If your family loves adventure and beautiful scenery, New Zealand is the perfect destination! Made up of 2 small islands, the country of New Zealand features a variety of destinations very distinctive in character. Because the country is so compact, you can easily visit several different areas on your holiday. Whether it’s adrenaline-fueled activities or tranquil hikes, New Zealand offers tons of family adventures.
One of our favorite ways to see the mountains and waters of Mt. Aspiring Park is on an easily maneuvered and inflatable kayak. Drift down the Dart River on a kayak, only dipping in the paddles occasionally to ensure you stay on the right path, as you marvel at the crystal blue waters and rocky chasms along the way.
Funyak adventure outside of Queenstown. Image: Dart River Adventures
There are many different biking routes to explore throughout New Zealand; some through forests, along coastal trails, and even following old rail lines. There are plenty of cycling tours for all age levels and abilities—some tours even offer e-bikes for those with limited mobility. If you’re a wine connoisseur like many of us in the DUE office, you can opt for the trails with wine stops along the way! Make a day of cycling past gorgeous scenery with strategic stops for a sauvignon blanc or glass of pinot.
Biking to wineries outside of Queenstown. Image: Tourism New Zealand
With an amazing array of hiking and walking trails available, there is no shortage of options for exploring New Zealand’s beautiful scenery. You can find hikes to suit all fitness levels, ages, and experiences. These hiking adventures are perfect for both day trips and multi-day excursions. The multi-day excursion will allow you and your family to immerse yourselves into the incredible landscapes, while enjoying the comfort of a guided trek with clean and cozy accommodations.
Hiking the beautiful Routeburn Track in Fiordland National Park. Image: Tourism New Zealand
A trip to the West Coast of the South Island will definitely be a highlight as you traverse the stunning alpine glaciers. Board your helicopter for a quick and scenic flight to the top, where you’ll attach your crampons to your boots and hike along the ice, noting the deep ravines and dramatic frozen terrain.
Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier. Image: Tourism New Zealand
White Water Rafting
For those interested in water that isn’t frozen, both islands offer exciting white water rafting options. An especially thrilling ride can be found on the rapids at the Kaituna River near Rotorua, where you’ll have the chance to conquer the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, as well as gain a little perspective on Maori culture. It’s a fun and educational adventure for the whole family!
White water rafting on Kaituna River. Image: Rotorua Tourism
While New Zealand is known more for its natural beauty than its wildlife, there are three species of penguin that call the islands home: the little blue penguin, which is the world’s smallest penguin; the yellow-eyed penguin, distinguished by its vivid yellow eye band; and the Fiordland Crested Penguin, which is one of the rarest penguins on the planet. You cannot help but be charmed by these unique and amazing birds!
Yellow-eyed penguin in Dunedin. Image: Tourism New Zealand
Created by underground streams pushing through the soft limestone earth over thousands of years, you’ll find a labyrinth of caves on both islands, complete with stalagmites, stalactites, and underwater river systems. In some caves, the walls and ceiling are covered in thousands of twinkling glowworms! There’s a myriad of activities on offer, catering to all levels of adventure—you can choose from boat and walking tours through the maze of caves, to more extreme blackwater rafting and abseiling or ziplining, all under the phosphorescent glow.
The dramatic Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Image: Tourism New Zealand