Easter is the perfect opportunity for one last family getaway before winter sets in.
Planning ahead is important when travelling in New Zealand at this time of year. Make sure you have all the supplies you need as many shops are closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday (this includes supermarkets). Here are six amazing destinations and some suggested things to do that will keep the entire family well and truly entertained.
1. Enjoy an action-packed Auckland escape
Auckland is always a top choice for a family-friendly getaway and is packed with awesome things to see and do. Located right next to each other, Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) make for a fantastic combined day out. Auckland Zoo is New Zealand’s largest (with 135 species and over 1,400 animals), while MOTAT showcases transport and technology in the course of human history. They’re very different experiences, but both have a lot to offer.
For a day of thrills and amusement, you can’t go past Rainbow’s End. With over twenty rides and attractions, there’s something here for everyone. There are five extreme ride experiences for the big kids, and plenty of options for the smaller ones as well.
If the sun is shining and your family loves the great outdoors, then plan a visit to the Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary. This island wildlife sanctuary is located 30 kilometres northeast of central Auckland, and can be reached by ferry from Gulf Harbour or downtown. This predator-free island is home to a variety of native wildlife species, including the flightless takahe. If you’re looking for an existing itinerary, we’ve got one that takes you to some of the best attractions in Auckland. Looking for a place to stay in Auckland? Take a look at these hotels.
2. Take a break in the great outdoors around Tauranga
Located on the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure this Easter (and some soothing jazz music as well!). Start at Adrenalin Forest, which is a 30-minute drive from Tauranga. This rope course maze through the treetops is a test of balance and strength. It’s better suited to older children and has a height restriction of 130cm.
Open each day across Easter from 10am to 6pm, Waimarino Adventure Park promises plenty of ‘splashtastic’ fun for the whole family. Pack a picnic or cook up a BBQ lunch right beside the Wairoa River, while the kids enjoy all the activities on offer – including the water trampoline, kayaks, diving boards, the slip ‘n’ slide, and so much more. No one will want to leave!
Spread over 190 hectares, McLaren Falls Park is a place of total tranquility just 15 minutes’ drive from Tauranga. Explore the gorgeous grounds, lake and waterfalls. If you stay late enough, you’ll find glow-worms along the waterfall track. Also located at McLaren Falls is Marshalls Animal Park, which the little ones will love. Meet a range of farm animals and a few exotic species too.
3. Get upright on a surfboard in Gisborne
Over on the east coast of the North Island, the relaxed city of Gisborne has so much to offer family holidaymakers. If learning to surf is something you and the family have always wanted to try, this is the place to do it! Surfers come from near and far to surf the breaks around Gisborne. You can book lessons with the WOW Surf School. They’ll provide everything you need, including boards and wetsuits.
The city and the wider region have a lot of interesting history – both pre and post European settlement. At Tairawhiti Museum, you’ll find a great collection of permanent and visiting exhibitions – everything from art to artefacts. Note that the museum is not open on Good Friday.
Kids love trains and a visit to Gisborne is an opportunity to take the whole family on a two-hour journey aboard a vintage Wa165 steam train. Operated by Gisborne City Vintage Railway, the ride will take you to Muriwai with stunning views along the way. Pack a picnic for the 30-minute stop. This activity is running on Easter Sunday, but it’s popular and may sell out. Book early!
4. Head for Hawke’s Bay
The Hawke’s Bay region offers a wide variety of family activities and incredible scenery. Just outside Havelock North, Te Mata Park spans nearly 100 hectares and is home to Te Mata Peak. A range of recreational activities can be enjoyed here, including mountain biking, hiking, hang-gliding and paragliding. It’s enough of a thrill just to watch the gliders taking off from the top of the peak. If walking to the top seems a little daunting, you can drive all the way – but there are some great tracks to explore on foot.
Also make time to visit Splash Planet. This theme park features pools and water slides, bumper boats and go-karts. Located on the outskirts of Hastings, you can easily fill a day here with loads of thrills and spills!
Located on Napier’s waterfront, the National Aquarium of New Zealand is home to an impressive collection of aquatic wildlife from New Zealand and around the world. This is a great option for a rainy day in Hawke’s Bay.
5. Experience the best of wonderful Wellington
For a weekend getaway at any time of year, you can’t go wrong with New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of New Zealand should be at the top of your to-do-list. This multi-storey museum is home to some of the country’s most precious treasures, historic artefacts and artworks. If you visit over Easter, you’ll catch the last few days of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition.
Just outside the city, Zealandia is a very ambitious conservation project that aims to return its 225 hectares to as close to its pre-human state as possible. The sanctuary is a work in progress. It’s home to 18 reintroduced native species – six of which had been absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. Over 40 difference species of native birds have found a haven here.
Fantasy film fans will love the Weta Cave and studio tours at Weta Workshop, which has been pushing the boundaries in special effects and digital film technologies for over twenty years. Best known for its role in bringing the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies to life, Weta has won five Oscars and four BAFTAs.
Don’t forget to drop by one of these amazing dining options in Wellington. A perfect base to explore Lower Hutt and nearby attractions, stay at the Quality Inn Angus that lies less than 2 hours from the Rimutaka Forest Park.
6. Enjoy some family fun in Christchurch
Christchurch on the South Island is a city with an infectious energy. It can be enjoyed in so many family-friendly ways. Start with a Christchurch Tram City Tour. A day pass will allow you to get on and off the tram as often as you like at the city’s many attractions.
The Christchurch Gondola is another must-do and offers amazing views of the city and wider Canterbury region. Kids will love the ride to the summit, where you can enjoy the Time Tunnel Ride, and grab a snack at the Red Rock Café.
If you want to explore further afield, a day trip out to the town of Akaroa is the perfect option. Take the tourist drive along Summit Road for some truly breath-taking views. If there is one activity you must do in Akaroa, it’s a tour with Akaroa Dolphins. You’ll hopefully get to meet a Hector’s dolphin – the world’s smallest dolphin species. Stop by one of these recommended places to eat in Christchurch. In Christchurch, book your accommodation at the Econo Lodge Canterbury Court – a hotel close to one of New Zealand’s largest indoor sports and events centres. Take a look at other Christchurch accommodation options here.
The perfect accommodation for you in New Zealand
Are you planning a trip to some of New Zealand’s popular destinations? We’ve got accommodation options for every budget. Take a look at these hotels spread across New Zealand.
About the writer
Hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, Karllie Clifton is an avid midlife traveller and blogger who loves an adventure. In the past few years alone, Karllie has visited over twenty countries and ticked off over more than 50 cities across three continents. She loves the great outdoors – especially hiking and anything to do with the ocean.