Fun Travels in New Zealand
10 New Zealand Experiences You Must Encounter this Lifetime
As crafted by local experts,New Zealand Walking Tours
Queenstown: The mention of New Zealand invokes thoughts of vast landscapes, Lord of the Rings, award-winning wineries, and thrill-seeking adventures, all discovered at the end of the earth. With travelers flocking to this isolated paradise, small-group, active tour operator New Zealand Walking Tours ensures its guests know which experiences are not to be missed. (See the traveler reviews and inspiring videos for proof!)
Here are 10 experiences to be savored in the land of the long white cloud:
1) Explore the Great Walks of New Zealand
New Zealand’s iconic countryside consists of over 500 stunning hiking trails that connect rainforests, dramatic granite peaks, and every fiord, lake, river valley and rugged coastline in between. Of these hiking trails, 9 are deemed particularly special by the New Zealand government with a tenth scheduled to open later this year:
New Zealand’s Great Walks. Choose to hike one trail in its entirety or absorb a variety of landscapes with day hikes on several of the country’s Great Walks, famed for their unsurpassable views.
2) Indulge in locally-produced wine
Prepare your palette to be put through a journey of the senses. The South Island is home to the famous Marlborough wine region, known for its production of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world, and the Central Otago region, producing some of the country’s best Pinot Noir. Boasting an array of soil types, the North Island is famous for producing Chardonnay, but also other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
3) Hike, helicopter and jet boat in a UNESCO World Heritage Area
The Hollyford Experience is one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets. Begin by catching a helicopter from Milford Sound and flying into rugged Martins Bay, home to one of New Zealand’s most remote luxury lodges; the Martins Bay Lodge. Take a short walk to Long Reef for panoramic views of the wild West Coast before enjoying farm-to-table meals made with fresh, local produce and locally-sourced venison, beef and salmon. Later, take an exhilarating jet boat ride across Lake McKerrow before walking along the Hollyford Track back to our lodge for morning tea, then another stunning helicopter flight over the world-famous fiord back to Milford Sound.
4) Experience real magic in New Zealand’s smallest National Park
The Abel Tasman National Park is famous for being New Zealand’s smallest, but arguably most iconic National Park. Turquoise green waters and lush native forest surround its golden sand beaches. But there’s a hidden secret here. Experts note that when the night is at its darkest, head to the nearest beach, wander into the ocean and move the water with your hands, watch in amazement as the sea literally comes to life. Billions of ocean phosphorescence emit light as the ocean is awakened, and a tranquil night will turn into a scene out of the movie Avatar.
5) Hike the Milford Track
Without a doubt, the Milford Track is the most famous of New Zealand’s Great Walks, known for some of the most spectacular views in the country. Starting at Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau, the Milford Track spans 33.5 miles and wanders through dense rainforests, epic granite mountain passes on route to Sandfly Point. Many hikers think the trail starts and finishes in Milford Sound, where in fact an explorer’s Milford Sound experience begins only once the trail is completed in its entirety.
6) Explore the path of an active volcano
Tongariro National Park is home to much of New Zealand’s volcanic activity, and arguably the world’s greatest day walk, known as the Tongariro Crossing. This 12.1-mile walk passes over Mount Tongariro, an active volcano scattered with crystal blue crater pools and live steam vents. Explore a variety of landscapes including ancient lava fields, barren alpine peaks, and lush rainforest.
7) Discover an ancient island and its wildlife
New Zealand’s North Island is surrounded by small uninhabited islands, including the Kermadec Islands, the Poor Knights, and the lesser-known Moutohora Island. Declared a wildlife refuge in 1965, this island is now home to 190 native plant species, some rare and endangered. It is also a bird lover’s paradise, so expect to see a variety of bird species such as the saddleback, red crowned parakeet, little brown kiwi, bellbirds, and various species of sea birds.
8) Thrill seek in the adventure capital of the world
Having earned the name of the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown is surrounded by giant granite peaks, setting the scene for an array of outdoor adventure activities. During the winter, four of New Zealand’s best ski fields are an hour’s drive from the resort town, and in the summer those fields turn into a mountain biker’s haven. If you’re feeling brave, try paragliding around peaks, skydiving over the lake, riding on jet boats gliding through canyons, or bungee jumping from a cable car.
