Cultural experiences for kids in NZ | Apollo NZ
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Wellington and the Wairarapa

Looking for great cafes, unique wildlife encounters, and boutique shopping? You’ll find it all and more in the Wellington and Wairarapa region. Wellington, the nation's capital, buzzes with an infectious energy, boasting an arts scene as vibrant as its famed coffee culture. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast overlooking Wellington’s beautiful harbour. Spend an afternoon meeting the wildlife at Wellington Zoo. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love sampling the tasty offerings at Wellington’s renowned cafes and eateries. 

Just a short drive away, the Wairarapa region unfolds with its charming townships, renowned wineries, and lush rural landscapes. Once you’ve ticked off your list of things to do in Wellington, hit the road and start exploring everything on offer in the Wairarapa. We’re talking wineries, cycle trails, artisan producers, and spectacular coastlines boasting unbeatable stargazing.  

No matter what time of year you’re planning your campervan holiday in New Zealand, Wellington and Wairarapa stand out as year-round destinations. In summer, Wellington's waterfront comes alive, perfect for sun-drenched strolls and alfresco dining, while the Wairarapa's golden beaches beckon for lazy afternoons and vibrant sunsets. Autumn transforms the landscape into a tapestry of reds and golds; it's the best time to meander through the Wairarapa's vineyards, savouring the region's renowned pinot noir amidst the fall foliage.

 

Why explore Wellington & Wairarapa by Campervan

There’s no better way to discover Wellington and Wairarapa than with an Apollo campervan. Be as spontaneous or structured as you like. Take your time, travel at your own pace, and truly immerse yourself in everything on offer in this special region. With your own kitchen, bed, and bathroom onboard, travel by Apollo campervan is all about freedom and comfort. A road trip through Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan is all about the freedom to go where you want when you want. With a campervan, your plans are as flexible as your mood, allowing you to soak up moments that you'd miss if you were rushing to meet hotel or tour schedules.

Travelling by campervan isn't just about getting from A to B; it's about the experiences along the way. It's about impromptu picnics at breathtaking overlooks, morning coffees with views that beat any café, and nights spent under a blanket of stars. Fancy spending an extra day exploring a hidden gem you've stumbled upon? Go for it. Every turn in the road offers new possibilities, and with a campervan, you're in the driver's seat!

A campervan holiday in New Zealand, especially through areas like Wellington and the Wairarapa, is a journey into the heart of what makes this part of the world so special. And it's all yours to explore!

 

Things to do in Wellington & Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa are bursting at the seams with activities and sights, catering to every taste and interest. If you’re enjoying a family holiday, you’ll find plenty of great family-friendly things to do in Wellington that promise fun for all ages. And if you’re a foodie looking for a taste of something new, you’ll find no shortage of must-try food in Wellington. Venture into the Wairarapa, and you'll find a peaceful escape with wine tours, scenic hikes, and charming country towns waiting to be explored. 

Top 15 things to do in Wellington Top 15 things to do in Wellington

Top 15 things to do in Wellington

In this helpful guide, we share 15 of the must-do Wellington activities worth adding to your travel itinerary.  But first …

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Popular Wellington & Wairarapa road trips & itineraries

Positioned at the southern end of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington and the Wairarapa region are perfectly placed for unforgettable road trips. Starting from Wellington, you can easily navigate your way through the scenic routes that lead to the Wairarapa, where vineyards, coastlines, and quaint towns await. Whether you're coming from the North Island's urban centres or making the crossing from the South Island, these regions offer fantastic campervan road trip experiences with a variety of itineraries to suit every traveller’s taste. Here are a few worth checking out:

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Thinking of hitting the top of the South Island on a campervan road trip? Great idea! From the lively vibe of Christchurch to the stunning beauty...
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Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 
 

Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Wellington takes you along some of the South Island’s most scenic coastline. There’s a fair bit to see and do along the way, so be sure to take your time and perhaps plan an overnight stay in Kaikoura. This journey includes crossing the Cook Strait by ferry.

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore more of the South Island? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days heading northward, including crossing the Cook Strait by ferry. You may even like to plan an epic road trip and continue on to Auckland. You can arrange to drop off your camper at any of our three branches. 

