The Gold Coast is known for its beautiful beaches, exciting theme parks, and endless activities for families. Prior to having kids, both Marce and I have both lived in Queensland! Albeit, Marce lived nearly a whole decade over there whilst I only lived there for around a year in 2014 before we both went travelling in Europe and The UK. It was super cool to bring our kids to the Gold Coast, making memories.
We stayed at two Accor Hotels, The Mecure Gold Coast and Novotel Surfers Paradise. We chose Accor hotels as we are on their loyalty programme so if you book with them you will accumulate points and food is half price in the restaurants which is such a huge bonus. The Mecure Gold Coast was close to the theme parks and very convenient, it was slightly dated but still really nice. If you are a golfer this is the perfect spot for you. The hotel sits right on the palm meadows golf course. If you have kids, I would request a ground floor or first floor as they do not have lifts to your room, so if you have a lot of luggage, it’s a little bit of a hike if you are on the top floor with all your bags, if you want the extra workout then grab the top floor.
The pool area was amazing and the kids loved it, you could also get pool side service out there whilst watching the kids have fun in the pools. There is a big pool, baby and toddler pool and a spa available. The restaurant was amazing too and had a lot of gluten-free options for our coeliac members of the whanau! We ate at the restaurant most nights and all our meals were half price. We decided not to have the buffet breakfast here as the gluten free options were quite limited and probably not worth what we would be paying even with 50% off food. So we just got some breakfast options for the kids from the supermarket, fruit, gluten free weetbix and some freedom coco-pops or ate out. This hotel also had a really decent gym, older equipment but had everything you need for a good work out while on holiday. Parking is free here and there is lots of it. Our stay here for just four nights here in accommodation was $400 and parking was free.
The Novotel Surfers Paradise was a little further from the theme parks but in an amazing location, right in the heart of Surfers Paradise and close to the beautiful Gold Coast beach. We requested a ocean view family room which had a queen bed and a area with two separate single beds for the kids. if you want my honest review, it is a great location but I found the rooms very dated, if you are booking here, make sure you book in the newly renovated rooms as there are two parts to the hotel, the photos are quite deceiving online. We have stayed in a few Novotel's in New Zealand and they have been pretty good, so expected the same experience, however, I was wrong. When we checked in I was going to get a refund but we were upgraded to a better room in the newer part of the hotel. Instead of the refund I took the upgraded room as I knew it would be a bit of a mission trying to find more accommodation so late at night. We also had a friend and her family staying with us in another room. The task ahead of us was way to hard basket, so we took the upgraded room instead of a refund. At least the bed was comfortable, so that was definitely a bonus. The food in the lobby cafe was average, very little gf options available the restaurant buffet was not much better either.
It wasn't all negative though, the pool area was great, it had a decent gym, newer equipment the the Mecure but a lot smaller. I probably would not stay here again for the price, and next time would opt for an apartment or Airbnb. In hindsight, we probably should have just stayed at Mecure as it was half the price (thanks to the red room pricing). We also had a rental car, so driving in was super easy.
I loved the theme parks over here in the gold coast when I was a kid , so I was looking forward to taking the kids on a trip down memory lane. However, while it was good seeing the parks again it wasn't as great as I had expected. Many of the rides were closed for service which was a huge disappointment as we had paid full price for our tickets. When I booked the tickets, there was no disclaimer about half the rides being closed, so definitely double check that before you purchase.
We purchased the 7-day unlimited entry to four parks which included, Movie world, Sea world, Paradise Country and Wet and Wild. I have listed the parks from best to worst and will tell you the reasons why.
- Sea World - This was amazing for our girls due to the live shows. They particularly loved the seal and dolphin show here. We liked sea world the best so decided to go here for a second time and I am glad we did. The first day we went a lot of the rides were closed, however when we went during the Australian School Holidays, a lot more was open, the car park was very packed but the wait times were pretty good. I would highly recommend downloading the village app as you can virtual queue which helps a lot. You can virtual cue in a ride whilst doing other things around the park and go back to the ride and get to the front of the line. This helps a lot with the adults rides like the new rollercoaster Leviathan! We could virtual queue the ride and do things with the kid while we were waiting for our turn to go on the rollercoaster. Once we could get on, we left our babies with a friend while Marce I went straight to the front of the que for the rollercoaster. The kids area was amazing here, loads of rides available for the kids, they loved it, the wait times weren't too bad either. They loved the sponge bob and kids roller coaster. In addition to the great shows, the kids rides and rides for adults there is also a waterpark, so make sure you pack togs and towels! It's perfect for little cool down. We did the water park on our second visit. As a note, our kids are 3 and 5, this is probably why it was the fave pick of the bunch.
- Movie world, the highlight for this park was the star parade at 3.30pm, I'm not going to lie, I actually got a little bit emotional seeing the excitement on their faces. The kids loved it. The parade featured the looney tunes, Wonder Woman, Superwoman, Batman, Robin, Cat woman, Marilyn Monroe, The Flash, Scooby doo plus many more. Luca got a little high five from the flash and man she was excited! It was the cutest thing to see! "mummy he gave me a high five!" The rides were a bit of a disappointment, half of the kids looney tunes area was closed and the more exciting rides that I could remember as a kid such as at the Scooby doo and Wild Wild West were closed.
