"Artefact BH-C 1 (Burleigh Heads)" by Michelle Robinson via Flickr Creative Commons

Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands are known for their diversity, natural beauty and wide-open spaces. There are plenty of beaches, beautiful people, traditional lifestyles and relaxed ways of life to explore and appreciate. Families will love the range of active itineraries available from snorkeling the reefs of the Whitsundays, skiing at Mt Cook to the theme parks of the Gold Coast.

  1. Skiing Mt Cook, New Zealand If you’re in this part of the world and really seeking a white winter family vacation, this is really the best place to go. There’s downhill skiing, mountain climbing and snowboarding here on New Zealand’s highest mountain. You can even go heli skiing on the Tasman Glacier atop the mountain, one of the world’s longest at almost 17 miles.
  2. Gold Coast, Queensland The theme parks here on the Gold Coast are some of the best in the world. Take a seaside location and entertain the family with visits to Sea World where you can get a marine education taking in seal and dolphin exhibits, journey to Dreamworld to meet the resident tigers and take a few hairy rides, go to Movie World for all your favorite characters or to Wet n’ Wild for a wild waterslide experience.
  3. Whitsundays, Queensland If you like long naps, soaking in the sea or being occupied all day this is the place for the family. There are kids clubs that operate on the resorts, parents can take in some luxury packages or day trip together visiting the reef to dive and snorkel. Have some parents only time as the sunset goes down and head to the bar to sip cocktails.
  4. Cook Islands This collection of 15 islands in the heart of Polynesia mid way between Tahiti and Tonga is a great family location. Get your own bungalow on the beach and enjoy days of snorkeling, swimming, dozing, reading and the laid back lifestyle. A good vacation to recharge everyone’s batteries.
  5. Whale safari, Kaikoura Take the family on an eco-marine safari from Kaikoura to see giant sperm whales in their natural habitat with the beautiful backdrop of snow capped mountains behind you. In addition to the whales you can also encounter friendly New Zealand fur seals or dolphins that will come to check out your boat; plus albatross, penguins and other offshore sea birds.
  6. Murray River, Australia Take the family on a historic paddle steamer down the world’s fifth largest river or rent a house boat and wander through the gorges, farmlands, red gum forests and wetlands. Wildlife is also abundant as the Murray is a haven for 350 species of birds, sulphur crested cockatoos, kangaroos, goannas, black swans, pelicans and Murray Cod.
  7. Fiji Fiji is renowned for its relaxed way of life and friendly hospitality. It is largely unspoilt by the trappings of the outside world and people continue to live a traditional lifestyle. Take a cruise to hop from island to island enjoying the beaches, underwater life, rivers and waterfalls of this paradise.
  8. Moreton Island, Queensland This all sand island off the coast of Brisbane is popular with families for the variety of activities. Watching staff feed dolphins at Tangalooma resort (you don’t have to be a guest), snorkel around the ship wreck off the beach, watch the whales come past in September, enjoy the remote sand camping and the massive dunes for sand boarding.
  9. Noosa, Queensland There’s something for everyone at the gorgeous seaside resort of Noosa. Mum can wander the art galleries and boutique stores of Hastings Street, dad can try a spot of fishing or kite surfing, there are family outings in canoes up to the Everglades, group walks in the national park and tons of dining options.
  10. Red Centre, Australia Take the family on a vacation they will never forget on a tour of Australia’s red heart. Uluru is the most famous attraction here but there’s also Kings Canyon, Ormiston Gorge and the McDonnell ranges. Pack the car full of camping gear and enjoy some of nature’s best vistas.

Click here for an Introduction to Family Travel Vacations