Affordable New Zealand: Family Style

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer.

Here’s her latest advice:

Reader Question: We’re visiting New Zealand for two weeks. What should we see without spending a fortune?

My Answer: Stick to one island to make the most of your time and money.

The South Island offers greater variety for family excursions. Rent a car and head for places that appeal to your kid’s interests: Milford Sound’s dramatic peaks offer stunning hikes. Glowworm caves in Te Anau will excite science buffs. Adventure tours (bungee jumping and jet boating) in Queenstown will beckon the thrill seekers.

Book lodgings (self-catering accommodations with kitchens are a good deal) and activities ahead of time, especially for New Zealand’s summer months (December-February). Contact an i-SITE tourist office to help you plot your route and book your activities (no service fee).

Heather Greenwood Davis and her family were recognized as Travelers of the Year by Traveler magazine in 2012. Follow Heather on Twitter @GreenwoodDavis

Do you have tips for traveling to New Zealand without breaking the bank? Share them with the Intelligent Travel community in the comments section below for a chance to appear in National Geographic Traveler!

More From Heather:


  1. ljubica costello
    February 12, 2015, 4:49 am

    like to be informed

  2. Jen McDonald
    Portland, OR USA
    November 14, 2014, 3:30 am

    We were on the South Island in April for two weeks with our toddler. We rented a camper van with friends, and enjoyed the island SO MUCH!!!! We went to all the places listed in the article!!! Amazingly beautiful everywhere! Renting the van saved us tons!!!! Campsites with power hook ups are everywhere, and you meet great people in the community areas(kitchens/bathrooms/lounge areas). BEST family trip ever!!! So glad we went!!

    • Heather Greenwood Davis
      March 8, 2015, 6:31 pm

      I hope to get back there too, Jen. Such a beautiful locale.