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INSIDE: Everything you need to know about the best things to do in New Zealand for kids & families

You’ve arrived at the ultimate destination for SUPER DOOPER FUN ideas & activities for family travel in New Zealand with Kids, Roam the Gnome™ Family Travel Website.

Thanks for stopping by.

We love travelling New Zealand with kids.

  • The people are friendly
  • The scenery is spectacular
  • The driving is cruise
  • The food makes our tastebuds tingle, and we can’t resist lolly cake at any cafe! 

We have visited 5 times in the last few years to see family.

It’s our second home.

We’re here to help, and will try and answer the most popular questions, including these ones we’ve recently received:

  • Whats your best advice for traveling in New Zealand?
  • Where are good places to visit in New Zealand for a first time traveler
  • What are the best places in New Zealand
  • What are the most popular Tourist Attractions of New Zealand?
  • What are the unmissable places in New Zealand?
  • Which should I visit in New Zealand   North Island or South Island?
  • What are some fun things to do with children in New Zealand?, and
  • What are some things to do while visiting New Zealand that a tourist might not know about?

We’d love you to scoot around our New Zealand travel blog pages, and read about some of our favourite places to visit in NZ.

Find all the details and stories below. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, we may receive a small commission at NO extra cost to you.

hobbiton sign pic


Correct at time of publication on Roam the Gnome. Please check with venue for updates. We apologise in advance if there have been any changes we are unaware of. All prices in NZ dollars, unless otherwise stated

Roam the Gnome Family Travel Blog will help save you time, stress & money when planning to BOOK YOUR NEXT TRIP to New Zealand!

We guarantee it.

hobbiton movie set tours in new zealand hobbiton blue door pic

Featured Cities: Visit New Zealand with Kids

Hobbiton is on the bucket list for most visitors to New Zealand, even though 30% of visitors have NEVER seen the movies!

There’s even a Hobbiton gift shop, so you can buy all the best Hobbiton souvenirs. 

But there’s also so much more to NZ with kids than Lord of the Rings, and the best bit is you can easily self-drive around both North and South Island and see lots of the NZ attractions in two weeks.

Here’s a few cities we’ve written about on our New Zealand blog about the North Island that you shouldn’t miss.


Image credit: DXR via Flickr CC BY SA 4.0


Planning family travel in New Zealand on the North Island, and need to fill your New Zealand itinerary with fun things to do in New Zealand?

Start here. 

Our first tip is to catch the SkyBus from the airport to the CBD because up to four kids can travel FREE with one adult on the Family 1 and 2 Skybus fares!

I love when kids TRAVEL FOR FREE on transport – it’s a HUGE saving for families who love exploring the world.

myers park playground auckland pic

Destination: Auckland with Kids

Most people fly into Auckland to start their NZ North Island adventure but don’t take the time to explore much of the city, despite it being one of the most family-friendly, safe destinations on the planet.

We love Auckland, even on a rainy day.

There’s so many activities in Auckland for kids. 

It’s cosmopolitan AND quaint, often at the same time.

Auckland is a small city, so you can pretty much walk anywhere from most central accommodation.

Head on up the Sky Tower for views of the whole city.

Or check out the city with a ride the Auckland Explorer Hop on Hop Off bus. 

Visit the Auckland Maritime Museum to see the America’s Cup Challenger Boat, and join in a heap of hands-on kids activities.

Don’t miss MOTAT – the museum of Transport and Technology. You can spend the whole day exploring here.

And did you know you can make your own lollipop to take home in Auckland?

Read our guide to the best lolly shops in Auckland here.

Take note: The city rises on a sharp incline from the harbour up the hill, so be prepared to puff the whole walk home.

This is one time we’d recommend catching a bus up the hill, or an UBER.

We guarantee the investment will pay off as there will be no grumpy children or husbands to contend with.


napier main street pic by anne and david

Image credit: Anne and David CC BY 1.0


Find all kinds of stories about Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, including:

  • places to visit in Napier
  • where to eat in Napier with kids
  • fun stuff to do in Napier with kids, and
  • our top tips for visiting Napier city.

At first Napier feels like a town better suited to adults, but Napier with kids can be top fun if you know where to look! 

Napier Pania of the Reef statue 800

Destination: Napier with Kids

Napier is one of the most beautiful spots on the North Island of New Zealand.

Part of the greater Hawkes’ Bay area, there is tonnes of stuff for families to do in Napier too.


  • wildlife to meet
  • Art Deco architecture to gape at
  • fabulous playgrounds
  • an oceanside walking and cycle path
  • the Napier Prison self guided tour
  • hands-on museums for kids, and more.

The best thing to do in Napier though, is the one-of-a-kind Cape Kidnappers Gannet bird colony sightseeing tour.

It’s the world’s largest mainland gannet colony and it’s perched on the top of the magnificent Napier cliffs. You’ll learn about Maori legends too. 

Check out the 39 Best Things to do in Napier for Families

RELATED: MORE of the Best Napier Attractions

Hells Gate Rotorua wetlands silver fern with jack pic


The ultimate holiday destination on the North Island of New Zealand is definitely Rotorua.

Plus, it’s only an hour or so to Hobbiton in Matamata by car, so double points.

While it’s the best fun for kids and families (and anyone for that matter), it’s NOT cheap.

Hells Gate Rotorua Inferno pools pic

Destination: Rotorua New Zealand

Stuff your wallet, and then double it.

