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3 week North Island road trip with young children

Stourbridge, United...
3 posts
2 reviews
3 week North Island road trip with young children

We are flying into Auckland from the UK in April 2020 and staying for 3 weeks. This includes Easter. It will be myself, my husband and our children (who will be 5years old and 3 years old)

I realise that many people split their trips between the north and south island but we are thinking of staying on the North Island for the duration of our trip and do a South Island trip next time. Giving us more time to explore and not stretching ourselves too much. We are visiting friends who live in Napier and will stay with them for a few days but this is flexible in terms of when and for how long. They are also able to meet us during some of our trip.

We were initially thinking of hiring a motorhome so we could have some flexibility and prepare some of our own meals, only unpack once etc but am currently thinking that car hire may be the better option? Any family friendly accommodation recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

I would also like some recommendations about child friendly places to see and activities to do. We like beachs, water, walking and are quite active. We would not be able to do whole / half day hikes with the children but would love to do some more easily accessible ones. We have a dog and regularly go out walking in the UK.

Also realistic intinary suggestions.

Thank you :-)

6 replies to this topic
Hastings, New...
Level Contributor
587 posts
28 reviews
15 helpful votes
1. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

Kia Ora,

when our 2 boys were young we had a few very good holidays in Northland. There are some fantastic and calm beaches on the East coast. You could work your way up a 2 -4 nights at a time - Matakana (Sandspit holiday park is great and very child orientated),

the Bay of Islands - boat trips to see dolphins, and history for you at Waitangi

Mangonui (with a day trip up to Cape Reinga and the dunes for sandboarding)

Opononi/Hokianga - Waiotemarama falls and kauri walk and the hilarious puzzle shop

Piha or Auckland - watch the sea at Piha - it's often ferocious.


Rotorua stop at Waitomo on the way - stay at Aura motel or similar

Napier - National aquarium - ocean spa etc

Wellington - Te Papa etc

Motels are usually very good and rooms usually have a kitchen, also check bookabach or other holiday homes websites.

Just some ideas!


North Carolina
Level Contributor
3,517 posts
8 reviews
6 helpful votes
2. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

Here are some more child friendly ideas for the North Island - with links to preview the sites before you depart from home. Consider the following child friendly activities in Auckland and Rotorua:


Auckland Zoo


Butterfly Creek Animal Encounters


Sky Tower

Kelly Tarton’s Aquarium


Harbor-side walking looking at big boats

Bohemein Chocolates

Devonport Chocolates


sheep shearing at Agrodome:


Maori Village


Rainbow Springs for kiwi wildlife


Blue Trail @ Blue Lake & night viewing of glow worms in bush (@Blue Lake Top 10)

Tikitapu Nature Trail (@Blue Lake Top 10)


Redwood Treewalk:


Wai-o-Tapuand for 10 am Lady Knox Geyser eruption


Waimangu Volcanic Valley including Inferno Crater and a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana walk down hill with stroller and bus trip up hill - really great!.

https://www.waimangu.co.nz/Island with children with links to the activities:

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
20,267 posts
130 reviews
82 helpful votes
3. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

For a 3week visit, you have sufficient time to drive from Auckland to Napier, and on to Wellington, before returning north along the same route, or via the central plateau/SH1 to Tongariro NP, or via Taranaki to New Plymouth and on to Waitomo caves and back to Auckland.

There are plenty of beaches on the North Island to enjoy, many short bush, lake and coastal walks,and lots of places for children to learn, explore and have fun. Rotorua is ever popular with its thermal activity, man-made attractions, free activities and lovely lakes and streams. Kuirau park is a civic park with low-key thermal activity, a large grassed area and children's playground. Government gardens and the lakefront are other wonderful areas in Rotorua.

Besides hiring a motor home, also consider hiring a family sized sedan and staying in motel accommodation. NZ offers wonderful choices for motels and also holiday park accommodation. Chances are that overnighting in one place only will be few in favour of your family staying 2 - 3 nights in most main centres.

Stourbridge, United...
3 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

There are some great ideas there for me to look into. Thank you 😀

Tauranga, New...
Level Contributor
2,383 posts
140 reviews
44 helpful votes
5. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

I know a lot of people enjoy camper van trips but a big negative for me is what will you do after the children are asleep? April the weather could be nice enough to sit outside with a jumper on for a bit, or it could be raining cats and dogs. A car and motel units (separate bedroom/living room options and kitchen for self catering) could work better for you. Our motels are fabulous and offer free parking, the ability to check in and then go out again without having to park a cumbersome camper van in town and without living on top of each other. You could also stay in self contained units at camp grounds giving your children the chance to meet other children holidaying there and the use of the playgrounds and facilities.

Stourbridge, United...
3 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: 3 week North Island road trip with young children

Thank you for your thoughts, I am starting think a hire car is the best option rather than a campervan.

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