School holiday breaks for the family
The April school holidays are swiftly approaching. While daylight savings and the long days of summer may be behind us, the April holiday period still offers a combination of sunny and inclement weather making it the perfect time to pack up the car (and the kids) for a family getaway before the cold weather really sets in.
According to data from Booking.com on The Future of Travel, two thirds (66%) of Kiwis will look to appreciate more simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on holiday, and nearly half (47%) will seek out more rural, off-the beaten-track experiences to immerse themselves in the outdoors while others opt for a relaxing holiday, beach break or city trip. Lucky for us there are options galore from north to south, whether you’re a family that likes to laze in the sun, hike up a mountain, hit the trails on your mountain bike, or simply take in some city culture.
Relax by the beach
A trip to family favourite Whitianga, in the Coromandel, is just the ticket for a relaxing break. Easily one of the prettiest parts of the North Island, there are endless opportunities along the Coromandel Peninsula for some fun with the kids and Whitianga provides an ideal central base. Whether you’re diving, fishing, kayaking and relaxing or walking on some of New Zealand’s most picturesque beaches, you (hopefully) won’t hear any whining from the kids. If the weather isn’t ideal for a day at the beach, the Whitianga Bike Park offers about 3 hours riding at various grades providing fun for the whole family. Don’t forget a quick day trip to the famously photographed rock arch at Cathedral Cove!
Where to stay
For the ultimate worry-free family getaway, a stay at the Crowsnest Apartments offers self-contained apartments overlooking Mercury Bay, just a 1-minute walk from Buffalo Beach and 2-minute walk from Whitianga town centre and its many eateries. Each modern apartment at Crowsnest Whitianga features a fully equipped kitchen with microwave and dishwasher – so no dishes on your holiday! Pop the kids in front of a movie while you and your partner enjoy the private balcony or patio with sea views. The rooftop sun terrace features 360-degree views of Whitianga and the free parking onsite means you can jump in the car to explore the rest of the Coromandel whenever the mood strikes.
Retreat to the mountains
Disconnect from your regular busy routine and immerse the family in the stunning landscapes of the South Island’s Mt Cook. In the heart of the Southern Alps, there are plenty of things to do with kids of all ages to ensure you make the most of the alpine wonders of this World Heritage Area. Start the holiday with family friendly short walks or take a boat tour on a glacier lake, and spend your night on an awe-inspiring stargazing tour. If you’re on a budget or tours aren’t your thing, the free Governors Bush Walk will take you through a stunning beech forest where kids may be able to spot fantail birds and kea. Accessible from Mt Cook Village, which is worth exploring itself, the family-friendly walk takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.
Where to stay
Experience the Southern charm South Islanders are known for and save some pennies at the YHA Mt Cook with the option of family style rooms complete with bunk beds for kids – and views to die for. Situated among the Southern Alps, the hostel features views of Mount Cook and is just 200 metres from the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. It offers affordable accommodation with a seasonal barbecue area, a self-catering guest kitchen and free access to a sauna room. Mt Cook YHA is a 20-minute drive from a variety of dining options in Mount Cook Township, so if you don’t fancy cooking after a full-on day of mountaineering, take the night off and head into town!
Take in the culture
For a taste of art and culture, you can’t go wrong in the country’s capital city of Wellington. Home to Te Papa, forget what day or time it is as you spend hours perusing the fascinating exhibitions. Or take in the wildlife at Zealandia, the world's first fully-fenced urban eco-sanctuary and home to Aotearoa’s unique native birdlife. Spoilt for choice with activities, you’ll find it hard to choose between the treasures of the Wellington Museum or national treasure of the botanic garden. For an extra dash of culture, you can’t skip a trip to Weta Workshop which offers fun for the whole family.
Where to stay
Enjoy the city life with all the comforts of home at The Terrace Villas Serviced Apartments, a series of beautiful 100-year-old villas refurbished and transformed into a family oasis in the heart of the city. Surrounded by shops and restaurants, just 5 minutes’ walk from Wellington’s CBD, The Terrace Villas Serviced Apartments offer individually furnished accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen – and guests rate it highly for a family visit. The pet-friendly villas also mean you can bring your pooch along if you can’t find a dog sitter for the school holiday break.
See the dolphins
Visit Canterbury, one of the most welcoming regions in the world according to the Booking.com’s 2021 Traveller Review Awards where it ranked in the top five globally. It's no wonder the region took out a top spot as even the wildlife is welcoming! Take a day trip out to visit the friendly dolphins in the seaside village of Akaroa and drive along Summit Road for some truly breath-taking views. A tour with Akaroa Dolphins will go down a treat with the kids, who may even be lucky enough to meet a Hector’s dolphin – the world’s smallest dolphin species. Not too far afield is Christchurch, the perfect base for your family getaway, with plenty to do to keep the kids entertained. See the city from every angle on tram and gondola rides and stop for a feed at one of the renowned foodie hotspots – this is a city with something for each member of the family to enjoy.
Where to stay
There’ll be no complaints from the kids at the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park which boasts not one but two swimming pools and the famously popular (among parents and children alike) jumping pad. The park is also cleverly equipped with a games room to keep older kids busy while you sneak away to enjoy the hot tub and a glass of wine. Just 14 minutes' drive from the centre of Christchurch, this one is a hit with families who can choose from studios, apartments, lodges or family rooms. Also a 10-minute walk away is the Chipmunks Playland & Cafe – a dream to have nearby if you have little ones.
Hit the trails
If you’re a family of mountain bikers then Rotorua’s beautiful Redwoods or the Te Ara Ahi trail on the outskirts of Rotorua is just the place for your family adventure. This family friendly ride has close to 50km of grade 2-3 cycling through the thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers. Basing yourselves in Rotorua, you’ll have a holiday rich in Māori history and geothermal fun. Finish the day with a trip to the Polynesian Spa followed by a family feed on the popular Eat Street, or be mesmerised by the beautiful Redwoods TreeWalk at night time.
Where to stay
The Regal Palms Resort is the ultimate family friendly accommodation for your school holiday stay. The outdoor heated swimming pool will be a hit with the kids while parents will love the luxurious hot tub in the generously sized rooms. With a range of studios, suites and apartments to choose from, each option is equipped with cooking facilities and hot tub. A short 5-minute drive from the city centre and the Polynesian Spa, and less than 10 minutes from the Redwoods forest, this is the ideal spot to base yourselves for an action packed trip of biking with some winding down time at the pools.