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!

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.

They enjoyed a scenic helicopter flight to Milford Sound complete with a cruise of the Sound and a return helicopter back to Queenstown.

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!  In Franz Josef, they do a helicopter hike to Franz Josef Glacier.

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!

Suggested Itinerary

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.
The Rees Hotel

Day 2
Soak up some famous Queenstown scenery today! The family took helicopter flight to Milford Sound flight and a Mitre Peak Cruise to experience the Fiordland National Park from the sky, land and water. A remote alpine landing topped off their up close exploration of a UNESCO World Heritage wilderness.
The Rees Hotel

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.
The Rees Hotel

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.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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.  And for an extra bonus, take a helicopter hike to Franz Josef glacier.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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.
The George 

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.

About this vacation
Cost Per Person

Does not include the cost of airfare

Based on
7 day stay
4 travelers

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