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Travelling through New Zealand for 7 weeks with kids: South Island

Travelling through New Zealand for 7 weeks! Kim does it with her husband and child. Last week, you could read about their adventures on North Island, now they’re on the South Island. Read along!

Travelling through New Zealand for 7 weeks: time for the South Island

As soon as we set foot on the South Island we see how different this part of New Zealand is. North Island is rough, robust and crater like. The South Island on the other hand is much greener and looks, how to put it, “nicer”. On the North side of South Island lies Abel Tasman National park, a fun day out with kids.

 

 

It’s a beautiful nature reserve that runs along the coast. There are 3 ways of getting around in this park: you can go from bay to bay by water taxi, you can peddle yourself in a rented kayak or you can take the scenic path that will take you to the different bays. Seeing as I am far from a water rat and I’m not too fond of boat-like things either, we chose the third option. We go for a beautiful walk, build sand castles on a deserted bay and even spot a kiwi! A carrier is a must on this walk!

A journey of discovery along the West Coast

O boy, there is so much to see and do along the West Coast. Our three highlights are the Pancake Rocks, the Franz Joseph Glacier and the Fox Glacier. Before we arrive at the West Coast we stop at the Buller Gorge Swing bridge, a long wobbly bridge that crosses a river. A lot of fun and very adventurous for kids

Pancake Rocks

You can visit the Pancake Rocks in a little place called Punakaiki.  The rocks really look like a pile of pancakes. A funny sight and pretty too. Even with kids this is a fun pitstop to make. It’s easy to get around, it’s just a short walk and when you’re with the smallest of kids; it’s buggy proof. Further down South you enter glacier area.

 

In New Zealand you can come across 4 seasons in one week. A couple of days ago we were barefoot in the sea at Abel Tasman, at the Pancake Rocks we had our boots on in rainy, fall-like weather and now we’re heading into a total winter sports area.

Time for snow AND adrenaline: Frans Joseph

On to the snow! The first glacier we see is Franz Joseph. We snoop round a little at the info center but we really have no idea what to do. A lot of excursions are not child friendly. While I’m having a apple juice with my daughter, my husband is talking to someone at the counter. He walks back with a large grin on his face and tells me he has a nice birthday gift for me for tomorrow: a skydive above the Frans Joseph glacier…. Ehm… say what???

 

I wouldn’t dare! I don’t just dislike wobbly boats, I am afraid of heights too haha! But hey, the skydive is booked so there’s no way back!! So the next morning I arrive at the airport with shaking legs.

 

But despite my fear of heights, despite my fear, this is AWESOOOOOOME! It’s incredibly scary to jump out of a plane but when you’re freefalling through the sky with your cheeks flubbering, it gives you such a rush! The chute goes out and then I realized how beautiful the area really was! Apparently, the Frans Joseph jump is the most beautiful in the world, after Mount Everest. But that isn’t exactly on our route.

FOX Glacier

After having recovered from the jump, we go for another walk at the glacier and then it’s on to glacier number two: the Fox Glacier. We find a nice child friendly excursion; a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier. Zooming in between the mountain tops and land high atop in the snow. Kids love this! When we arrive, we get out of the chopper and take in the breathtaking view and the snow. Very posh indeed, being let off a helicopter in the snow, building a snowman and being flown back down.

Wanaka & Queenstown

We leave the West Coast and drive inland towards Wanaka. We think Wanaka is similar to Taupo on the Northern Island. A small, pleasant little town beside a large lake. Planning on resting here for a couple of days and then we drive on towards Queenstown for the next adrenaline rush.

 

We don’t take the regular highway but we take the Cardrona Road instead, a more inland route with beautiful scenery. In Queenstown it’s the hubby’s turn to do something scary.

 

He wants to take the biggest bungee jump of New Zealand and does so without even blinking; jumping 134m deep into a canyon. So, mum & dad did their thing, let’s go on to some more child friendly activities.

 

Queenstown itself is rather child friendly. This is actually the first city of New Zealand we’re rather fond of. It has loads of playgrounds, coffee (or ice-cream) to go bars, a lake where you can throw stones in (one of our daughters favorite activities) and there is this nice and relaxed atmosphere. We’re fans. You can grab the best burgers on earth at Fergburger. Yum!

The Fjordlands

After we’re done eating in Queenstown, we set course to a little place called Te Anau, “the port to the fjords”. Here, we store some provisions because we will leave for the fjords from Te Anau and there are no villages or (regular priced) supermarkets on the way. You can take beautiful boat trips at the fjords (that’s right, I went on one), of which Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the most well-known. We choose Milford Sound and drive into a wet camp site and prepare for the night.