Auckland

The North Island is packed full of sights and experiences, so why not tick off a few with a road trip from Apollo Auckland to Wellington? The beauty of a campervan trip is that you can stop when you need to, change your route, or take a detour if you spot a signpost pointing to something you’d like to see. 

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Wellington & Wairarapa

 

Climate and seasons in Wellington & The Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa showcase New Zealand's dynamic climate, offering a spectrum of seasonal experiences.

Wellington, known for as the ‘windy city’, presents a temperate maritime climate.

  • Summers (December to February) are pleasant with temperatures averaging around 19°C to 21°C, ideal for beach visits and outdoor cafes.
  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler, calm days, perfect for exploring the city's vibrant arts scene.
  • Winter (June to August) sees temperatures drop to 6°C – 12°C, a time when the region's cultural events come to the forefront.
  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the city with mild temperatures and blooming gardens.

The Wairarapa, while sharing Wellington's temperate traits, often enjoys more pronounced seasonal contrasts, especially in the more rural areas. Expect crisp, frosty mornings in winter, transitioning to warm, dry summers ideal for vineyard tours. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, though June and July can be wetter, making the lush landscapes even more vivid.

 

 

 

 

What to pack

An adventure through Wellington and the Wairarapa in your campervan calls for thoughtful packing. Given the varied climates and the awesome variety of outdoor activities available, ensuring you have the right gear can make all the difference. From essential outdoor apparel to campervan must-haves and sun protection, here's what you should consider packing.

  • Outdoor gear: The great outdoors of Wellington and the Wairarapa invite exploration, so outdoor gear is important. Pack layers to adapt to the changing weather – think breathable fabrics for warm days and insulated, waterproof options for cooler, wetter conditions. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for those planning to tread the numerous trails or wander the vibrant city streets.
  • Campervan add-ons: To make the most of your campervan experience, consider packing some add-ons. A portable barbecue can elevate your dining under the stars, while extra camping chairs and a table (these can be added to your campervan hire) can make your outdoor setup more comfortable.
  • Sun protection: New Zealand's sun can be surprisingly intense, so ample sun protection is essential. A broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV-protected sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat should be on your packing list. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

Nearby attractions and day trips from Wellington

Paekakariki & The Escarpment Track

Just a short drive from Wellington, Paekakariki serves as the gateway to The Escarpment Track, one of the region's most exhilarating walks. This trail offers stunning views of the Kāpiti Coast and the Tasman Sea, making it a favourite among hikers. The track's challenging stair sections and swing bridges add to the adventure, providing a rewarding experience with panoramic vistas at every turn.

Kāpiti Coast & Kāpiti Island

The Kāpiti Coast, with its beautiful beaches and quaint towns, is perfect for a leisurely day trip. For a unique adventure, take a boat to Kāpiti Island, a nature reserve that's home to some of New Zealand's most rare and endangered birds. The island's rich history and conservation efforts, combined with its natural beauty, make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Somes Island

Located in the middle of Wellington Harbour, Somes Island (Matiu) offers a peaceful escape with a rich history. Accessible by ferry, this predator-free scientific reserve boasts a unique blend of natural and historical attractions, including well-preserved WWII-era relics. It's an ideal spot for picnics, short walks, and wildlife spotting, especially for those interested in conservation and history.

Days Bay and the Remutakas

Days Bay, accessible by a scenic ferry ride from Wellington, is known for its vibrant arts scene, cafes, and swimming beach, making it a popular spot for relaxation and recreation. For the more adventurous, a drive through the Remutaka Ranges offers breathtaking views and access to a network of trails in the Remutaka Forest Park, perfect for hiking and biking enthusiasts.

 

 

Nearby attractions and day trips in the Wairarapa

Castle Point Lighthouse

Perched on a scenic clifftop, Castle Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of beauty in the Wairarapa region. This historic lighthouse, accessible via a short, scenic walk, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal spot for photography, wildlife watching, and soaking in the serene beauty of one of New Zealand's most picturesque locations.

Pūtangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser

The Pūtangirua Pinnacles, with their eerie, towering rock formations, offer a landscape that feels like stepping onto another planet. These geological wonders, coupled with a visit to nearby Cape Palliser, where you can climb New Zealand's tallest lighthouse, make for an unforgettable day trip full of adventure and natural beauty.

