Unique Accommodation New Zealand: 20 100% Kiwi owned, Off the Beaten Track family properties to WOW you

Unique Accommodation New Zealand

Unique Accommodation NZ for families

Wow! New Zealand really does have some incredible operators and architects making these beautiful and unique accommodations. From tiny houses to epic views, to sustainable properties and animal encounters, these unique accommodation providers showcase some of the best that kiwis have to offer.

All of these properties are family friendly, with enough beds for at least two children and many kid friendly facilities.  Many of the owners in fact have their own children.

All of these properties are 100% kiwi owned and operated and you are likely to meet many of the owners onsite.  We encourage you to support these small businesses by booking directly with them and make sure you tell them that Backyard Travel Family sent you over for a great deal 🙂

Jen and Emilia from Backyard Travel Family explore Elephant Rocks, New Zealand in Duntroon, Waitaki Valley
Lets go exploring! Photo at Elephant Rocks, Waitaki Valley

These New Zealand Unique Accommodation properties are split into South Island Accommodation and North Island Accommodation.  Just click a property directly or scroll down to peruse them all.  (Please note that this article may contain affiliate links, these do not cost you any extra but a small commission goes towards running this website)

South Island Accommodation

North Island Accommodation

Are you ready? Lets take a road trip to somewhere new!

Eco Luxe at Fiordland Eco Retreat

Fiordland Eco-Retreat is set 6km outside beautiful Te Anau, the Gateway to Milford Sound. It’s a warm, sunny and stylish 3-bedroom self-contained luxury Eco-Retreat with stunning, unobstructed 260° panoramic views overlooking the majestic Fiordland mountains, Lake Te Anau and Te Anau.

Furnished with modern amenities including a large private hot tub and central heating, the property was built with sustainability at the forefront of its design. Finished with quality linen and unlimited WIFI, this is the perfect base from which to explore Fiordland and its many wonderful activities, including Milford & Doubtful Sounds.

The three bedrooms all have black-out blinds / curtains, as well as:

  • a master bedroom with amazing views, a super-king bed and plenty of space for a port-a-cot if you wish for us to set one up for you. 
  • a second bedroom with a queen size bed, along with more stunning views. 
  • The third bedroom has a king-single bed, and we can easily set this up as a twin bedroom for you, by putting up the king-single trundle bed.
  • All three TVs (master bedroom, queen bedroom and lounge) provide Satellite TV, Netflix, Lightbox and Youtube.

We live next door in the adjoining property, so are always available if guests have any questions. A washing machine and tumble dryer are located in our garage and are available at any time by request.

There is a large, flat lawn in front of the house which children love to run around on, and when we’re home our two year old boy and two friendly dogs love to play with our guests too! (But only if they’re invited to!)

Kids will love:

We provide some toys and books for younger children, as well as a highchair, port-a-cot and children’s plates and cups. The deep bathtub is always a winner with the kids (and adults too!) Lake Te Anau is only a 6 minute drive away.

What makes it a unique place to stay:

What makes this place unique is the panoramic views and the hot tub! We live just next door, and the only good thing about lockdown has been that we got to use this every night (it’s usually solely for guests’ use). Our 2 year old absolutely adores using the heated outdoor rain-shower and then going into the ‘big tub’ each evening before bed. It’s probably his favourite time of the day!

Epic Stargazing

The stargazing is phenomenal too, being in a rural location with minimal light pollution. Whether you look up at them from out on the deck, the deep indoor bath or even just through the window from inside the house, you can’t help but be amazed. But my absolute favourite place to stargaze is definitely from the hot tub… with a glass of wine after my boy has gone to bed – haha!

Animal Encounters

The wildlife in the paddocks near the house also brings big smiles to kids’ faces. There are sheep across the road, our neighbours keep calves in the paddocks along our shared driveway, and our other neighbours from ‘Westray Horse Treks and Quad Bikes’ often have their horses grazing in the paddock right next door. And we have two dogs! But they’re usually contained in their large dog yard behind the house, unless invited out by guests.

Explore Fiordland and Milford Sound

Fiordland has everything! From day trips up to Milford Sound, to swimming in the (cold!) lake, there’s so much to see and do. Kayaking in Milford or Doubtful Sound is amazing for the bigger kids. Closer to home in Te Anau, a visit to the glow-worm caves is lots of fun for all the family, and even the boat ride across the lake to access the glow-worm caves is fun! And a scenic helicopter flight is an unforgettable experience too.

Some of our favourite free/cheaper family activities are biking part of the Lake-2-Lake bike trail (between Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri), exploring the easily-accessible beech forest along the Kepler Track, and paddling along the sandy-shores of Lake Manapouri at Frasers Beach. Even a simple game of frisbee-golf in a picturesque local park is a wonderful way to pass an afternoon. And Westray Horse Treks and Quad Bikes are right next door to us, so I’d definitely recommend them too!

See this beautiful alpine lake on Lake Marian track, a great half way walk on the Milford Road Highway, Fiordland. You can even walk to Lake Marian with kids by Backyard Travel Family
Lake Marian Track

Modern Rustic Country at Pear Orchard Lodge in Wine Country – Tasman

Being located on an idyllic, slightly elevated pear orchard in the heart of the sunny Nelson Tasman area, The Pear Orchard Lodge is a peaceful haven for families with amazing views and the perfect base from which to explore the stunning region.

