Wanaka, New Zealand

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Husband – Lake Wanaka
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Lake Wanaka
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My bambina & me – Lake Wanaka

Wanaka is a small town in the Central Otago region of New Zealand on the Southern Lakes. Wanaka is a holiday resort town that fluxes with the stream of year round visitors, but the permanent population is just over 7000. Wanaka is full of charm and beautiful scenery. Wanaka is located an approximate 1 hour drive from Queenstown, and has often been compared to Queenstown with some even calling it “Queenstown’s sister”. We enjoyed our time in Wanaka with our 18 month old, and found it has a very different feel from Queenstown that we fell in love with. It is very charming, and a perfect setting for a family holiday! We also found Wanaka to be less expensive than Queenstown which is always a plus!

Travel: Wanaka is located an approximate 1 hour drive from Queenstown via the Cardrona Road. Wanaka is also a gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park located only 54 minutes to the park via State Highway 6. There are also some bus options that will carry you from Christchurch which is an appx 5 hour drive away.

Hotel: There are plenty of hotels, inns, hostels, and bed and breakfast options in Wanaka. We chose to rent a house via bookabach.co.nz, NZ’s equivalent of homeaway or airbnb, and it was lovely. We highly recommend bookabach. We had an entire balcony that overlooked Lake Wanaka, and we were close enough to walk to town!

Activities:

The Lake: Lake Wanaka is crystal clear, and amazingly beautiful. There are so many activities to participate in. You can swim, wade, kayak, paddle boat, fish, raft, jetboat, sail, waterski or wakeboard. Our toddler enjoyed wading in the water, and collecting rocks as the water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom and see tons of rocks! There are also tons of ducks which is a great recipe for a toddler adventure.You can also rent kayak’s, boats, etc right on the lake front from Lakeland Wanaka.

Biking: You can also rent bikes from Lakeland Wanaka right on the lakefront. There are lots of bike trails, bikes parks, or road cycling available. You can even do heli biking for a more challenging ride. I have found the best source of info on biking in Wanaka can be found here! 

The Dinosaur Park: The Dinosaur Park is amazing, and was our daughter’s favorite attraction in Wanaka. We visited this park daily. It is right in the center of town, directly on the beach, and full of lots of fun activities including the famous dinosaur slide! This is a must stop with kiddies in tow. We were able to sit and take in the awesome views, picnic, wade in the water, etc while our little one played at the park and chased ducks! My suggestion is to get fish & chips take aways wrapped in newspaper from Wana Takeaways, and picnic beachside. You will see lots of other people doing the same!

Wanaka Lavender Farm:  Our daughter loved running through the rows of lavender, sitting on the purple tractor, seeing the farm animals, and eating lavender ice cream! This is a beautiful farm, and a great place to visit. We also partook of the lavender ice cream as well as tea, and it was simply divine! The little shop also has fantastic lavender products / souvenirs! Link to their website here!

Hiking: There are lots of family friendly hikes in/around Wanaka. The visitor’s center told us the Mount Iron Walk was a good walk for kids and would allow us to see sprawling views of Lake Wanaka, but we ran out of time to complete this hike. This is a full comprehensive guide of all of the hiking/walking options in Wanaka.

Lone Lake Wanaka Tree: We really enjoyed hiking around the beach to the Lake Wanaka Tree with our daughter. It was an easy beach walk around to the south end of the lake to see this feat of nature. There are no signs or placards that will point you in the right direction so make sure to just keep walking, and you will find it around the side of the lake. The tree sits just off shore from the public beach access, and is framed by the Southern Alps.

