Travelling with a Baby: A Short Guide to New Zealand

It’s a long way from North America, but New Zealand is an easy place to travel with a baby once you’re there. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a fabulous destination if you’re keen to change seasons altogether. Kiwis are naturally friendly and helpful, and you’ll fall in love with the diverse and idyllic scenery.

Note: This guide is by no means comprehensive! It is based purely on my own experience. This guide focuses mainly on travel with a baby, and only provides information about the locations we actually visited. There is far more to do in New Zealand, so be sure to visit the link at the bottom for more information. 

When to Go

This is a year-round destination, and when you go depends on which season you’re after. Try to go outside the high season (December to February) if you want to avoid summer crowds and higher prices. We went from February 21 to March 21 and experienced beautiful temperatures and a lovely transition to Fall.

Fantail Falls, Mt. Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.
Fantail Falls, Mt. Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Getting Around

Everything here requires driving, whether it’s getting from one town to another or accessing a trailhead. Also, even if places look close on a map, the windy roads add lots of extra driving time. Since flexibility is key when you’re travelling with a baby, I highly recommend you rent a car and book a car seat if you aren’t bringing your own. Motorhomes are extremely popular in New Zealand, but do your research if you’re going that route. Make sure you’ve got somewhere safe and comfortable for the baby to sleep, and also consider where you’ll put a car seat. Often the only safe place for a car seat is in the very rear of the motorhome, so unless you’re willing to ride in the back, you might not have easy access to the baby while you’re in motion.

Where to Stay/What to Eat

You’ll find options of all kinds throughout New Zealand, but most popular amongst families are campgrounds and holiday parks (the two big chains are Top 10 and Kiwi Holiday Parks). Holiday parks offer numerous accommodation styles, from parking for motorhomes and RVs, to tent plots and small cabins. We opted for the small cabins as they cost just a little bit more than a campsite and included bedding, a fridge, kettle, and access to the communal kitchen (unless you book a self-catered cabin, which includes a two-burner stove).

For all meals, you’ll have no problem finding a restaurant, café or well-stocked grocery store that suits your needs. Just be sure to check the map to see if there is food available at to your destination or if you need to get it en route. Breakfast we sometimes ate out as a family, while lunch was often done as a picnic outside or snacks in the car. For dinners we self-catered so that we could save money and be close to the baby when she needed to go down for the night. Be sure to bring a travel high chair (check out this carrier with a built-in chair harness!).

The Beach at Hokitika, New Zealand. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.
The Beach at Hokitika, New Zealand. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

What to Do

New Zealand is known for its world-class, multi-day trekking, but there are plenty of short hikes you can do with your baby. I recommend bringing along a soft-structured baby carrier for hiking. Look for tracks under an hour and a half long, such as Iron Mountain, Haast Pass Lookout, and Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island, and Cathedral Cove on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula.

Beaches are fun places to take babies and you’ll find many in New Zealand, particularly on the North Island. Our favourite was Hahei Beach on the Coromandel. It is wonderfully scenic and offers ample shade for keeping the baby out of the sun.

You’ll also find natural hot pools on the North Island, particularly in or near Rotorua. We particularly enjoyed visiting Kerosene Creek. This naturally heated creek has sections that are cool enough for the baby to splash around in (if you head downstream). Otherwise just be sure to test the waters first because they can be quite hot!

Last but not least, there are wonderful grassy parks throughout New Zealand where you can let the baby loose. We particularly enjoyed the waterfront in Wanaka, on the South Island, where we’d take a picnic lunch and enjoy the views.

Kerosene Creek near Rotorua. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.
Kerosene Creek near Rotorua. The water closer to the falls was too hot, but downstream was just perfect. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

What to See

There is plenty you can see from the car or roadside, making it easy to sightsee with a baby. Our highlights on the South Island included the Summit Road on the Akaroa Peninsula, viewing Mt. Cook from the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center, the drive from Wanaka to Haast through Mount Aspiring National Park, Jackson Bay and the drive up The Coast Road to Punakaiki. North Island highlights included the artsy city of Wellington, Mt. Taranaki, the Forgotten World Highway, and Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula.

For more information, visit

→ Check out my New Zealand Travel Logs! 

I’m more than happy to answer specific questions if you have any. Fire away in the comments below!

