North Island holiday spots: Summer School holiday destinations

For an epic family holiday this summer, you can’t go past New Zealand’s North Island. Packed with adventure, spectacular natural wonders and sparkling cities, there are plenty of things to keep the whole family entertained – along with accommodation deals where kids under 12 stay can stay for free.


two people tandem canoeing in the Hauraki Gulf, with the city skyline in the background
Hauraki Gulf. Image by Miles Holden

With picturesque twin harbours set against black-sand beaches and dramatic volcanic hills, Auckland is surrounded by natural beauty. It’s also New Zealand’s largest city and the vibrant, multicultural heart of the North Island. 

Hike to the top of a dormant volcano at One Tree Hill – Maungakiekie and be rewarded with views over the city or head to the Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, tucked inside the extinct volcano Maungawhau. Visit the iconic Sky Tower and travel 328m straight up in glass-fronted lifts for more spectacular views from the viewing platforms. 

Go star-gazing at beautiful Great Barrier Island or catch a ferry to nearby Waiheke Island in the magnificent Hauraki Gulf and discover olive groves, vineyards and white, sandy beaches. See a diverse collection of marine life up close at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s and take an amazing underwater journey through the world famous aquarium. You can also join a whale watching tour and see whales, dolphins, seals and rare seabirds.

Need somewhere to stay?

Quality Hotel Lincoln Green in West Auckland offers modern, spacious accommodation.


landscape shot of Hawke's Bay. Ocean meets land with a jetty in the middle
Hawke’s Bay, Napier. Image by Graeme Murray

The grand Art Deco dame of New Zealand, Napier is a magical place to visit on the east coast of the North Island. After an earthquake in 1931, the city was almost entirely rebuilt in the architectural style of the era and has many beautifully-preserved buildings and streetscapes. 

Set around beautiful Hawkes Bay, Napier is also known for its beautiful, sunny weather. Explore the iconic seafront lined with Norfolk pines along Marine Parade. Here you’ll find playgrounds, bike tracks, sunken gardens, mini golf and the National Aquarium of New Zealand where kids can feed the reef fish and little penguins daily.

Visit the fascinating Ōtātara Pā Historic Reserve, a significant Māori cultural site, and see the remains of terraces and dwelling sites as well as sweeping views across the Hawkes Bay plains. Napier also celebrates its Art Deco heritage each February with the Art Deco Festival – a stylish step back in time to the 1930s, with vintage cars, fashion and music.

Need somewhere to stay?

Comfort Inn Westshore Beach offers art deco heritage accommodation by the beach while the Quality Inn Napier is located a short walk to the town centre with modern, spacious rooms.


Wellington Harbour at night time. The city is all lit up with the water on the side
Wellington Harbour. Image credit Ian Trafford

New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is located on the southern end of the North island nestled between a picturesque harbour and rolling hills. Filled with unique attractions and surprises, it doesn’t take long to discover why this little city has such a huge reputation as a family-friendly destination.  

Get started with a ride up the hill on the historic, bright-red Wellington Cable Car for panoramic views over the city. Here you’ll find the fascinating Cable Car Museum and Space Place at the Carter Observatory as well as  the beautiful Botanic Garden. Also in the gardens each January, you can catch Wellington’s annual outdoor concert series, Gardens Magic, with over 100 of Aotearoa’s finest performers and a magical light display.

For fans of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, Wellington is also home to Peter Jackson’s acclaimed Wētā Workshop and the Wētā Cave shop, where you can get a guided tour of movie making magic and special effects and purchase memorabilia. Wellington is also the home to Te Papa, New Zealand’s impressive national museum. 

Need somewhere to stay?

The Quality Hotel The Angus is perfect for large groups and families, with rooms overlooking manicured gardens and an onsite restaurant.

Travelling with kids under 12?

Join Choice Privileges today for the Lowest Price Guaranteed when you book direct with Choice Hotels, as well as 4c/Litre off petrol at United Petroleum.*

Plus, Kids Under 12 Stay Free at family friendly Choice Hotels when you Book Direct.* (**T&Cs apply).

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