Cambridge, New Zealand is a lovely, quaint town in the Northland of New Zealand, and the perfect base with children to explore the surrounding area due its proximity to many well known attractions. We stocked up on groceries at the local Countdown for our local rental house, and made Cambridge home for 3 days!
Travel: Cambridge is easily accessible from Auckland via car. It is an appx 2 hour drive. There are tours from Auckland that will take you to the places I have recommended below, but making a base in Cambridge, and exploring the region on your own is simply amazing as this region has so much variety, and we enjoyed stopping off at local cafes, etc whenever we wanted.
Hotel: We chose to rent a house via http://www.bookabach.co.nz the equivalent of airbnb or homeaway. Our house in Cambridge was our favorite by far of the entire trip, and was such an ideal setting with children. We highly recommend bookabach!
Logistics: Cambridge served as our base, and a gateway to the nearby attractions. A bit of driving over a couple of days will be needed depending on what you wish to see. Waitomo Caves is an appx 50 minute drive from Cambridge. Rotorua is an appx 1 hour drive from Cambridge. Hobbiton is an appx 30 minute drive. Tauranga is a 1 hour drive from Cambridge.
Activities: Hobbiton Movie Set: (Appx 30 mins from Cambridge) – Whether you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings series or not, this is a beautiful place and perfect for a toddler as everything is their size, and there are tons of sheep roaming about 🙂 We booked thru hobbiton tours, and you can embark from 2 different locations: The Shire’s Rest or Matamata I-Site. The tour takes appx 2 hours total including bus transfer to/from The Shire’s Rest (3 hours from Matamata I-Site). Also, a bit of advice from experience, check both locations for vacancy. We called to book from The Shire’s Rest as it was about 20 mins closer to our accommodation in Cambridge; however, we were told the tour was completely booked so we called the Matamata I-Site and they had availability. The cost is a$79NZD for adults, and children under 8 are free with a paying adult. Children between 9 and 16 are $39.50NZD. If you travel after April 1st then the prices have a little increase. The bus ride is a huge charter bus ride. All information can be found here: http://www.hobbitontours.com/en/
Waitomo Glow worm Caves: (Appx 50 mins from Cambridge) – Waitomo comes from the Maori words (water and hole). Underneath the green hills of Waitomo are caves, rivers, and an entirely different underground world. One of the best ways to see the glow worms is by a boat tour that goes into the cave. The glow worm concentration in the cave is reported to be magnificent. http://www.waitomo.com/Waitomo-Glowworm-Caves/Pages/default.aspx
Lost World Cave & Abseiling – If you have children 10+ or are travelling in a group and are able to give your tot a break from travelling and a day off to stay behind with a caretaker, then you must see the glow worms as we did via abseiling 100m into the Lost World Cave. We chose to do the 4 hour adventure with Waitomo Adventures. There were 4 of us, and our guide who took amazing care of us. This is by far one of the most adventurous things I have done (not my husband since he is the snowboarder/paragliding/scuba type 🙂 ) but for me it was an accomplishment. This experience is unparalleled and an amazing way to see a part of the world hidden from view. The pictures I have posted do not do the expedition justice. Please check out all the information and pics here: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/
You can also zipline thru the caves thru the same company, Waitomo Adventures ( http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)and raft thru the caves with the Blackwater rafting company. I cannot speak to these adventures from experience, but definitely if your children are old enough these activities would be lifetime adventures to always remember. I can only imagine that these tours are also amazing as these tour companies are top notch and love what they do. The reviews also say the same. http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-rafting/Pages/default.aspx
Rotorua: (Appx 1 hour from Cambridge) – Rotorua is best known for its hot springs and mud pots and as an excellent place to experience Maori culture since they have several tourist “experiences” tailored for travelers. A list of must do experiences in Rotorua can be found here: https://www.newzealand.com/us/feature/discover-experiences-in-rotorua/ but the most famous is probably the Mitai Maori Village where you get to enjoy an authentic Hangi experience and watch Maori cultural performances.
Also as time allows you should also definitely enjoy the local township of Cambridge during your stay. Cambridge is home to a wonderful little town with cute eateries and shops. We really enjoyed the roast take away shop where you can buy prepared roast, kumara, carrots, etc. We also enjoyed walking thru Lake Te Koutu park.
And as you can tell from my most recent posts, I am currently writing about all the many wonderful places to experience with kiddies in New Zealand before I move on to other destinations. Please let me know if there are any other things you would like to know about travelling in NZ, and I will include in my next blog post if I know the answers 🙂 I have had a few questions regarding the time my husband and I lived in New Zealand on working holiday visas pre kids and will include some tips on tackling your own kiwi travelling holiday during my blog post next week!