Travel New Zealand with baby: Top 7 places & helpful information
New Zealand was the country we stayed by the longest (2.5 months) and it was absolutely worth it!
I honestly couldn’t pick a single country if you asked me which was one was our favorite but if you would fancy emigrating somewhere, New Zealand has the perfect package. Warm mediterranean climate, low humidity, beautiful nature, exotic jungle, stable government, low crime rate, low population density, friendly people, no deadly animals, no mosquito born diseases, good hygiene, good infrastructure and it finally is so far away from everything, that it is probably the safest place on earth.
North or South Island?
Of course it is a question of time if you want to travel New Zealand with baby. The North Island has better beaches in general and the South Island satisfies alpine enthusiasts. However, you can also find great beaches on the South Island and alpine trekking on the North Island. If you consider doing mainly the North Island and have bit of time left, I would strongly recommend to see the northern tip of the South Island (Marlborogh Sounds and Abel Tasman).
Although the South Island is so diverse and stunning there is one thing that really annoyed us: sand flies. The further south you go, the more sandflies you get. It can gets as bad as you cannot sit outside or lay on the beach.
If you imagine driving with a camper van through New Zealand you certainly associate some kind of freedom and adventurous feeling with it, as well as saving some money. Surprisingly, we found that all of the above is quite limited. Why? First of all, a lot of tourists have this idea and traveling with a camper van through New Zealand is „the thing to do“. Therefore, there are quite a lot of them. In order not to penetrate beautiful places with camper vans, it is often forbidden to camp at scenic areas. We met a couple of travelers with camper vans who either ended up camping on parking areas or on camping grounds. Moreover, it is quite expensive. Per night in a camper van you will pay approx. 150 NZD (the most common one is Juicy) plus the camping ground fee which is around 25 NZD.
If you stay in Airbnb’s, you will get the chance to see how people live. We stayed in houses on farms, across beaches, in the jungle. Each of them with a warm and individual atmosphere. We almost always felt home. If you want to save some money, go for a private room in a shared house. With a little less comfort you will get to know interesting Kiwi’s, their stories and they are more than happy to show you around. A truly unique experience! We bought a car on (trade me) for 1500 NZD and sold it for 780 NZD. We could have easily sell it for more if we would have been a bit more flexible but we wanted to keep it until the very last day. On average we payed per Airbnb night 119 NZD (there were some very nice places included!) plus 9 NZD per day for the car.
What to bring for the baby?
You will need a car seat if you are planning to buy a car. The rental car and camper van companies offer car seats to rent. However, it is cheaper to bring your own.
Most Airbnb’s don’t have baby beds. Therefore, you need to bring something your baby can sleep on. A bulky option is a travel cot. We generally use a baby sleeping tent. As mosquitoes are usually not a problem, we just used two soft pads and a blanket as a mattress on the floor.
In most cafes and restaurant you will find high chairs.
Clothes: I would recommend to take both, long and short rompers. It gets warm during the day in summer but you might also have some chilly days and evenings.
As you might have guessed, you will find diapers / nappies, wipes, baby food and formula milk in all supermarkets. Babyfood without added sugar or salt is also available.
When it comes to formula milk, you will find brands that are common in Australia and Southeast Asia. We used a brand that is widely available in Asia-Pacific, S-26. We had never problems with it, as it was well tolerated by our baby.
Although New Zealand with baby can get quite expensive there are ways to improve your budget 🙂 Try to get a house sitting for a few days or weeks. We were successful with Kiwi House Sitters and were sitting a luxury house incl. a pool with a great view!
If you want to make any kind of trip, e.g. sailing, Hobbiton etc., first check if there are deals available online. Especially bookme has great deals.
Finally, you get a place to sleep and food for 4 hours of work a day on helpX. Maybe someone needs a babysitter?
New Zealand with Baby – Top 7 places
1. Abel Tasman (South Island)
Turquoise water, exotic jungle, perfect white sand beaches. Even in high season it’s not difficult to find an almost empty perfect beach. This national park is an absolute highlight for everyone!
How to get around? Hop on a water taxi to one of the beaches and jungle tracks. They can pick you up at the same spot or somewhere else, if you want to hike. We recommend taking one of the big boats, as they have much more space for your baby to move around.
However, a sailing trip will give you the most unforgettable experience! Yes, we did it with baby. It was really easy. Really! Go for a catamaran boat as they have more space. We highly recommend Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures. They also offer swim wests for babies.
2. Coromandel Peninsula (North Island)
It’s a mountainous area with white sand beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. There are some junge tracks for hiking lovers, too. Moreover, there is a hot water beach where you dig a hole on the beach and warm water starts rising into it.
It is very baby friendly. You can access many beaches by car or walk for 30 minutes. Some beaches have shaded grass areas next to it- This is perfect for little peanuts! We also met a lot of parents with young children if you want to socialize a little.
3. Hobbyton (North Island)
Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings movie set) is probably the most cutest place to take baby photos. Your little one will look like a hobbit! I have to admit that you will not be the only one on the set. However, seeing such a famous movie set in real life and looking back at those adorable photos is worth it!
4. West Coast of the South Island
Just driving along the west coast will reveal nature’s pure dramatic beauty. You will find yourself between a rocky mountainous coast with wide unspoiled black sand beaches and wild jungle with lots of caves. As this area gets more and more popular among NZ tourists, check it out as soon as possible! If you are looking for a spot to stay on the way: Fox River is a prefect location. Jungle trecks, huge caves, beaches – everything around the corner and hardly anyone there! Of course the next supermarket is miles away and no reception at all. Yep, this is for nature lovers!
5. Bay of Islands (North Island)
Islands, beaches, sailing or boat trips – sounds like a perfect vacation spot, right? Although popular among Aucklanders, it’s not too crowded. The best way to get around are water taxis, ferries or sailing boats. Again, catamarans are the perfect baby friendly boats. We highly recommend Zig Zag Charters, as the boat is huge and has so much space for babies to crawl around. They provide baby life jackets, as well as an unforgettable delicious lunch. Or maybe it just tastes great as you get hungry on boats 😉
6. Marlborough Sounds (South Island)
This is an area with hilly islands and wine regions. There are few people who live there. Most of them moved there by choice to escape the city stress and wanted to get back to nature. The ones living on the islands live even more isolated and see other people maybe once a month! You won’t find there great beaches but it is still worth a visit for many reasons: There are great boat trips to show you around, a relaxed wine area and several hiking tracks. The most unique boat tour is a tour with the mailboat. You will see how people live on the islands and hear great stories by the mailman who probably has the most special mail delivery vehicle! However, be aware that the trip takes a whole day on the boat.
Moreover, the Queen Charlotte Trecka is beautiful hike along some nice beaches. Get a cheap boat taxi and hike back towards the start of the track.
7. Tongariro National Park (North Island)
This national park is a must for hiking addicts! This is the place of Lord of the Ring’s Mordor. Moreover, it is home to the most famous hike in New Zealand „Alpine Crossing“. Unfortunately, this 8 hour hike with often unstable and freezing weather conditions is not suitable for babies or small children. We started this hike beginning from the end for 3 hours. The people, that we met, were about to finish it and they didn’t look too happy. Nevertheless, there are a lot of hiking routes that are great with a baby carrier. There, you will also meet much less tourists! Our favorite was a hike passing a tremendous waterfall (Mangawhero Falls) and „Mordor“ with stunning views on the great volcano.