Destination New Zealand | Budget New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Guide

Travelling to New Zealand? Looking for information about things to do, where to stay, family fun and more? Let this comprehensive travel guide serve as your go-to source for the perfect trip.

Things to Do

New Zealand, also known as “land of the long white cloud” is a picturesque set of islands with a population of around 4.5 million people. It is comprised of two major land masses, North Island and South Island, along with numerous smaller islands. North and South Island are divided by the Cook Strait.

The landscape in New Zealand is known for its spectacular views, stunning mountain ranges, active volcanoes and remarkable coastlines. Whether you are visiting to see the sights of this beautiful country or are looking for exciting adventure, you’ll find it all in this diverse country.

Travelling New Zealand with Kids

New Zealand is the perfect holiday destination for the entire family. If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll find lots of interesting, action-packed activities for children of all ages guaranteed to keep everyone happy.

While journeying through New Zealand, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and see the sights while letting the kids run around and burn off energy in a natural setting that will serve as the ultimate holiday. 

Looking for a place to dine with the little ones? No problem. There are no shortage of cafes and eateries that welcome children of all ages. Some even offer toys or play areas to keep them occupied while waiting for food to be prepared. You may also want to hit the farmers markets and find a sunny picnic spot. No matter where you land, you’ll find the options are endless.

Auckland

Things to Do

There are a number of things to do in Auckland that provide family fun for everyone. You’ll have plenty of chances to amerce yourself in the culture, charm, seafood and beauty of this amazing city.

Take the whole family to see the Kelly Tarlton Sea Life Aquarium. Uniquely built from sewage tanks underground, it was placed along the waterfront and drifts through acrylic tunnels so you can experience wildlife from all possible angles.

Visit Waitemata Harbour from a sailboat, ferry, launch, yacht or catamaran. You may even be lucky enough to catch a boat show while enjoying all this main harbour has to offer.

Be sure to see the largest and youngest of 48 volcanoes in Auckland on Rangitoto Island. You can easily reach these majestic tropics via a 30-minute ferry ride from the city.

Family Accommodation

Auckland has a wide range of family accommodations perfect for adults and kids alike. Stay at the Waldorf ST Martins Apartments Hotel if you want a good location and plenty of room to move around. The Barclay Suites will place you closer to the business district, but still in range of many interesting sights.

If you’re looking for a more private accommodation, try the Waldorf Newhaven – Botany Downs, which will place you only a short walk away from the Botany shopping centre. This option boasts room for the entire family and is conveniently located to give you access to a variety of sights.

Try the Skycity Hotel if you’re looking for a wide range of amenities. They even offer concierge service.

Family Events

There are always plenty of family events and activities to do in Auckland for visitors of all ages. What’s more, many of the top attractions are free.

Start by visiting the Auckland War Memorial museum, which is a stunning historical building located in the centre of the Domain, a park near the Central business District. This museum provides a great introduction to the Maori culture and the history of New Zealand.

You can also take a ferry to one of the stunning gulf islands like Waiheke with its beautiful beaches, walking tracks, famous wineries and family-friendly cafes. Only a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, this island visit makes a great daytrip for the entire family.

In summer, take time out to see the Sculpture on the Gulf trail, with interactive art the kids are sure to love. They’ll find plenty to learn and explore, right here.

Airport Facilities and Services for Families

Auckland Airport has plenty of facilities and activities for the entire family. The international airport is the largest in New Zealand, and is also the busiest.

Nearby Butterfly Creek offers a fun blend of exhibits and interactive attractions with its butterflies, dinosaurs and mythical creatures. Rent a car from Budget and enjoy your stay in Auckland without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of all the shopping options in the airport itself, where you’ll find everything from designer clothes to daily necessities. You’ll even find stores specialising in business products, plenty of eateries and a wide range of gifts for family and friends back home. Need to withdraw money? The airport also offers a variety of banks and ATMs, so you’ll never be without cash.

Wellington

Things to Do

As the capital of New Zealand, Wellington has plenty of attractions to keep the whole family occupied. No matter your preference for adventure, you’re sure to find something for everyone. See all the fascination at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa with its innovative and interactive exhibits that tell stories of biological and geological history. Learn about its culture in ways that are exciting. Though admission is free, some exhibits require an entry fee to tour.

Feeling a bit adventurous? Climb Mount Victoria and enjoy stunning 360-degree views. There is no shortage of great photo opportunities as you take in a panoramic perspective on the city.

When you’re hungry, try out the many bars and restaurants Wellington has to offer. You won’t have to go far to find food to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Also, don’t forget to ride the historic cable car which offers a lot of sights to see and culture to enjoy along the way. It’s a Wellington icon you won’t want to miss.

Family Accommodation

If you’re looking for family accommodations in Wellington, you’ll have plenty of options. The Thornton Hotel offers is located very close to the Central Business District, making it simple to explore all the interesting sights of the city.