Lake Wanaka
The Lone Wanaka Tree, Lake Wanaka

Roy’s Peak Hike: Besides our trek up to Machu Picchu and The Great Wall, this is the most awe inspiring view I have ever had the privilege of seeing! And this def takes the cake for a natural landscape! This hike is NOT TODDLER/KID FRIENDLY. I try to tailor my recommendations to only kid friendly activities, but this view is so stunning I thought it needed mentioning. We left our daughter with my parents while we embarked on this hike. They took her to the dinosaur park, Patagonia Chocolates, and lots of other fun activities around town while we were gone! If you have an older child who is physically fit you can make the determination as to whether to take them along. The hike will take you appx 5-6 hours depending on your level of fitness. It took us about 6.5 hours as we stopped several times on the ascent. You climb appx 1500 meters straight up a mountain thru private farmland. There are sheep grazing alongside the hiking path, and can sometimes block your path. This is an exposed track. There is no shield from the sun, heat, rain, wind, etc. When we hiked, the sun was blazing. The burn time in New Zealand is appx 12 minutes so I required lots of sunscreen, layers of clothes, and an umbrella! I am very fair skinned. My husband fared better since he is not! Also, there are only bathrooms at the beginning/end of the trail so plan ahead for this. You will need to carry lots of water, provisions, clothes, etc as the temperature changes drastically throughout the day and as you ascend. On the descent, it is worth noting that you will be utilizing your knees very frequently as you are walking down a mountain the entire way down. I have relatively good knees, and they were extremely sore following this hike. It is also noteworthy to state that I am not a hiker. I am not extremely fit. I was working out regularly before this trip, but I was by no means an “athletic” individual so this may be WAY easier for someone else!

Roys Peak Summit
View from the Top!

Wanaka Golf: My husband played this course, and loved it. He is an avid golfer, and said this course was great to play and the views were beautiful yet distracting 🙂 You can hire a cart, and take your kids along for the ride! Our daughter loves going golfing with dada!

Amigos Mexican Grill: We really enjoyed this restaurant right in the center of town on Ardmore. It was very kid friendly. They have mariachi hats that my daughter loved, and also have hoola hoops on the lawn street side to be enjoyed.And get the Churros con Chocolate! Amazing!

Patagonia Chocolates: I have the same entry for this place under Queenstown as it is worth mentioning twice, and visiting multiple times. I am a huge fan. This place is amazing for adults and children alike. My favorite is the spicy hot chocolate, and my daughter loved the chocolate croissants. This is a must stop. They also serve ice cream and loads of other treats. My recommendation is picking up a treat before going to enjoy it lake side!

Puzzling World: A bizarre, fun filled alternate reality! Fun for the whole family! Visit their website here!

Make sure to save some time to visit the Hekwick Street Boutiques which are lovely. We found some of our favorite souvenirs in Wanaka!

Its also important to note we visited Wanaka in November. During the winter months, Wanaka is an amazing place to view the southern lights as well as ski and participate in winter activities! Cardrona Ski Park is loved by families!

And if you have time, tack on some time in Queenstown. Check out my guide to family fun here!

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Matauri Bay, New Zealand

Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand

About 3-4 hours north of Auckland on the very top of the North Island of New Zealand you will find the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands is comprised of 144 subtropical islands. The scenery is stunning, but completely different than the more frequently photographed South Island landscapes. While my husband and I lived in New Zealand on working holiday visas, we made Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands home. We have since been back to visit twice, and took our 18 month old daughter last November. The Bay of Islands holds sentimental value for us, and in our minds a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without visiting this beautiful section of the country. Below are our favorite towns, sites, and foods to experience in the northland.

Travel: The Bay of Islands is accessible from Auckland via car hire, plane, public bus transport, or full day tours with companies like intercity and greatsites. By car, the trip will take appx 3-4 hours if you choose the shorter route via Highway 1, but you will be required to pay a toll. The toll is $2.30 for cars, and can be paid online or on the phone as the toll is electronic. However, we always choose to pay our toll at the gas stations near the toll so we are done with it. They charge a fee of $1.20. Or you can choose to travel via the Twin Coast Discovery Route which is a longer drive, but more scenic. We personally always choose to travel via Highway 1 as the drive is still beautiful, and we are eager to make it to the Bay of Islands. If you choose to fly then the flight is a short 35 minute flight to the Kerikeri airport.

