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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Travel Tips for Planning a Family-Friendly Luxury Vacation in New Zealand

When it comes to traveling as a family, perhaps the most important aspect is including activities to suit everyone, from toddlers to grandparents. In New Zealand, you can do this in style by booking luxurious accommodations with memorable experiences tailored for the entire family. These tips will help you select the perfect luxury lodge for your family vacation in New Zealand.

photo credit: Miles Holden

Discover these luxury lodges in New Zealand where the kids will be just as happy as the parents and grandparents:

Treetops Lodge & Estate, Rotorua

Billed as a “natural theme park,” Treetops is set on a 6100-acre estate with a primordial native forest where you’ll encounter wild deer and water buffalo. The renowned “Five Star Kids” program includes everything from horse treks to high-tech treasure hunts using GPS equipment, but the most popular activity is the Junior Master Chef session. Kids ages five to 11 don their own chef’s jacket and join the lodge’s executive chef to learn to make dishes using ingredients grown right on the property, such as lavender, dill, and native blueberries. Culinary-minded older children, adults, and grandparents can join the lodge’s half-day wild food cooking class where they’ll forage for indigenous herbs and spices before cooking with them in the lodge kitchen.

Travel Tips: With simmering geysers and bubbling hot mud pools, Rotorua is a thermal wonderland as well as a great place to discover New Zealand’s Māori culture. Rotorua is a three-hour drive from Auckland; Treetops Lodge & Estate is about 20 minutes’ drive from Rotorua airport.

The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Northland

While Kauri Cliffs is better known for having one of the top, globally-ranked golf courses in the world, it is also a 6000-acre working sheep and cattle farm. Children and adults alike will enjoy joining the farm manager for a 4WD tour of the property. They might help to muster sheep (or watch one being shorn) and, in Spring, may even get the chance to feed a newborn lamb. With three private beaches, including one made of minute pale-pink shells, children and teens can revel in simple pleasures such as swimming, beachcombing, and using a rope swing hanging from a magnificent native tree while the adults kick back with a gourmet picnic hamper. For something more active, there are walks to suit all ages, ranging from a 10-minute bush stroll that passes the property’s 700-year-old kauri tree to a two-hour trek that includes a visit to a small-but-beautifully-clear waterfall.

Travel Tips: The sparsely populated sub-tropical Northland region is known for its unspoiled beaches and ancient forests and is the home of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the historic agreement between Māoris and Europeans was signed in 1840. Kauri Cliffs is just under four hours’ drive from Auckland or 25 minutes’ drive from Kerikeri Airport.

The Landing Residences, Bay of Islands

With four beautifully appointed stand-alone residences set on a 1000-acre conservation estate, The Landing is ideal for extended family groups. Book one of the larger houses, such as the Cooper (sleeps 12), or reserve more than one house so that everyone has their own space. Grab a fishing line and equipment and head down to the jetty to fish for snapper, trevally, and kahawai in the clear waters on the tip of the Purerua Peninsula in the north-west of the Bay of Islands. More active family groups might want to head out hiking on the 1.5 miles of boardwalks and tracks that crisscross the fertile wetlands on the property. There are also six private beaches with great snorkeling and safe swimming spots for young children.

Travel Tips: A three-hour drive or 35-minute flight north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands has no fewer than 144 islands. Ideal for boating and fishing, there are also quaint seaside towns such as Russell, with historic houses, restaurants, and museums.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay

A spectacular 6000-acre sheep station overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Farm at

Cape Kidnappers offers a rare opportunity to meet a kiwi – the unofficial emblem of New Zealand. There are more than 120 kiwi in thick regenerating native forest on the property and your guide will lead you to the birds’ nesting site where you can have your photograph taken. Adults will also enjoy the challenging golf course – designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak – with its spectacular ocean views, as well as a menu featuring exceptional produce (much of which comes from the lodge’s own vegetable garden), incredibly fresh seafood and beef and lamb. Want to get everybody moving? Consider hiring mountain bikes to explore the property or take a horse trek. From November to April, the lodge hosts stargazing and a sheep show featuring the farm’s working dogs.

Travel Tips: One of New Zealand’s premier wine regions, Hawkes Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island is a five-hour drive or 90-minute flight from Auckland. It also has some of the best Art Deco architecture in the world in the city of Napier, which was rebuilt after being largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1931.

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