New Zealand Activities to Bring Out Your Inner Child, Minus the Real Kids

With the school holidays over, it’s the perfect time for adults to have fun. Photo / ChristchurchNZ

For those who don’t want to be surrounded by clingy, noisy little people when trying to enjoy a tourist attraction, now – term time – is ideal for adults to check off these fun attractions. Bring out your inner child – minus the real kids – in these amazing places around Aotearoa.

Waitangi Mountain Bike Park

Take advantage of the reduced crowds and head to the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. It’s suitable for all experience levels, not just intrepid kids – and if you think your legs aren’t up to the task, hire an e-bike for all the fun, minus the puff. Shuttles run on weekends and there are over 40 km of beautiful trails. There’s even a cafe on-site for pre- or post-fuel essentials,
ridewaitangi.nz

Hobbiton, Matamata

Hobbiton is an amazing experience, and it’s not just for kids – or Lord of the Rings fans. You have to be quite a cold soul not to be enchanted by the 505 ha of rolling sheep-covered pastures and tiny hobbit houses built into the hillsides. It is truly magical and outside of school holiday periods you will have plenty of space and time to walk around and really appreciate all the little details that make this place so special. Escape the gloom of the past two years by stepping into another world.
hobbitontours.com

Hobbiton is an amazing experience, and it's not just for kids.  Photo / Sara Orme
Hobbiton is an amazing experience, and it’s not just for kids. Photo / Sara Orme

Baystation, Mount Maunganui

There are very smart people in the Bay of Plenty. In 1999 Mount Maunganui resident Paul Beckett invented the three-wheeled land yacht and if you go to Baystation you can try your hand at Blokarting – it’s a world of fun. But the excitement doesn’t stop there – there are also Drift Trikes (different from drift-karts or go-karts as they are front wheel drive allowing you much more control while drifting as much as you want) -as well as laser tag and paintball. Perfect fun for a group of friends – especially those who are competitive.
baystation.co.nz

Baystation offers perfect fun for a group of friends - especially competitors.  Photo / Provided;  Bay of Plenty Tourism
Baystation offers perfect fun for a group of friends – especially competitors. Photo / Provided; Bay of Plenty Tourism

3D Trick Art Gallery, Rotorua

This one isn’t just for the teen selfie crowd. It’s really great fun, regardless of age, to “act out” in this series of painted scenes. Signs show you exactly where to stand so you can really look like you’ve been trapped by a giant squid, whether you’re standing next to Venice’s canals, sitting in Van Gogh’s painting or riding the peak of a geyser – even clinging to the edge of a cliff. Perfect if you feel the need to take life a little less seriously (don’t we all need that right now?)
3dtrickart.co.nz

Stage yourself in this series of painted scenes at the 3D Trick Art Gallery, Rotorua.  Photo / Destination Rotorua
Stage yourself in this series of painted scenes at the 3D Trick Art Gallery, Rotorua. Photo / Destination Rotorua

Dinosaur House, Raetihi

Although a dinosaur house doesn’t quite sound like an adult experience, this incredible space in tiny Raetihi is home to the largest private collection of dinosaur memorabilia in New Zealand; and well worth a visit. It is the passion project of Ian and Sarah Moore and contains dinosaur skeletons, fossils and life-size models – some animatronics. True collectors, the couple even own the costume worn by Sam Neill in one of the real Jurassic Park films. Watch documentaries, play retro games in the dinosaur arcade (you know you feel like it), and meet real life lizards. Be sure to research the owners as they’ll point out incredible artifacts you might otherwise overlook – like the “chickenosaurus”, a reverse-engineered chicken embryo from Harvard – with a frightening amount of genetic similarity to a dinosaur.
dinosaurhouse.co.nz

Tāwhiti Museum, Hāwera

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s the perfect time to visit this fascinating and widely acclaimed attraction. The Tāwhiti Museum houses a mix of life-size exhibits and scale models to showcase Taranaki’s legacy in a series of super-realistic exhibits. Nigel Ogle’s attention to detail is unmatched – he does everything, down to every little tree in every epic scene, by hand. You’ll spend much longer than expected getting lost in these incredibly captivating depictions of our past. On the same site is the Traders and Whalers experience, where you’ll float in a small boat for a fascinating journey through Taranaki’s history and sometimes turbulent past. The Wētā workshop was involved in its construction, so you know it will be an extraordinary experience.
tawhitimuseum.co.nz