Rydges Wellington can be found downtown and boasts a unique combination of city and harbour outlooks. It’s also in walking distance to many restaurants and shops, making it a great choice for families who want to spend the day in town.

Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel is equipped with an in-door swimming pool and one, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Stunning city views make this lodging accommodation the perfect choice for families or groups travelling with kids.

Family Events

Like to swim? There are plenty of options available in Wellington for both kids and adults. Try H2O Xtream with its swimming areas, hydroslide, wave pool and rapid river ride. No matter your preference, you’ll find it at H2O Xtream.

Like to bowl? Kapiti Tenpin offers 14 lanes with automatic pinsetters with a computerised scoring system. It also boasts a family-friendly atmosphere and welcomes all ages.

Want a Wellington outdoors experience? Try camping at Kaitoke Park. It’s opened every day of the year and you don’t even need to book a spot. Just set up anywhere in the designated camping area and you’re good to go.

Kapiti Marine Reserve is another attraction sure to please the entire family. Experience SCUBA diving beneath the water, or check out wading birds on Waikanae Estuary and Paraparaumu Beach.

Airport Facilities and Services for Families

There are a wide array of activities to keep everyone in the family occupied while waiting at the Wellington Airport. Enjoy a meal at any of the restaurants or cafes, check out the duty-free shops or take advantage of WiFi to watch movies or take care of a bit of business while you wait. It’s free and convenient.

Christchurch

Things to Do

There’s plenty to interest and inspire visitors of all ages in Christchurch. If you enjoy cruising on two wheels, Join a guided bike tour or strike out in a group all on your own to explore the city. You can also take a tour on a double-decker bus to see the sights. Garden City Helicopters is another option if you’d prefer to see the city from above.

Want a little Christchurch history? Canterbury Museum provides a wealth of information on the city and surrounding regions. Interested in military aviation history? The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is the place to visit.

Christchurch is also known as the Gateway to Antarctica. You can learn more about this connection at the International Antarctic Centre where you’ll have the opportunity to see icy surroundings of the wildlife who live there.

Family Accommodations

Looking for somewhere to stay while in Christchurch? Try YHA Christchurch, a comfortable choice near the town centre, Hagley Park, Botanical Gardens and the Canterbury Museum.

Rydges Latimer Christchurch is another option that places a wealth of family-friendly activities right at your fingertips. Because it is centrally located, you’ll be able to visit a variety of sights without going very far.

Distinction Christchurch Hotel is another centrally located accommodation that provides instant access to some of Canterbury’s top family attractions. It’s one of the newest options in the city and offers many great amenities for the entire family.

Family Events

Whether you’re in Christchurch for the weekend or an extended holiday, you won’t find a shortage of family activities and events to keep everyone busy. Explore the city in one of the unique heritage trams to get a glimpse of the Avon River or Gothic-style Arts Centre. Kids will enjoy the sights and accompanying narrative as they are taken through the town.

Want some adventure to keep the kids occupied? Visit Adrenaline Forest for a physical and mental challenge. There are hard-to-climb wooden ladders, rope bridges and even zip lining to keep them busy for hours. The park includes courses that have been designed for challenge and adventure.

The Christchurch Gondola is another adventure for the whole family to enjoy. This interesting cable car will provide a different perspective for viewing the city. It winds gently up Mount Cavendish, allowing visitors to ride it up or down. A walking track is also available so you can travel one way on-foot and ride the gondola for the other.

Airport Facilities and Services for Families

You'll find lots to keep you busy while waiting in the Christchurch airport. Take time out for a meal at one of the popular cafes or other eateries, purchase duty free items from a variety of stores or check out the Stretch and Relaxation Area. There’s also a number of entertainment options available for the little ones at the Kids’ Zone.

Hamilton

Things to Do

There’s plenty to explore in Hamilton. If you’re looking for adventure, check out the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Take a guided tour through these spectacular limestone caverns to see the rock formations, then exit in a boat beneath thousands of glowworms. Want even more adventure? Try black water rafting, zip lining or abseiling.

Surf at Raglan. If you're completely new to the sport, take a lesson or two at the Raglan Surf School.

Take your time strolling through Hamilton Gardens. See a variety of gardens from around the world including: Italian Renaissance, Japanese, a rose garden and a garden like those found in many backyards.

Family Accommodation

Looking for a place to stay in Hamilton? How about the Camelot on Ulster. This hotel is equipped with amenities to satisfy the entire family and receives high ratings. Play with the kids in the pool and enjoy a free breakfast.

Park View Motor Lodge is another great family-friendly option with its free parking and free WiFi. Its central location places it near many great sights and activities.

BK’s Settlers Motor Lodge also has free parking, a free pool and free cribs for babies. It, too, is centrally located near a variety of activities.

Family Events

If you’re looking for something fun and educational, take the kids to the Hamilton Zoo. Here you’ll find a wide range of rare and endangered animals from all over the world. The kids can take part in “Meet the Keeper”, sessions that are run daily to teach them about the animals and give face-to-face tours for a unique experience.

