19 days exploring New Zealand South Island

19 days exploring New Zealand South Island

 
When we started thinking about our NZ holiday with our three boys aged 4 ½ year old, 2 ½ year old and a 6 month old in toe, it wasn’t a trip about what my husband and I wanted to do instead it was how do we make the most of a holiday with our boys that they would enjoy and we would too. We had to think about what they like and enjoy doing. By changing this mindset it was the best thing we could have done as it relieved the stress and made the time spent with our kids priceless.
During our trip I was laughing that prior to kids when we travelled I knew all the pubs in towns we visited, now I know all the towns with the best playgrounds!
 
We hired a car and drove for 9 days from Christchurch to Queenstown stopping along the way and staying in airbnb’s which was a good way to get the kids settled after the excitement of a plane trip and going on holiday. From Queenstown we picked up our RV and headed up north to Picton (and the wineries because we have to have a little something for the grown ups). 
Small things that made a massive difference with the kids was changing our thinking about eating out. Kids don’t want to sit in a cafe or restaurant at the best of times and especially if you have traveled all day. We have almost all our lunches in parks with playgrounds and when we did decide that we would go out we went about 3:30pm and just got a snack somewhere nice. The reason this worked was they hadn’t reached the witching hour and they were also happy to sit for 30 minutes. Mum & Dad got to enjoy a nice drink in a great location and then we would head home and cook up dinner. This definitely helped with the budget too.
This is our best family holiday to date because it was built around them.
 

Itinerary:

Day 1: Picked up hire car at Christchurch airport and stayed close by as we flew in late.

Day 2: Drove to a winery just out of Geraldine for the night. They had animals and wide open spaces for the kids. The owners were amazing and the kids got to feed the calves their breakfast in the morning.

Day 2-6: We stopped at Lake Tekapo and the kids got to experience snow for the first time. We then drove through Lindis Pass and headed to Wanaka which we called home for 4 nights. Wanaka is a small town on the lake that you can walk everywhere and is great for kids. Lots of playground and parks, places to eat and just a relaxed town.

We did a day trip to Cardrona- A short drive from Wanaka. We skied for the day, Patty did ski school whilst Louis and Sebby were in the Kinder.

Snow farm- a more kid friendly experience if you want to play with snow and ride tubes down a hill this is the place for you.

Day 6-8: Queenstown 

A beautiful tourist town where you can luge on top of a mountain, ride a gondola & wander around the town admiring the beautiful lake & mountain backdrop.

From there we picked up the winnebago- 

Day 9: Drove through Cromwell and down to Oamaru on the coast. This is where we got to see the penguins come in from the ocean and were scattered around our caravan park.  This was nice to see but did run pretty late and kids were tired.  

Day 10: Farm stay- feeding the animals & donkey rides = kids paradise 

Day 11-12: Hanmer Spring- hot springs. This was so relaxing, it’s like a tiny swiss village in the middle of NZ. A beautiful place to stop on the way to Picton.

Day 13: Kaikoura- The sea level has risen due to a major earthquake and you can now see the plate of the earth that have poked through.

Day 14-17: Picton - A cruise dropping off the mail around Marlborough Sounds, playgrounds, & all the Sav Blanc Wineries you’re used to seeing at Dan Murphys.

Day 18: We chose to do the massive drive to Christchurch so we could spend more time in Picton. We then stayed at the Top 10 Christchurch which was easy to get to the airport and drop off our RV before our morning flight

Day 19: Flight home.

 

How to pack for 5 people away for 19 days?

Easy!! We took 2 suitcases for the 5 of us. When packing think of what they can mix and match which will make your life so much easier. Then when loading the suitcases up I individualised each of our items into small bags which meant it always easy to find and you knew who had what because when moving around so much you don’t have a chance to unpack and everything will stay in the suit cases. This is especially helpful when in an RV and needing to know whats clean and whats dirty.

 

So if you’re looking for a great trip with the kids, fancy some of the most beautiful scenic driving you can do, have a look at the South Island of NZ… and there’s plenty of great playgrounds in every town!

Jessica Haley

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