Dunedin's the one for family fun
IF YOU love to travel, but are worried about how the kids will handle it, the trip across the ditch to Dunedin is a perfect tester for a family holiday.
With direct flights from Brisbane taking just under four hours, the kids won't even get time to look up from the in-flight entertainment before you arrive ready for a city that has a lot to offer for a family holiday.
Here's five things you can do in Dunedin that will keep the whole family happy.
Coming in on late dusk at Dunedin peninsula and it doesn't take long for the kids to spark up when the first black lines appear in the water.
Gathering in "rafts" in the Dunedin harbour, these tiny creatures gather in packs to make their nightly trip back to their hides, and you get a great view of all the action.
With a purpose-built viewing platform with a maximum of 100 people allowed, there's plenty of room and time for even the smallest kids to get a look.
The penguins scurry up the hill right past your position, and often will come out of their hides for a look at the tourists.
Address: 1260 Harington Point Rd, Harington Point - 30km from Dunedin city centre.
The museum hosts a historical collection of more than 1.5 million artefacts and specimens unlike any other, but has also expanded its offering for children. Discovery World gets the kids involved with science during hands-on activities that are fun for the smallest, and even some bigger kids.
Walk on through to the specially created Butterfly Tropical Forest where the butterflies land on even the most nervous youngster. Just around the corner is the museum's Perpetual Guardian Planeterium where you and the kids can sit back, pop on the glasses and watch 3D films exploring the universe, stars and all sorts of other shows. During school holidays there are half-day and full-day programs available for the kids.
Address: 419 Great King Street, Dunedin.
Cadbury Chocolate Factory
I'm surprised it took this long for my kids to mention they got to watch thousands of litres of chocolate poured out before them in the big purple silo that is visible from most of Dunedin. Take the popular tour only a few blocks from the centre of town and see how some of the best-known chocolates in the world, as well as a few New Zealand favourites, are made.
There's lots of information from the fantastic guides, but we all know what we're here for, and there's plenty of chocolate on offer with free goodie bags filled up as you progress through.
There's even a tasting room where you can create your own signature blend.
Address: 280 Cumberland St, Dunedin.
In the swim
That's right, it's time to get wet. Despite the fact the outside temperature even in summer doesn't break much out of the 20s, there's plenty of places for you and the kids to get a refreshing dip. The Moana pool sits above the Dunedin city, and is heated to a comfortable temperature all year.
This isn't your normal town pool though. Two waterslides (called hydroslides by the locals) snake their way from inside to outside the building and back in again. There's also a wave pool, a toddlers' pool and a huge adult spa to watch all the action.
Fully supervised, the hardest thing about coming here will be getting the kids to leave.
If you're still keen for a natural experience, you can head to the beachside at St Clair, and swim in the heated salt beachside pool by the esplanade, or even get some surfing lessons and catch some friendly waves with the local boardriders club.
Address: Moana Pool: 60 Littlebourne Rd, Roslyn, Dunedin
St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool/Esplande Surf School: Esplanade, St Clair, Dunedin
Take a trip up the hills of Dunedin to a fully restored castle that has been part of the skyline since the 1800s.
The family can take a tour of the castle, with audio tours available to explain the history of the rooms, or just let the kids play outside with garden games such as croquet, jenga and an Alice in Wonderland-themed trip through the grounds.
Address: 145 Camp Rd, Dunedin