The west coast beaches of Hamilton provide plenty of opportunities for water activities as well as fun. From swimming to surfing and everything in between, there’s something to please all water lovers.

Explore Hamilton’s natural wonders in the great outdoors. Check out the Troll Cave Waitomo underground or the many great walking trails like the Marokopa.

Airport Facilities and Services for Families

Hamilton Airport offers a variety of facilities for the entire family. ATMs are available for when you need cash, and there are plenty of places to purchase books, travel essentials or anything else you might need. You’ll also find interesting places to eat and get barista-quality coffee.

Tauranga

Things to Do

This metropolitan hub is surrounded by coastline and offers many activities such as fishing, sailing or dolphin watching. View historic downtown Tauranga as you walk through the scenic environment or eat at one of the cafes on the Strand waterfront area.

Family Accommodation

Looking for an interesting and relaxing accommodation for the whole family to enjoy? Try Athenree Hot Springs and Holiday Park. This tranquil setting boasts self-contained motel units, chalets or camp sites. Hot mineral pools are perfect for unwinding at the end of a long day and there are plenty of kid-friendly places to eat in the area.

Assure Harbour View Motel is another option preferred by families. It only takes three minutes to walk to Memorial Park, in close proximity to the boardwalk and a playground for the children.

Durham Motor Inn offers cooking facilities, single or double spa baths and is close to many shops and restaurants.

Family Events

Looking for interesting events to keep the kids busy and active? Check out the Elm Wildlife Tours. See a variety of wildlife and learn how they move around in their natural habitat.

Airport Facilities and Services for Families

There’s much to do when waiting at the Tauranga Airport. For a relaxing time before you catch a plane, check out the Air New Zealand lounge where you can read a book, surf the web or watch a movie.

Grab cash at the ANZ ATM or buy coffee and a meal at the café.

Family Road Trips

North Island Road Trip

When planning a North Island road trip, consider starting and finishing in Auckland. After checking out all this big city has to offer, head north to Northland to enjoy all the great beaches and forests.

Travel up the east coast to Whangarei, the main city in Northland. Then, take a drive to the best-known destination for tourists, the Bay of Islands. Here, you can learn about the Maori people and the rich history of this land.

From there, travel up to cape Reinga located at the most northern tip of mainland New Zealand. You are then ready to travel back along the west coast to Auckland again. First, you’ll reach Paihia where you’ll pass through Kaitaia then travel through Waipoua forest to see the Kauri trees, some of which are more than 2,000 years old.

South Island Road Trip

Start out on a South Island road trip at Christchurch and travel west to Lake Tekapo. This is a scenic inland route. Take time out to see the Rakaia Gorge and be sure to take pictures.

From Lake Tekapa, travel on to Wanaka, another stunningly beautiful route. From Wanaka, you can go on to Queenstown which offers amazing views you won’t want to miss.

Next, move onto Milford Sounds, which offers hiking, camping and lots more picture-taking opportunities. Once there, you can choose from a number of places to visit and see on your way back to Christchurch. You can check out the beaches, go whale watching, or even swim with wild dolphins.

FAQs

How long does it take to drive around New Zealand?

New Zealand is made up of two islands. Start from Cape Reinga, you can drive to Wellington in 13 hours. A three-hour ferry ride will get you to Picton, then you can drive to Bluff in 11 hours. Please note - you can't take your car on the ferry. Read about interisland rentals here

How long does it take to drive around the South Island of New Zealand?

If you want to see the sights that South Island has to offer, the time to drive it will be approximately two days.

What can you see in New Zealand in 10 days?

You can explore both the North and South Islands in ten days starting in Auckland. Move on to Piha Beach, Hobbiton Village, Rotorua, the gondolas in Queenstown and on to Milford Sound.

See the spectacular mountain regions of Mackenzie Region and stop to hike in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.

Next, drive on to Christchurch where you’ll encounter amazing views. You can quickly fly back to Auckland to end your journey.

Can you drive from north to south NZ?

The North and South Islands of New Zealand are separated by the Cook Strait, making it impossible to drive from one to the other. You can, however, fly or take a ferry, then drive around each island separately. Remember you can't take your car on the ferry! Read more here

How much is the Interislander ferry?

The cost of the Interislander Ferry which crosses Cook Strait varies depending on your age and when you travel. For example, for someone 18 and up who is travelling during off peak hours, the cost is $68, while in peak times the cost is $75. Check the Interislander website for the most up-to-date information. It is not possible to take your car on the ferry. You will drop off on one island and collect a vehicle on the other side.

What is the best airport to fly into New Zealand?

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand and boasts an impressive airport with a wide range of amenities for adults and children alike. There are, however, other airports to choose from, so make your decision based on where in the country you’ll be travelling. Transportation should be another consideration when choosing your arrival point. Ready to go? Book your Budget car rental in New Zealand today.