Botanical Reserve and the Centre of New Zealand - Nelson
The geographical "Centre of New Zealand" allegedly lies in Nelson; on a hilltop suspiciously convenient to the centre of the city. This supposed "centre" in fact simply marks the point deemed the "centre" for the purposes of early geographical surveys. The true geographical centre lies in a patch of unremarkable dense scrub in a forest on the Spooner Range near Tapawera, 35 kilometres southwest of Nelson. However, the “Centre of New Zealand” is a landmark, it makes for a great walk and fantastic viewpoints, and it’s easy access from the city! This is one of Nelson's most popular walks. Enter the Botanical Reserve over a footbridge at the end of Hardy Street, and follow the signs and interpretive panels from there. There are numerous other tracks so you can make a loop by going downhill by another path. A good route back is to head east to Branford Park and take the Matai Track back to your starting point. Playgrounds, toilets and picnic tables in the reserve.read more
Labyrinth Rocks Walkway
Just two kilometres out of Takaka, on the way to Pohara, are three big oak trees. Turn left here, follow the signs to Labyrinth Rocks Walkway and you will find one of Golden Bay's most amazing places. Nature has produced a maze-like network of canyons through a limestone outcrop " an excellent example of the geological term 'Karst' limestone for which this area is known. It has been developed (and is still in the process of being developed) as an enchanting family attraction. Young or old, you will love exploring all the nooks and crannies - keep younger kids close to you as you can get lost in the maze, older kids will enjoy going off and trying to find their way back. A magical thing to do - is see if you can find little toys and figurines hidden in the rocks - it's the locals kids secret toy swop. So if your child brings their own figure/toy (check out the Salvation Army shop in town), your child can find one they love they can take it and leave theirs in its place! They will be begging to go back the next day.read more
- Location: 7183, 45 Scott Rd, Takaka 7183
Farewell Spit - Golden Bay
Situated at the northwest tip of the South Island, the distinctive Farewell Spit curves round Golden Bay – at 25km it’s the longest sand spit in NZ and is very visible from the air. As a nature reserve, Farewell Spit is known internationally and over 90 bird species are recorded in the area. Farewell Spit has also unfortunately witnessed several incidents of mass whale beachings over the years. Despite an enormous local turn out to attempt to save the whales, these beachings have often resulted in a saddening death toll.read more
Te Waikoropupu Springs
Follow State Highway 60 north from Takaka on the road to Collingwood, turning left just beyond Takaka River. Follow Pupu Valley and Te Waikoropupū Springs roads to the springs’ car park, 7 km from Takaka.
Te Waikoropupū Springs are New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere. They contain some of the clearest water ever measured and are set in a reserve
that protects gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush. To Māori the area of Te Waikoropupū is a taonga or treasure and a wāhi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard, both locally and nationally. The legends of Te Waikoropupū are told in the stories of Huriawa, its taniwha (guardian spirit). In Māori tradition the springs are waiora, the purest form of water and provide water for healing. In the past, the springs were a place of ceremonial blessings at times of birth and death and the leaving and returning of travellers. A platform that sits partly over the water allows visitors to get a good view of the springs. A suite of interpretation signs at the entrance way tells the full story of this fascinating and beautiful place. Well-formed walking tracks allow you to explore the reserve. Allow 30–45 mins to visit the springs and return. It is worth spending extra time to enjoy the interpretation signs at the entrance.
