Destination NZ – three places I’d like to take my toddler

New Zealand is such a tourist mecca – I run into eager, wide-eyed travellers everywhere I go. One question that I love to ask people is – “if you had to go back to ONE place for a week, where would it be?” You see, if you ask people ‘what was your favourite place?’ they can pontificate for half an hour and never come up with a solid answer, because they just loved it all. But to spend a week in a place – usually that gets down to the nitty gritty, and they come up with the goods.

This evening I turned the question back on myself. If I had a week, with the husband and toddler, to spend in ONE place in NZ that I’ve visited fleetingly before (with a realistic budget…dreams are free Matakauri Lodge) where would it be?

I think it would be a toss-up between three places (not sure how that would work with a coin toss?!)

1) Marlborough Sounds – the Queen Charlotte Sound Track is simply stunning, and with all the accommodation options along the way, you could incorporate a day or two fishing and biking along with your walk. We hiked the track over Easter with an extended family group a few years ago (two grandfathers right through to my four month old niece in a front pack!) and we had such a blast, I know my son would love it. I’d definitely get out on a boat and explore more of the waterways. The region’s food and wine are a pretty big drawcard as well…!

2009 memory stick 515

2) Rotorua Lakes – there’s just something about Mt Tarawera that fascinates me. It has such a brooding, heavy shouldered presence, contrasted with the tranquil lake and verdant native bush. I’d love to hire a lake house, and explore around the area with the fam. The new Lake Tarawera trail is a day hike that wends its way to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own geothermal hot pool in the loamy sand, then have a water taxi pick you up for the return trip (a good idea with toddler in tow).We’d need to take the backpack along for this 13km effort for when he got tired of walking. Lake Okataina is another atmosphere-soaked destination nearby that is not mentioned in all the guidebooks. Just driving along the access road you could imagine dinosaurs stepping out of the dense bush either side of you. The road ends at the lake’s edge, where a cool old skool lodge perches, and beautiful walks and swimming await. We’d pack the lifejackets and SUPs.


3) Kaikoura. I have driven through this stunning region so.many.times. and not stopped because I’ve had to either make it onto a ferry at Picton, or high-tail it on through to Christchurch. It has always taken my breath away…sorry for the cliché, but this time it is true. I want to take my wee lad to see the baby seals learning to swim in the waterfall pool, to witness the majesty of those Sperm whales spouting and diving in close proximity to the shore, to gorge ourselves on seafood and get out on the peninsula as the sunset paints it pastel. The Kaikoura range rises dramatically skyward behind the rocky shore and there are some spectacular alpine hikes on my list, too. A week to drink it all in? Yes, please.

So those are three places that I have been to, but haven’t fully experienced. Now, places that we HAVEN’T been to at all justify a post of their own (Abel Tasman National Park! Stewart Island! East Cape! Port Jackson! You’ll keep…)

Tell me – where in New Zealand would you really like to go back to?

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  • Jane Frazerhurst
    20/11/2015 at 3:39 pm

    I haven’t been but really want to do the Queen Charlotte track and the Otago Rail trail.

  • Jo
    02/12/2015 at 2:14 pm

    This makes me super happy because we’re off to do the Queen Charlotte with Toby (17months) in a few weeks! Yay NZ.

  • Michelle
    03/12/2015 at 9:29 am

    Jo, you will have the most amazing time! I’m jealous 🙂