With the capacity to accommodate groups of up to 20 guests in seven comfortable bedrooms and a separate self-contained cottage, we have seen lots of family reunions, get-togethers of friendly families, fun weddings, Christmas and Easter celebrations and great summer holidays taking place at the lodge. There’s plenty of space to spread out and a great verandah to enjoy a glass of wine while the kids go “free range”.  

Younger kids can play on the lawn while older kids can explore the farm, look for chicken eggs, feed the animals or relax in hammocks overlooking the regenerating native bush and the natural stream in the gully. 

Modern Country Charm

A mix of modern styling and rustic country charm, the lodge itself comprises 6 rooms with king (or two twin) beds, as well as one family room with a double bed and two bunks above – allowing loads of flexibility for group preferences. There are a mix of rooms with ensuites, and rooms which share family-style bathrooms. The lodge has a generous kitchen and farmhouse-style dining area, with large verandah and bbq, allowing families to self-cater and eat together around the table. 

On one of Nelson’s famously sunny evenings, crank up the barbie and enjoy dinner al fresco on the verandah. On cooler nights, there is a log fire and plenty of board games to enjoy. 

Exploring the Nelson Tasman Region

The property is a great base for exploring the Nelson Tasman region, with the Great Taste Cycle Trail, MTB trails, numerous vineyards, safe beaches, as well as great swimming holes and walking tracks in the immediate neighbourhood and comfortable day trip possibilities to Kaiteriteri and the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, the Nelson Lakes National Park and Rainbow ski field, Golden Bay and various other great beaches and rivers. 

Supermarkets, bakeries etc. are a handy 5 mins away in Richmond. We live in the farmhouse on the property and are happy to provide recommendations and insider tips, to help our guests plan the perfect day trips – including the cafes with the best kids play areas!

Our website is www.thepearorchard.co.nz

Quaint Comfort at Wanaka Homestead

We have two family friendly cottages that are fully self contained;

  • The Ruby Cottage has two bedrooms and sleeps up to 5 people. Serviced daily, guests in this fully self-contained cottage also have free use of the outdoor hot tub, Wifi, full laundry, mountain bikes for hire and the barbecue area. All accommodation has Heat Pumps for winter/AC for summer.

  • Family-friendly Lismore Cottage provides comfortable and fully self-contained, self-catering accommodation for up to 7 people. It has three bedrooms and is an ideal option for families, couples and groups alike.

    – The living area has a spacious with full height ceiling, a well-equipped self-catering kitchen, seating for 6/7 in the dining area and a lounge with Smart TV. French doors lead out to the courtyard.

    – The Cottage is serviced daily. Guests also have free use of the outdoor hot tub, Wifi, full laundry, drying room, mountain bikes for hire and the barbecue area. All accommodation has Heat Pumps for winter/AC for summer.

All ages are welcome in Ruby Cottage and Lismore Cottage. We can provide portacot, high chairs, baby baths and linen for little ones, games, toys, children’s books, and the like…on request.

Things to do near Wanaka Homestead

  • Wanaka Station Park – ‘our front yard’ a 30 second walk away – is a beautiful, hidden, green park space with a small children’s playground, giant sequoias, Himalayan cedars, a large walnut tree and an enormous rhododendron hedge along with the Station’s surviving orchard, with pears and apples free for picking. 
  • From here it is a one-minute walk down to the Lakefront and ‘that Wanaka Tree’ (#thatwanakatree). There are beautiful walks either way along the lakefront where children and adults alike can explore the hours away. It is a 15 to 20 minute walk into Wanaka Township from here. If you do take the path into town, you’ll pass the Wanaka Rotary playground 5 minutes into the walk, so the walk often takes longer!
  • In the heart of town on the Lakefront just past the log cabin, is another child favourite, the ever-popular ‘Dinosaur Playground’ where children can whittle away the time, while parents sip on a delicious coffee they have picked up just across the road at one of the many eateries.
  • Off the end of the Wharf just beside the Log Cabin you can see fish, ducks and giant eels! Another child pleaser!

A drive away from the Homestead is a long list of further family friendly activities and adventures…to name a few:

  • Puzzling World
  • The Lavender Farm 
  • The National Transport & Toy Museum
  • Warbirds & Wheels 
  • Basecamp Wanaka Climbing Centre 
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Wanaka Skate Park (Pembroke Park)
  • Wanaka Recreation Centre
  • Paddle Wanaka 
  • Hook Wanaka – Lake to Plate 
  • Crossfire 
  • Ruby Island or Mou Waho Island Boat Trips 
  • Loads of Bike Parks and countless walks: Mt Iron being a family favourite!


Lismore Cottage
Ruby Cottage 2nd Bedroom
A person stands on the ledge of the Roys Peak Track at sunrise, sun peaking over the mountains, arms up in awe as they look at the mountains and Lake Wanaka below
Photo Credit Lake Wanaka Tourism, Roys Peak in Winter

Hidden Beauty at Lake Ohau Quarters, Mackenzie Country

Lake Ohau Quarters is a 21-bed modern lodge offering quality accommodation on a high country station in the Ohau Valley (near Twizel and Mt Cook). With incredible panoramic views our spacious lodge accommodates up to 24 guests and is rented exclusively to one group at a time.

The LOQ is perfect for families who love to get out into the heart of the country and for larger family groups keen to adventure together or even celebrate an occasion.

Lots of hidden beauty

If you are after gentle lakeside walks or hardcore hikes, a family skiing trip or keen to bike some local sections of the A20 this area offers unforgettable experiences for lovers of the great outdoors.  LOQ is situated on a hill overlooking the lake, its about a 300m walk and you are right on the water.   Wander down with kids and the fishing rods and you may be able to catch a rainbow trout for lunch.

