Lake Tekapo Canterbury Vaughan Brookfield 1597 1

Frequently asked questions for families

We understand that you probably have many questions about your dream journey to New Zealand. Below you can find answers to frequently asked questions for families travelling to New Zealand. Have a read and get in touch with our travel specialists to answer any further questions you may have.


What type of accommodation do you recommend for families?

We have personally selected a range of great places to stay in New Zealand that are suitable for children of all ages. We know this because we travel there with our children. Imagine a treehouse surrounded by native bush. A cottage by the beach. A lakeside villa. A countryside farm stay.

In our experience, families enjoy spending time together and when it comes to cooking we can arrange accommodation with fully equipped kitchens and barbecues. We can also recommend local restaurants and cafes in each region.

What sort of comfort levels can we choose from?

We have a range of accommodation available from comfortable to pure luxury. Choose from a quirky bed and breakfast from £150 per night to a luxury lodge from £500 per night. We don’t recommend staying in hostels. We can ensure that you will always have your own private bathroom.

Will the children always have their own room?

We can select accommodation that has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to suit your family.


Do we need a car?

To make the most out of your holiday, we recommend a self-drive holiday in New Zealand. You have complete freedom to travel wherever you want and discover hidden gems, far away from mass-tourism. It allows you to stay in small-scale accommodation and meet the locals. Wanting a break from driving? We can organise domestic flights or scenic train journeys for parts of your trip.

Do we need a 4WD?

To travel to 99% of our accommodation in New Zealand, you won’t need a 4WD. But there are plenty of roads within national parks that can be only visited with a 4WD. If you enjoy driving across dirt roads, then a 4WD could be a good option for you.

Is it safe to drive in New Zealand?

Yes, New Zealand roads are simply beautiful and easy to drive. There isn’t a lot of traffic so you can enjoy a relaxed pace, have time to soak up the spectacular scenery and stop by the river for a picnic lunch.

How much time will we be spending in the car?

The driving distance between each accommodation is generally 2 to 4 hours and you will generally stay at each place for 2 to 4 nights. This enables you to completely enjoy the best of New Zealand while travelling at a relaxed pace. There are too many amazing things to see and you don’t want to be stuck in a car for hours and hours with the kids.

Accommodation steps away from the beach | New Zealand holiday
Stay in unique accommodation steps away from the beach
Travel at a relaxed pace and find the hidden gems of the West Coast Route
Travel at a relaxed pace and find the hidden gems of the West Coast Route
© TravelEssence


What is the flight time to New Zealand?

The average flight time to New Zealand is between 25 and 30 hours including a short stopover but this depends on the airline.

What flight schedule do you recommend for families?

Are you travelling with young children? We recommend travelling at a relaxed pace. You will have at least one stopover on your way to New Zealand and we can select a flight schedule which provides you with plenty of time to make use of an airport hotel dayroom. Have a lie-down, go for a swim and freshen up before your next flight. Start your holiday relaxed and stress-free.

Which airline should we choose?

Generally, we choose to travel with Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air New Zealand. However, we have contracts with all the major airline companies. We will ensure you fly with a suitable airline to enhance your journey.

Can we book our own flights?

Yes, you can. We also can arrange a New Zealand holiday without flights.

Which stopover destination do you recommend?

Our two favourite and most popular stopover destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore. This is because of the convenient location of both cities. You’re already half-way to your destination and both cities offer plenty of opportunities for exploring, sightseeing, shopping and relaxing. If you have more time, you can consider stopping over in Bali, the Cook Islands or Fiji. Each a tropical haven with friendly locals, exotic cuisine and stunning beaches.

Can we book flight tickets without a return date?

As a tour operator, it’s only possible to book return flights on fixed dates. If you want to book an open date return flight, we recommend to book it directly with your preferred airline. Please note: You will not be able to enter New Zealand on a one-way ticket on a tourist visa.

How can we minimise the impact of jet lag?

We will select the best suitable flight schedule. During your stopover, we will organise a hotel stay or a day room at the airport, so you can shower, rest and relax. We will ensure that you arrive relaxed in New Zealand. This will all help you get used to the time difference.

Treat yourself and fly to New Zealand in First Class
Treat yourself and fly to New Zealand in First Class
Enjoy a relaxing poolside stopover in Fiji
Enjoy a relaxing poolside stopover in Fiji


What types of activities do you recommend?

Travelling with children between 0 - 5 years

We recommend wildlife activities with penguins, seals and dolphins. Scenic flights, short sailing trips and farm tours are also a great option for the kids.

Travelling with children between 5 - 12 years

We recommend slightly more active activities, for example, cycling, sailing and zip lining. We offer plenty of half-day tours that are suitable for families.