Hotel: We have always chosen to make our base in Kerikeri which is the largest town in the Northland; however, the town of Paihia would also be a lovely setting. There are many lovely hotels and bed & breakfast options in Kerikeri which you should explore. We love Wharepuke Subtropical Gardens which is 5 acres of award winning gardens with small little cottages scattered throughout, an art gallery and sculpture park, and an award winning restaurant on site. (More on this later). http://www.accommodation-bay-of-islands.co.nz/

Logistics: A bit of driving over a couple of days is needed to explore The Bay of Islands so we recommend hiring a car.

Activities:

Kerikeri: As mentioned, Kerikeri is the largest town in the Northland. Kerikeri was the site of the first mission settlement in New Zealand, and has some of the oldest buildings in the country. Kerikeri has been previously voted as New Zealand’s top small town, and you often hear the tourist slogan “Its so nice, they named it twice” This town is full of charm and is the perfect gateway for exploring The Bay of Islands. Must sees in Kerikeri:

Stone Store & Kemp House: Located at the end of the main street in town on the inlet you will find 2 of the most historic buildings in NZ. The Stone house is the oldest stone structure in NZ, and the Kemp House or Mission House is the oldest wooden structure in NZ. The stone store now houses a gift shop which is full of old treasures and unique items. This is a great place to visit for kids as there is lots of outdoor space to run around, and there are tons of ducks on the property/inlet.

Rainbow Falls: A favorite of our daughters. There is a lovely hike from the base of the Stone Store you can choose to hike to Rainbow Falls which we have done, but with kiddies in tow I suggest going to the car park which is located right next to the falls. You can view the falls from the upper decking, but I also recommend making the 10 minute hike down to the base. This is an easy hike for children as long as they are supervised and very enjoyable. You can choose to swim if the weather permits and hike around the back of the falls.

Rainbow Falls, New Zealand

Rewa’s Village: A replica of a Maori fishing village. http://rewasvillage.co.nz/ Also located near the Stone Store on the basin/inlet.

Bay of Island’s Farmer’s Market: Every Sunday in Kerikeri from 8:30 am – noon you can visit this amazing farmer’s market. There are stalls of wonderful food, crafts, produce, music, etc. The market is a must visit if you are in town on Sunday, and located at the Hobson car park across from Makana Confections which is a must visit as well for their amazing treats!

Bay of Islands Honey Shop: Home of NZ’s biggest bee hive. This place is really cool. The store has amazing honey related items, and I highly suggest buying NZ famed Manuka honey. I am a big fan. Also, the kids can see the iconic buzzy bee (one of the most famous NZ toys)A as they sell these in store, and have a huge replica outside. http://www.boihoneyshop.co.nz/

Restaurants Around Town: This is my no means a comprehensive list as there are really SO many good places to eat in Kerikeri. However, these are just a few recommendations, and some of our favorites:

Food @ Wharepuke: Located at The Wharepuke Subtropical Gardens in an old American Army barracks is the café/ restaurant owned by chef Colin Ashton, Food. I had the privilege of working at this café when we lived in New Zealand, and I visit every time we are in New Zealand. I actually dream of Colin’s award winning kaffir lime panna cotta. Colin has won accolades in New Zealand, and also used to be the personal chef for some pretty big celebrities back in the day. His food is amazing! His dishes are European thai inspired, and the setting is gorgeous.

Marsden Estate: Kerikeri was the first place in New Zealand where grape vines were planted by Samuel Marsden. There are several local vineyards you can visit in Kerikeri, but our favorite is Marsden. This is a lovely place to visit for lunch, and sit on the patio. They also offer tastings. http://www.marsdenestate.co.nz/

Café Jerusalem: Hands down one of my favorite gyros. Its a small place located in the center of town, but fast and great for kids!

Rusty Tractor Café & Trading Store: A cute little café with a playground for kids!

Kerikeri Bakehouse: You must stop here for breakfast, and they have a play area for kids!

Fishbone Café: We love the coffees here! They also make great waffles!

