Discover luxurious places to stay in New Zealand where the kids will be just as happy as the parents and grandparents.
When it comes to travelling in a family group, perhaps the most important thing is including activities to suit everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Luckily in New Zealand you can do this in style by booking luxury accommodation with memorable experiences tailored for all the family.
Treetops Lodge & Estate, Rotorua
Billed as a “natural theme park”, Treetops is set on a 2500-hectare estate with a primordial native forest where you’ll encounter wild deer and water buffalo. The renowned “Five Star Kids” programme 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 aged five to 11 don their own chef’s jacket and join the lodge’s executive chef to learn to make dishes using ingredients grown on the property such as lavender, dill and native turutu 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.
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 three hours’ 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 golf courses in the world (currently ranked 49th globally by Golf Digest magazine), it is also a 2400-hectare working sheep and cattle farm. Kids 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, could 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.
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 400-hectare 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 2.5 kilometres of boardwalks and tracks that criss-cross the fertile wetlands on the property. There are also six private beaches with great snorkelling and safe swimming spots for young children.
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 2400-hectare 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) as well as 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 star-gazing and a sheep show featuring the farm’s working dogs.
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.