Plan a Family Trip to Gore
With a name like “Gore”, this town struggles with first impressions. But visit the second-largest town in Southland and you’re sure to be surprised. It’s a town with a sense of humour, showcased in its “moonshine museum”, while there are some awesome sights that kids love between the aircraft attraction, bush walks besides epic playgrounds, and restaurants serving inject-your-own-filling doughnuts. What’s not to love?! Stay awhile in the family-friendly motels or motorhome-friendly parks and enjoy an easy trip to Gore with the kids.
Plan your family adventure with this complete travel guide to Gore for families.
Things to Do in Gore with Kids
- Do a bushwalk, look for glowworms, camp and/or play at the playground of Dolamore Park
- Have a picnic or meet the deer at Gore Public Gardens and Bannerman Park
- See awesome planes at the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre
- Go ice skating at the Gore Multisports Complex
- Feed the ducks at Hokonui Pioneer Village
- Visit the Gore Museum and Hokonui Moonshine Museum
- Watch a movie at the SBS St James Theatre.
For more details on our top picks, check out the 7 Things to Do in Gore with Kids.
Free (and Cheap) Family Activities
Families rejoice as this is a South Island town that you hardly need to budget for. Most of its attractions are free or very affordable, starting with the highlight Dolamore Park. An excellent place for camping to see glowworms at night, Dolamore Park, just outside of Gore, gives you easy access to some family-friendly walking trails in the Croydon Bush Scenic Reserve, as well as an awesome children’s playground that the kids will love you for. Wander through the native bush on the 30-minute Dolamore Track and check out the native trees and exotic tree comparison at the park’s two arboretums! There’s plenty of space for families to roam, making this a must-do with the little ones.
For something in the town centre, check out Gore’s amazing gardens. The Gore Public Gardens is the town’s original garden with pretty flowers, winter gardens and an aviary that offers something to see all year round. Bannerman Park at the northern end of town is a beautiful place for a picnic under the shade of the trees or simply for a stroll among various flower gardens. Kids love going to see the deer at Bannerman Park too!
Finally, don’t miss Hokonui Pioneer Village where it will feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you wander the historic buildings of this outdoor museum. Open on weekends, this historical attraction features a church with a lychgate, an old bank, an old cottage, a school and a blacksmith. You can also explore a museum of vintage tractors and cars and agricultural implements. Admittedly, what kids seem to love the most is feeding the ducks at the duck pond! At around NZ$5 per adult and NZ$1 per child, it’s a place you can afford to check out!
All-weather Family Activities
If the weather isn’t playing ball, then don’t let the family fun come to halt! Gore has plenty of all-weather attractions to keep the whole family entertained. First up, we recommend the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre because what kid isn’t impressed by seeing aircraft up-close?! This huge hanger houses an array of aeroplanes from the 1920s and 30s, beautifully restored and preserved. From colourful bi-planes to awesome jet planes there’s plenty to see at this affordable attraction where kids get in free!
You can always rely on a good museum to fend off the rainy-day blues, and Gore has two museums in one at the Gore Historical Museum and Hokonui Moonshine Museum. The Gore Historical Museum is free and features displays on the early pioneers and Maori settlers in the area. In the same building, the Hokonui Moonshine Museum is a quirky museum showcasing the history of illicit whisky-making in Gore and the Hokonui Hills with static scenes, audio and visual displays and a chance to try some moonshine (for mum and dad; not the kids, of course). This museum has a small entrance fee but kids go free.
And for something more active on a rainy day, head to the Gore Multisports Complex, which houses a 25m (80ft) swimming pool, four sports courts and an ice rink. The ice rink is the most popular with kids, offering public ice skating sessions on weekends and children’s skating sessions on the weekday evenings. Even the little ones can join in with cute penguin skate aids to hire!
When it comes to dinnertime, treat the whole family to dining out in Gore. A top family-friendly restaurant is Howl at the Moon (Main Street) which offers plenty of space inside and out for families to enjoy a relaxed environment. The pub meals are reasonably priced and they also feature a special children’s menu.
After visiting the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre, treat the kids to some tasty treats or healthy food options at Miss Cocoa (1599 Waimea Highway). The well-presented cafe also has a homewares and clothes store to browse.
Finally, The Thomas Gree (30 Medway Street) not only offers a touch of history in the Thomas Green Public House but has some creative dishes that kids love. Their inject-your-own-filling doughnuts are a big hit, while there’s plenty on the children’s menu to please even the fussiest of eaters.