The Ultimate New Zealand Family Holiday

This two week-long family adventure on New Zealand’s scenic South Island is a perfect combination of adventure, beautiful sights and amazing properties. Your trip to Middle Earth is bound to be a memorable experience for all.

Day 1: Arrival in Nelson

Upon arrival at Nelson Airport you will be met by a representative who will assist with the collection of your rental vehicle. From here you will proceed to drive to your accommodation, approximately 30 minutes away.

Your accommodation for the next three nights will be in the tranquil Te Koi Villa of the Bronte Country Estate situated at the end of historic Bronte Peninsula and surrounded by gardens, a boutique vineyard and apple orchards. Te Koi features two bedrooms, ample living and dining areas and is ideal for families. Kids will especially love Opie, the resident dog!


Stay: Bronte Country Estate

Day 2: Stephens Bay & The Abel Tasman National Park

This morning drive to Stephens Bay and check in for your private day cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Explore Abel Tasman’s coastline; past Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, round sandy bays, Adele and Fisherman’s Islands and on to Tonga Island seal colony. See who is the first to spot one of the shags drying their wings above the warm rocks after their early morning fishing expeditions. The cruise itinerary is flexible so if there’s a particular bay you want to visit or park feature you want to see, then please do let the skipper know and he’ll try to accommodate your wishes.

After saying goodbye to the seals the boat will find a sheltered bay for a light lunch. Swim, sea kayak, go ashore for a bush walk, or just relax on the boat while lunch is prepared. There is plenty of snorkelling equipment if you are keen to expend the kid’s energy and have them work up an appetite. The delicious platter style lunch is made with fresh local ingredients, with local beer and wine also available for parents.

Stay: Bronte Country Estate

Day 3: Explore Nelson

Your family will have today to explore Nelson, and we recommend the following unique local experiences:

  • Take a scenic flight over the beautiful golden sand beaches and azure waters of the Abel Tasman National Park.
  • Visit the stunning World of Wearable Arts Museum for some of the strangest fashion designs on the planet, as well as the adjacent Classic Cars Museum.
  • Explore the highlights of the Golden Bay region such as the world’s clearest water at Te Waikoropupu Springs, the extensive Ngarua Caves system, seabird colonies on Farewell Spit, or horse riding on the dramatically beautiful Wharariki Beach (not all possible in one day).
  • Teach older kids to fly fish on one of the regions well stocked rivers.

Stay: Bronte Country Estate

Day 4: Kaikoura

Today, drive to the coastal town of Kaikoura, breaking up the 3-hour journey with a stop at Ohau Point. A forested trail runs for 10 minutes from the main road and during the day when their mothers are out fishing, seal pups make their way up the freshwater stream to a small pool at the base of a waterfall, and simply play about in the water all day. This is a truly special experience and one that will delight the children!

Upon arrival in Kaikoura, check in to your two bedroom tree house at Hapuka Lodge & Tree House, your accommodation for the next two nights. Kids will love the idea of staying in a ‘treehouse’ and the pool is fantastic for relaxing in the summer months after a day out exploring in Kaikoura.

Stay: Hapuku Lodge & Tree House

Day 5: Whale and dolphin watching at Kaikoura

Today enjoy a 30 minute scenic flight to soar high above the whales in Kaikoura.

During your flight you will have the opportunity to view the majestic Sperm Whale and Dusky Dolphins. On occasion sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and the mighty Blue Whales, and also Common, Hectors, Risso’s and Southern Right Whale Dolphins and of course, Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area.

You may also fly over Kaikoura Peninsula and see evidence of Maori fortifications (Pa sites), New Zealand Fur Seals resting and the Kaikoura township itself.

This afternoon, families with kids over the age of 10 can enjoy a dolphin swim cruise, swimming with the dusky dolphins in their natural environment. Renowned for their acrobatic leaps and interactive behaviour, swimming right above them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Stay: Hapuku Lodge & Tree House

Day 6: North Canterbury - Christchurch

Today continue your drive south via the lush North Canterbury farmlands on to Christchurch, approximately 2.5 hours away.

You will have the rest of the day at leisure, and we recommend the following unique local experiences:

  • Roll around the city’s downtown attractions on the historic tram network, a particularly good alternative to walking on a scorching summers day. Or experience the city in the evening aboard the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant for a fine meal with an unbeatable view.
  • Learn the tale of the two cathedrals, the iconic Christchurch Cathedral which still lies in ruins, and the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, the temporary replacement literally built out of cardboard, and containing a stunning stained glass window.
  • Climb the Bridle Path to the top of the Port Hills, or take the far more leisurely Christchurch Gondola for spectacular views down into an extinct volcano crater, now home to the city’s seaport.
  • Check out the International Antarctic Centre, great for kids, which is an interactive museum about the icy continent and the important role Christchurch plays in its development.

Stay: Hotel Montreal

Day 7: Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps

This morning drive to the Christchurch Railway Station and depart the city aboard the Tranz Alpine Railway reputed to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world travelling across the Canterbury Plains, over Arthur’s Pass and the spectacular Southern Alps before descending through the rain forests of the West Coast.

Kids will love the viewing deck out front, stopping for a quick stretch of the legs at Arthur’s Pass and older teens can listen to the recording that narrates various tidbits about the scenery you pass by.

Upon arrival in Greymouth on the west coast, pick up your rental car and head south to Franz Josef.

