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I never really thought much about New Zealand as a vacation destination before we traveled there as a family. But, I will tell you, I was pleasantly surprised! It is a wonderful country to visit. While it is greatly overshadowed by its much larger neighbor, Australia, New Zealand has a ton to offer families looking for an amazing once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. Everyone should have the kiwi nation on their bucket list. Here are the top 15 reasons why you should visit New Zealand.
#1: It’s family friendly.
The best reason to visit New Zealand is that it is very family friendly. The country, overall, is very safe. Most of the cities are walkable. And there are great playgrounds everywhere! Additionally, while you may think that New Zealand is expensive, there are tons of free things to do with kids in New Zealand. So, your family can have a blast without spending a ton on activities.
#2: Quaint little towns
One of the best things about New Zealand is its charm. There are so many quaint little towns that look like they belong in a Hallmark movie. The towns are clean, have great art in the public spaces, and are full of small mom-and-pop shops. Each town is unique, but all are special in their own way. You could fill your entire vacation by visiting these quaint little gems.
#3: It’s clean.
The third reason why you should visit New Zealand on a future family vacation is because it is super clean. Seriously! Everywhere you look, things are clean. There is no trash anywhere. You will see freshly manicured landscaping. And there is lots of art in the public spaces. Everywhere in New Zealand just feels clean and safe, which is perfect for family trips.
#4: The glowworms
My favorite part of New Zealand was seeing the glowworms. It is the only place in the world to see them in their natural habitat. It was an amazing experience, and one everyone should have. You go down into a cool, dark cave and stand in absolute silence while gazing at the thousands of glowworms overhead. There is nothing like it in the world!
#5: It’s beautiful.
Let’s face it: none of us want to spend our vacation time in a place that is ugly. And New Zealand is anything but ugly. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The landscape is right out of the movies. There are rolling green hills, glistening bodies of water, magnificent mountains, and other natural wonders all over the place. And, of course, I’ve already mentioned all the art in the towns and cities. In New Zealand, you get the best of both worlds: land and sea, country and city.
#6: There’s something for everyone.
For a relatively small country, New Zealand has a lot to offer. And because it has such a diverse landscape from top to bottom, it has something for everyone. There are beaches for relaxing, mountains for hiking, and slopes for skiing. You can easily find adventure sports, museums, live music, animal encounters, and anything else your heart desires in the Land of the Long White Cloud. And this wide range of activities makes it a perfect vacation spot for families who can’t always agree on what to do.
#7: The sheep
Now, I know that most people don’t plan their vacations around farm animals, but hear me out on this one. There are more sheep in New Zealand than people! Once you get out of the major cities, there are sheep everywhere you look! You will see field after field dotted with the white woolly creatures. There is just something very tranquil and idyllic about those fields of sheep. I can’t really explain it. It’s just something you need to see for yourself. And if your kids have never seen sheep, they will be especially delighted in the sight of them all around!
#8: Te Papa
Te Papa is, by far, the best museum I’ve ever visited in my life! It is located in Wellington, New Zealand, and is just amazing. There are six floors bursting at the seams with things to see, touch, and experience. This museum has something for everyone in the family. There are exhibits ranging from marine life and dinosaurs to fashion and art. Scattered throughout the museum are sections dedicated to kids, which are full of hands on activities and exhibits for them to explore and learn about at their leisure. You could easily spend a day and a half in this museum alone. And the best part is that admission is free! For hours of operation and special events, see their website.
#9: Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium
Another must-do family activity when you visit New Zealand is Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland. My family loves zoos and aquariums. This is the best one we have ever visited. The highlights of the aquarium are the penguins and the sharks. You can see the penguins as soon as you start your tour through the aquarium. The sharks are further in, but I’m sure your kids will want to spend quite a bit of time in that room. You stand on a conveyor belt that carries you around an oval-shaped room while large sting rays and sharks swim overhead and all around you. It is an excellent way to get a view of these magnificent creatures that most people rarely get. For prices and operating hours, see their website.
#10: Outdoor activities
As I mentioned before, New Zealand offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. Whether you love water sports, hiking, skiing, or extreme sports, if your family loves being active in the great outdoors, then you must visit New Zealand! There are lakes and bays where you can sail, snorkel, or enjoy other water activities. You can go zip lining, bounce down a hill inside a giant balloon, explore volcanoes, or just meander through the beautiful lush gardens of the Wellington Botanical Gardens. In all types of weather, this is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
#11: The beaches
Being made up of two islands, New Zealand has a ton of beaches to visit. What makes these beaches different from others is the variety of sand you can find on them. While most islands have white or tan sand, New Zealand boasts a greater color palette. There is a pink sand beach and a black sand beach. So, even if you don’t care about building sand castles or swimming, you should visit New Zealand beaches to see these unique sands.
If you prefer museums and art galleries to snow skiing and white water rafting, then New Zealand has you covered too. There are tons of museums in the major cities and some in smaller towns as well. You can find museums dedicated to everything from the traditional Maori culture to military history to the national sport of rugby. There are museums geared towards young children and some that will be enjoyed most by adults. Some charge admission, while others are free. The Auckland Museum is one of the best and should definitely be on your list of things to do if you love museums!
#13: Wellington Botanical Gardens
I’ve mentioned the beauty of the New Zealand landscapes a few times before, but for a unique view of nature, visit the Wellington Botanical Gardens. These public gardens are built on top of a hill overlooking the city. From up there, you can not only enjoy the peacefulness and loveliness of flowers, trees, and other plants, you can also get amazing views of the city below. You can reach the top by riding the Wellington Cable Car. Then, you can meander your way back down to the bottom as you take in all your surroundings.
Love hobbits? Then you need to visit New Zealand! The Hobbiton movie set is a must-see for any Lord of the Rings or Hobbit trilogy fan. See the little houses, tour the famous movie locations, and even dine where the hobbits dine. Fans can easily spend a full day at this location, which is an easy day trip from Auckland. See their website for more information.
Rugby is the national sport of New Zealand. If your family are rugby fans, or even have a slight curiosity about rugby, you should visit New Zealand to experience the best that rugby has to offer. In addition to catching a rugby match while there, you should also visit the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerton North. This museum walks you through the history of the sport in New Zealand and lets you test your own rugby skills. Your sports-loving family will love it!
New Zealand is a fantastic place for a family vacation. There is so much to see and do that your family will be begging to stay longer. These are my top 15 reasons to visit New Zealand with your family. I hope you love it as much as I do. For more on what to do in New Zealand, see things to do with kids. Happy travels!