam Ahead
All aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw this old coal-fired beauty has been ferrying passengers around the lake for over a 100 years. Kids find the experience fascinating and love watching the stokers at work in the engine room and seeing the glowing fireboxes.

On arrival at Walter Peak High Country Farm on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu, you will get a real taste for rural New Zealand. Kids can pet and feed the lambs (during Spring - Oct to December) and other farmyard animals, watch the sheepdog's round-up a flock of sheep and see a shearing demonstration. The high country air works up a healthy appetite, so the trip includes morning or afternoon tea with fresh scones with jam.

Earnslaw Queenstown


Gondola & Luge

Gondola & Luge

The gondola whisks you smoothly up 450 meters (1,746 ft) as Queenstown drops away below. Breathtaking views from the top extend almost 360 degrees; from Coronet Peak around to the Remarkables, with Cecil and Walter Peaks on the other side of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Treat your family to a Gondola Ride and Luge for some fast paced family fun! You have the choice of two 800 meters (2,624 ft) tracks winding down through trees; choose either the scenic track if you want a leisurely trip or take the advanced track if you want to be more adventurous and enjoy the challenge of banked corners, a tunnel, bends and dips. - Mum and Dad, the Luge (or fancy Go-cart) has been designed so you can take charge and control speed and direction while the young ones sit in front - loads of fun!

Luge Queenstown


Homeward Bound

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

Sadly, Your New Zealand Family Adventure Holiday is at an end, drop your vehicle at Queenstown airport and catch your onward flight. Have a good homeward journey, farewell and know your family leaves with many happy memories from your New Zealand self-drive adventure.

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'New Zealand Family Adventure Holiday'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Family Fun New Zealand

What Emma says about this tour: I know travelling with children under 8 can be challenging. Having the right accommodation with amenities makes all the difference, just like having an advocate in New Zealand to help when things go wrong is invaluable. Spending time on the Coromandel Peninsula is a great place to relax with the family - This is a great family itinerary.
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