Private access to the bay at the top of the lake where there is a small lagoon is also a great area to set up for a day of boating and family fun. 


The bedrooms comprise of 3 Super king rooms and 3 Bunkrooms– each sleeping up to 6 guests.  The rooms are located in three individual wings, separated from the kitchen and lounge by a long corridor. Combined with excellent insulation, these rooms offer peace and quiet away from the communal areas

Once the children are snuggled down, it’s the perfect time for pulling up a bean bag by the large open fire and relaxing with a glass of wine when the day is over or having a soak in the wood fired hot tub.

Booking Lake Ohau Quarters

Please contact Mel for enquiries and reservations info@lakeohauquarters.co.nz

Find your creative at Birdsong YHA Hokitika

Hosted by Kerry Weston

My husband and I travelled globally for 2 years and settled here in Hokitika with it’s creative  vibe, local friendliness and warm ambiance. This is reflected in the nature of our little business, Birdsong Accommodation, a 2 storey house on the outskirts of town, with 9 guest bedrooms, sleeping up to 20 guests. The moment we set foot inside we knew it was the perfect place to provide relaxing hospitality with stunning views of the Tasman Ocean from the communal lounge. 

Our family rooms with double bed and set of bunks are hugely popular as a budget option, and include fresh towels and linen. We have 2 children of our own and enjoy welcoming and entertaining your children and even your family dog! Our very well-equipped self-catering kitchen and dining area helps families to holiday on a budget. 

Families love the cheerful, bright bird-themed murals in each room, and the free daytime activities such as exploring the native bush garden, building huts on the nearby beach, fossicking for greenstone, jumping from the jetty at the local lakes, panning for gold-part of the towns rich history, cycling the family friendly Wilderness Trail and then rounding off the day with a West Coast sunset and a visit to the stunning, free Glow Worm Dell not to be missed. 

Should we have some of the famous West Coast rain, as well as the usual board games and puzzles I am happy to offer flax weaving tailored to your childrens’ age, or Art tuition, with 5 years high school teaching experience and 12 years tutoring the local childrens’ Art club. As an artist and mother of two I thoroughly enjoy engaging children in creative activities.

Booking Birdsong Accommodation YHA Hokitika

Backyard Travel Family Deal: Contact them directly for a deal on a weekly rate. Stay for a week to use us as a base to explore The Coast, with day trips to the glaciers and the pancake rocks easily accessible, and we are only a 3 hour drive from Christchurch via Arthurs Pass.

Website: http://www.birdsong.co.nz/

Phone: (03) 7557179

Quirky and Homely: The Gates Accommodation, Mapua, Nelson

On our 7 acres beside Mapua seaside village, Nelson at The Gates Accommodation (www.thegates.co.nz) we have 2 places suitable for families – Corru Gate and Copper Gate.

Corru Gate is stylish and different. City chic meets country style in this sunny, private, designer, family-friendly, 3 bedroom cottage with an iconically Kiwi flavour on a 7 acre farm overlooking the Ruby Coast. Welcoming and comfortable, semi-detached Corru Gate has a zany kitchen, a classy bathroom (bath with shower over), an open-plan lounge/dining area, and French doors opening onto a sun-drenched deck and designer garden. Fully equipped with dishwasher, laundry, stereo, TV, DVD, WiFi, BBQ etc, it features quality furniture (including great beds), and NZ art. Corru Gate is focussed around sustainability principles with open spaces, organic orchards, flax, birdlife and native trees. 

There is a playground, tree-hut and tame,  sheep to feed – and room to roam and climb trees. Clear Nelson nights mean awesome stargazing.

Set in cycling heaven amongst quiet country roads winding through olive groves and vineyards, Corru Gate has ample room for cycles – or you could use our fleet for free. Tasman’s Great Taste Cycle Trail is right here. Catch the cycle ferry to Rabbit Island. It’s a 10 minute ride to Mapua seaside village with its cafes, artisans and stunning inlet. Nelson’s famous family-safe beaches, like Rabbit Island or Kaiteriteri, are close by.

Copper Gate is a new, sunny, family-friendly, super-eco, 4 bedroom designer home/lodge also set amidst 7 acres of glorious Nelson lifestyle with farm walks, treehut, playground, sheep, chickens, orchard. Mapua seaside village with cafes, wharf, beaches, shops is 3 min drive or 10 min cycle away. Very close to vineyards, galleries, Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park. Babysitter list available – dine out at the Wharf cafes at Mapua, knowing that the kids are tucked up safely in bed 4 minutes away. 


Copper Gate is themed around heritage NZ domestic life and copper yet has state-of-the-art designer features. With 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms it is ideal for 2 families or a large group. Commanding a stunning view across beautiful Seaton Valley to the sea and mountains beyond, Copper Gate has an ultra-modern kitchen, an open-plan lounge/dining area, quality furniture (including great beds), local/NZ art and French doors opening onto decks and SPACE. 

Copper Gate features preservative-free Douglas Fir, low VOCs, wool insulation from our sheep, passive solar design, smart appliances and it is powered by Nelson’s brilliant sun through grid-tied solar generation photovoltaics. 