Greytown

Greytown is a charming Victorian country village known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, boutique shopping, and artisanal eateries. Strolling through the tree-lined streets, you'll find a delightful mix of antique stores, galleries, and cafes that exude a quaint, laid-back vibe. It's the perfect destination for those looking to unwind and indulge in the slower pace of rural New Zealand life.

 

 

Where to stay in Wellington & The Wairarapa with a campervan

Exploring Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan offers the ultimate freedom to discover New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and townships at your own pace. When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds that cater to every need. Here are a few worth adding to your travel itinerary:

Wellington

Wairarapa

For more great family friendly campsites and holiday parks, check out our guide to the best family friendly campgrounds near Wellington.

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Cultural experiences for kids in NZ.

Planning a New Zealand road trip by motorhome to explore some of the great cultural experiences on offer? Despite being a relatively new country, New Zealand has a long and fascinating history. From the violent volcanic activity that sculpted its terrain to the arrival of settlers who built their lives here, New Zealand's history is a dynamic one. The events that have shaped this country have left their marks not only on the land but also resonate through the rich traditions and enduring stories of its people. 

In this handy guide, we’ll share some of the top cultural experiences that the kids will love. From the authentic Māori experiences in Rotorua to the interactive wonders of Te Papa in Wellington, there’s something for every age and stage. 

 

Why NZ cultural experiences are great for kids

New Zealand's cultural experiences offer a unique outdoor classroom for children, where learning comes alive and ignites curiosity. The country's Māori history and legends are not just stories; they're lessons that come to life through interactive Māori experiences. 

These cultural adventures, from the storytelling circles of Tamaki Māori Village to the ancient rituals and craftsmanship, offer a unique way to understand the rich heritage of Aotearoa. It's also a chance for young minds to absorb the values of respect, community, and stewardship of nature. 

 

The best cultural experiences for kids in NZ

Keen to add some culture and history to your road trip travel itinerary? Here are some of the top experiences for kids worth seeing on your New Zealand travels.

Image: Mark Clinton

 

Visit an ancient kauri tree

Plan a road trip to the Waipoua Forest, near Dargaville, and introduce your family to Tāne Mahuta. This ancient tree, likely the largest your children will ever see, is a natural wonder that has witnessed the passage of time for over 2,000 years. Known as the 'Lord of the Forest', Tāne Mahuta is not only the largest kauri tree in New Zealand but also a significant cultural icon. The tree is deeply revered in Māori history and mythology as the god of forests and birds. Visiting this ancient tree offers a moment of awe and a profound connection to the natural world and the stories that are rooted in New Zealand. 

Standing before Tāne Mahuta, children are often struck by the sheer scale of this living legend. The tree's girth measures over 15 metres, and it towers into the sky at a staggering 51 metres, making it a sight that's as humbling as it is breathtaking. It's a tangible link to the ancient world of the Māori, where trees were not merely plants but entities with their own mana (spiritual power) and mauri (life force). 

 

Explore the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is not just a cornerstone of New Zealand's history; it’s a living classroom packed with activities kids will love. Here, history is far from static; it's a hands-on adventure where children can learn about the Treaty of Waitangi, explore the beautifully maintained grounds, and be captivated by powerful performances.

Kids can marvel at the size of a traditional waka taua (war canoe), step back in time in a colonial house, and even meet characters dressed in period attire. It's a place where the past is presented in a way that's both fun and fascinating.

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds also house a museum that offers a deeper understanding of the Treaty's significance. Interactive exhibits allow children to engage with the stories and events that shaped the nation. They can listen to narratives from different perspectives, giving them a multifaceted view of New Zealand's founding document. The grounds also offer a variety of workshops and cultural demonstrations, from traditional weaving to Māori weaponry, providing an immersive experience that goes beyond the pages of a history book.

After a day of exploration, you can unwind at the nearby Waitangi Holiday Park, a perfect spot to reflect on the day's adventures and plan the next leg of your campervan road trip.

