Camper Van Travel with Kids

Camper Van Travel with Kids

Camper Van Travel with Kids in New Zealand: Tips for a Family-Friendly Adventure

Traveling New Zealand by camper van with kids can be an incredible family adventure, offering a blend of freedom, flexibility, and fun. From kid-friendly destinations to engaging activities and tips for keeping children entertained on the road, here’s how to make your camper van journey a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Kid-Friendly Destinations

Two children standing at the cliff's edge, gazing at the ocean.

1. Rotorua: 

   - Highlights: Geothermal parks, Maori cultural experiences, and adventure activities.

   - Activities: Visit the interactive Te Puia Geothermal Park, explore the Redwood Forest with its kid-friendly walking tracks and treetop walkways, and have fun at the Agrodome Farm Show.

A group of individuals on a bus-like structure with sheep grazing in front of them.
Agrodome Farm

2. Queenstown:

   - Highlights: Stunning scenery and outdoor activities.

   - Activities: Ride the Skyline Gondola, play at the Kiwi Birdlife Park, and enjoy family-friendly walks like the Queenstown Gardens and Lake Hayes Loop Track.

A family arrives at the Kiwi parks.
Kiwi Birdlife Park

3. Bay of Islands:

   - Highlights: Beautiful beaches and water activities.

   - Activities: Take a family-friendly boat tour to see dolphins, explore the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and relax on the sandy shores of Paihia Beach.

The interior of a wooden building with wooden statues.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

4. Hobbiton (Matamata):

 - Highlights: Movie set from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films.

   - Activities: Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, perfect for young fans of the movies and for those who appreciate whimsical landscapes.

The hobbit house in New Zealand.
Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand

5. Wellington:

   - Highlights: The capital city with cultural attractions.

   - Activities: Visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum with interactive exhibits for kids, explore the Wellington Zoo, and ride the Wellington Cable Car.

A red cable car on a hillside with a city in the background.
Wellington Cable Car

Keeping Children Entertained on the Road

A girl reading a book while sitting on the floor.

1. Interactive Maps and Travel Journals: 

   - Give kids a map to track the journey and mark the places they visit. Encourage them to keep a travel journal where they can draw, write about their experiences, and collect souvenirs like postcards or pressed flowers.

2. Audiobooks and Music: 

   - Bring a selection of audiobooks and music playlists that cater to children’s interests. This can keep them entertained and engaged during long drives.

3. Portable Games and Activities: 

   - Pack travel-friendly games like card games, magnetic board games, and puzzle books. These are great for keeping kids occupied during downtime.

4. Nature Scavenger Hunts: 

   - Create a list of items for a nature scavenger hunt. This can include things like different types of leaves, shells, or animal tracks, and can make stops at parks and beaches more interactive and educational.

5. Frequent Breaks: 

   - Plan for regular breaks to let kids stretch their legs, have a snack, and play. Look for playgrounds, scenic spots, or short walking trails where they can burn off energy.

Family-Friendly Activities

A child wearing a yellow life jacket running along the seashore.

1. Beaches and Swimming: 

   - New Zealand’s coastline offers numerous safe and family-friendly beaches. Spend a day at places like Mount Maunganui, Orewa Beach, or Kaiteriteri Beach, where kids can swim, build sandcastles, and explore rock pools.

2. Wildlife Encounters: 

   - Visit wildlife parks and sanctuaries such as Zealandia in Wellington, Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch, or the Auckland Zoo. These places offer educational and interactive experiences with New Zealand’s unique fauna.

3. Farm Stays and Petting Zoos: 

   - Consider staying at a farm where kids can interact with animals and learn about farm life. Many farms offer activities like feeding animals, collecting eggs, and horseback riding.

4. Adventure Parks and Playgrounds: 

   - Adventure parks like Rainbow’s End in Auckland and Skyline Luge in Rotorua provide exciting rides and activities for kids. Many towns also have excellent public playgrounds and parks.

5. Cultural Experiences: 

   - Engage in Maori cultural experiences that are family-friendly. Attend a traditional hangi meal and performance, or participate in activities like flax weaving or learning the haka.

Practical Tips for Camper Van Travel with Kids

A baby in a car seat.

1. Safety First: 

   - Ensure all car seats and booster seats meet New Zealand’s safety standards. Make sure everyone is securely buckled up before driving.

2. Comfortable Sleeping Arrangements: 

   - Bring along familiar items like favorite blankets and pillows to help kids feel more comfortable and secure at night. Consider a portable crib or bed rail for younger children.

3. Easy Meal Planning: 

   - Plan simple and nutritious meals that are easy to prepare in a camper van. Involve kids in meal planning and preparation to keep them engaged and teach them about healthy eating.

4. Pack Smart: 

   - Bring clothing suitable for varying weather conditions, and pack plenty of layers. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and first aid supplies.

5. Stay Flexible: 

   - While it’s good to have an itinerary, be flexible with your plans. Kids may need more breaks or a change of pace, so adapt your schedule as needed to ensure everyone enjoys the journey.

Traveling by camper van with kids in New Zealand can be a rewarding and enriching experience for the whole family. With thoughtful planning, a sense of adventure, and these practical tips, you can create lasting memories and enjoy the freedom of exploring one of the world’s most beautiful countries together.