Planning a family trip? Or daydreaming of one? We sat down with our friend Kahu of Explore NZ with Kids to find out the best advice on places to visit, tips for travelling on a budget, and most importantly, how to endure those long windy car rides!
"We have always loved to travel and when we had kids we had no plans to stop. When Freddy was born we had a van with curtains and a double bed which we used as our second home. We were based in Auckland then and used our weekends and holidays exploring the beautiful northland of New Zealand, places like Leigh and Goat Island, the Kai Iwi Lakes, The Tutukaka Coast and our favourite Coopers Beach. We are based in Ohakune now, and Freddy is 8, and Waiata is 7."
What type of activities inspire you and your family?
We are inspired by nature, the ocean, mountains and music. Skiing is a must being so close to the Turoa Ski Fields. We love spending all day at the beach and try to get to at least one overnight Music Festival a year. I love to hike but to be honest the kids are not so keen on them so we do shorter walks and bike rides through easy bush walks around New Zealand.
What is your top destination/activity so far?
That is a hard question! The kids would probably say the beach (any beach) or Rainbows End. But I love sharing my passions with them so Skiing or WOMAD music festival which is family friendly and you can always find a quiet space when the kids have had enough of the crowds or head to the Kids Zone... also the toilets are clean.
What are your top tips for keeping to a budget?
We try to pack our 2 meals everyday and then treat ourselves to one meal out. Even if it's just fish n chips on the beach.
We check prices online of the activities we are planning to do before we leave and research different locations. For example there are a few different thermal pools in Rotorua. Sometimes prices vary a lot or you can get online deals that aren't available in person.
We also try to only do one paid activity a day and use parks or beaches for another activity. If we know people in the area we ask them for local advice especially for family friendly accommodation!
We know theres one thing that definitely doesn't mix - kids and long car rides! How do you survive?
When driving we love audio books - Roald Dahl is our favourite as the stories are a bit naughty, funny and visually descriptive. Over Easter we travelled to Whangarei from Ohakune (6/7 hour drive) and we listened to The BFG and it was a lifesaver.
We also stop often and don't give ourselves a time limit if we are travelling for over 2 hours. If you have a partner and need a break, sometimes just 10 minutes walking alone can keep you from losing your cool.
What are your plans for the school holidays?
We are heading to Rotorua these school holidays. The last time we were there it rained the whole time which was fine for the thermal hot pools but I was nervous on the luge and made the kids go slowly - which wasn't so much fun for them. We also got completely wet because we hadn't planned for rain - amateur move. This time we will be prepared! We are going to hit the Luge again and visit the Redwood Forrest as I hear it is a great walk for kids.
What are the top things that you always pack?
We always try to pack light... try. But our essentials are....
- Versatile rain jackets that aren't bulky so you can have them on hand at all times!
- Journals and coloured pens
- And dare I say... iPads although we limit the screen time to down times only. Also the kids bring their pillows from home so they feel close to home where ever we are staying.
The Explore NZ with Kids project has been underway for a few years now, with the aim to use real experiences to help other families have the best time exploring our beautiful country. Their Facebook and Instagram pages are great for tips and local knowledge (including the all important locations of Public Toilets!), and a forum where families can share what worked for them and what didn't. PS. Website coming soon!
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