- Paradise Country - Great for kids! we did the gem mining with the girls here and they loved it, it cost around $10. They give you a bag of sand, filled with crystals and you get to mine them! It kept them busy and they both loved mining the crystals.The girls got to see a few Australian animals here too, like a Kangaroo, Koala and Tasmanian devil. There's a park on site here too, plus a Shaun the Sheep kids show, which the girls loved.
- Wet & Wild - We didn't get time to take the girls here, however, my brother went and from his review it was crap! Half the slides were closed which as expected would be a huge disappointment.
Overall, due to the price we paid and the amount of rides that were closed, it was a little disappointing but SeaWorld and seeing the kids excited faces at the Star Parade at movie world made it worth it in the end! I do think that the pricing should be reduced though if half the rides are closed or there should be a clear disclaimer on the website noting the closures when you are purchasing.
Food & Dining
Both Marce and Taeo are coeliac so dining around the place made it a little more difficult due to their dietary requirements, however, I did find that were a lot more gluten free options available in Australia when compared to New Zealand! Grill’d was good, we dined there twice! So many gluten free options on the menu! Which made life super easy and why we went more than once while we were in surfers.
We packed our food for the theme parks as I knew the gf options in the parks would be extremely limited and likely extremely overpriced! It was! So if you want to save some coin or have family members with allergies, I would highly recommend packing food and snacks for the day! We just did a small shop at Woolworths or Coles and I purchased fruit, cheese sticks, rice crackers, chips, free from cookies, salami bites and carrot sticks! Food that you could store in your hotel fridge, which did not require cooking. Whenever it comes to nutrition, just think, where is my source of protein in this meal every time you eat or at least have a good protein filled breakfast. I had a protein shake most mornings! Before we came over I purchased some nuzest protein sachets and a small GGV, these are my supplement esssentials and come with me everywhere. They are the perfect size for travelling too.
We had some amazing gluten free donuts at Harbour Town! Doughnut bros! I get excited when I find gluten free donuts haha. The girls do too, especially our little T.
We visited a cool Gin distillery not far from my friends house in Mt Tamborine, The Cauldron Distillery. The sun was shining but man it was windy that day! I got the tasting paddle and on that paddle I had a shot of limoncello! Oh my god, it took me right back to the coast of Amalfi! So I had to buy a bottle and take it home with me to reminisce! Loved this place though! The vibe was so cool! The kids could run around the place too as it was located in a big field, there were a few garden games for them to play with also.
Tips: Helpful advice for a smooth trip. Take an iPad for the kids! We don't really give our kids devices very often, but having these on the plane were a god send! They could keep themselves entertained! We also had some pens and colouring books as well to keep them busy! We were so busy they never had time to be on a device, we were always out doing activities and when we got back home to our accommodation, we would swim, have dinner and then it will be time for bed. We decided to do the roaming service with spark and I personally had lots of issues with it. In the past I've used Optus, a local Australian mobile company and it worked well. I would recommend getting a SIM card with a local phone service provider or at least have one of you (if there's two or more of you) with roaming and the other with a SIM card.
Do not forget your carseats if you are not hiring! We were meant to check in one of the girls seats and totally forgot at the airport.
Accommodation: Novotel Auckland Airport 1 night $461.65
Mecure Gold Coast for 4 nights $420
Novotel Surfers Paradise for three nights $1175.84
Flights and Travel Insurance: Flights Air NZ for 2 adults & 2 Children flying from Auckland to Gold Coast $2880. Travel insurance with southern cross for 10 days $108.
Rental Car Hire - $683.66 for 10 days.
Village pass for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) - $879.88
Spark roaming for two mobiles $70
Miscellaneous spending, this included all our food (hotels, theme park food, drinks, supermarket, alcohol and going out), shopping and various activities such as timezone came to a total of $1839 nzd - We used our Mastercard over there, it was heaps easier than using cash. Tallying this total actually came up a little better than I expected haha! I could have easily done a little more shopping but my partner in crime was hurrying me along (he was hungry).
The total for our Gold Coast Trip for ten days for a family of four was $8410.034
Things I would do differently?
Get an apartment for most of the trip so we have the option of cooking our food if we wanted too. When I think about it, I really don’t know why I didn’t in the first place. When I travelled the world, all I used was mostly Airbnb! Take a pram for Taeo as she did not want a bar of walking around! I would definitely not pack as much clothes and have at least two - three days allocated shopping instead of 1.5 days.
We had an amazing time over in the Gold Coast, It was so good that for a little moment I thought, hmmm I definitely could live here again, but holidays are always different, because you are having a break and everything is fun. What also brings me back to reality is that my whole entire support system lives in New Zealand! So yeah, probably wouldn’t happen any time soon.
You could most definitely make this trip cheaper than what we did too, we ate out and at hotels for most of our meals, even though it was around 50% off at the hotels we stayed at, cooking yourself would probably have halved our food bill, but lets be honest, having someone cook for you, plus do your dishes is the freaking best! It was so nice having our first international trip post covid lock downs and we really want to do this little getaway every year! The kids loved it.
If you wanted to check out the Accor plus membership and maybe join yourself! You can check it out here. We have well and truly made the most of it! We love to stay at the Novotel Rotorua with the kids! It's central and has everything there and the kids love going there for little nights away. I quite enjoy it too. We have earnt a couple of free night stays from our loyalty points and you can’t beat 50% off restaurant food! When we have eaten at the buffet for dinner it only costs $59 for the four of us! (under 5s eat free) sooo good!
Hope you enjoyed the read! Until next time...