Set in cycling heaven amongst quiet country roads winding through olive groves and vineyards, Copper Gate has ample room for cycles – you could use our  standard bikes for free, including child trailer or hire Wheelie Fantastic’s. Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is right here. Catch the cycle ferry to Rabbit Island. It’s an easy ride to Mapua seaside village with its cafes, artisans and stunning inlet, and use our tour maps for exploring right from the farm gate. 

Copper Gate celebrates style, sustainability, socialising and seclusion.  


Kissing Gate, our romantic glamping site (one of the top 14 most awesome sites in the world as profiled by TripAdvisor) is not suitable for children due to the pond. However, it is available for a couple to stay – perhaps while the grandparents look after the kids at Corru Gate or Copper Gate!

Booking the Gates Accommodation

Website: https://www.thegates.co.nz/  Book directly online

Abel Tasman Lodge

Abel Tasman Lodge – rated New Zealand’s number 1 small hotel by TripAdvisor 2019 – is just 400 metres from the famed Abel Tasman National Park, restaurants, cafes, beaches, water taxis and kayaking, the Lodge is the perfect base to explore it from. Park your car and walk to all activities.


  • With private modern chalets nestled amongst the stunning native landscape of Mārahau (the Abel Tasman Village) this is a peaceful escape combining comfort with the beauty of nature.
  • All chalets are equipped with air-conditioning, outdoor dining areas, some with fully kitted kitchens, access to the free spa pool, free internet, and of course the picturesque views of the Abel Tasman National Park. 
  • Our family rooms (Two Bedroom chalets) incorporate flexible sleeping options, catering for up to families of 5 (1 x super king bed and 3 x single beds). They also have a separate toilet from the shower room. Useful when there are several of you.
  • Fully self-contained with a combination microwave, oven & grill plus a separate hob. We also have a stunning communal kitchen complete with Weber BBQ’s, outside tables (for small gatherings)
  • We also offer breakfast and lunches plus a personalised massage service in our purpose-built room for the care-givers.

Activities for kids

Just 400 metres from tranquil Mārahau beach and an easy 20 minute walk to stunning Porters beach inside the Abel Tasman National Park. The first of many amazing beaches easily accessible from the Lodge. The Lodge is ideal for a beach-themed get-a-way.

One of the great features of the Abel Tasman Lodge is our stunning grounds. Lots of space to run around, play ball or simply relax in and out of the sun. If you want a day in we even have a range of board games to entertain everyone and get the competitive spirit going.

From the high chair to the nappy bin, bucket and spade, we pride ourselves on providing a family-focused environment. We even have toddler cups, saucers and plates.

Mārahau now has its own playground, an easy 10-minute walk from the Lodge – a great place for the children to swing, climb and slide. Unlike other places in the area, it’s a local’s secret, so you will most likely have it to yourselves.

What makes Abel Tasman Lodge unique?

It’s the little things here that make the difference, the pure tranquility of Mārahau to the loan of toys, the complimentary nappy bin and beach umbrella and bucket and spade.

Though the beach isn’t private, because of the nature of the Mārahau and the Abel Tasman National Park visitor, it will feel secluded and private.

If you want to enjoy the night sky from our stunning spa pool or just in the gardens then you will probably have never seen such a sky spectacular. 

Things to do in Abel Tasman National Park

  • Abel Tasman National Park offers a wealth of children friendly options. A fun and fast water taxi ride to Anchorage Bay, which has some of the most beautiful soft sand you could find anywhere.
  • Try kayaking with the family. There are family-friendly options for children 5 and over. For the slightly older kids there are a plethora of adventure related opportunities including canyoning, eco-tours and sailing.
  • Easy drives towards Golden Bay mean you take in the Ngārua Caves and go salmon fishing at Anatoki Salmon farm.


Booking the Abel Tasman Lodge

Backyard Travel Family Deal:  Book direct through our website and we’ll give you a 20% off the accommodation price.

Website: https://www.abeltasmanlodge.co.nz/ 


Nestled in the trees at Moonraker House, Tasman

Moonraker House, nestled within our native tree canopy overlooking the iconic Split Apple Rock, is a gold mine of adventure for children of all ages, with easy boat access to the Abel Tasman National Park and close proximity to Kaiteriteri and Marahau beaches with adventurous activities, such as the mountain bike tracks. There is direct access to the beach, rocks and caves which are home to glow worms. Our purpose designed property offers a family hideaway, with elegant comfort with a picturesque backdrop like no other in the region.  Our property is accessible by car or you can even bring your own boat if you wish.  Enjoy an exclusive, private setting with children in mind. This is a family run B&B accommodation, offering you flexibility, you are made welcome to use the kitchen and washing facilities too. Both rooms are en-suite and offer a king or split king single bed, rooms have access to the deck.  We are also happy to babysit so mums and dads can have a little free time dinning out in our selection of local eateries.
Booking Moonraker House
Take a look at the latest prices and more images here

Whale Watch from your house at Amazing Views Kaikoura

“Amazing Views” Kaikōura. Our Traditional Kiwi Bach  is located on top of a hill overlooking the North and South Bays of the Kaikoura Peninsula.  Whales and dolphins can be seen from the house frequently as Kaikoura has an amazing array of marine wildlife.


The Holiday Home

Our two storey home away from home is a place that we call paradise. Stunning sea views from the lounge deck and well equipped kitchen will have you gazing for hours. 

Sleeping for up to 9 people is spread out over 3 bedrooms. One of the rooms downstairs has two double beds and the others have queens. Having both a toilet and shower up and down stairs means there’s no waiting around for your turn . 

