14 March 2017
The Gold Coast is a favourite destination for many Kiwi families. Only a short flight, it’s an easy place to holiday - without worrying about tropical diseases, language, culture shock or whether the kids are going to like the ‘foreign’ food. It's the ideal place to get some guaranteed winter sun and fun, without the stress of a big overseas holiday.
I asked families who visit the area frequently for their best Gold Coast tips, and this is what they told me.
1. Make sure you take the kids to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary so they can cuddle koalas and feed crocodiles. The Blinky Bill show is great for the little ones (maybe watch the movie or read the books before you go) and bigger kids love the Tree Top challenge.
2. Take the family to a local surf club for dinner for a true Aussie experience: try the Northcliffe Surf Club at the southern end of Surfer's, or the Beach Vikings Surf Club at Currumbin Beach. Make sure you bring your passport to show you are a foreign visitor.
3. Fly into Coolangatta if you can. You'll save so much time – the flight time is shorter than to Brisbane, and once you've landed you don't need to then turn around and head south. It’s a quieter airport too.
4. If you’re visiting the theme parks, check out annual pass options that cover multiple parks - they often work out better and offer more flexibility for not a huge price difference. For example, with a Theme Parks 'Super Pass' you can do Warner Bros. Movie World in the morning then Wet'n'Wild in the afternoon, when the kids are overheated. There are also special multi-access passes you can buy in New Zealand before you depart.
5. Consider hiring an apartment so you have the option of eating out or in - and you'll be able to do some of that stinky laundry too!!
6. If you're planning on sticking to the coast itself, you can get away with not hiring a car as the public transports (buses and the light rail system) will take you pretty much everywhere you need to go, quickly and efficiently. A TransLink 'Go Explore' travel card costs about $30 per day for two adults and two kids (but check the current rates before you go). Or you can of course rent a car as well, if you want to go and explore more of the Gold Coast such as the Hinterland or Tamborine National Park. Make sure you ask your Flight Centre Travel Expert to book the car seats with your rental car as well.
7. Don't forget the hinterland. Tamborine Mountain, especially, is a great place to visit on a day trip from the coast. There are gorgeous views from numerous lookouts and a great strip with fabulous little shops selling wine, cheese, home-grown produce fudge, spices, candles and other delights. There’s a brewery, several wineries and even a distillery up on the mountain for grownups as well. If time allows, stop by the Witches Falls and Cedar Creek Estate wineries too.
8. Check out the night markets for dinner one night, or several! NightQuarter in Helensvale has great street food and live music and the kids will love it as much as you. There’s lots of child friendly food as well as langos, oysters, bao and other delicious options for adults.
9. If you’ve got under-fives they’ll love The Rockpools, the free water park at Broadwater Parklands. Pack a picnic and make a day of exploring the whole area.
10. If there are shopaholics in your family, Pacific Fair and Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre have just been refurbished so be sure you check them out for some good retail therapy.
11. If you're looking for a beach that the whole family will love, check out Currumbin, which has a surf beach on one side and a safe creek for the littlies, plus rock pools, a play park and an excellent wildlife sanctuary.
12. Try to fit in some bush walking through the spectacular landscapes around the Gold Coast. If the kids like glow worms check out the Natural Bridge at Springbrook or any of the walks on Mt Tamborine. If they like waterfalls there are plenty of those to see too: we recommend the Coomera and Yarrabilgong Falls at Lamington National Park. Also spot kangaroos and koalas at Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Park.
13. Organise a daytrip to Brisbane. The city's fantastic museums and galleries, most of which offer special programmes and attractions for kids, are the perfect cultural escape after a few days at the beach!
14. Remember that Australian school holidays are the peak time for Gold Coast attractions and accommodation. Book outside these times, if you can, and you should be able to get a better deal.
15. For a break from the heat, visit the Holoverse in Southport, a wholly immersive experience in which you don 3D goggles and headphones to interact with lifelike wild animals or do battle with monsters.