We’ll be taking a motorhome through scenic New Zealand, stopping in the Rotorua geothermal region, the adventure hub of Queenstown, and the Malborough wine region.
New Zealand is one of the world’s best road trip destinations. The weather is mild, the roads are safe, and the views are spectacular. The country comprises hundreds of islands but most people live on the largest two: North Island, which is said to have been fished out of the ocean by the demigod Maui; and South Island, which is said to have been Maui’s canoe.
North Island is the busier of the two — besides being more populated, a large section of it is also built on a volcanic plateau, with active volcanoes, geysers, and other geothermal features. South Island is geographically larger and more diverse, featuring glaciers, fjords, lakes and mountains.
Setting the scene
I’ve printed out pictures of various stops on our road trip, and put them up in various parts of the house:
We’ve also printed boarding passes and packed a cabin bag for each boy, with their usual travel toys, textas, water bottles and outfits for the day.
We’re flying into Auckland Airport, where our motorhome awaits. Instead of queuing and paperwork, we’ll save some time by assembling our own rental vehicle! I’ve given myself a bit of a break by pre-purchasing a couple of these Calafant cardboard Camper Wagon kits. But a shoebox and some card would also suffice — there’s a great DIY example here.
The boys will be using road tape to design their own cross-country motorway that connects the destinations that we’ve set up throughout the house. I’ll tell them roughly where we’ll need to go, but will leave them to design the road independently. After all, what’s a road trip without a bit of backtracking?
Before leaving Auckland, we’ll make a quick stop at the Eden Park rugby grounds to attempt the Haka (simpler version here). Then we’ll head south to Rotorua, where hot springs, geysers and mud pools abound. This calls for a quick game of memory: I’ve printed out eight pairs of photos of geothermal features, including two pairs of volcanoes. We’ll play on the living room floor; every time a volcano is flipped up, the floor is lava! We’ll all have five seconds to get to higher ground.
If we’re feeling particularly adventurous, we may also put together a homemade “geyser” with Diet Coke and Mentos.
Then, we’ll drive to Wellington to cross the Cook Strait. If there’s time to burn before lunch, we’ll construct a cardboard ferry to transport our cardboard vehicles to South Island. We’ll watch a short video of the ferry crossing to set the scene, when it’s time to cross.
The next stop is one for me: the Malborough wine region, where a winery lunch will be waiting. And yes, the dining table will be set nicely.
Next, we’re visiting Dunedin, which was once home to the popular Cadbury World tourist attraction. While the Cadbury factory closed down in 2018, the OCHO Chocolate Factory has since opened in its place. We’ll be “touring” the factory by making marbled chocolate for an after-dinner treat.
Then to Queenstown, the self-styled adventure capital of the world. Backyard trampolining is close enough to bungee jumping for a preschooler, right? And sliding down the stairs on their bums is pretty much skiing — that’s how I ski a lot of the time, anyway.
We’ll have fish and chips for dinner and (if I can find some honeycomb), hokey pokey ice cream to go with the chocolate for dessert. Sweet as.