Attractions to inspire your New Zealand family vacation

Behind every successful man or woman there is another supporting half.

Take it from Mr. Clarke Gayford, partner of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The couple have been engaged since early 2019, but have postponed any physical celebrations due to the pandemic. They also share a three-year-old daughter.

Recently, Ms Ardern came to Singapore to unveil a newly gifted Māori Kūwaha sculpture at Gardens by the Bay.

Unveiling of the Māori Kūwaha sculpture at Gardens By The Bay (Photo: Stephanie Zheng)

With Ms Ardern no doubt busy with her many commitments to her country and family, it could fall to her partner to hold down the fort in New Zealand. As a family man, Gayford is also well placed to post a recommended list of New Zealand family attractions.

Perfect timing for the school holidays!

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Auckland Zoo is a non-profit and wildlife conservation organization dedicated to building a future for wildlife. The zoo is also a winner of national and international awards and is at the forefront of wildlife research, conservation work and innovative zoo design.

Everything done at Auckland Zoo contributes directly to their conservation efforts – how they care for wildlife at the zoo, their Wild Work and Conservation Fund, environmental impact and how zoos connect people with the science of wildlife conservation.

Kaikōura (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Kaikoura (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Kaikōura is the most northerly district of the Canterbury region and is easily reached within a 2.5 hour drive from Christchurch. To the north is the Port of Picton, where you can catch the ferry to Wellington.

Tourists can look forward to whale watching, swimming with dolphins, and even a delicious meal of crawfish. Self-guided visitors can explore the North Canterbury region by following the Alpine Pacific Scenic Route, which connects Kaikōura to Hanmer Springs and the Waipara wine region, just 45 minutes north of Christchurch.

Located between Taupo and Rotorua, on the banks of the Waikato River (Lake Ohakuri), is the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Spa Park. Off the beaten path, it is both breathtaking in its beauty, yet frightening in the potency of its unbridled underground power. Orakei Korako is accessible by a short ferry ride across peaceful Lake Ohakuri.

A leisurely 45 minute drive south of Rotorua or a 25 minute drive north of Taupo is all you need. The Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Spa Park is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day of the year. Access to Orakei Korako is by boat. The average duration of visits is approximately 1 hour. The tour is self-guided, the boats do not run on a schedule, but on demand.

Black water rafting, Waitomo (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Black water rafting, Waitomo (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

The Glow Worm Caves are the most famous of the Waitomo Caves, having been a tourist attraction for over 130 years. Wander through the cave and marvel at its highest chamber, the Cathedral, before embarking on a boat ride through the Glowworm Cave. During the boat ride, you’ll sit in silence (glowworms don’t like noise) and admire the magical creatures that light up the cave above.

Renowned for its scenic bays, hidden hotspots and fantastic local fish n’ chips, Northland is arguably one of New Zealand’s best regions. Filled with waterfalls, volcanic hot springs and the world’s largest sand dunes, everyone is welcome to join this epic journey.

Skyline Luge (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Skyline Luge (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Located a five-minute walk from the center of Queenstown and accessible exclusively by scenic gondola, Skyline Queenstown is a must-see attraction when visiting Queenstown. Take in the spectacular 220-degree panoramic views before getting your adrenaline fix on the luge.

Hop on your specialized luge cart and take control as you zoom into the luge. Then take the Luge chairlift back to the starting area and do it again – once is never enough.

The Blue Track is a leisurely ride with a gentle incline, easy turns, tunnels and dips. The green run has a steeper grade and is a more adventurous ride with the thrill of banked turns, tunnels, dodges and cuts.

Unwind and relax on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua at the Polynesian Spa – a natural mineral bath and world-renowned luxury spa. Channeling geothermal wonders into its backyard, the 28 mineral pools are fed by two natural springs (one alkaline and one acidic) for a combination that nourishes the skin and relieves tired muscles, aches and pains.

Specializing in a range of health and wellness treatments, the Polynesian Spa offers a decadent menu of spa treatments. From Aix spa therapies to body wraps, massages and facials, Polynesian Spa is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature’s gifts.

Combining ancient healing practices with modern techniques, Polynesian Spa is often recognized as one of the top 10 spas in the world.

Surat Bay (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Surat Bay (Photo: Tourism New Zealand)

Formerly known as Forsyth’s Bay, the bay is now named after the sailing ship “Surat” which was wrecked on New Year’s Day in 1874. The ship carried emigrants and cargo from England to Dunedin, all passengers and the crew survived.

The Catlins coast is frequented by sea lions, other marine mammals and vulnerable birds. New Zealand sea lions come ashore to rest and socialize.

Join a trip with Dive Tatapouri, which is located just 10 minutes north of Gisborne, to learn about the ecology of the area and to see the variety of marine species that can be found in the shallows of the reef. Immerse yourself in the local culture and beautiful maritime environment of New Zealand’s east coast – a unique experience.

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