Paihia: Located about 30 minutes from Kerikeri is coastal town of Paihia. This town is beautiful, and would also make a great base for your stay in the Bay of Islands. I also love shopping in Paihia, and find the best souvenirs in this town! Here are our top recommendations for adventures in Paihia:

Hole in the Rock Cruise: The Hole in the Rock or as the Maori call it Motu Kōkako is a 60 foot hole in the island at sea level that you can boat thru if the waters are calm enough to allow. There are many companies to choose from for your hole in the rock cruise, and you will find huts in town with all of the booking information and schedules. If you choose to book ahead of time via the internet, all of the tours have websites. We have only done The Fullers GreatSights Tour, and it was fantastic. We recommend the Hole in the Rock Cruise appx 3 hours (and you can add an island stop over) or the full day cream trip. We saw tons of dolphins on our cruise! https://www.dolphincruises.co.nz/bay-of-islands-cruises

Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Located in Paihia are the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Waitangi Treaty was signed making this site one of huge historical significance. The Waitangi Treaty established British rule in New Zealand, and was signed by Maori chiefs and the British Crown. The treaty gave Maori people the ownership of their lands, and provided British rights to the Maori people. You can visit the grounds during the day for tours, etc and for part of the year you can also visit for a Maori Hangi & concert. http://www.waitangi.org.nz/

Beach: The kids will love the beach in Paihia, and you should enjoy all of the activities beach side. We recommend a fish & chips picnic. We love Tai Bay Takeaways which is beach side. They wrap your order up in paper, and you can head to the beach!

Paihia Farmer’s Market: Paihia also hosts a weekly farmer’s market every Thursday from 2 pm until dusk at the village green.

Russell: Russell was the first European settlement in New Zealand, and is now a cute seaside town full of cafes, shops, and strolling seaside walks. A passenger ferry runs daily from Pahia to Russell or there is also a car ferry from Opua. We took the ferry over to Russell for lunch, and then did the Flagstaff Hill Hike. The hike is uphill and can be a bit much with tots so recommend stroller or baby carrier, but the view at the top is 360 degrees of the Bay of Islands and well worth the effort. You can also drive, but we did not have a car since we took the passenger ferry across.

90 Mile Beach & Cape Reinga: We visited these attractions independently via car hire, but I recommend going via an operated tour from Paihia. Appx 3 hours away from Paihia. Cape Reinga is where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, and it makes quite a crash. This is the end of the road in the Northland, and the most northern accessible point of NZ. The views are beautiful. We sand boarded the dunes of 90 mile beach, and it was alot of fun. It is a hike up the dunes for a ride down. If you book thru an organized tour, they will supply the sand boards. Also, on your organized tour they should supply lunch, and a stop off at the Kauri Museum to see the iconic NZ Kauri trees! Older kids would love this adventure! https://www.newzealand.com/int/cape-reinga/

Matauri Bay: Some of the best landscapes of the Northland can be seen from driving to Matauri Bay in my opinion. The drive is appx 35 minutes from Kerikeri around winding roads, and you will take in stunning views. You can drive to the Matauri Bay Holiday Park for swimming, surfing, and camping. This is a beautiful beach to spend time at and picnic. http://www.matauribayholidaypark.co.nz/ Kauri Cliffs Golf Resort is also located in Matauri Bay, and is a fantastic property if you have the chance to visit. You can golf, visit the spa, or enjoy lunch on site. https://www.robertsonlodges.com/the-lodges/kauri-cliffs

Ngawha Springs: Located appx 40 mins from Kerikeri are the Ngawha Springs near Kaikohe. These are geothermal springs that are built into the ground. This is not a fancy spa establishment, but if it is hot mud pools you are after then this is a great place to visit. As you drive closer to the hot pools, you will start to smell the aroma immediately. I think it smells much like rotten eggs. My advice would be to not wear your best swimsuit as it is hard to get the odor out following your dip, but these pools are all natural and highly therapeutic. The entry fee is $4NZD and kids are free. http://www.ngawhasprings.co.nz

Enjoy the Bay of Islands!

Cambridge, New Zealand

 

Lost World Cave, New ZealandWaitomo Abseiling, Lost World Cave, New Zealand

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!