Travelling with children 12+ years

Surfing, Maori culture experiences, whale watching, rafting, mountain biking and snorkelling are great options for teenagers. Diving is also an option for children over 16.

Health & safety

Do you provide assistance in case of an emergency?

Yes, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call in case of an emergency. Our local hosts are also there to assist you if you need. We work directly with all of our hosts in New Zealand, so if anything were to happen, we can act fast if necessary.

Is it safe to travel in New Zealand?

Yes, overall it’s a safe destination to visit. New Zealand has a low crime rate and generally, New Zealanders live a safe lifestyle. And Kiwis are renowned for being friendly. Of course, we still recommend using your common sense as you would if you were at home.


Is there food in New Zealand that kids will enjoy?

There are plenty of food and drink choices in New Zealand. You can always find something the kids will enjoy, even in the most remote places. Most restaurants have a children's menu and supermarkets have a range of products similar to British supermarkets.

We want to travel with our family before the kids start school, is New Zealand a suitable option?

Yes, New Zealand is a fantastic destination for an extended family holiday. Travel at a relaxed pace and enjoy precious family time in one of the most stunning countries in the world. The longer you have, the more time you can spend in each region and not feel rushed to hop between places.

What kind of wildlife can we expect in New Zealand?

New Zealand is well known for its native birds including the iconic Kiwi, Kea and Albatross. You can also have close encounters with marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

A man in a kayak in the fords with towering cliffs
Kayak the mystical waters of Doubtful Sound
Spot seals and other unique wildlife
Spot seals and other unique wildlife

Travel Time

How much time do we need?

You need at least three weeks in New Zealand to make your journey worthwhile. Travelling for 5 to 6 weeks allows you to see both islands. If you have less time, you can choose one island or see a few regions of both islands.

What travel pace do you recommend?

We recommend a relaxed travel pace, instead of rushing past all the highlights and returning home exhausted. Spend 2-4 nights at each location and discover each place through the eyes of the locals.

Do you recommend travelling to New Zealand during the winter (July - August)?

Yes! Winter in New Zealand is beautiful. It is less crowded and the snow-capped mountains are stunning. Go skiing in the South Island and in the North Island, you might even find yourself walking outside in a t-shirt. We can help you select regions and activities that are best suited to the wintertime.

What is it like travelling during the Christmas period?

Christmas time is New Zealand's peak season, Kiwis are enjoying their 6-week summer school holidays during this time. You can expect it to be more crowded and expensive than in other months. It’s strongly recommended to book 9-12 months in advance if you would like to travel during this period.


Should I pre-book or travel on the go?

If you book your holiday in advance, we can organise the best route, accommodations and activities for the best price. We will do all the work for you to create your dream holiday. If you travel on the go, you will stay at the last choice/leftover accommodations and often there is no availability.

You may also not be able to join an activity because it is full. Booking last-minute domestic flights are also generally more expensive than pre-booked flights. If you want to make the most out of your holiday, please contact us.

How long in advance do I need to book?

We work with small-scale accommodation and activity suppliers, therefore, they are generally fully booked very quickly. We recommend booking your journey to New Zealand 9 to 12 months in advance. Of course, we can organise a trip 3 months before departure but the options might be limited and ticket prices may be higher than expected.

Why should we book with TravelEssence?

Every holiday we create is personalised to individual wants and interests. Providing small-scale, hand-selected accommodation and personal activities, all tailored into wonderful and perfectly organised journeys. We are New Zealanders, or have lived and worked there and have plenty of experience travelling New Zealand with our own children. Our local knowledge makes the difference.

Do you have presentations especially for families?

Yes, please take a look at our destination day page here.

Our travel advisor Michiel sharing his local knowledge
Our travel advisor Michiel sharing his local knowledge
Conquer the Fox Glacier all year round
Conquer the Fox Glacier all year round


How is the WIFI and internet in New Zealand?

Please be aware that some remote accommodations, Downunder have limited WiFi access or none at all. In some places, you may also need to pay for WiFi and internet access. This, of course, varies from accommodation to accommodation.

Do you offer group tours?

We specialize in personalised journeys. We don’t offer group holiday packages, however, we can include day trips or multi-day activities with small groups within your itinerary.

Can we arrange a babysitter?

Some accommodations provide this service but not all.

Can we purchase baby products in New Zealand?

You can purchase infant formula, baby food and diapers pretty much anywhere in New Zealand. If your child has specific needs, please check this information before travelling. We recommend purchasing these items in the bigger cities as it is most likely harder to find in small remote towns.


How much does a holiday to New Zealand cost?

This depends on your choice of level of comfort, flights and time of travel. Please take a look at some of our suggested journeys to get an idea of the possibilities.

Beautiful sunset | New Zealand holiday with kids
Take your family on a journey of a lifetime
© Joshua McCormack

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