With New Zealand’s reputation as a holiday destination, and its distance from pretty much anywhere else, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that most Kiwis holiday in New Zealand, generally to somewhere in driving distance. The week between Christmas and New Year is undoubtedly the busiest, and school holidays and long weekends are also very popular. You’ll need to book months ahead for these peak times, and high-season prices often apply.
Many families go camping for a couple of weeks, with accommodation at beautifully sited coastal camping grounds still very reasonably priced. You generally need your own tent or caravan for this, although you can often hire cabins at camping grounds. If you do go camping you will find families who have returned to the same camp ground, and even the same tent site, for decades. You can find comprehensive lists of holiday parks on the Jasons and AA websites.
Another popular option is to go to a motel, which is generally a complex of units with one or two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. They often have a children’s play area and communal laundry facilities. Motels are generally very reasonably priced. There are comprehensive directories available on the Jasons and AA websites.
The third very Kiwi holiday experience is the bach or holiday home. Baches range from humble cottages with basic facilities to architecturally designed houses with all mod-cons. There are several excellent web directories of baches available to hire; we’ve used Holiday Homes, Holiday Houses and BookaBach. A big bach can work out cheaper than a couple of motel units if you are travelling in a large group, but prices vary as much as the level of accommodation and high season prices can be expensive.
Before you book, you need to check with the owner whether bedding and towels will be provided. You also need to clarify what the owner’s expectations are of how clean you will leave the accommodation – sometimes you are expected to clean the property ready for the next tenant, which is perhaps not the best way to end a holiday! Some of the places for hire on the back websites are houses that are vacant while the owner goes on holiday to their own bach – which is fine, but travelling with small children we prefer to avoid these.
When New Zealand families do venture overseas it is often to Fiji and the east coast of Australia (both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.) Package holidays are widely available for both destinations, which are popular for winter sun. Direct flights from New Zealand are around 3-4 hours to both Fiji and the east coast of Australia.
- Both Qantas and Air New Zealand offer domestic and international flights and holiday packages. Also check their low-cost airlines Jetstar, Pacific Blue and Freedom Air.
- Wotif has good last minute hotel deals.