Summer is here and it’s time to load up the car, pack up the family and hit the road for a holiday with kids and all. Sounds great, but it can quickly turn ugly if your children don’t travel well or you find yourself at not so kid-friendly accommodation. What better time to share our favourite ways to ensure the whole family enjoys summer holidays in New Zealand?
Where should I take my kids on holiday?
This is the obvious place to start, so think about how suitable the location(s) will be for your children at their current age. How long is the trip to get there, what can you do along the way and is there be plenty to keep them entertained when you get there? Ask these questions of both the area you are visiting and any accommodation you look at.
Try to find a destination that strikes a balance between being fun for the kids while giving us parents an opportunity to relax and unwind. Sounds like nirvana, huh?
How do I entertain my kids on a long car ride?
Depending on how far away your holiday spot is, getting there might be half the battle. Go one step above what you normally do when you’re driving around town and pack loads of option to match even the shortest attention spans.
A backseat organiser can hold electronics, colouring in books, sticker books and more. For an inclusive family feel, play a kid-friendly audio book for everyone to listen to.
If your kids are old enough you can play games like eye-spy, 20 questions, a scavenger hunt in which the kids have to point out specific items you’ll pass during your journey, or car cricket: white cars are one run, coloured cars are two runs, motorhomes are a four, trucks are a six, and red cars are out. Make sure you download our Kiwi Road Trip Bingo game, too.
Asking your captive audience hypothetical questions can be a great way to get inside their heads. Ask things like ‘if you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?’ Or, ‘what’s the one superpower you would most like to have?’
How to attack the journey
Being a parent, you’ll appreciate how much longer things can take when kids are involved. Long car rides to your holiday destination are no different, so don’t rush them.
Having your bags packed at least the night before a journey (this can help get kids excited and prepared for the holiday) will allow you to set off early giving you the ability to take your time and avoid rushing. For some, starting the drive in the morning with well-fed kids is preferable to leaving after work with hungry and tired little ones. For others, the reverse can be better. Go with what you think will work best for your posse.
Think about how to break the journey up into several legs, separated by stops at interesting spots where the kids can have a play and you can relax and stretch your legs. The jackpot find is a café that has good food and coffee and an excellent play area for kids. A good example is Country Café and Playland in Whanganui. Try it next time you’re passing through, or maybe check out Kowhai Park, or maybe the flying fox at Whanganui Seaside Holiday Park.
How to choose accommodation with children in mind
Two things that will hugely impact how enjoyable your holiday is are what’s available at the accommodation for your children, and are there likely to be other kids there for them to play with?
We understand how important playgrounds are to children and to the sanity of their parents, which is while ALL of our Kiwi Holiday Parks and Accommodation (KHPA) locations around New Zealand are equipped with a playground. These playgrounds are hives of activity and a great place for you kids to mingle with other kids and even make lasting friendships. Some of our parks have giant inflatable pillow trampolines and one even has a skatepark!
To help cater for multiple ages, many of our parks have on-site swimming pools and games rooms with television, pool tables and more to entertain the whole family.
Ask a local — they know best
Another benefit to staying at a KHPA site is the excellent knowledge our independent park owners have of family-friendly activities in their area. Bend their ear about what to do and see in the region with your kids and they’ll see you right. Before you go, here are a few options to try with the family while holidaying in the north or south island.
All the best for your summer holiday with the kids. Easier said than done at times but remember to relax and enjoy your time with them. And of course, drive safe!