Step back in time and rent a bach (nzbaches.co.nz; pronounced ‘batch’, and also known as a ‘crib’ in the south) – it’s a national custom. These wooden kit homes with 360° balconies, 1970s cane furniture, split levels and bunkbeds are the essence of family holidays in New Zealand – funky without even trying and usually so close to the beach or lake that it’s like your backyard (and New Zealand’s so sweet that you will leave the buckets and spades there overnight without fear of loss and tears). It’s estimated there are 50,000 of these holiday homes throughout NZ – not bad considering the population is only around 4 million (not all are for rent). Many have evolved from basic models hand-built from secondhand materials into World of Interiors minimalist idylls, and the isolation of the bach of old has been replaced by such modern infringements as craft stores and mobile-phone reception. If you can hack the pace, chill out on the flokati rug, read Bone People by Keri Hulme, give the kids the Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD and make some kumera (sweet potato) chips with your fresh-caught fish for tea.
See also family-friendly hotels in New Zealand with partner Laterooms.
For eco-friendly options, from family huts with hot tubs to holistic retreats, see our feature Green Places to Stay with Kids: Australasia and New Zealand. New Zealand is also a classic destination for motorhoming – see newzealand.com for great advice, contacts and maps.