Rotorua attractions are expensive in the grand scheme of things, and you’ll want to do lots of them, including the astounding Tamaki Maori Village cultural evening and hangi dinner where you can learn about:

  • Maori heritage
  • Maori dance
  • Maori stories and songs, and
  • Maori cultural practices still in place today. 

Tamaki tours are SO much fun – a great immersive experience of storytelling, dance and song. 

Take a look at our Tamaki Maori Village review

Photo - duck boat tours rotorua with driver

Best Rotorua attractions for families

Rotorua is the adventure capital but there’s also lots to do on family holidays. 

You can also:

The funniest thing to do is the Rotorua duck tour boat

(We did. It’s terrific AND hilarious! Read our review here

photo - ned smiling at mud baths in rotorua

Rotorua Mud Baths

Special mention. Book the Hells Gate Mud Baths and Sulphur Spa experience on your family holiday. 


Read our review here

But back to Hobbiton.

Visiting the former movie set of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, just outside the town of Matamata, is a consistent contender  in the top 5 things to do in New Zealand.

Seeing that dramatic unforgettable scenery in person, and wandering through the fields of Hobbit holes in real life, just can’t be beat. 

Take a sneak peek at ALL the fun things to do in Rotorua for families below . 


mcdonalds taupo airplane pic


We’ve compiled a super fun list of the best New Zealand attractions in Taupo & Waitomo for kids on our Taupo travel blog, including the best playground in Taupo and nature adventures too.

Do these things:

Hot tip: Don’t miss the giant airplane at Taupo New Zealand McDonalds!


Hot tip: Read this list of 13 best things to do in Waitomo too. 

Pop back soon for a guide to the best things to do in Wellington with kids too.

hobbiton movie set tours in new zealand bus pic


Is it difficult to travel in New Zealand without a car?

Yes, but not impossible.

There are plenty of bus companies, and tour companies to help you make your way around, but driving New Zealand is SO much easier.

The roads are good, the traffic is low, and the scenery is spectacular.

You can get to places such as Hot Water beach, and the rugged west coast, that you might not be able to without a car. 

Drive if you can.

Take that New Zealand road trip with kids.

A New Zealand family vacation should be top of the list for anyone who loves natural beauty. 

Aerodrive Car Rentals with skyroam rental wifi device pic 800

What is the best hire car company in New Zealand?

I started looking for a car hire firm that would take a VISA debit card as security, as I don’t own a credit card (by choice.)

We stumbled upon AERODRIVE car hire, and it was the most affordable, least hassle car hire experience we’ve ever had.

Definitely worth comparing prices, before you go with the big guys.

Photo - Skyline Rotorua Luge family pic

What is the best travel insurance for New Zealand?

Never travel without travel insurance.

Our motto is ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel’.

We’ve written a Travel Insurance cost comparison to help our readers work out the best travel insurance for New Zealand for a family.

Take a look.

Photo - railcruising rotorua inside vehicle

What visa do I need for New Zealand?

Click here for all the NZ visa information.

PIN new zealand with kids

Can I go to New Zealand if I have an Australian visa?

If you need an Australian visa for your country, you’ll need a separate visa for New Zealand too.

(Some countries have visa waivers with both Australia and New Zealand that last three months.)

lake pukaki nz by casey horner photo-

Image credit: Casey Horner via Unsplash 

What is the best time of year to visit New Zealand?

For skiing, visit in the New Zealand winter (July to mid September. August is the best.)

For all other holidays, go when it’s warmest.

New Zealand is bloody freezing at the best of times, and while cafes, restaurants, and some attractions provide heating in the cooler months, getting out and about in New Zealand with kids means layers and layers and LAYERS of clothing, AND big jackets to carry around too.

That makes life more difficult when you have kids in tow.

We love to visit between November and January.

The temperatures then are perfect for travelling around both the North and South islands of New Zealand.

new zealand travel blog - rotorua luge pic

What are the coolest things to do in New Zealand?


Followed closely by a trip on the downhill LUGE in Rotorua or Queenstown.

My boys would argue the Rotorua Luge is THE BEST THING TO DO in New Zealand.

My vote is the Mud Baths in Rotorua.

Hands down, it’s the number one thing to do for adults in NZ. 

auckland by henry mcintosh

Image credit: Henry McIntosh via Unsplash 

How long would I need to really see New Zealand?

You can do a pretty good roam around the North Island in 3 weeks.

Same for the South Island.

A solid month split between both islands, if you can’t manage more, would allow you time to see all the BIG sights, and a few smaller ones too.

(PS: We’re planning our next trip to visit the New Zealand South Island to explore Christchurch, Milford Sound, and Queenstown. Hit us with your best tips! )  

the great new zealand baking book

Where do I find a supermarket in New Zealand

Click here for our huge guide to New Zealand grocery stores, AND a big list of the NZ food you should buy there for gifts and souvenirs, and to try!

Best New Zealand food souvenirs 


Image credit: Hikosaemon via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Best New Zealand Shopping Guide

Wondering what to buy in New Zealand for family and friends?

First up, here’s a guide to the best New Zealand souvenirs – both unique, affordable and much loved by kiwis. 

No.1: Best Markets in New Zealand

Top spot to pick up made in New Zealand gifts. 

No.2: MORE of the Best Places to shop in New Zealand for Arty Crafty Design Loving Folk!

This is where to find unique things to buy in New Zealand, often made by the artists. 

Toadstool Rating: Fun things to do in New Zealand for kids

things to do in new zealand with kids review


We’d love to help. Click the links in blue below for more family friendly activities around the world.