New Zealand’s North Island with Kids

I was talking to a friend about New Zealand today which reminded me I still haven’t gotten around to posting about our trip last year. I did quite a bit of research prior to both trips we have taken to the North Island with little ones, so I thought I would share what I found to be fun family friendly activities and sights.

Auckland Sea Life Museum

We loved the Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland. The penguins in particular were a huge hit, I have never seen so many in one exhibit.

We parked by the aquarium and took a lovely walk along the coast to the nearby suburb of Mission Bay where they have a playground along the beach and plenty of lunch and coffee options within walking distance.

Waiheke Island

One of the best Auckland suggestions I received was to take the ferry to Waiheke Island and do the hop-on hop-off bus tour. Your ticket includes the ferry that leaves from the Auckland and even better children under 5 are free.

We found the bus easy to get around even with both kids and a stroller. We spent just over half of a day on the island and got to visit stunning wineries, beautiful beaches and even take a small hike.


From Auckland we drove to Rotorua and checked into an airbnb for a couple of nights. Our main reason for visiting was to see the brightly colored thermal pools.

We spent a good part of the day at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in awe of all the different geothermal attractions. We also returned the following morning using our ticket from the day before to see Lady Knox Geyser (only erupts at 10:15am daily). Leighton (2.5 at the time) loved exploring the different color lakes and watching the steam come off the water.

Rotorua was very family friendly, we had no problem finding places to take the kids to eat or play. The Kuirau Park close to the center of town had a great playground and it’s own geothermal foot baths and walking paths. We went during autumn and the foliage was so pretty.

Russell (Bay of Islands)

Our last stop before we headed back to Auckland was to the Bay of Islands. We stayed in the quaint town of Russell. If you are looking for a place to relax and have a bit of a breather, this is the place. It was the most picturesque little town.

There are small walks you can do, a few wineries to visit and a couple little museums to check out. The best was just strolling along the water, checking out all the boats, and dining al fresco. If you are a fisherman or woman this is the place for you. There are also pretty beaches to play at during the warmer months.


If you have been following a long for a while, you might recall the trip we took to Auckland back in 2017. Leighton (almost 1), my mother in law, nephew (10) and I took a quick trip over to the North Island during their visit.

My nephew was a big Lord of the Rings fan so we of course had to plan a day out to Hobbiton (old post here). I had never seen any of the movies and Leighton was not even 1, but we still had a great time. I found it really interesting and so fun to see all the little hobbit houses.

We drove ourselves since we had rented a car, but there are plenty of tours that leave from Auckland. Also, warning it is a bit of a winding drive so if your kid gets car sick (like mine did) be aware.

Rangitoto Island

The other trip we did from Auckland on that trip was taking a ferry to Rangitoto Island (post here). It’s only a 25 minute ferry ride from Auckland city terminal. The island was formed by two different volcanic eruptions.

The main thing to do is the summit hike, but you can also take a train to the top. We did the hike with a 10 year old and a 11 month old (who I wore) and it wasn’t too difficult. The 360 views from the summit were beautiful. As you go around the other side you get to explore lava caves and see a beachside historic village.

Make sure you pack lunch and water because there is no where to purchase anything on the island.

Obviously there are plenty other family friendly activities on the north island, as we found New Zealand to be very kid friendly. Please let me know any other places we should check out if we make another trip over.

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