- Location: Pupu Springs Rd, Takaka 7183
Point Kean Seal Colony Walk - Kaikoura
A 50 min (4.4 km one way) scenic walk to see seals in their natural environment, with a bit of history along the way. From the town centre, follow the footpath and road verge along The Esplanade, Avoca Street and Fyffe Quay to Point Kean. On the way, look out for the interpretation signs on The Esplanade opposite Brighton and Margate Streets, telling stories of 'Life on the edge', a community living by the sea — the land, the sea and the people. At Avoca Street, the sign takes you back to 1909, when the new wharf was built. Near Fyffe House, a sign details the early European settlement in Kaikoura and, at nearby Armers Beach, the story tells of the importance this site holds for the local community, both past and present, for the shelter it provides. Near Point Kean car park, there are signs warning that seals are likely to be present in the surrounding area. Most of the seals in the car park are males.. The seals on the rocky platforms out from the car park are females and their pups. For your safety and to avoid disturbing the seals, remain 10 m from any seal in the vicinity of the car park. There are toilets at the car park.read more
- Location: 40 Fyffe Quay, Kaikoura 7300
Chatterton River Track
2 hr 30 min return. The Chatterton River Track provides something a little different to the other walks in the Hanmer Forest region in that it is less visited, a little remote, and has an seclusion not easily found along the more popular walks. Beginning on Chatterton Road, about 1.2km north of the Alpine Adventure Camp (there is a gate here that is sometimes locked making it necessary to walk this section as well), the track heads down to the stream which it then follows all the way to the valley head. Higher up mature stands of mountain beech will be encountered as well as groves of ferns and some relatively steep sections of track as the route makes its way up the south face of Jacks Pass to the broad summit. At the pass there is a spectacular view here of the Hanmer Range peaks and over into the Clarence Valle.read more
- Location: Chatterton Road, about 1.2km north of the Alpine Adventure Camp
Rawhiti Cave Route
Rawhiti Cave has possibly the most diverse and extensive entrance and twilight-zone flora of any cave in New Zealand. This flora influences the growth of calcium-based features in the cave; hence the stalactites on the cave ceiling grow outwards towards the sunlight.. You can walk onto a viewing platform just inside the cave entrance. From Takaka, drive east towards Pohara Beach. At Motupipi, turn right into Glenview Road and then left into Packard Road. Rawhiti Cave is signposted from near the end of Packard Road. A rough track follows the legal road through farm land to an informal car park. Please leave the gates as you find them. It takes approximately 15 minutes to drive from Takaka to the carpark. Just after you leave the car park you cross Dry River. After heavy rain, this river is prone to flooding: do not attempt to cross in these conditions. From here, the marked route continues up the valley for 30 minutes and turns sharply right. It then climbs steeply for a further 30 minutes, zigzagging up to the cave entrance. The last section of the track is steep and narrow; reasonable fitness and tramping experience is required for this section.read more
- Location: Packard Rd, Takaka 7183
Curio Bay - Catlins
Curio Bay is of international significance for its fossilised forest dating back to the Jurassic period. The tree fossils you see here are 160 million years old and the forest was alive when NZ was part of Gondwanaland. Curio Bay’s fossil forest is best viewed at low tide from the viewing platform which is only a short walk (5 minutes) from the car park.read more
Abel Tasman National Park
New Zealand’s smallest National Park at just 225sq km. Both the inland and coastal tracks are famous for their outstanding beauty, and it’s very easy to take the family on small sections of the coastal track (total is 51km), walking for anything from an hour, half or full day. You can then arrange to pick up a water taxi back to Marahau or Kaiteriteri. The track starts at Marahau, just outside the Park Café. From here you walk along the boardwalks for about 5 minutes, to the start of the actual track. Short walk - the first section of the track is very easy and you can be picnicking on a secluded beach within 20 minutes, admiring the turquoise waters, golden sand and inquisitive birdlife. Other walking options - If you carry on to the first hut on the track, at Anchorage Bay, you’re in for a stunning walk but it’ll be 4 to 5 hours. Water taxis have a scheduled pick up from Anchorage to Marahau, and the last departure is around 3.30pm. Check this before you leave, or book a personalised pick up service. Water taxi cruise / walk – all water taxi companies also offer tours where you can be dropped off at a scenic section of the park and walk for a few hours before you are picked up again. See individual companies for more details.read more
Speargrass Track Hut
For an easy overnight tramp, great for kids, walk to Speargrass Hut on this well graded track. 2 hr 30 min one way - this well graded track descends gradually from the carpark. It follows the river along the valley floor then climbs up through beautiful beech forest to Speargrass Hut ( 12 bunk beds) – set in clearing with mountain views.read more
- Location: Mt Robert Road, off SH 63 east of St Arnaud.
Wainui Falls Track
The 30-minute walk to Wainui Falls is popular as accessible waterfalls are not common in Golden Bay. The track starts from a car park in Wainui Bay 20 km north-east of Takaka. Look for the direction sign on the road side approximately 300 metres after crossing over the Wainui River Bridge. From the car park the track crosses farmland for a short distance before entering forest and climbing rapidly to a point where you see the river surprisingly far below. Here you walk through a forest of nīkau palms, rātā trees and ferns. Keep a lookout for a possible sighting of the giant snail, Powelliphanta. Look but don’t touch! A few minutes after crossing the swingbridge over the Wainui River, you will hear the falls before they suddenly appear, usually curtained in spray. Children need to be closely supervised as there are steep drops off the edge of the track in some places. Take a picnic, there are a few little beaches perfect for a swim, picnic and a bit of boulder hopping.read more
- Location: 29 Wainui Falls Rd, Tata Beach 7183
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Our favourite destinations…
New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.
With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.
With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.
Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting pools of mud!
The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi. Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.
Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City. The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities. Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!
Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.