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Kids go free

The majestic Larnach Castle is a Tohu Whenua heritage site and a must-see for visitors to Dunedin. tohuwhenua.nz/otago/larnach-castle
With the cost of living making everyone cringe, finding options for keeping your family holiday budget in check are more than welcome. Spotting a ‘Kids go free’ option is music to parents’ ears. Travel consultant MAXINE LAWS rounds up some offers you might want to check out. 


Accommodation is one of the big expenses on a family holiday, so getting a deal on this can be a game changer. Holiday Inn Hotels offers a ‘kids stay and eat free’ deal at a range of their hotels when kids are sharing accommodation with their guardians. Kids even get their own special menu.

Meanwhile, Sudima Hotels offers a similar ‘kids stay free’ option, with a half-price breakfast available the following day. This offer is available at Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown properties. 

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Fancy a visit to the capital? 
You may want to check out Movenpick Hotel Wellington’s ‘kids stay free’ and ‘all you can eat free chocolate hour!’ Kids under 12 stay free when sharing with their guardians and can then join in with an hour’s free chocolate indulgence. While you’re in Wellington, you may want to check out the free entry to museums such as Te Papa or a free ‘Kids in the House’ guided tour of Parliament.

Heading to Auckland
If you have a birthday coming up, Sea Life Kelly Tarlton in Auckland allows free entry on your birthday – just show your photo ID. Even better if it falls on a weekend as Auckland Transport offers free transport, including buses, trains and ferries, to children aged 5-15 years with a registered HOP card. You could hop on a bus to Auckland Museum, where entry is by invited donation for New Zealand residents living outside Auckland. 


Keen to travel further afield? It may be time to consider Vanuatu. Kids under 12 ‘stay, play and eat free’ at Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu and Warwick Le Lagon.

Meanwhile, Pandaw River Cruises offer families an educational adventure during the school holidays on rivers in exotic locations such as India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. What’s more, kids get their own free cabin, so no more sharing! The offer is available on selected dates and applies to children aged 5-17 years. This one isn’t suitable for little ones, though, as the ships have railings but no netting.

If cruising is your thing, you might want to check out MSC Ocean Cruises, which allows kids under 12 to sail free when sharing the same cabin as their guardians (like the Pandaw River Cruises, port tax charges still apply). They sail in a variety of beautiful locations around the globe and are very popular in Europe. There are many kids’ facilities (including toddler and baby services) onboard, including the ever-popular kids’ clubs.


Big travel plans off the radar for a while? Don’t worry; there are plenty of great places closer to home where kids go free too.

Get the kids on the water to see some Hector’s dolphins with Black Cat Cruises. Leaving daily from Akaroa, they have a special ‘kids go free’ offer running for the school holidays (1-16 July), allowing two free kids per paying adult. They also allow under fives to sail for free all year. 

Black Cat Cruises has a special ‘Kids go free’ offer over the July holidays.

For some local fun, make the most of the ‘Kids go free’ deal on the Christchurch Gondola and Tram these holidays. If they’re really into wildlife, Orana Wildlife Park also has a ‘Kids go free’ offer spanning the winter break. 

Or, jump in the car and head to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, where kids also go free with no ratio restriction, so you can take as many kids up to 14 years as you can manage… if you dare!

If you’re skiing in Queenstown these holidays, why not hire your ski gear at Browns Ski Rental in Shotover Street? Children under 10 receive free hire of skis/boards, boots and helmets for every adult renting their gear.

Amuri Ski Club, Hanmer Springs

And don’t forget kids five and under can ski for free (free lift pass) at places like Mt Hutt and Coronet Peak, while it’s free for kids 10 and under at Porters. It’s definitely worth checking out what your favourite ski field offers. Club fields can offer particularly great deals – Hanmer’s Amuri Ski Club, for instance, has a deal where children 10 years and under ski free with a paying adult. 

If you fancy a city staycation so that you can be a proper tourist in your own backyard, you could always go all out with the ‘kids stay and eat (breakfast) free’ offer with Rydges Latimer Christchurch’s ‘family getaway’ – valid all the way through 2023.

*Check with companies, in New Zealand and overseas, as to specific Terms and Conditions. Deals may be subject to availability. 

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