New Zealand with Children
This Easter Graham and I had the very great privilege and pleasure to take our nephews, 14 & 12 on a tour of the South Island. They had been to visit us before in New Zealand, but they were too small to really remember; I suspect their memories have come from stories and photographs rather than their recollection of the actual events!
This time they were older and we were ready for a roadie! So after a couple of days in Nelson to get over their jet lag, (they were surprisingly quick at this), we hit the road South.
New Zealand is a fantastic destination for kids and family holidays. With careful planning and not trying to take on too much you can keep the drives relatively short yet still see such diverse landscapes and have such vastly different experiences. There is endless opportunity for action & adventure. And, perhaps of more appeal to their mother and aunty, (both with degrees in the subject), rather than the boys themselves, a chance to see Geography in the raw!
We mixed it up for them, and did our fair share of canyoning, caving, dolphin swimming & kayaking trips but also we walked, we biked, explored and laughed, particularly at the Go Pro film that the elder one spent the evenings putting together as his memory of the trip.
Canyoning Queenstown was undoubtedly the outright favourite of the whole trip! Exciting, demanding, and new experience for everyone, all under the careful & professional but fun guidance of guys who clearly love their job. In fact this is universally so; our outdoor professionals are just that – professional!
It would be hard to call which hit second place; they loved it all. Everything is so different.
But what was a real joy for us was their enthusiasm for the walks. Especially those, which for them had a purpose, destination, or a reason: Centre of New Zealand; Hooker Lake; Franz Josef Glacier view point or The Remarkables (the younger loved that they are allegedly one of two in the world running directly from north to south). The rewards are always sweeter when you give of yourself and put in your own effort, but that’s not always easy to see when you are 12 and 14; it was heartening that this was the case.
We mainly stayed in service apartments, which we would definitely recommend for families (for non families as well!) It gave us plenty of space, ease to make up packed lunches, quick breakfasts & in room laundry facilities (it was a revelation how much washing was generated!) Not that I did it every night, but it was a bonus to be able to cook in the evenings and then just relax afterwards. Touring can be tiring. It is important to build in some down time.
So our advice to you if you are thinking of New Zealand for a family holiday – go for it! Don’t try and see it all, you are bound to come back someday. Keep the drives short; the kids won’t necessarily be as awed by the scenery as you are. Stay in self-catering accommodation (you don’t have to self cater but you have the option) and mix up the adventure activities with things you do yourselves – they will be your sweetest memories. And as for the Go Pro – if there is any kind of techie bent in your kids, definitely invest in one of these – the fun and laughs we had with his filming and editing will never be forgotten and the final version a prize souvenir.