Top 10 School Holidays Activities To Do In New Zealand

family on boat

3.61min read

Published 21 July 2020

Flight Centre Author


Lena Taylor

Senior Direct Marketing Executive


We know that school holidays can be a challenging time to keep the kids constantly entertained, especially as we’re waiting for the world to open up again. So we’ve put together (in no particular order!) our top 10 school holidays family activities that you can do in New Zealand this September! 

Rotorua: Skyline Gondola & Luge

For some family-fun and to experience spectacular views of Lake Rotorua and the city, jump on board the Gondola to take you up Mt Ngongotaha. Once you’re at the top, you can choose from a range of activities including mountain biking, the Zoom Zipline, and even the Skyswing. Our top pick is definitely taking the driver’s seat with the Luge for some fast-paced excitement! Don’t worry - there’s three levels to choose from (Scenic, Intermediate and Advanced) so this is an experience all ages can enjoy. 

A sharp bend in the Skyline Luge with forest and Lake Rotorua in the background.
Skyline Luge in Rotorua. Image credit: Shutterstock

Queenstown: Shotover Jet

Calling all adrenaline junkies! Take a unique and breath-taking ride through the dramatic and narrow canyons on the Kimiākau (Shotover River) with this iconic jet boat experience. You’ll get exclusive access to the spectacular Shotover canyons with Shotover Jet being the only company permitted to operate within them. They’ve thrilled over 3 million people since 1965! Feel like you’re brave enough? Hold on tight for the 360˚ spins during this unforgettable 25-minute ride.

A drone's view of a jet boat on the Shotover River in Queenstown.
Shotover Jet in Queenstown. Image credit: Shutterstock

Wellington: Weta Workshop

Discover how imaginary worlds are brought to life with the half-day Full Experience tour at the world-famous special effects house. This must-do activity combines the Weta Cave Workshop Tour and the Miniature Effects Tour for the ultimate Weta Workshop experience. From The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to Avatar and District 9, learn about props, costumes and creatures created for your favourite films. Plus, uncover filmmaking techniques of miniature effects and even catch an artist at work on the tour stage!

A sculpture of Gollum on a rock stands at the entrance to the Weta Cave Museum, Wellington.
Weta Cave Museum, Wellington. Credit: Weta Workshops

Auckland: Sky Tower

An exciting hub of breath-taking views, superb dining and adrenaline activities, a visit to the Sky Tower is an incredible family experience to put on your school holiday to-do list. The Sky Tower even hosts special school holiday programs and activities three times a year, providing another level of fun for the whole family! The panoramic 360˚ views at the Sky Deck allows you to spot key landmarks, volcanoes and other historical locations in the Auckland region, which you can head to before or after the Orbit 360˚ Dining revolving restaurant for lunch or dinner. If you’re feeling up to it, why not top off the experience with a bungy jump?!

The Auckland cityscape with the sea in the foreground.
Auckland, New Zealand. Image credit: Shutterstock

Skiing at Mt Ruapehu

For the adventurous family, ski and ride at the heart of the dual-World-Heritage Tongariro National Park and two of NZ’s largest ski areas! Whakapapa is perfect for the kids with Happy Valley, NZ's best beginners' facility. The slope is nice and long with a gentle gradient, allowing you to really get the hang of turning and stopping, plus you can get help from the covered carpet lifts. On the south western slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the wild and mighty Tūroa is for the more advanced with NZ's highest chairlift and NZ's longest vertical drop at 722 metres!

Rotorua: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

A utopia of stunning geothermal activity, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s unique geothermal elements. Thousands of years in the making, the Geothermal Park has been sculpted out of volcanic activity and is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. The Lady Knox Geyser is definitely an exciting sight to see for the kids, reaching an impressive height of 10 - 20 metres when it erupts! Complete your experience with a visit to the largest mud pool in New Zealand.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua. Image credit: Shutterstock

Queenstown: TSS Earnslaw Cruise

Take a 90-minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the iconic century-old coal fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. One of the best ways to see Queenstown’s remarkable alpine landscapes, explore the over one hundred year old boat by taking a visit to the engine room, join a sing-along with the pianist or relax and enjoy some drinks or café food at the on-board Promenade Café and Bar. 

TSS Earnslaw on Queenstown Bay. Image credit: Destination Queenstwon

Wellington: Zealandia

Explore the wild side of Wellington with the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. This ground-breaking conservation project has reintroduced over 20 species of native wildlife back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. With a range of events for families and activities for young ones, experience the unique sounds of rare and endangered wildlife - the perfect way to connect adults and children of all ages with nature.

Kakariki in Zealandia, Wellington. Image credit: Shutterstock

Auckland: A trip to Rangitoto Island

This Auckland icon is actually New Zealand’s youngest volcano even though it emerged from the sea just over 600 years ago. A long-time favourite day trip for walkers, discover the island’s unique volcanic terrain with its easy 1-hour climb to the top of the summit where you’ll enjoy sensational panoramic views of the city centre of Auckland. Plus, you can take a short side track circling the rim of the crater.

A couple of things you need to know before you go! There are no shops on the island so make sure you bring your own food and drinks. The heat reflecting off the ground can be intense so ensure you wear sunscreen and a hat. Plus, take care not to miss your ferry as there is no overnight accommodation and alternative transport back to the mainland is very expensive!

Rangitoto Island, Auckland. Image credit: Shutterstock

Rotorua: City & Lakes Tours with Rotorua Duck Tours

Last but definitely not least, journey through Rotorua’s stunning lakes district on a unique sightseeing adventure in a WWII Amphibious vehicle that is able to travel on land and water. With two fun and unique tours, the Rotorua City & Lakes Tour and the all new Lake Tarawera Eco-Tour, learn about Rotorua’s rich cultural history from the “conducktor” while surrounding yourself with breath-taking views - watch out for all the splash downs as well! Ideal for all ages and a fantastic all weather activity, you’re guaranteed plenty of laughs from start to finish and memories that will last a lifetime.

Image credit: Rotorua Duck Tours


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