Gannet Beach Adventures, Hastings

This four-hour adventure along the rugged coast from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers on vintage American tractors is fun for all ages. Even if you’ve seen gannets in other parts of New Zealand, you’ll be surprised how close you get to this majestic colony of birds and their hilarious, prickly, chirping antics. It’s a breathtaking part of the country and an incredibly fun way to enjoy it. Don’t forget your phone or camera because you’re going to want to capture the breathtaking coastal scenery every five seconds.
gannets.com

Gannet Beach Adventures will appeal to anyone of any age.  Photo / Kirsten Simcox
Gannet Beach Adventures will appeal to anyone of any age. Photo / Kirsten Simcox

Wētā Workshop, Wellington

While it’s definitely very cool for anyone (cinephile or not) to see behind the scenes how The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, District 9 and more were made, the Thunderbirds are Go exhibit is less known. but a super fun part of the Wellington Wētā experience. You can explore the actual filming scene for Wētā’s reboot of the original series; think miniature Tracy Island in all detail, Lady Penelope’s mansion, and more. be a real trip down memory lane.
tours.wetaworkshop.com/wellington

Highland Motorsport and Tourism Park, Cromwell

Despite the name, this one isn’t just for gas-heads or people with kids. There is so much fun to be had in Highlands. Rent bikes from Trail Journeys for Power Hour before the motorsport park opens (you can bike the track itself before the cars get on it) and enjoy go-kart racing, speed taxi ride , the Highlands Museum – lots of hands-on fun for all ages – and the famous Loo with a View. There is also a quirky sculpture park for endless selfie possibilities.
highlands.co.nz

Christchurch Adventure Park

This is the perfect time to head to Christchurch Adventure Park, as there are no crowds during the school holidays. Whether you just fancy a scenic ride on the 1.8km gondola and a stroll to take in the views, or you’re looking for a mountain bike or zipline thrill, this is the place. The zip line is the longest and highest in New Zealand, but the guides are amazing at making it so fun for everyone from nervous beginners to seasoned adventurers.
christchurchadventurepark.com

This is the perfect time for adults to head to Christchurch Adventure Park, as there are no crowds during the school holidays.  Photo / ChristchurchNZ
This is the perfect time for adults to head to Christchurch Adventure Park, as there are no crowds during the school holidays. Photo / ChristchurchNZ

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

There is always something magical about a glow worm trip. Even more so without twenty parents all trying to get their kids to sit still and let others enjoy the experience. The trip to the Te Anau Glow-worm Caves begins with a cruise around the western shores of Lake Te Anau on a scenic cruiser before joining a guide underground for a shimmering and enchanting show of bioluminescence in a 12-year-old cave. 000 years old with a torsion network. limestone passages, sculpted rock, whirlpools and an underground waterfall.
realnz.com/en/experiences/glowworm-caves/te-anau-glowworm-caves

Tekapo Springs

Non-school holidays are the perfect time for couples or groups of friends to visit Tekapo Springs. Dive into the hot pools and enjoy a massage if you’re feeling grown up. Or take on the waterslide and inflatable obstacle course if you want to unleash your inner child. No judgment here. There’s also plenty of winter fun to be had with tubing and ice skating.
tekaposprings.co.nz

Oamaru Steampunk HQ

This kind of Victorian-era space meets futuristic quirk has to be experienced to be believed, but it’s fair to say that everyone will find something fascinating at Steampunk HQ in Ōamaru. The interactive museum is full of retro-futuristic art and lots to discover. It’s essentially a treasure trove of sounds, lights, bizarre gadgets and ghostly figures, with strange creatures made from scrap metal and a large “steampunked” haul yard outside. Don’t even try to imagine what it is, go for it.
steampunkoamaru.co.nz

Steampunk HQ: This kind of Victorian-era space that meets the quirky and the futuristic has to be experienced to be believed.  Photo / Cindy Mottelet
Steampunk HQ: This kind of Victorian-era space that meets the quirky and the futuristic has to be experienced to be believed. Photo / Cindy Mottelet

Stewart Island

Stewart Island has limited accommodation and many people wanting to visit its beautiful coastline, so take advantage of the non-school holiday periods to visit. In 2019, this stunning part of New Zealand received Dark Sky Sanctuary accreditation from the International Dark Sky Association. It is therefore a wonderful place to see the southern sky at its best. Meet the local wildlife, take a walk, kayak or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
stewartisland.co.nz

For more travel inspiration, head over to newzealand.com/nz.

Check traffic light settings and Department of Health advice before traveling at covid19.govt.nz

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