Stay: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Day 8: Heli-hike excursion to the Franz Josef Glacier

This morning enjoy a guided heli-hike excursion, combining a helicopter flight to the Franz Josef Glacier with a guided walk amongst ice caves, pinnacles and seracs. View the extraordinary colours of the ice-flow from above and then up close, on an unforgettable guided walk. This activity is suitable for children aged 10 and above, but families with younger children can enjoy a scenic flight over Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier and Mount Cook.


Stay: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Day 9: Wanaka

This morning continue your drive south to Wanaka and on to Wanaka Haven, a lovely 5-bedroom home with outdoor swimming pool overlooking the mountains and two friendly dogs that the kids will no doubt love.

You will have the rest of the day to relax, splash in the pool or take part in any of these activities unique to Wanaka:

  • Take the family to Puzzling World to be baffled by the Illusion Rooms and lost in the awesome maze.
  • The Siberian Experience, an excursion with an unbeatable combination of hiking, scenic flight and jetboating.
  • Visit the Fighter Plane and Transport museums – a heaven for little boys!
  • Teach the kids to fish in the many rivers and lakes.
  • Adventure activities including kayaking, rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking and skydiving – great for families with older kids.

Stay: Wanaka Haven

Day 10: Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve, Lake Wanaka

This morning you will be met by your private guide for a full day ‘nature encounter’ incorporating a morning boat cruise to Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve on Lake Wanaka, with guided walk to the summit to reveal island’s secret – an island on top of an island!

Enjoy a private audience with rare native birds including Weka, Bellbird, Wood pigeon and Tui and help the environment by planting your own native tree on the island.

Feast on a gourmet picnic lunch before continuing to an iconic station for a 4WD journey exploring the private backroads of this high country sheep, cattle and deer farm, with stunning views and European heritage sites. Stroll through alpine meadows and ancient forests and have a leisurely afternoon tea in the mountains. With plenty of activity and movement to keep the kids busy and staggering scenery that parents will appreciate, this is a fantastic family day out.

Stay: Wanaka Haven

Day 11: Queenstown

Today drive via the scenic Crown Range to the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown, and on to Eichardt’s Private Hotel, your accommodation for the next four nights in a beautiful Lake Front Family Apartment Suite.

Stay: Eichardt's

Day 12: Milford Sound

This morning you will be met at your accommodation and transferred to Queenstown Airport.

Visit majestic Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most spectacular areas, by return scenic flight – view hanging valleys, alpine lakes and cloud-piercing summits.

Upon arrival at Milford Sound you will board a specially designed vessel to undertake a breathtaking cruise on the fiord to the Tasman Sea. Sheer rock walls, waterfalls and the mile high monolith of Mitre Peak are the backdrop as you enjoy a picnic lunch which has been included today.

Return to Queenstown later this afternoon, flying over the glaciers of the Olivine Ice Plateau.

If this full day excursion is too much for families with very young children, we can also organise shorter helicopter journeys enabling you to soak up all the scenery in a much shorter time.

Stay: Eichardt's

Day 13: Lake Wakatipu

Today depart from the centre of Queenstown and cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board Spirit of Queenstown to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm.

Soak up the tranquility of this stunning area as you take in panoramic views while visiting one of New Zealand’s most rugged and remote high country farms.

Enjoy a behind the scenes visit to a truly authentic, family-run merino sheep farm that produces the highest quality wool for world-renowned Icebreaker clothing company. Follow the journey of merino wool in a fun, interactive and hands on environment with a visit to the sheep yards to watch sheep being moved by the farm guide and dogs.

Stay: Eichardt's

Day 14: Kawarau River

Today, ‘go with the flow’ and soak up the scenery along a beautiful stretch of the Kawarau River with the Remarkable Mountains as your backdrop.

Float/paddle down this picturesque river in a raft or inflatable canoe with an experienced guide accompanying the trip while you take in the scenery and views. Experience 7kms of a stretch of river that starts at the confluence of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers and finishes at the historic Morven Ferry site where you are transferred back to town.

Stay: Eichardt's

Day 15: Departure

Today drive to Queenstown Airport and return your rental vehicle prior to your onward flight home.


Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival in Nelson Bronte Country Estate
Day 2: Stephens Bay & The Abel Tasman National Park Bronte Country Estate
Day 3: Explore Nelson Bronte Country Estate
Day 4: Kaikoura Hapuku Lodge & Tree House
Day 5: Whale and dolphin watching at Kaikoura Hapuku Lodge & Tree House
Day 6: North Canterbury - Christchurch Hotel Montreal
Day 7: Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Day 8: Heli-hike excursion to the Franz Josef Glacier Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Day 9: Wanaka Wanaka Haven
Day 10: Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve, Lake Wanaka Wanaka Haven
Day 11: Queenstown Eichardt's
Day 12: Milford Sound Eichardt's
Day 13: Lake Wakatipu Eichardt's
Day 14: Kawarau River Eichardt's
Day 15: Departure



  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Excursions
  • All car, train and boat transportation
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Visa if necessary
  • Personal expenses
  • Hotel early check in / Late check out
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that this is required for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)


Bronte Country Estate, Nelson Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses, Kaikoura Hotel Montreal, Christchurch, Canterbury Te Waonui Forest Retreat, Franze Josef Glacier Wanaka Haven, Wanaka Eichardt's Private Hotel, Queenstown

From USD29,000 for a family of four travelling during peak season

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant