When traveling to a foreign country with your family, the youngsters in your group are likely to get excited about seeing the exotic wildlife there. If they can get up close and personal with the animals, all the better.
Planning on taking your brood to New Zealand? Here are our suggestions for a family friendly holiday itinerary that focuses on wildlife viewing, starting with a trip south after hiring a car rental from Auckland to Wellington.
Whales in Wellington
New Zealand's capital city of Wellington offers more than just cultural attractions, dining establishments and a great nightlife. When visiting during the months of February and March, you are likely to see both whales and dolphins if you hang out at Wellington Harbor long enough. You may want to rent a kayak or take a tour of the harbor for the best opportunities to see these magnificent marine mammals up close.
More North Island Sights
While you are visiting the southern point of the North Island, there are several more trips to make in order to see some of New Zealand's native species.
Head to the coastline surrounding Wellington's suburbs in order to see the world's smallest penguin species, Little Blue penguins. These flightless blue birds nest up and down the southern coast in boxes placed there by the Wellington Zoo. Your best chance of seeing them are right at dusk, when mama and papa head home to the family burrow. Do pay attention to the signs indicating "penguin crossings" as many of them must cross the road on their way home.
A two and a half hour drive southeast of Wellington will bring you to Cape Palliser, which is home to lots of fur seal colonies. These seals are not quite what zoo goers are used to as they feature external ears and a set of very large flippers. If you want to see the cute babies with their mums, plan your New Zealand holiday for the spring months of August through October. Seal Coast Safari offers guided tours of the best places to find fur seals.
Head the opposite direction, west, to visit Owhiro Bay and the Red Rocks Walkway. Although there are not any zoos or parks here, you are sure to catch glimpses of the wild horses and goats bought over by early New Zealand settlers – a magnificent sight!
If your family is up for a boat ride, they are sure to enjoy a trip to the Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. Located a short distance off the southern coast of the North Island and accessible by boat from Paraparamu Beach, only 160 people are allowed to visit the island each day in order to minimize the environmental impact. You'll definitely want to make plans ahead of time for this day trip from Wellington but it's well worth it in order to see native birds such as Kaka parrots, kiwi and kereru pigeons.
Looking for some of New Zealand's rarer and endangered species? A trip to Zealandia and the Karori Sanctuary, located just minutes from downtown Wellington, provides access to trails where you and your family will find tuatara, the "living dinosaur", the flightless takahe bird and New Zealand's only native owl, the morepork. At night, guided tours along the trails allow visitors to view some of the country's more exotic nocturnal animals.
To plan a family friendly holiday viewing New Zealand's wildlife, start with a flight arriving at the Auckland Airport. Then hire an affordable car rental from Auckland to Wellington in order to see the most during your stay in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Your kids are sure to love this itinerary revolving around the beautiful, strange and exotic animals of New Zealand – and you will, too!