9) Take a boat ride under a waterfall in Milford Sound
Milford Sound is famously regarded as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’, a statement that will surely never be challenged by any visitor. Take the view of the steep valley from the Homer Tunnel and be met by a breathtaking cul-de-sac of giant granite peaks. The peaks of Milford Sound are often clad in thousands of waterfalls as a result of the region’s 300 days of rainfall each year. It is an amazing natural creation that has been gifted to all who come to lay their eyes on it, an absolute picture of perfection.
10) Stay in the world’s most luxurious Net Zero energy campground
Stay at the head of Lake Wakatipu in the heart of New Zealand’s most iconic mountains. Camp Glenorchy’s well-insulated accommodations harness the rays of the sun to provide power, keeping guests warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The site was developed to make a statement, to tell the world that it is possible to live sustainably, contribute to the growth of a beautiful community and retain an authentic 5-star luxury experience.
For more information about incredible adventures throughout New Zealand, visit newzealandwalkingtours.com.
About New Zealand Walking Tours
Based in Queenstown, New Zealand Walking Tours is proudly presented by Active Adventures. With over 20 years of experience and learning, they have perfected the art of relaxed adventure, sending guests home with memories to last a lifetime. From discovering the pristine beauty of Milford Sound on foot, to dining at locally renowned restaurants with award-winning wine, experiences are catered for travelers that enjoy the finer things in life.
More to See & Do
· Wellington, Lower North Island: Wellington, which is often described as the “coolest capital in the world” is the national center of the arts, coffee and craft beer. The production of Pete’s Dragon began at Wellington’s Stone Street Studios and Weta Digital, where visitors can enjoy behind the scenes tour of the visual effects company that brought the dragon, Elliott, to life.
· Rotorua, Central North Island: Redwood Forest in Rotorua, a popular destination for hikers, has been the forest scene for Pete’s Dragon. With its Californian Redwoods and magnificent lake views, Redwood Forest scenery is an ideal double for America. In Rotorua visitors can enjoy the newly opened eco-experience, The Redwoods Treewalk, consisting of a series of 23 suspension bridges crossing the gaps between 22 ancient redwood trees that are 12-meters above the ground.
· Tapanui, Lower South Island: Located in the Otago region in the lower South Island, Tapanui was transformed into the main street of the American town of Millhaven. Tapanui, a popular fishermen location, is the home to the Clutha Gold Trail- one of the “Great Rides” of the Nga Haerenga, New Zealand Cycle Trail. Further, visitors can enjoy a variety of native wildlife in nearby Nugget Point, including Yellow Eyed Penguins and fur seals near the Otago coastline.
Color Your Own New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand is inspiring travelers to ‘color their journey’ with a series of adult coloring postcards available to download from newzealand.com
Coloring is believed to have the same effect on the brain as meditation has on the mind. Considering these benefits, Tourism New Zealand has created four sketches of iconic New Zealand locations from the new Pure brand campaign.
Tourism New Zealand collaborated with artist, Gabby Malpas to re-create four evocative destinations sketches using line art. The North and South Island images reflect those featured in the latest brand campaign and include a couple exploring Waiheke Island, Hobbiton Movie Set, Milford Sound and Cathedral Cove.
Coloring books for adults have shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list with five of the top 20 best-selling books being coloring titles.
People are encouraged to use #coloryourjourney #NZMustDo and @purenewzealand to share their coloring creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
About the artist: Gabby Malpas is from New Zealand and now calls Australia home. Gabby graduated from the Otago School of Fine Art, Dunedin in 1986 with a major in ceramics and describes her work as decorative but with a twist. Gabby has won various awards and has exhibited widely in the UK and Australia, with pieces in private and public collections worldwide.
Unique Len Lye Centre Art Museum Re-Opened in New Zealand
On July 25, 2015, The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand’s museum of contemporary art, re-opened its doors featuring the new Len Lye Centre. The Len Lye Centre is New Zealand’s first art museum dedicated to a single artist and, with its curved exterior walls made of mirror-like stainless steel, and the country’s first destination architecture linked to contemporary art.
This opening is the culmination of more than three decades of commitment to realizing a permanent home for Len Lye’s work in New Plymouth. In 1980, Len Lye gifted his collection and archive to be housed at the Govett-Brewster, coining it the “swingiest art gallery in the antipodes.”
