Kia Ora! I’m Viktoria — a travel writer and content creator living in New Zealand with my fiancé (Ryan) and one-year old daughter (Lia). Through our photography and writing, we share our family travel adventures in New Zealand through our social media channels and websites to inspire others on their journeys.
I hail from the Chicago suburbs where I grew up with a strong desire to travel. Seven years ago, I decided to leave the corporate world and I booked a one-way ticket to India for the first stamp in my passport. Since then, I’ve wandered around numerous continents falling in love with unique cultures, inspiring landscapes and exotic destinations.
As avid travelers, and with a strong love for nature, New Zealand has always been high on our list to visit. Coming from two countries (myself from the US and Ryan from the UK, both of which are hard to acquire work visas,) we realized NZ was a place we could both work and live without jumping through immigration hoops.
It only took a few months for New Zealand to feel like home and our one year adventure quickly turned into more. Since arriving in New Zealand, we haven’t stopped exploring. We started with our home city, Wellington, hiking everything we could get to via buses and trains, while saving up for our first campervan.
Traveling as a Small Family of 3 in New Zealand
Our campervan road trips have taken us across both islands of New Zealand with our favorite spots being Wanaka, Mt. Cook National Park, Queenstown, Fjordland, Coromandel, Tongariro National Park, Egmont National Park and Castlepoint.
We love hiking, especially for sunrises and sunsets, and some of our top memories include watching the sun rise from the Red Crater and seeing the sky turn cotton candy pink with a perfect reflection of Mt. Cook on Lake Pukaki. But, at this point, you must be asking yourself – isn’t it challenging to travel and have all these amazing experiences whilst raising a child?
The short answer is yes. We definitely have to carry more luggage with the little one. But overall it has been incredible to travel with her. She is happiest when we’re out and about and is comfortable napping on the go. Drives can take longer, and we get less sleep on flights, but it’s worth it to see her thrive and experience new places.
I highly recommend starting them young and exposing them to travel. Especially to a country like New Zealand which is ideal for family travel adventures. This country has been overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly. We’ve made incredible friends across both islands and we are grateful for the amazing hospitality that Kiwi’s have shown our family.
3 Ultimate Bucket-List Experiences in New Zealand
I have many favorite spots on both islands, but I’d have to say Mt. Taranaki in Egmont National Park is my favourite place in New Zealand. The woodlands resemble an enchanted forest from a fairytale and the all-mighty mountain can be seen for miles. It’s also the place we found out we were pregnant with our baby girl so it holds extra meaning.
When it comes to our 3 ultimate bucket-list experiences in New Zealand they would be: watching the sunset at Lake Pukaki, our first hike at Tongariro Crossing and road-trippin’ in the Coromandel and Fjordland.
We saw the most mesmerizing sunset on the edge of Lake Pukaki. After three failed attempts of seeing Mt. Cook, we returned in a campervan with some friends visiting from overseas and when we came around the corner to the perfect, clear view of NZ’s tallest mountain, we started hollering, hopped out of the van and ran around like kids watching the sky light up.
Number two would be our first time doing the Tongariro Crossing. To avoid the crowds, we decided to start the hike at 3am to reach the top for sunrise. The moonlight led the way as we climbed past silhouetted volcanoes and when the first bit of sun shone through, the entire place turned bright red, it was such an awe-inspiring moment.
My number three is any kind of road trip in our campervan. We’ve done a number of long drives across the North and South Island and there is nothing better than waking up in NZ’s stunning scenery. Coromandel and Fjordland are two of our favorites.
New Zealand Travel Tips from our Family to Yours
Campervan is by far the best way to see New Zealand. Explore both islands via windy, scenic roads and wake up in new places everyday. We love the North Island’s rolling green hills, tropical beaches and epic volcanoes and the South Island’s glaciers, snow-capped peaks and rugged coastline.
I highly recommend getting up for sunrise and catching as many sunsets as NZ is famous for its cloud formations and colorful skies. Do all the adventure activities. Hike in the mountains, bungee jump, skydive, hang-glide, stay in a hut and just enjoy all the beauty New Zealand has to offer.
My recommended places to see include but are definitely not limited to Coromandel, Tongariro National Park, Egmont National Park, Te Urewera, Wellington, Mount Cook, Fjordland, Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring.
For now, Wellington is home for my family. We hope to stay and gain residency, but continue to travel both islands, plus plan international trips often. Next up is Mexico and we are looking forward to getting back to Southeast Asia soon.