Family-friendly Attractions in New Zealand Recommended by Mr Clarke Gayford, Partner of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

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From the Auckland Zoo and Te Papa to Black Water Rafting, there is something for everyone, from the adventure-seekers to the nature-lovers.

Earlier this week, Clarke Gayford, partner of New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, visited the popular New Zealand owned Skyline Luge Sentosa attraction as part of Ardern’s state visit to Singapore this week.

Ahead of New Zealand’s border reopening from 2nd May, Clarke spent the morning with friends from New Zealand and Singapore as he shared his recommendations for family-friendly activities that Singaporeans can enjoy when they visit New Zealand, drawing from his own personal experience of places he enjoys going with his daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.

Here is a list of family-friendly attractions in New Zealand as recommended by Clarke Gayford. 

1. Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is a not-for-profit and wildlife conservation organization dedicated to building a future for wildlife. The zoo is also a winner of national and international awards and is at the leading-edge of wildlife research, conservation work and innovative zoo design.

Everything that is done at Auckland Zoo directly contributes towards their conservation efforts - how they care for the wildlife at the Zoo, their Wild Work and Conservation Fund, environmental impact, and how the zoos connect people with wildlife conservation science.

2. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

On 14 February 1998, Te Papa, housing the national art collection among its taonga, opened on Cable Street, Wellington – on time and within budget. Since then, millions of people have visited Te Papa. Rated by Lonely Planet as one of their top 500 places on earth, New Zealand's interactive national museum features six storeys of cutting-edge exhibitions housed in an architectural wonder of a building.

3. Kaikōura

Kaikōura is the northern-most district within the Canterbury region and is easily accessible with a 2.5hr drive from Christchurch. To the North is the port of Picton just 2hrs drive, where you can catch the ferry across to Wellington.

Tourists can look forward to whale watching, dolphin swimming and even a mouth-watering Crayfish meal. Kaikōura is definitely the place for you.

Self-drive visitors can explore the North Canterbury region by following the Alpine Pacific touring route, which links Kaikōura with Hanmer Springs and the Waipara wine region, just 45mins North of Christchurch.

4. Rainbow’s End, Auckland

Since 1982 New Zealand's premier Theme Park has been delighting family and friends with the biggest and best rides in town. Rainbow’s End started with a set of bumper boats and a big dream in the middle of 7.3 hectares down the end of the Southern Motorway.

Forty years later, they have built over 20 rides and attractions, and are still chasing the rainbow with new developments. Rainbow’s End is one of Auckland’s favourite places to escape from the everyday and experience thrilling moments with loved ones, creating special memories and traditions.

5. Orakei Korako, White Thermal Caves

Situated between Taupo & Rotorua on the banks of the Waikato River (Lake Ohakuri) lies The Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park. Off the beaten tourist track it is at once breathtaking in its beauty, and yet spine chilling in the might of its unbridled subterranean power. Orakei Korako is reached by a short ferry trip over the tranquil Lake Ohakuri.

A leisurely 45-minute drive south of Rotorua or 25-minute drive north of Taupo is all that is required. The Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park is open from 8am till 4.00pm every day of the year. Access to Orakei Korako is by boat. Average sightseeing time is about 1 hour. The tour is self-guided, boats do not run to a timetable, but on demand.

6. Waitomo, Waikato, Glow Worm Cave

The Glow Worm Caves are the most famous of the Waitomo caves, having been a tourist attraction for over 130 years. Wonder through the cave and marvel at its tallest chamber, the Cathedral, before embarking on a boat ride through the glow worm grotto. On the boat ride you’ll sit in silence (glow worms don’t like noise) and be able to take in the magical creatures lighting up the cave above.

7. Black Water Rafting, Waitomo

The ultimate underground experience and the most fun you’ll have in the dark. A weekend adventure like no other, Black Water Rafting is a bucket list must-do and guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. Head 80-metres below ground, raft in tubes through underground rapids, jump off waterfalls and float below a sky of glow worms, all whilst exploring one of New Zealand’s most diverse cave systems.

8. Winterless North, Sand Dunes

Renowned for its picturesque bays, hidden hotspots, and fantastic local fish n’ chips, the Northland’s arguably one of NZ’s best regions. Packed with waterfalls, volcanic hot-springs, and largest sand-dunes, everyone is welcome to join in on this epic journey. 

9. Christchurch/Canterbury, Ski Fields

The Christchurch – Canterbury region stretches from ocean to Alps, sweeping plains and mountain peaks. Just 1 1⁄2 hours from Christchurch, Mt Hutt boasts the longest ski season in New Zealand. Nearby Porters is home to Castle Hill, one of the top bouldering areas in the world.

After you’ve taken on the slopes, explore vibrant Christchurch, gateway to a range of outdoor and relaxation activities. Or, take a powder tour and stay in Methven – a town for snow sports enthusiasts looking to conquer nearby Mt Hutt.

10. Skyline Luge

Located an easy five-minute walk from central Queenstown and exclusively accessed by scenic Gondola, Skyline Queenstown is a ‘must-see’ attraction during your visit to Queenstown. Enjoy the spectacular 220-degree panorama views before getting your adrenaline fix on the Luge.

Jump on your specialised Luge cart and take control as you zoom down the Luge. Then catch the Luge chairlift back to the start zone and do it all over again - once is never enough.

The Blue Track is a leisurely ride with a gentle gradient, easy bends, tunnels and dips. The Green Track has a steeper gradient and is a more adventurous ride with the thrill of banked corners, tunnels, dippers and cuttings.

11. Polynesian Spa, Rotorua

Relax and unwind on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua at Polynesian Spa - a world-leading, natural mineral bathing and luxury spa retreat. Channeling geothermal marvels in its backyard, the 28 mineral pools are fed from two natural springs (one Alkaline and one Acidic) for a combination that both nourishes the skin and relieves tired muscles, aches and pains.

Specialising in a range of health and wellness treatments, Polynesian Spa has a decadent spa therapy menu. From Aix spa therapies to body wraps, massage and facials, Polynesian Spa is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature’s gift.

Combining ancient healing practices with modern techniques, Polynesian Spa is frequently recognised as one of the top 10 spas in the world.

12. Surat Bay, Catlins

Formerly known as Forsyth’s Bay, the bay is now named after the sailing ship “Surat” which became shipwrecked on New Years Day in 1874. The ship was carrying emigrants and cargo from England to Dunedin, all passengers and crew survived.

The Catlins coast is frequented by sea lions, other marine mammals and vulnerable birdlife. New Zealand sea lions come ashore to rest and socialise.

13. Rere Rockslide, Gisborne

Reached by a 30-minutes’ drive from Gisborne, Rere Rock Slide is a 60m rock where you can slide down a hill on a piece of cardboard or any replacement.

14. Stingray Feeding, Dive Tatapouri

Join a trip with Dive Tatapouri, which is located just 10 minutes north of Gisborne, to learn about the ecology of the region and to see the variety of marine species that can be found in the shallows of the reef. During which you may immerse yourself in the local culture and stunning maritime surroundings of New Zealand’s East Coast, which is a unique experience.

15. Moeraki, Boulders

Moeraki is now most famous for its boulders; mysteriously spherical stones scattered across a beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high. Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.



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This article is prepared by

Malini Pannirselvam
Dedicated writer by day, avid reader by night, language fanatic all the time, and aunt to nieces and nephews every day

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