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

If you ever find yourself in Auckland, New Zealand a trip to Waiheke Island is a must do. This is a great destination with or without kiddies. Waiheke is filled with vineyards, olive groves, beaches, and cute towns dotting the island.

Travel: You can reach Waiheke Island via a 35 minute passenger ferry ride from downtown Auckland for around $10NZD per person (Fullers). There is also a vehicular ferry that operates from Half Moon Bay marina in east Auckland (Sealink). There are several “tours” you can join from Auckland, but we chose to go independently so we had the freedom we wanted with our tot. The boat ride itself was a hit with our daughter!

Arrival: We chose to hire a car once we landed in Waiheke. There is a rental car company located directly across from the pier where you disembark the ferry, Waiheke Auto Rentals. We chose this rental company due to the convenience!

Hotel: We chose to visit Waiheke Island as a day trip from Auckland, and returned to Auckland the same day. If you are interested in staying a bit longer, there are a few inns or I would highly recommend checking out http://www.bookabach.co.nz which is the New Zealand equivalent of homeaway. We have rented houses thru bookabach twice with lovely experiences.

Logistics: Navigating Waiheke is easy, but some form of transport is definitely needed with a toddler. Some people choose to hike, bike, or scooter around the island which are also options available. If walking, you will only be able to cover a portion of the island but we saw lots of people doing this as there is a heavy concentration of vineyards near the terminal.

Activities: Wild on Waiheke: This was our favorite winery/brewery with our daughter. It is very kid friendly with lots of activities and green space. There is a small play gym for children, large bean bags and seating outdoors, archery, claybird shooting, and ducks that our tot chased thru the vineyard rows. The setting was beautiful, and the tasting plates were fantastic. We ordered pizza for our daughter, and it was a big hit! We spent several hours lounging here.

Mudbrick Vineyard: This vineyard is stunning with amazing views of the water and surrounding landscapes with Auckland city scape in the distance. It is also beautifully cared for with several outdoor dining terraces. This vineyard is a bit more lavish than our previous recommendation, but worth the visit. Our daughter enjoyed running around the garden terrace that had several steps, tables, and lavender!

Little Oneroa Beach & Playground: This little playground is located on a scenic beach on Waiheke with a general beach store selling fish & chips, coffees, ice creams and general grocery goods next door. The beach is good for swimming or wading. There is a grassy area, picnic tables, and a free barbequing facility. The playground is nicely equipped and was enjoyed by our 18 month old. We stopped off here for some free time before heading back to Auckland on the ferry.

Onera Town: Onera is the main little town on Waiheke Island. There are cute shops, markets, ice cream parlors, and restaurants. We chose to enjoy lunch at the Solar Eating House in town. This café has great windows with massive views of the water, and we really enjoyed the food. They also have a little sitting area with a basket full of children’s books and stuffed animals which was a nice touch!

There are several other vineyards on Waiheke (award winning too) that we did not visit due to their location, etc. We wanted to take time to enjoy the island with our daughter in tow instead of driving for the majority of the day. However, if you have the time or have tots that enjoy car riding each vineyard has green space and most are equipped with activities for kids. We hope you enjoy a visit to Waiheke as much as we did!

Queenstown, New Zealand

 

My husband & I spent a bit of time in New Zealand after we were first married on working holiday visas. Fast forward a bit, and we visited this beautiful country again for the 3rd time, but this time with our 18 month old daughter in tow. We have enjoyed Queenstown without kids and with kids. Here are our top tips for exploring Queenstown with a bambino.

Travel: We arrived into Queenstown on a flight from Auckland with Air New Zealand. This flight was not part of our international itinerary. We booked it separate. The flight is just about 2 hours total.

Arrival: We chose to hire a rental car in Queenstown City with Apex Rentals as we did not need a rental car for the entire length of our trip in Queenstown. Upon arrival, we chose to utilize the taxi bus outside the airport. It was 10NZD per person and took us directly to our hotel. We shared the ride with a few other travelers as well. After a few days in Queenstown, we picked up our rental car to do some side trips from Queenstown.

