New Zealand Family Vacation: Scenery and Wildlife

Discover the perfect New Zealand family vacation, with beautiful New Zealand scenery, a scenic train ride, and family-friendly wildlife encounters!

From $1,599
per person
7 days
Airfare not included
Based on
4 travelers

This New Zealand Family Vacation was created for a family of 4 from Chicago. The kids were under 8 years old, so they wanted a fun vacation that was suitable for all ages. Luckily, New Zealand’s natural beauty is perfect for everyone!

Their New Zealand Family Vacation started off in beautiful Queenstown. Queenstown sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges; it’s rumored that gold prospectors—captivated by the majestic beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers—gave this town its name. The family stayed at a cozy hotel right on the lake shore, giving them easy access to family-friendly walking paths and bike trails.

In Queenstown, they cruised across the lake in a historic steamship. The kids loved visiting the engine room and seeing the giant steam engines at work! They stopped at Walter’s Peak for a scrumptious BBQ lunch amid quintessential New Zealand farmland. Then they got a farm demo for a behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand farming life.

Next for their New Zealand Family Vacation, they drove the scenic route through the mountains to Franz Josef. Along the way, there were plenty of easy hikes and scenic photo stops to enjoy. In Franz Josef, they visited the West Coast Wildlife Centre to see New Zealand’s adorable national bird, the kiwi. This was one of the highlights for the kids!

Then they drove through more rugged West Coast scenery to Greymouth, where they caught the TranzAlpine Train. This magnificent scenic rail journey took them from one end of the South Island to the other, and they were treated to stunning views of New Zealand’s varied landscapes—from mountains and valleys to pastoral farmland. They spent a night in Christchurch, where they strolled through the Botanical Gardens under a canopy of cherry trees, for the last night of their New Zealand Family Vacation.

Then it was time to say goodbye to New Zealand. They caught a flight in Christchurch and began their journey home with fun family memories to last a lifetime!

Destinations
Experiences
Our ReferenceD198

Day 1
Welcome to New Zealand! Arrive in Queenstown, the country’s outdoor adventure capital. Pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel nestled on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Relax in the spa, take in the amazing views across Queenstown Bay to Walter Peak while lunching in the hotel’s renowned rose garden, or enjoy the myriad of adventure and leisure activities in this beautiful resort town.
4-star hotel in Queenstown

Day 2
Soak up some famous Queenstown scenery today! Enjoy a 40-minute scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm onboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, then disembark at Walter Peak for a gourmet BBQ lunch. Depending on the weather, you’ll either dine on the terrace overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, or inside the cozy homestead. After your lunch, you can join an entertaining farm demonstration or explore the beautiful lakeside gardens.
4-star hotel in Queenstown

Day 3
Today is yours to spend at your leisure. Stroll along the lakefront, sample some of the delicious wines of the Central Otago region (the pinot noirs are particularly excellent), or get your adrenaline running with family-friendly adventures, including jet boating, the Skyline Gondola, 4WD tours, and more.
4-star hotel in Queenstown

Day 4
Today, make the drive to the wild West Coast and the small mountain town of Franz Josef. The scenery on this drive will take your breath away! Allow some time to stop for picturesque views, short hikes to waterfalls, and mom-and-pop food stalls serving local specialities. In Franz Josef, soak up magnificent views of Franz Josef Glacier.
3.5-star hotel in Franz Josef

Day 5
Take the whole day to explore the West Coast Wildlife Centre located in the centre of Franz Josef, where you’ll see New Zealand’s adorable, and elusive, national bird, the kiwi. This incredible wildlife attraction is home to the official hatching facility for the world’s 2 rarest kiwi birds: the Rowi and Haast Tokoeka. See live kiwi birds, discover the interactive glacier attraction and West Coast storytelling areas, or go behind the scenes on the Backstage Pass Tour to see live kiwi chicks and meet the friendly kiwi ranger staff.
3.5-star hotel in Franz Josef

Day 6
Make a scenic drive up the West Coast to Greymouth, where you’ll drop off your rental car and board the TranzAlpine Train. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great scenic train tips. Traveling from one end of the South Island to the other, you’ll see the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps, and lush green landscapes on the other. Descend the alpine scenery through a series of spectacular viaducts, follow the Waimakariri River, and cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury Plains en route to Christchurch.
3.5-star hotel in Christchurch

Day 7
It’s time to say goodbye to New Zealand today! Make your way to the airport, where you’ll begin your journey home.

  • 3 nights Queenstown
  • 2 nights Franz Josef
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 6 days car rental
  • Real Journeys – Steamship cruise and gourmet lunch at Walter’s Peak
  • Full-day pass to the West Coast Wildlife Centre
  • TranzAlpine Train scenic rail journey

“The drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier is one of my favorites. The scenery changes dramatically as you travel from the high rugged mountains of Queenstown to the temperate rainforest on the West Coast. Be sure you stop at some of the waterfalls along the Haast Pass! I recommend Fantail Falls and the Thunder Creek Falls.”
–Emily, Down Under Endeavours

Real Journeys

Partner Information

  • Location: Queenstown and Fiordlands
  • Day and Overnight Fiordland Cruises
  • Scenic Flights
  • Rafting and Kayaking
  • Stewart Island Wilderness Tours
  • Te Anau Glowworm Cave Tours