The house is heated by two heat pumps so going cold is never an option. All you need to bring is your sheets for the beds but you can hire them if you’d like to. 

A whale flicks his tail up in front of tourists on the Whale Watch Kaikoura boat on a New Zealand winters day

Things to do in Kaikoura

There are so many things to do . Whale and Dolphin watching , fishing charters , tramping, swimming or how about finding treasures on the beach . Outdoor activities are endless in Kaikoura. The hardest part is trying to decide what to do. 

Kaikoura is a place that you can be sure you’re going to make some amazing memories. I guarantee you’ll want to come back like we do time and time again. 

Book Amazing Views Kaikoura

Booking website: https://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/23456.asp 

Beautiful sea views on a clear blue day from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Great Kaikoura walks, Canterbury walks
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Kiwi Beach House with sea views: Rapahoe Beach, Greymouth

We have a family friendly 3 bedroom holiday house at Rapahoe Beach, 10 minutes north of Greymouth, 25 minutes south of Punakaiki. We are affordable, allow families to pay their holiday off, have toys, high chair, porta cot and also are pet friendly. Children under 12 and Pets stay free.


Our spacious 3 Bedroom fully fenced holiday house by the beach at Rapahoe, West Coast  is 10minutes drive north of Greymouth on the coast. Our holiday house is set up well for couples or for families and we allow pets by prior arrangement and free unlimited Wifi. All within walking distance is the beach, seal colony, beach hotel, Point Elizabeth Walkway, and surf casting. 

We would like to encourage Kiwi’s to travel in their own backyard, and the West Coast is one of the best areas to explore.   We highly recommend

  • Punakaiki,
  • Coal Creek Falls
  • Hokitika Gorge
  • West Coast Treetop Walk,
  • Mountain Biking
  • Cycle Trail
  • Fishing ….. the list goes on
Booking the Rapahoe Beach House

Website: https://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/listing/26276


Lakeside Luxury at Spencer Lodge, Lake Tarawera

Hosted by: Angie Mackay

Spencer Lodge is a lodge style holiday home featuring panoramic views over Lake Tarawera’s still deep waters and magnificent volcano. Only 20 minutes outside the city of Rotorua The perfect venue for a family gathering, milestone birthday celebration, anniversary or get together with friends. 

Upstairs there are 4 luxury bedrooms upstairs, each with a king sized bed, smart TV and en suite bathroom and a mezzanine area with books and board games and a balcony to enjoy the views. 

Downstairs there is a huge lounge with gorgeous riverstone fireplace to enjoy on a cooler evening. Luxury dining room. Separate kitchen and breakfast room. A outdoor furnished courtyard with a fireplace. A huge deck and barbecue. An amazing spa deck and sauna.

The lodge is private and surrounded by native bush, sheep and deer grazed pastures and landscaped gardens. 

Plenty of family friendly activities

Only a few minutes walk to Stoney Point Beach where you can swim throughout the summer (the water is a consistent 22 degrees). There are public tennis courts, walks along the lakefront and a childrens play area.  You can take out the lodge kayaks and explore the lake. 

There is plenty of boat parking at the lodge and boat launching at boat shed bay, a two minute drive away.  If you don’t have a boat there is a water taxi service that takes visitors across the lake to hot water beach where the water is heated by the volcano. The water taxi will also do a drop off and pick up service for the Tarawera Falls walk to one of New Zealands most stunning water falls. 

Just a 15 minute drive and you will be at the famous giant redwoods walk or go mountain biking on world renowned trails. After a full day of activities there is nothing more relaxing than soaking in the spa under star studded skies.

Booking Spencer Lodge, Lake Tarawera

To view the lodge visit www.spencerlodge.co.nz

Backyard Travel Family Deals: We want to welcome Backyard Travel Family readers to our lodge and are offering 20% discount for bookings taken before the end of November.  Just tell them you read about us here in this article.

Sleep on a boat or a plane at WOODLYN PARK Waitomo

In 2012 we won the Best Innovative Concept hospitality prize in Paris. We have 4 different styles of accommodation, all fully self-contained.  Most of our units sleep over 5 people.  At night due to no street lights the stars sparkle and the native Ruru can often be heard calling in our valley.

Our unique accommodation units include:

  • Our New Zealand Ex Navy Patrol Boat sailed for Solomon island as part of 80th ML Flotilla in 1944, this has 5 units built into it.
  • The Bristol Freighter Plane, one of the last allied planes in the Vietnam conflict has 2 units.
  • A train carriage and 
  • Hobbit units.

In our area
  • Waitomo village is a two minute drive from our property.
  • A half hour drive west of Waitomo there is the Marakopa Falls, Mangapohue Natural Bridge and PiriPiri Caves.
  • 10 minutes driving will take you to the Ruakuri walkway, listed in the top 10 New Zealand short walks.                                 
  • The Opapaka Pa Track is only a 3 minute drive from us.
  • A drive of just over an hour takes you to Kawhia where there is a hot water beach, if you caught an early tide the drive back around the Kawhia Harbour to the Marakopa Falls is quite spectacular.
Booking Woodlyn Park, Waitomo

Website:  Book directly at http://www.woodlynpark.co.nz/

A tiny house: Sno Ruapehu

Hosted by: Alana and Marcus Bonk

My husband and I completed our tiny house ‘Sno Ruapehu’ last year in Horopito, National Park that we have up for accommodation. It features picturesque uninterrupted views of Mt Ruapehu, both stunning in winter and summer. It is a prime location for all your Tongariro walks, both ski fields, and bike trail adventures. Sno Ruapehu captures some of the most stunning sunrises and sunsets which can both be viewed from any room in the house. 

