Still trying to figure out where to holiday this summer? There’s nothing better than the recommendation of a friend, so we’ve pulled together holiday gems from on and off the beaten track, as suggested by our lovely readers and the Family Times team.
The white sands of Forestry Beach in Northland, part of the Te Ārai Regional Park, is reader Mary’s hidden gem. A quieter beach than its neighbours, Mary says it’s a fabulous surf beach with camping available in the area. Meanwhile, reader Kristy thinks Matai Bay, up past Kaitaia, is the most beautiful in the country.
Road-tripping the North Island’s East Coast
The drive from Whakatāne to Gisborne is super scenic and a fave with reader Alesha’s family. They stop off at Julians Berry farm near Whakatāne along the way and like to stay at the TOP 10 in Ōhope, which she says is fantastic for kids and families. They also like to stay near Te Kaha and enjoy the beach and swimming rivers nearby, including taking the kids snorkelling and fishing in some of the more sheltered bays.
Taranaki has great beaches, outdoor adventures and loads of easy – and free – family activities, which is why our publisher Sonia loves holidaying there. Check out monkeys, meerkats and otters at New Plymouth’s Brooklands Zoo, visit the Kids Treehouse Trail at the Pukeiti Botanical Gardens, spend time at New Plymouth’s museum, Puke Ariki or visit Dawson Falls – all for free!
New Plymouth Top 10 Holiday Park
Surrounded by stunning black sand West Coast beaches and with views across to the majestic summit of Mount Taranaki, New Plymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park is a terrific place to stay with the family. Facilities include a covered barbecue area, playground, giant chessboard, heated swimming pool and a private hot tub and sauna.
Tongariro National Trout Centre, Turangi
Reader Angelica suggests taking the kids fishing at the National Trout Centre. The kids get to fish, while the whole family gets to enjoy the fresh catch cooked on-site. There’s also a Native Aquarium, Flyfishing Museum and a Rainbow Trout Hatchery to have a look at. Meanwhile, you’ve got the Tokaanu Thermal Pools and the Tongariro River Trail nearby too.
Near Levin on the West Coast, Waitārere Beach is great for the kids and fishing. It also has a unique hidden gem – a fairy garden and magical ‘Middle Earth’ (play at your own risk) adventure playground tucked in the forest nearby, off Rua Ave. It features an old jet ski, quad bike and boat that kids can play on in situ, along with climbing ropes, swings and a flying fox. It’s a hit with reader Jay’s family.
Te Wai Pounamu
Top of the South
We all love the treasure trove of holiday gems scattered throughout Nelson/Tasman and the Marlborough region. But Old Macdonald’s Farm in Marahau is a hit with Family Times’ designer Rachel. She describes it as an “epic” campground, with a river running through it, glow worms and the Abel Tasman National Park right on your doorstep.
West Coast gems
Reader Amelia recommends road-tripping along State Highway 6. She loves to visit the beach and gorge at Hokitika, along with the Glow Worm Dell. She also recommends the historic Ross goldfields and quarry and loves Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, including a walk on the Lake Matheson loop track. Head north to Shantytown, near Greymouth, as this comes recommended, too.
Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park
Located right on the beachfront in peaceful Greymouth, the Park offers a range of quality accommodation from apartments through to family-friendly cabins and sites, plus great facilities including barbecue areas, games room, fun carts, playground with jumping pillow, mini golf and even a coffee cart.
If you’re heading deeper south, check out Danseys Pass campground. Family-friendly, it has deep water swimming holes, an open campfire for roasting marshmallows and a playground in the centre. It’s another hit with our designer, Rachel.
Meanwhile, Family Times’ organiser extraordinaire, Hilary, loves spending time at Pinders Pond, a relic from the gold mining days, just out of Roxburgh. She says it’s great for the kids to splash around in or to get the kayak out. Then you can jump on your bikes and try out the Clutha Gold Trail.
Head out to the coast and check out the lighthouse at Moeraki. Family Times’ social media expert Ashleigh says that while famous for its boulders, the Katiki Point Lighthouse nearby is well worth a visit. It’s free, and you can see seals at any time. Or go at dusk and see penguins coming home. She recommends a humongous ice cream at the Hampden Night and Day to top off the day.
Sticking closer to home? Check out these reader recommendations:
- Go fossil hunting on Motunau Beach, north of Waipara.
- Go orienteering at Spencer Park.
- Head to Sumner for a beach walk and ice cream.
- Enjoy a trip over to Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour.
- Camp, walk or play at Orton Bradley Park, on the southern shores of Lyttelton Harbour.
- Check out the fairy doors in McHugh’s Forest Park, Darfield.
- Camp at Chamberlains Ford Reserve, Springston.
- Little River Campground in Banks Peninsula has eels, a great slippery slide, giant swing and is Banks Peninsula’s only dog-friendly camping ground: littlerivercampground.co.nz.
Okains Bay also comes recommended.