 

Visit Te Puia geothermal area

In New Zealand’s geothermal heartland of Rotorua, Te Puia presents a landscape unlike any other your family will encounter. It's a must-visit destination on your New Zealand road trip, offering both fun and learning in equal measure.

The Pōhutu Geyser, the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, is a highlight of this Rotorua attraction, erupting several times a day and sending plumes of steam and water up to 30 metres high. As you walk the pathways around Te Puia, you’ll also discover steaming vents, boiling mud pools, and silica terraces, each telling a story of the earth's incredible subterranean forces.

But Te Puia is more than just a natural spectacle. It's a cultural hub where traditional Māori carvers and weavers share their crafts, offering a window into the artistry that is as enduring as the geothermal activity itself. For kids, the excitement of seeing these geothermal wonders is matched by the opportunity to learn about Māori culture. 

 

Visit the Māori Village Te Pā Tū

Popular Rotorua tourist attraction, Te Pā Tū (formerly the Tamaki Māori Village) offers a deep dive into the heart of Māori culture. Here, the essence of New Zealand's indigenous culture is brought to life through stirring performances, authentic songs, and the sharing of ancient stories.

Te Pā Tū offers two distinct experiences that reflect the seasonal heartbeat of Māori culture. The Tū Te Rā - Summer Harvest Celebration honours the bountiful gifts of Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. Visitors can participate in traditional harvesting techniques and taste the fresh flavours of the season. You’ll also learn about the sustainable practices that have been passed down through generations.

In contrast, the Tū Te Ihi - Winter Matariki Celebration is a time of reflection and remembrance. This is timed to coincide with the Māori New Year when the cluster of stars known as Matariki rises in the sky. This celebration is a time to remember those who have passed, celebrate the present, and plan for the future. 

 

Visit Te Papa

Te Papa in Wellington is a must-do for families keen to learn more about New Zealand’s history. As kids wander through the family friendly exhibits, they can encounter the natural world in the Awesome Forces exhibit. They can come face to face with New Zealand's incredible wildlife in the Mountains to Sea exhibit, and even step into the shoes of early settlers in the interactive colonial village. The museum's Discovery Centres, specifically designed for children, are full of activities that encourage hands-on learning, from feeling the texture of a kiwi feather to building structures in the interactive construction zone.

Te Papa also offers storytelling sessions where the stories of Māori legends come to life. It's a place where every visit can turn into an adventure, with new things to see, do, and learn, making it an essential experience for any family on a New Zealand road trip.

 

Paddle a waka with Ko Tāne

In Christchurch, your family can embark on a unique journey down the Ōtākaro Avon River with Ko Tāne. Paddling a handcrafted waka, you'll glide along the waterways that have been a part of the region's history for centuries. This 45-minute experience is not only a fun activity but also a living history lesson.

As you paddle, local kaiārahi (guides) will share stories of the local Iwi, Ngāi Tahu, and the history of early European settlers. It's a narrative that weaves together the past and present, highlighting the collaborative spirit that helped build the city of Christchurch. Children will be fascinated to learn how Māori and settlers used these very waterways for transport and trade in a time before roads, using the waka as a vital tool for survival and commerce. It's an enriching addition to any New Zealand travel itinerary.

 

Bathe at Ngāwhā Springs

Ngāwhā Springs offers a cultural experience that's deeply rooted in the traditions of Northland. These geothermal springs are more than just a place to relax; they're a site of historical significance for Māori, known for their therapeutic properties and the healing waters that have been used for centuries.

When you visit Ngāwhā Springs, you’re stepping into a natural spa that has been cherished by the local community for generations. The waters are rich in minerals and the experience is as educational as it is soothing. Children can learn about the geothermal activity that creates these hot pools, as well as the stories and customs that surround them.

 

 

Ready to see New Zealand’s best cultural attractions on your family holiday?

From the ancient roots of Tāne Mahuta to the dynamic storytelling of Te Pā Tū, New Zealand’s unique cultural destinations offer a unique window into the heart of Aotearoa.

Planning a culturally rich New Zealand road trip in an Apollo campervan means your family can explore these wonders at your own pace. Travel with all the comforts of home on board as you take in one amazing experience after another. 

So, why wait? Book your Apollo campervan hire online today.

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