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Traveeling with three kids( 7, 10 & 11 years old)

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I would like some suggestions on what to do on the South Island of New Zealand at the end of March early April with three kids? Also we plan on stopping on the return for 5 nights in either French Polynesia, Cook Islands or New Caledonia. I Need some ideas if any of these islands have things to keep the kids busy.

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    We took our 7 and 10 year olds to NZ, Oz, FP, Cooks, Fiji, and Tonga a couple of years ago. There's lots to do:

    Go on a hike along the beaches of Abel Tasman National Park. Have a water taxi take you out a few miles, then return along the trails and beaches.

    Visit the Pancake Rocks at Paparoa National Park. On a good day, at high tide, water jets out of blowholes on each incoming wave. Rent a kayak on the nearby Porari River. Paddle upriver to the first little whitewater 'chute', lug your boat to the top, then shoot the cute for some safe thrills.

    In Christchurch, visit the Southern Encounter Aquarium (on Cathedral Square). Also, the very impressive International Antarctic Center, at the airport. The nearby Orana Wildlife Reserve was quite extensive and interesting too.

    Rainy day activities in Christchurch: the indoor Caddyshack indoor golf course - our kids loved it. Queen Elizabeth II Park, with its gigantic 3-pool aquatic complex, complete with waterslides.

    The gold rush-era town of Ross is historic and fun, and our kids enjoyed learning to pan for gold.

    I'm not sure about this one: a guided walk up onto Franz Josef or Fox glaciers. It was a highlight of our trip, but I had some safety concerns. We were issued hobnail boots, which work well on snow, but are slippery on the bare rock that we traversed in order to get to the glacier. On the glacier itself, we wore instep campons and used alpenstocks for balance. Still, my little 7-year old girl was hopping across crevasses without any ropes. You would never be allowed to do this in the U.S. (well, maybe you would until someone sued you into bankruptcy). If you're kids are adventurous, this could be fun. I might consider holding the 7-year old out of this one. If you can afford it, another option would be to take a helicopter to the upper reaches of one of the glaciers, where it is much more scenic (and safer) to tramp around.

    A fun little night-time thing to do is visit the small glow worm cave in the Glow Worm Forest Camp campground, near Franz Josef Glacier.

    If your kids like horseback riding, the Reflection Stables at Lake Matheson would be a good choice. Also, south of the glaciers, at Cook River, there is a salmon farm. Our kids enjoyed feeding the salmon, and we bought some filets for a great barbecue.

    Take them on a rafting trip down the Clutha River, from Lake Wanaka. The river is quite fast, but there is hardly any real 'white water'. The kids can learn how to pan for gold and make tea from plants growing on the riverbank.

    Just outside of Wanaka is a fun maze, called Puzzling World. Next to that is a nice day hike climb up Mt. Iron.

    On the east coast, at Oamaru, there is a Korora (blue penguin) colony. It may be too late in the season, but they may still be clambering ashore at late dusk to bring food to their nests. There is a viewing area, and floodlights, so you can see the little guys.

    Further south is Moeraki Beach, with its famous giant Boulders, geodes that are several feet across.

    Dunedin has an aquatic complex and waterslides that are even more impressive than the park at Christchurch.

    The Otago Peninsula is a great place for bird-watching. Taiaroa Head has a fantastic Royal Albatross colony, and nearby is Penguin Place, a private hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin) conservation reserve. They have erected several blinds that allow you to view the penguins from only 10 feet away.

    In the coastal town of Waikawa, you can get a boat to take you out to view the rare Hector's Dolphins at close range. We used (and recommend) Koromika Charters.

    If you have the time, an overnight ferry ride from Invercargill to remote Stewart Island is interesting. This is one of the places where you can actually see Kiwi birds in the wild (at night).

    An all-day boat tour across Lake Manapouri and on to Doubtful Sound is really worthwhile, and not nearly as crowded as the much more popular Milford Sound. Even better would be the overnight cruise.

    Its fun to watch people bungy-jumping off Kawarau Suspension Bridge, just outside of Queenstown.

    The view from the top of Queenstown's Skyline Gondola lift is spectacular.

    It also may be too late in the season for this, but if there are still sperm whales off Kaikoura, then it is definitely worthwhile to take a boat out there.
    The Cook Islands (Rarotonga) would be a good choice for a family stopover. You could spend a day or two at Muri Lagoon, swimming, snorkeling, taking a glass-bottom boat tour, and having a picnic on one of the motus just offshore.

    The Cook Islands Cultural Village is an interesting overview of pre-European Cook Island culture. A wonderful lunch and dance performance too.

    A dinner feast and dance performance can be a lot of fun. We really liked, 'Island Night' at Club Raro.

    If you've come this far, you should spend the money to fly to the nearby island of Atiu, at least for an overnight stay. The turquoise lagoon is incredibly beautiful, and is similar in appearance to a small version of Bora Bora. The snorkeling here is good, as is the boating.

    Well, there is a list of too much to do in one trip! Have fun!

    Al F.

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