With the festive season on our doorstep, you do not have to wait until Christmas Eve to give your children a gift that will not only be extremely enjoyable but that will have a lasting impact on their overall well-being as well: a trip to one of New Zealand’s glorious national parks. The land of the long white cloud is home to 13 national parks that showcase more than 30,000 square kilometers of diverse, natural beauty ready to explore by the whole family on foot, by boat, car or air. School is out and there is no better way to keep the youngest members of your family occupied than by allowing them to spend quality time in nature.
It is very distressing that we live in a day and age where a lot of children spend most of their free time glued to an electronic screen with little to no interaction with nature.The benefits children enjoy from being in nature are not limited to the development of a sense of environmental responsibility. Nature also provides exercise, improves focus, reduces anxiety and helps develop deeper connections within a family: all of which can be achieved by simply spending a part of the holidays outside enjoying the sunshine instead of in front of the television or gaming device. Luckily New Zealand is home to a host of zoos and national parks that will afford the whole family with quality bonding time in nature. Here are a couple of highlights to check out.
Tongariro National Park
Covering almost 80,000 hectares, the Tongariro National Park was gifted to the nation by a Maori chief in 1887, making it one of the oldest national parks in the country. A breathtaking environment is created by alpine meadows, emerald lakes and hot springs that surround the largest volcanoes on the North Island. The park is extremely family-friendly both in terms of accommodation and activities with playgrounds and –rooms, toys, videos, trampolines and splash pools all being available for the younger visitors. Leisurely nature strolls and fishing in pristine waters are just two activities that the whole family can enjoy in the park while learning about their natural surrounds.
Abel Tasman National Park
Set in New Zealand’s Nelson region, the Abel Tasman National Park is a popular family destination known for its tramping, kayaking, sightseeing and camping. With a wide range of fun and educational activities for the whole family, there is no need to leave the children at home while you explore the sandy beaches or native forests. The children will love coming into close proximity to the native wildlife which includes shags, gannets, little blue penguins and seals that enjoy lounging around the rocky edge of Tonga Island.
Apart from the two national parks mentioned above, there are a number of others, as well as urban parks, zoos and beaches at your disposal to keep your children busy during the holidays. It may take a bit of coaxing to get your family outside but once they are out and about in nature, they are bound to enjoy it more than they could ever have expected to.
Written by Jenny Holt
Photography by Emily with wild & grace