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

18 thoughts

  1. My youngest was one when we spent three weeks in NZ. He loved it (particularly Cadbury World – num, num). We had a little baby backpack and took him everywhere. In general, it’s a kid-friendly destination.

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand but now even more so! It seems like an extremely kid-friendly place to go. Thank you for sharing these great tips!

  3. Thank you for the overview of what to expect in NZ. We plan to go with an 8 month old baby and take a rental motor home.
    We heard about plagueing sandflies. Did you experience any problems that you could share? If so, where and to what extent?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Frank – I heard about the sandflies before we went, too. I don’t know if it’s a seasonal thing, but they can be bad in certain parts. I don’t remember having much of an issue with them – but the locals sell a repellent. For a baby, there are plenty of all natural bug repellents that I would have no problem spraying on their legs and feet if the sandflies were bad. I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Frank,
      how did the trip go? we are thinking of going in Jan with our (by then) 8 month old and are debating camper van or air bnb. how did you find the camper van with the baby? and which van did you go for, did you have to get a 4 bed one so there was space for the bub?

  4. Hi would you mind sharing details of your itinerary please? Ie how many days in each place. We’re looking to book a very similar trip

    1. Hi Lyn – We moved every 2-5 days. It was WAY too much for us, but that’ll depend on the temperament of your baby. But here’s the order of things, with varying lengths of stays: fly to Auckland then to Christchurch, drive to Akaroa Peninsula, Twizel, Wanaka, Haast, Franz Josef,
      Paparoa National Park, Nelson, Picton to Wellington on ferry, Fielding, Opunake, Turangi, Rotorua, Coromandel (Hahei Beach), Auckland. Let me know if you have any specific questions about these places. 🙂

  5. Wondering if you had brought a stroller what you’d recommend? I have a little cheap stroller and a more durable one that’s heavier/ better for off-road. Wondering if one would be more preferable? I have a soft carrier for hiking with her already. Just trying to figure out the stroller.

    Thank you

    1. Hi! Generally, when I travel internationally I don’t bring a stroller and instead opt for a soft carrier and/or hiking pack. We carried our baby when she was little and otherwise never brought a stroller and that’s how she learned to use her own two feet to get places! When she got tired she could go on one of our backs in the carrier. But that’s not for everyone. Still, for “off-road” I’d say carrier all the way. They are so great for airports where you need your hands free. If you do bring a stroller perhaps a smaller one for walking around towns? How old is your little one? Is he or she used to being carried in a soft carrier?

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing all your tips! Did you end up traveling around in a campervan? And did you bring a play pen for baby? My baby will be 9 months when we plan to head over and we are debating between a campervan or motels but just not sure what the sleep situation would be like in a campervan for baby and if a playpen would fit.

    1. We ended up with a rental car and used a lot of small cabins at holiday parks. Back then it was often a cheap upgrade from a tent pad to a cabin. Honestly, there are so many, it’s worth looking into! Top 10 is a popular chain: We brought a pack and play with us and that was essential.

      My biggest concern about the campervan situation is 1. a van would not allow a pack and play and 2. an RV style forces you to seat the baby in the very back of the van if you’re going to do things safely. That means you can’t reach your child while in transit.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Hello,
    We are thinking of traveling to New Zealand with our 6 month old (or will be at the time). Did you have to do any special things with regard to vaccines?

    1. I think you’ll only need their routine vaccines. But your clinic may recommend an early dose of something considering you’ll be going through airports, etc. Best to inquire!

  8. Hi Meghan, thanks for a great article. My husband and I are planning a 4 week trip to NZ or Canada with our little one who is currently 3 months old. I wondered what your thoughts are on the best age to travel with an under 1 year old? I have heard younger (under 6 months) is best as they still sleep loads and are not mobile so easier to manage, but later in the year may be better to travel weather wise in Canada when she is more like 7-9 months. on the other hand I’m thinking no later than April if we go to NZ as it will get too cold-would you say April is a good time to go? thanks for your advice,

    1. Hi Eleanor – I think every stage has its upsides and downsides. I have travelled with a baby at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 10 months +… I really enjoyed the 9-month mark because they were sturdier, still easy to carry in a backpack or soft carrier and still napped fairly well. You may also find that a young baby has more of a sleep interruption than you’d like (with travel), so it may backfire! It really depends on your baby! April in New Zealand would be lovely. Not too hot but not too cool, either. I think there are great places to visit in Canada any time of the year. You just need the right clothing. 🙂

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