Family

The ultimate school holiday guide

Shouts of ‘I’m bored!’ are not an option! Keep the kids happy and occupied with these local family-friendly attractions

School's out and summer holidays are on! School holidays are a golden opportunity for students to explore, learn, and create lasting memories. In this guide, we share some of the amazing family-friendly attractions around New Zealand that will keep the kids learning, happy and occupied.
For parents, it can be a challenge to navigate the myriad of options available and curating an experience that caters to both the curiosity and interests of their children. From educational adventures that seamlessly blend learning and play to relaxation escapes that rejuvenate the mind and body, this guide is designed to be the compass that leads families through the maze of choices, ensuring that every moment of the school break is maximized.
We share our favourite options from around Aotearoa for an unforgettable school holiday!

Waitomo

Discover Waitomo's Natural Wonders
You've likely heard about Waitomo's famed Glowworm Cave with its mesmerising glowworm grotto, but did you know there's a world of wonders waiting to be uncovered beneath the surface? Enter Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave, where the magic of Waitomo reaches new heights.
Ruakuri Cave: A Captivating Journey
Step into Ruakuri Cave, where glowworms illuminate the darkness and selfies are not only allowed but encouraged. This 1 ½-hour walking tour offers a blend of subterranean marvels, from the up-close enchantment of glowworms to the awe-inspiring man-made spiral entrance. More than just visually stunning, Ruakuri Cave is solar-powered and accessible for families with pushchairs or wheelchairs. It's a journey that will leave the whole family in awe.
Aranui Cave: A Magical Encounter
Delve into the enchanting Aranui Cave, where Māori myths come to life. The high chambers showcase magnificent limestone formations featuring shades of pale brown, pink and white stalactites, creating a truly spectacular display. Every corner sparkles with delicate, captivating forms, making Aranui Cave an intimate and magical experience for the entire family.
Unearth the extraordinary at Waitomo – where every cave tells a unique story and adventure awaits beneath the surface. Open daily – pre-booking is essential. waitomo.com

Auckland

Study the solar system
Both visitors of Auckland and its residents will delight in the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium's out-of-this- world line-up this school holidays. Enjoy stargazing, telescopes and plenty of fun with regular kids' shows on every day from January 8 at this fun-for-all-ages attraction. stardome.org.nz

Wellington

Go wild
Animal lovers will adore exploring central Wellington's Zealandia – a not-for-profit ecosanctuary home to more than 40 different species of extraordinary native birds, as well as a bevy of reptiles, insects and plants. While you're in the capital, why not pay a visit to Wellington Zoo? The whole family will love checking out the cheeky chimpanzees, and admiring lions Jelani and Sadiki. To refuel, bring your own food and devour a delicious afternoon tea at one of the picnic tables when little legs need to rest, and let loose on the assortment of themed playgrounds when there's energy to burn! visitzealandia.com and wellingtonzoo.com

Rotorua

Get outside your comfort zone
Create lasting memories in Rotorua beyond the bubbling mud, erupting geysers and colourful Dr Seuss-like lakes! Adventure buffs big and small can let off some steam and pack plenty into a few days in Rotorua. Get lost and test your grey matter in the labyrinth of mazes at aMAZEme, feed alpacas at Rotorua Heritage Farm, slip into the geothermal waters of the Polynesian Spa's family pools, or enjoy the Farm Show and adventure playground at the Agrodome. Families with older kids will also love exploring The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest. There are various walking and thrilling mountain bike tracks to explore, as well as a selection of creepy crawlies in the bug cabinet, and entry is free! Children between six and 12 years will love working their way through the Explorer Sheets for a fun and educational fix – grab yours at the Redwoods I-Site & Visitor Information Centre. amazeme.co.nz, rotoruaheritagefarm.co.nz, polynesianspa.co.nz, agrodome.co.nz and redwoods.co.nz

Dunedin

Explore a castle
Take your little princes and princesses (and even your teens) to Dunedin to learn more about New Zealand's only castle, the historic Larnach Castle, nestled on the Otago Peninsula. Take the family on a self-guided tour and discover the grand rooms, tower, ballroom, historic stables, and the Alice in Wonderland-like gardens and grounds. It's open every day of the year and entry is free for children under 14. While you're in the area, why not check out what else Dunedin has to offer? Wildlife lovers will fancy the Royal Albatross Centre at the tip of the peninsula, which is home to seals, penguins, the world's only mainland royal albatross breeding colony and more, while the Science Centre at the Tūhura Otago Museum boasts 43 hands-on interactives, including a three-storey slide and a tropical forest teeming with exotic butterflies. larnachcastle.co.nz, albatross.org.nz and otagomuseum.nz

Christchurch

Take a trip to Antarctica…
…in Christchurch! Explore the breathtaking continent through a range of immersive experiences. The International Antarctic Centre offers a bounty of unique entertainment the whole family will enjoy. Buckle up and go off-road for a 15-minute expedition in a Hägglund – an all-terrain amphibious vehicle built to navigate and conquer Antarctica's icy obstacles – or visit Penguin Rescue, which is home to little blue penguins (kororā). Time your visit for 10.30am or 3pm to watch the cute little birds at feeding time. If you're up for a teeth-chattering adventure, you can even experience an Antarctic storm in the realistic indoor Storm Dome – just be sure to leave your jandals at home! The room is chilled to -8°C, with a wind-chill temperature of -18°C, and you can even let your hand take a polar plunge in icy-cold Antarctic water. iceberg.co.nz