Seeing as it rains here 200 days a year, we fear it will be a wet gathering on our boat trip the next day. The next morning though, we see a watery sun so who knows, maybe we’re in luck! We appear to have booked a nice small boat by chance, instead of the mass ones packed with tourists that are emptied from the tour busses.


Kids will love this too. Not just the sailing itself but you come across tons of waterfalls where the skipper is happy  to pass under. The waterfall smashed onto the bow. As it turns out we’re in luck, as the sky breaks open and lets in the sun. Soon, we’re sailing under a clear blue sky towards a beautiful ford. On the way we run into lots of seals, chilling on a rock in the sun. This is a certain must do excursion when visiting New Zealand with kids.

The deep south

A few weeks ago we were in Cape Reinga, a mystic place in the top North of New Zealand. We told each other then it was hard to imagine we would be in the deep south of this beautiful country in a few weeks. But here we are after all, after 7 weeks of travelling New Zealand!

We look at each other surprised at how the weeks have flown by. Well, I guess that’s why they say “time’s fun when you’re having flies!” This southern little place is called Bluff and here too, they have a sign showing the mayor capitals in the world and one pointing to Cape Reinga of course.

 

Still, we find out there is a little place that’s even more south, just a little bit; Slope Point. We need to go there of course! Turns out, that’s not as easy at it sounds. Driving for miles on an unpaved road and continue by foot through a meadow full of, what feels like, ten thousands of sheep.

 

Fun with kids, you can turn it into a scavenger hunt. We finally found the place, located just beautiful. Be aware though, it’s a high cliff with no gates or any other form of fences, so keep an eye on your little ones!

What’s more in the deep South of New Zealand is the nature reserve the Catlins, with beautiful water falls, endless green hills with tons of sheep and the most breathtaking views.

Mountains and lakes

In the middle of South Island lies the highest mountain of New Zealand: Mount Cook. Here, you can go on a beautiful walk; the Hooker Valley track. It’s a nice and easy walk, well paved and lots of bridges to cross. Fun and adventurous for kids.

 

For the little ones, a carrier is a must. Around Mount Cook are a couple of beautiful lakes. We thought Lake Pakaki was the most beautiful. Because the lake is mostly made out of glacier water, the water has a bright blue, almost fluorescent color. Near lake Pakaki there is another lake called Lake Takapo. It’s lovely to install a couple of fold out chairs and just sit there and take in the incredible sights while the kids are throwing stones in the lake and feeding the ducks.

Christchurch

This is the end of our trip (sob). We’ve had to adjust our traveling schedule a little because of a big earthquake in Kaikoura, a place on the coast where you can spot dolphins and wales. After the earthquake it’s not safe going there because of tsunami danger, so we head on to our last stop: Christchurch.

 

We turn in our trusty camper “Fat Berta” and sleep in a luxury hotel for the last two nights in New Zealand. This is a welcome change after 6 weeks of camping life indeed!! Soaps, flat screen TV, a large soft bed and a balcony with lounger… wow.

 

We’re off to explore Christchurch but it turns out to be a two sided city. On one hand it’s a bubbly city full of shops and restaurants but on the other hand it’s clear to see the city has been suffering from an earthquake a few years ago. Lot’s of buildings are broken down and empty. Even the church in the center is still in ruins.

Luckily, Christchurch had lots of fun activities and so we think it’s a real child friendly city. A nice little train runs through the center, a fun trip for kids. But what we really enjoyed was the botanical gardens. It’s an enormous park that’s full of playgrounds and when it’s good weather all the restaurants lay out bean bags in the grass. Ideal for a picknick in the sun while the kids are playing.

Travelling through New Zealand for 7 weeks, a huge recommendation!

And that was it. The 7 weeks of travelling through New Zealand are done and we were on our way back. We think New Zealand is a very child friendly country. On every corner of the street you can find a playground of some kind, lot’s of restaurants with highchairs and they won’t be bored in the surrounding nature. Building snowmen, throwing stones in the lake, swimming, building sand castles, feeding ducks, going on exciting walks, paddling water, you can do it all!

 

It’s quite a bit of flying (you can say one hell of a bit). We’ve dug deep into our pockets for this trip but I’m glad that didn’t stop us from taking it. New Zealand has a place in our hearts and the memories we have are irreplaceable.

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