Hotel: We chose to stay at The Queenstown Boutique Park Hotel. This was our second time staying at this hotel, and we are big fans. The hotel is located at the base of the gondola across from a large field in Queenstown. The paragliders often land in this field, and our daughter had the best time watching all the balloons fly past our window. My husband also decided to paraglide so this made for the ideal spot for us. This hotel is truly a boutique hotel with a great staff and location. They also serve complimentary canapés daily which is a plus! Another option if looking for a self contained house would be to check out http://www.bookabach.co.nz which is the NZ equivalent of homeaway. We have rented thru bookabach twice, and have had lovely experiences.

Logistics: Navigating Queenstown is a breeze. All on foot. No problem. The town of Queenstown is laid out very efficiently, and you can walk everywhere.

Activities: Skyline Queenstown & Luge: Upon arrival we immediately headed to the Skyline Queenstown. We took the gondola up, had wine/hot chocolate for the tot in the observation deck restaurant and took in the beautiful views from the top. These views are not too be missed! Afterwards, we took the chair lift to the top to ride the luge down. Since our daughter was 18 months, she rode as a “future luge rider” for $2 a ride. She rode in the luge with me or my husband. We rode the luge several times as our daughter loved every second of it!

Walter Peak Farm: By far one of our favorite things we did as a family. We booked this thru Real Journeys. You board the ESS Earnslaw Steamboat and boat to the farm. The boat is an experience in itself with outside viewing decks and a little café on board. I recommend getting there early to get preferred seating. Once at Walter Peak Farm, children get to participate in feeding and petting animals which was great. We also enjoyed a sheep shearing demonstration and had afternoon tea. The afternoon tea is served inside or out depending on your preference. We chose to enjoy our tea and snacks outside on the big green bean bags on the lawn. This farm is truly a spectacular setting. It is one of the most beautiful and serene places I have had the joy to visit. When we find ourselves back in Queenstown, we will be visiting this beautiful farm again.

The Bathhouse Restaurant: We love the Bathhouse! The café is located on the beach on Lake Wakatipu right next door to a children’s park. The coffees and food was excellent. We sat on the outdoor deck, and our daughter played at the playground always in sight running back and forth. And the view is beautiful.

Patagonia Chocolates: This place is amazing for adults and children alike. My favorite is the spicy hot chocolate, and my daughter loved the chocolate croissants. This is a must stop. I would suggest a stop in before or after visiting the Underwater Observatory on the Lake. Very close by at the Main Town Pier. You can view all sorts of fish swimming underwater which is sure to be a big hit with the little ones.

Paragliding: My husband chose to tandem paraglide in Queenstown. He said the views were simply phenomenal with the lake and mountains all in view. If your children are young like mine, they will enjoy waiting in the field at the base of the gondola and watching all the jumpers paraglide and land with their chutes at the bottom. If they are older, perhaps they want to join the paragliding craze. 🙂

Kiwi Birdlife Park: Located at the base of the gondola in Queenstown is the Kiwi Birdlife park which you can walk thru and see different birds, wildlife and kiwis. You can see the NZ famed Tui and Kiwi. Since the kiwi’s are nocturnal and most active at night, the kiwi houses are dark and your best chance to spot them is when they do the daily kiwi feedings. If your little ones are afraid of the dark, you should prepare them for this beforehand.

Side Trips: If you have the time in your itinerary, hiring a car in Queenstown and taking some side trips is definitely a brilliant bonus. Arrowtown was a favorite of ours with our daughter and also Wanaka. Both of these places are lovely and have so much to do. Arrowtown can definitely be seen as a day trip being only 30 minutes from Queenstown. Arrowtown is an old historic gold mining town with lots of cute shops, cafes, and green space. Wanaka is about a 2 hour drive from Queenstown, and we chose to spend 3 additional nights in Wanaka. Wanaka is beautiful and much quieter than Queenstown. We enjoyed the lake, hiking, and the dinosaur park/playground right on the Lake. For my tips while visiting Wanaka, please visit here!