Architecturally designed

My husband is an architectural designer (Huis Design) so everything was planned, designed and furnished to create a modern and relaxing environment that will have you ready to unwind from the minute you put your bags down. 

Family friendly accommodation

Sno Ruapehu sleeps 6 so it’s perfect for a family. 1 bedroom with a queen bed and the second bedroom is a bunk room that sleeps four adults or children in the handcrafted bunk beds. Each bunk bed has a unique built in light in the wall which kids love. There is room for a portacot to fit into either room. The house is complete with a full functioning kitchen and a bathroom with a separate toilet room. We have a highchair and a box of modern kids toys and books. Outside there is endless space to run and kick a ball around and complete with a swing under the large beech trees. 

Things to do near Sno Ruapehu

There are plenty of family adventures to do close by. Sno Ruapehu is situated right inbetween both Tūroa and Whakapapa skifields of Mt Ruapehu with a 35min drive to either of them. They have sledging on both skifields which is even free for under 5s. 

The new Sky Waka opened up last year on Whakapapa is awesome for families too. National Park has several family walks to adventure out on that feature beautiful views of mountains, iced rivers, waterfalls, native bushwalks, swimming holes, wildlife and last year we even found awesome ice spears for sword fights with the kids. Bike riding is another popular activity, with the famous Old Coach Road bike trail beginning just 5min bike ride from the house and taking you all the way through to Ohakune. 

We have taken the kids in a tandem bike trailer on this track. Okahune town just around the corner has an award winning playground adventure park that is a must see for both adults and kids, even featuring an outdoor gym. Mini Putt at National Park is a great hit with the kids and the new ‘The Dinosaur House‘ opened this year in Raetihi. There is plenty to offer at Sno Ruapehu with its close surrounding towns. 

Booking Sno Ruapehu

Find us online at https://www.snoruapehu.co.nz 

Backyard Travel Family Deal:  Use the code FAMILY20 for 20% off your nightly rate.

Spot Kiwi and Weka at Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park

Hosted by: Tori & James Burns

We are a picturesque family owned Holiday Park in historic Russell in the world famous, beautiful Bay of Islands – the winterless North.  We are passionate about our environment and families making memories as nature intended.

Many family accommodation options

We have many stay options for families,  from spacious powered and unpowered campsites – some with bay views or secluded bush locations –  through to budget 6 person lodge rooms that share facilities and 2 – 3 bedroom self-contained accommodation.  We can accommodate larger groups too, and are a popular location for family reunions. 

Amongst the 14 acres you can spot 55 species of birdlife, some rare. Our Weka have been filmed by the BBC and Kiwi nest all around us. There is a Kiwi trail to explore through native bush.

Due to limited light pollution, the night sky is magnificent and you hear the Kiwi call all around us nightly.  Many of our guests who venture the trail at night have been lucky enough to see a kiwi in the wild.   

When the kids have finished exploring the weta cave, the bush, building dens or net fishing in the stream we have a playground, a Swimming Pool (Labour Day-Easter) and a Campfire area which is very popular for toasting marshmallows.  There are also Wood fired BBQs & a Pizza Oven. 

We are pet friendly – subject to Park rules. 

A great base for exploring Northland

Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park is the perfect central base for learning about the early history of European integration into NZ.  Our park is only a 5 minute drive from the original capital site, NZs oldest church, restaurant and pub.  From the hellhole of the pacific to the romantic Russell it is today.  Embrace some cultural activities at Waitangi, island hop, or trek some of NZ’s famous and most beautiful walking tracks. Cycle the twin coast cycle trail, go Sailing, kayaking and take day trips to the Islands in the Bay, or perhaps to Cape Reinga. Try some Marlin fishing, fight a king fish, or go dolphin, seal, orca or little blue penguin spotting. These are some of the most popular activities in the beautiful Bay of Islands surrounding us.

Booking Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park

Find us at www.russellaccommodation.co.nz

Get off the grid at Kaipara View Eco Lodge, North Auckland

Hosted by: Sharon Lowdon

The Kaipara Views Eco Lodge, as the name suggests is an off the grid true eco lodge.  Our lodge sleeps up to four people, with 1 queen bed and 2 singles in the 2 bedroom house.  It is completely separate from the main house. 

We are near a reserve/walkway and a boating club about 5kms up the road. We are also in the countryside for great walks, biking, mountain biking.  Kids will really enjoy petting our  farm animals

Our place is unique as we are completely off the grid and are self sufficient and generate our own power with wind and solar.  As we are are far from the city and there is no light pollution, we have the most amazing skies seeing the planets, stars and the Skytrain at night (not to mention the fabulous sunsets and harbour views of the Kaipara) 

Booking Kaipara View Eco Lodge

Contact us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kaipara196

Passionate service at Fred and Donz Bed and Breakfast, Taupo

After almost 2 years of looking we found a perfect home in a  beautiful garden sanctuary 400 m from the lakefront in a peaceful street. Backing on to a reserve and with over 2000sqm of forest like gardens.  Our pet friendly accommodation will make you feel at home, so make sure you grab a good deal.  Stay for 3, for for 2, so contact us now.

