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New Zealand South Island

Take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola New Zealand's South Island is home to Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand.  It has heaps of activities for kids and families both in the city centre and its surrounds.  It was founded and settled in the 1850's by the British and still holds a strong English resemblance.  The Avon  River twists its way through the city and offers beautiful tree lined banks for feeding the ducks or relxing.  Hagley Park is centrally located and offers sports grounds, playgrounds, bike paths and walking tracks.  The city is easy to get around on foot and it's main square Cathedral Square is a hive of activity with buskers, markets, chess games and a large Information Centre.

Akaroa is located on the Banks Peninsula around 90 minutes from Christchurch and would have to be one of the prettiest places in New Zealand. It still has a French feel to the town with many of the old building and cottages still present.  There is a town walk taking in many of the local historical buildings, maps are available from the information centre in the main street.  There are dozens of local cafes and restaurants, but for families you can't go past the fish and chip shop opposite the beach on beach road.  You may have to queue put it's cheap and good.  You can take Harbour cruises spotting dolphins, seals and penguins, kayaking tours, paddle boats or even swim with the world's smallest dolphin The Hectors dolphin.

seal lions in New zealandKaikoura, the name means meal of crayfish.  It is well known for being a top fishing town and has a strong Maori history.  Just of the coast the water is hundreds of metres deep.  The mountains make a spectacular backdrop to the fishing village.  Today, Kaikoura's eco-tourism activities bring people from far and wide.  The seals bask on the rocks within metres from the shore, whale watching tours depart most days and dolphins can be seen frolicking in the offshore waters.  The clifftop walk and shoreline walk depart from the Peninsula carpark and can be tackled by kids.  Around 2 hours from Christchurch it is a pleasant drive through wine country and along a rugged coastal strip.   

Dunedin is a great place to holiday with kidsDunedin is the South Island's second largest city. It's a trendy city, shaped around a central octagon housing art galleries, cafes, restaurants and bars.  Dunedin is home to the worlds steepest street, Cadbury's Chocolate Factory and the Taieri Gorge Railway.  This four hour return scenic rail trip is one of Dunedin's most popular attractions. Within 30 minutes drive from the city centre you can be on the secluded beaches of the Otago Peninsula with penguins, sea lions and albatross's. There are a number of great tramps to do in the region and wildlife is abundant. 

Hanmer Springs is The South Island's favourite hot spring destination.  A quaint village located just 90 minutes north west of Christchurch or inland from Kiakoura.  There are great walks or mountain bike tracks in the nearby forest.  Snow skiing in the winter, as well as bungy jumping, quad biking, horse treks, jet boating and rafting for the adventurous.  Many of these activities have been adapted so kids can participate.  The drawcard for families though, would have to be the Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve located in the centre of town. Family holidays in Queenstown There are heap of different pools ranging in temperature including a family section complete with water slides.  The town is easy to get around and has to win some record for the most mini golf attractions per capita.  A top spot to visit.

Queenstown offers stunning scenery, world class ski fields and a reputation as being the Adrenalin capital of the world.  There will be little down time in this fun place.  Accommodation choices for every budget plus shopping, restaurants and dozens of activities make this a great destination for families. 

Ski New Zealand with kidsThe first people to discover Queenstown's rare beauty were Maori pounamu (jade) hunters. Then came the gold miners, in search of another kind of treasure. From  across to The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown's environment is majestic, awe inspiring and almost unbelievable. Now tourists visit in their droves to spend long summer days hiking, mountain biking and doing aquatic activities on crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. The brilliant reds and golds of autumn colour the trees, inspiring photographers and golfers alike. In winter, snow transforms the region into a remarkable alpine playground for skiers and snowboarders.

The currency is the NZ Dollar, food is similar to whats on offer in Australia.  ATM's are widely avialable and English is the main language. Their seasons are similar to Australia but generally with cooler temperatures due to the country being further from the equator.  The weather can change abruptly sunny one moment, spring showers the next. Dress in layers, so that you can adapt quickly to temperature changes.  They have a snow on both islands during the winter.

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