Rotorua Canopy Tours Blog

Top 10 North Island family activities

Friday, 10 July 2020

Have your Fiji or Bali family holidays plans been cancelled this year? We may not be able to travel overseas at the moment, but we are lucky enough in to have some amazing holiday destinations right here in our own backyard.

Create some unforgettable memories with your loved ones right here in New Zealand - we even have some special discount deals just for you!


Top picks for North Island family activities

  • Rotorua Canopy Tours

  • Tongariro River Rafting

  • Zelandia

  • Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

  • Barefoot Sailing Paihia

  • Blue Duck Station Horse trekking

  • Awastone Riverside Haven

  • Hobbiton

  • Blazing Paddles Whanganui river canoeing

  • National Aquarium of New Zealand


1. Rotorua Canopy Tours

Your forest zipline experience with Rotorua Canopy Tours will be one of the North Island family activities you will talk about for years to come. Expert kiwi guides will take your family on the adventure of a lifetime. Travel through ancient native forest via a network of ziplines, swing bridges and tree top platforms.

With two amazing tours to choose from, you can’t go wrong - the 3 hour Original Canopy Tour or the next level 3.5 hour Ultimate Canopy Tour. This is definitely a fun and educational experience everyone will love!

North Island family activities treetop-adventure

Photo: Take your family on an forest zipline adventure flying through the trees.


2. Tongariro River Rafting

Next up on our list of the top 10 North Island family activities is Tongariro River Rafting. They are the top rafting experience in the North Island and with a minimum age of three – it’s an adventure the whole family can enjoy. Rafting is a great family bonding activity and will help build everyone’s confidence. Let the kids get acquainted with the stunning New Zealand back country and amazing wildlife.

You might even spot the highly endangered Whio, native blue ducks who live in pairs all along the river.

Get 10% off Tongariro River Rafting - Simply mention this blog when booking. 

North Island family activities tongariro-river-rafting

Photo: A great North Island family activity for all ages is rafting the Tongariro River.


3. Zelandia

If your family is keen on a bit of bird spotting, Zelandia in Wellington will be right up your alley. It’s the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary and is a incredible place the whole family will enjoy.

Zelandia are doing some amazing conservation work and are aiming to restore the area to the way it was before humans arrived. They have reintroduced 20 species of native wildlife. Some of which hasn’t been on the mainland of New Zealand for over 100 years.

North Island family activities Zelandia

Photo: Another of our top 10 North Island family activities - Spotting rare native wildlife like the Kaka at Zelandia.


4. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

The world famous Waitomo Caves are simply magical and one of our must do North Island family activities. The mesmerising glow worm grotto is one of New Zealand’s best natural attractions. Those young and old will love the serenity of the boat ride, floating through the caves with a galaxy of tiny lights above you. You’ll learn all about the history, features and legends of this one-of-a-kind cave.

There’s plenty to do around the Waitomo area if you want to make a weekend of it too!

North Island family activities Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Photo: Everyone will love watching the cave light up with tiny living lights at the Waitomo caves. 


5. Sailing in Paihia 

Escape to the winterless north in Paihia with Barefoot sailing. Sailing in the Bay of Islands is definitely one of the North Island family activities not to miss. Go snorkeling and explore the areas hidden bays and stunning beaches. There are over 140 islands within sailing distance!

Lunch is included so you don’t have to worry about a thing. You can also feel good knowing part of your ticket price is donated to Project Island Song, helping bring birdsong back to the islands.

Get 10% off Barefoot sailing - simply mention this blog when booking. 

North Island family activities sailing in Paihia

Photo: You'll feel like the family is on a tropical Island sailing in Paihia.


6. Horse trekking

If you have an animal lover in the family, horse trekking might be just be one of the perfect North Island family activities for you. It doesn't get much better than trekking at Blue Duck Station's back country!

There is over 5,000 acres to explore on horse back with scenery ranging from mountain views to native bush. The team there are happy to arrange a ride suitable for your groups abilities too.

Get 10% off horse trekking at Blue Duck Station - simply mention this blog when booking. 

North Island family activities horse trekking

Photo: Horse trekking is one of the best North Island family activities for animal lovers


7. Awastone Riverside Haven camping

Located half way between Taupo and Wellington is Awastone Riverside Haven. They have a  great family friendly camp ground and offer North Island family activities for all ages.

Your family can raft or kayak the Rangitaiki River. They offer options as short as one hour right up to multi-day adventures. It’s a safe and fun way for your whole family to discover the outdoors, so its definitely one to add to your North Island family activities list. 

Get 5% off Awastone Riverside Haven - simply mention this blog when booking. 

North Island family activities Awastone

Photo: All ages will love the escape to Mangaweka for a bit of family bonding.


8. Hobbiton

If there’s one thing New Zealand is well known for to our international guests, it’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton. So, why not take the family to check out the enchanting world of Hobbiton and see what our international guests rave about? 

Even if you’re not a Lord of the Rings fan, you will definitely see there is something special about this place. Every tour ends at the Green Dragon, where you can enjoy a drink or bite to eat in true hobbit style.

North Island family activities Hobbiton

Photo: Experience the magic of the shire for yourself at Hobbiton.


9. Canoe Whanganui River

Take the family for an unforgettable journey down the iconic Whanganui River with Blazing Paddles.

They can customise a tour to suit you, ranging from a quick splash to a getaway for a few days with the family. Canoeing is great for family bonding with a few water challenges. There is also time to relax and enjoy this unique holiday away - the scenery in the area is simply breathtaking.

Get 5% off with Blazing Paddles - simply mention this blog when booking. 

North Island family activities Canoe Whanganui River

Photo: The scenery around the Whanganui River make this one of the best North Island family activities - you'll remember it forever.


10. National Aquarium of New Zealand

The last of our North Island family activities is located along Napier's Marine Parade. Discover a fascinating water world with your family at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

It's home to a huge range of saltwater, freshwater and land animals from New Zealand and all over the world. You'll see feeding of reef fish, little blue penguins and lots of different sharks.

The kids will love the wonderful underwater viewing tunnel with fish above and all around you. 

North Island family activities national aquarium

Photo: The kids will love watching the fish feeding at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.


Check out our blog if you're still looking for more Things to do in New Zealand.

Topics: Things to do in NZ