We have 2 rooms available (interconnecting if required)

  • Bedroom 1:  a smaller queen room with private full bathroom which includes a bath, free WiFi, and a wardrobe.. 
  • Bedroom 2: A super king room with its own ensuite, a T.V. free WiFi and large walk in wardrobe. The super King bed splits into 2 full king single beds if friends traveling together or a family for the children. (Stretcher for small child available too)

Close to our B&B

We are a 5 minute walk down to the lake at 2 Mile Bay, going left around the lake takes you along the Lions walk or right takes you into town and past the best swimming beaches! (these have hotwater outlets too!) The path is perfect for walking or bike riding, you can find e scooters here and there along the path also to hire. My wee fur baby loves these walks around the Lake! On hot afternoons there are places to stop for a coffee or cool drink and most have doggie water bowls too!

Awesome things to do in Taupo

  • Taupo has some amazing walks/hikes around for all age groups and fitness levels.
  • Spa Park is a designated dog walking area. It is huge so dogs can run off their energy (and kids too!) there is a playground with a flying fox and a short walk down to the river takes you to an awesome hot pool to sit and relax in.
  • Craters of the Moon is a thermal park 10 minutes away and in the same area is the Honey Hive and Huka Falls walkway.
  • Close by is Prawn Farm, to fish for your own prawn dinner!
  • A short drive from town takes you out to Mind Junction which has mini putt, a maize with a twist and many mind bending activities for young and old alike! Taupo is not just a summer destination, we are an hour from the mountains with snow and ski activities or just a frolic with the kids!

We Love Taupo ! There is so much to see and do! You will never be bored, but it is also a great relaxing place to chill out!

Booking Fred and Donz B&B

Email direct to fredanddonz@gmail.com


Janalz B&B in Kiwi Country, Otorohanga

Hi there, A warm friendly welcome from your hosts Jan and Allan Barclay. We offer a cosy relaxed environment. Our B&B has it’s own private entry into a roomy studio and private ensuite. The whole of the downstairs area is dedicated to your living space. This is a large family room with large bunks and a double bed. 

We have a fully equipped music studio that doubles as a family lounge area and a kitchenette. There is a large couch that can facilitate an extra adult or child. On offer is free wifi, tv free to air, laundry-drying facility, iron  hairdryer, coffee-tea, microwave, board and card games.  Breakfast provided. Fresh linen. Fresh towels each day.

Pre arranged agricultural sheep and dairy farm one day ATV  tours available . See more on this at www.farmtours.co.nz 

Things to do in Otorohanga

  • From us is a 10 minute walk to the CBD,
  • Otorohanga Kiwi house
  • Cycle walking trail
  • Sir Edmund Hillary walk,
  • Lake Huiputea walk,
  • Playground,
  • Hot pools, Cafes, restaurants, super market.
  • 15km to animal park and Waitomo caves

We run a shuttle service to all the sights within the Waitomo Otorohaga district. B&B pick up, rail bus free.

How to book Janalz B&B

Website: janalzbnb.co.nz    

Pricing and bookings: Jan  021 529 436  Allan  0272 022 802

Bring your pet to Cooks Lookout Motel, Paihia

Cook’s Lookout Motel Paihia has One Bedroom Apartments and Two Bedroom Apartments, all suitable for families. We also have Studio units so if the grandparents want to enjoy a family holiday they can have their own peaceful haven to return to when they need some quiet time and their own bathroom (essential for many people). 

Apartment living

Our Two Bedroom Apartments each have a Queen size bed in one bedroom and 2 Single beds in the other. The One Bedroom Apartments have a Queen size bed in the bedroom and a Single bed in the lounge. There are also sofa beds in the Apartments and all our accommodation units have kitchen facilities for self catering and dining tables and chairs inside and outside. 

There is also a gas BBQ near the swimming pool for guests to use and a coin-operated washing machine and dryer on site.

Our large, saltwater swimming pool is solar heated so the temperature is dependent on the weather but it is always warmer than the sea and is very popular with our young guests, as is the trampoline which has a fabulous view and can also be used for star-gazing. We are 3 minutes drive to a beautiful, clean beach which has a playground nearby and is a safe swimming beach. There is also a BBQ available for a family picnic on the beach with picnic tables nearby.

Pet friendly accommodation

Good news for pet lovers – we are pet friendly so no need to leave your fur babies at home. Just let us know if you are planning to bring your dogs or cats with you so we can advise which apartments are suitable and available for the dates of your stay. We do have to keep some rooms pet-free for guests who have allergies.

What to do in Paihia

Paihia is a great place for families, a visit to Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must, the newly opened museum there is fabulous and there are plenty if interactive exhibits to keep the little ones amused. Bring the bikes (or hire them locally) and try out the Twin Coast Cycle Trail and the Waitangi Mountain Bike Track. Catch a ferry to Historic Russell and be sure to visit Pompallier Mission House while you are there. Take a cruise to the Hole in the Rock and see the many islands that make up the Bay of Islands. Nearby Kerikeri is only 20 minutes drive from here, there are some great little markets, shops and cafes and you can treat yourself to some delicious chocolate from the Makana Factory.

Booking Cooks Lookout

Our website is https://cookslookout.co.nz/home/

Private Pool Luxury at the Magical Cottages at Takou River, Northland


Together with our three energetic children – now in their teens – we’ve owned and operated Magic Cottages at Takou River, in the beautiful Bay of Islands, for over 15 years. It’s been a labour of love and the most wonderful playground for our children to grow up in – swimming, surfing, horse riding, running, mountain biking, farming and living life to the full! 

We love sharing our amazing piece of riverfront paradise with families and friends. Glorious isolation, magical memories and the opportunity for families to slow down, reconnect and run free have been our specialities for years.

Just north of Kerikeri, on the banks of the unspoilt Takou River, surrounded by 5 acres of sub tropical gardens and our 150 acre organic farm, we offer the most magical of playgrounds and something for everyone! Romantic outdoor claw foot baths for parents to relax in; cosy wood fires for games nights in; Hot Tubs by the river with glow worms for company; star lit skies to discover; our private boathouse and jetty equipped with kayaks, canoes and fishing rods to entertain everyone for hours; secluded swimming spots to discover, rocks to jump off and rope swings to thrill – we know what children of all ages love!  

Walks and hikes along the riverbank, through pastures and native bush to secluded picnic spot, as well and our 150 acre farm to explore, with friendly Hereford cows, free range chickens and ducks and even ponies. Last but not least,  deserted and beautiful sandy beaches are just a short paddle downstream at Takou Bay.  Of course, parents need down time too, so we have wonderfully relaxing massages and spa treatments as well as the chance to steal a moment and bask in the bliss of doing absolutely nothing!

Many of our guests never leave the property! If you do decide to venture further afield, we are perfectly positioned to explore the wider Bay of Islands and have ideas for children of all ages; from exploring local walks, waterfalls, giant Kauri forests, beautiful beaches, watching the dolphins play in the bay

Our beautiful designed family friendly accommodation has something for everyone. Stay in our gorgeous and secluded riverside Glamping site designed exclusively for one family or couple. Star gaze at the inky skies, relax in the romantic outdoor bath perched on the riverbank and sleep to the sound of kiwi calling. Wake to fish jumping and the sun rise over the river. Curl up in front of the cosy wood fires in one of our beautiful cottages, fully equipped with everything you need including perfectly appointed kitchens, the most comfortable beds and even outdoor claw foot baths to relax in after a day of adventuring. For larger family groups, our beautiful water front Lodge, or larger luxurious House provide space aplenty for everyone, complete with stunning coastal views, 7 bedrooms and a 15m x 5m private swimming pool!

Booking the Magical Cottages at Takou River

We can’t wait to welcome you back to share our beautiful piece of paradise.  Book directly with us at www.takouriver.com

Admirals View Lodge and Motel

Admirals View Lodge & Motel is a kiwi owned, family friendly motel which offers a range of quality self-contained accommodation in Paihia, Bay of Islands. Relax in our quiet, sunny accommodation in central Paihia which is close to restaurants, cafes, beaches and a great base to explore the amazing Bay of Islands.    Enjoy the family safe beach just a 250m walk or take a short drive to one of the many other amazing beaches.  Grab a bike and check out the world class mountain bike park or take a leisurely cycle along the Coast to Coast cycle trail.  Northland has much to offer so come talk to us, we want your time in the Bay of Islands to be the best it can be.

2 bedroom Apartments

Our spacious two bedroom apartments are ideal for families, these ground floor rooms have a bedroom with queen bed and a second bedroom with split super king bed and single bed, or convert to 3 x single beds.  A separate kitchen/dining/living room with 32in smart TV, Sky Guest Select & DVD player, air conditioner/heat pump, one large bathroom with a shower and a sunny terrace where you could sit and relax. 

Smaller Family Studios

For smaller families our balcony studios have a queen and single bed, kitchen/dining/living area with 32in smart TV, air conditioner/heat pump, Sky Guest Select & DVD player, large ensuite and a view to the sea from the sunny balcony where you could sit and relax.

What to do in Northland

We have many amazing operators in the Winterless North who can offer families safe, social distanced experiences.  Some of the things you can do

  • Get out on the water, take a sailing trip, get out onto an island, see the amazing wildlife that live in and around the Bay
  • Waitangi Mountain Bike Park and pump track – wonderful trails for all ages and abilities
  • Pou Herenga Tai – Coast to Coast cycle trail
  • Great walks from short 30 minute strolls to day long walks for all ages and ability
  • The birthplace of New Zealand, see the amazing museums at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Keri Keri and Russell.  Learn about our heritage and how the New Zealand as we know if was built.
  • Take a trip to see the Cape Reinga Lighthouse and the see where the waters meet, slide down the great sand dunes and see the long stretch of 90 mile beach.
  • Get up close and personal with the giants of the forest at Waipoua – the great Kauri trees which have stood for hundreds of years.
  • Spend some time exploring the beaches
Book Admirals View Lodge

Book Directly online at www.admiralsviewlodge.co.nz

Horse Riding Adventures at Tuidale Stables and Accommodation


Nestled beside a reserve and just minutes from the beach is our modern two bedroom cottage apartment situated just off SH1, amongst beautiful landscaped gardens on a 30 acre horse stable property, yet only a short drive to the local village and other nearby highlights such as picturesque Piroa Falls, Waipu glow worm caves, and beautiful stretches of beach and coves. 

Attached to the main lodge is a fully self contained two bedroom apartment, with your own private entrances. Clean and modern, you will find everything you need to ensure your stay here is comfortable and enjoyable. 
Relax on the deck overlooking the gardens, explore the grounds, play with the ponies, or even book in to adventure on a guided horse ride through the bush trails to the beach with us, and finish the day by falling asleep to the sound of the ocean in the distance at night.
  • Ideal for couples, families or business travel.
  • Wifi, Sky and continental breakfast supplies are provided. 
Booking Tuidale Stables
51 Uretiti Road , Waipu


Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 5 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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