Book Your Trip to New Zealand
From sailing around the beautiful harbor-side city of Auckland to exploring Hobbiton and the exciting alpine resort town of Queenstown, New Zealand offers travelers a wealth of options "fit for a royal."
Travelers might be interested in visiting:
Auckland - Known as the "City of Sails" Auckland is a vibrant city of harbors, beaches and islands; its Harbor has hosted two America's Cup campaigns, and is also where Duchess Kate recently beat her husband in a sailing race!
Hobbiton - An enchanting village of perfectly-formed Hobbit holes, Hobbiton is the must see Middle-Earth filming location for all Lord of the Rings fans.
Rotorua - A fascinating place of Maori culture and geothermal wonders, Rotorua lies on the Volcanic Plateau and is home to both Te Puia (the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute) and the world-famous Pohutu Geyser.
Wellington - New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, is nestled between a sparkling, expansive harbor and emerald green hills. Famed for its arts, culture, cuisine and natural beauty, Wellington is also home to New Zealand's national museum (Te Papa) and Zealandia - a unique eco-sanctuary for native animals.
Blenheim - The sunny town of Blenheim is known for its vineyards and artisan food culture but perhaps most renowned for its fascinating Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, one of the world's largest private collections of Great War aircraft and artifacts. The royal couple, escorted by Sir Peter Jackson, made sure to visit!
Marlborough Sounds - On the doorstep of Blenheim, the beautiful Marlborough Sounds is home to emerald-green inlets, white sandy bays and crystal- clear water. The perfect waters for a leisurely boat cruise!
Christchurch - Known as the "gateway to the South Island", Christchurch is a resilient city rapidly recovering from the devastation of its 2011 earthquake. It's set to hold the opening match of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Francophiles should make time to also visit the nearby boutique town of Akaroa, a charming place infused with French culture and cuisine.
Queenstown - One of the country's most popular visitor destinations, set on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu at the foot of a huge mountain range, Queenstown is known as the home of adrenaline activities in New Zealand, from bungy jumping to the Shotover jet-boat ride enjoyed by the Duke and Duchess! (See photo below.) Queenstown is also a destination for luxury experiences - from gourmet cuisine to spa treatments, the perfect bit of pampering to conclude a royal travel experience!
Sail Auckland's harbor aboard one of Team New Zealand's successful America's Cup yachts;
Tour the enchanting village of Hobbiton, the filming location built exclusively for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy;
Explore the enchanting Waitomo Caves, a labyrinth of underground caverns twinkling with glowworms;
Visit the world-famous Pohutu Geyser in Rotorua, and enjoy a traditional Maori feast and cultural performance in Mitai Maori Village;
Stroll through the fascinating Omaka Aviation Heritage Center in Blenheim, home to one of the world's largest private collections of Great War aircraft and artifacts;
Take a spectacular Shotover Jet boat ride across the beautiful waterways of Lake Wakatipu.
For more details and an example itinerary, please visit www.newzealand.com/us/trips-and-driving-itineraries/all-nz/fit-for-a-royal/
Iconic New Zealand 'Great Walk' Celebrated Milestone Anniversary
The Milford Track, One of Nine ‘Great Walks’ in the Country
Visitors to New Zealand’s Fiordland region will have the chance to experience the majestic beauty of the Great Walks’ Milford Track.
The 33.2 mile walk dates back as far as 1890. At the end of the walk, which takes approximately four days, hikers are rewarded by seeing the spectacular Milford Sound - described by storyteller Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and a bucket list destination for thousands of international travelers every year.
The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. New Zealand's nine Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through diverse and spectacular scenery. From native forests, lakes and rivers to rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges and vast valleys...there's a Great Walk for everyone! Visit the DOC website www.doc.govt.nz and search ‘great walks’ to find out more information.
Spa experience: Manuka Honey Spa Retreat Experiences on Cavalli Island.
Experience the magical benefits of indigenous Maori well-being remedies and a range of unique organic treatments delivered by New Zealand’s very best spa therapists. They carefully combine the renowned microbacterial properties of wild Manuka honey with locally sourced blossoms, herbs and china clay in supremely restful and reviving therapies for men and women each individually designed. www.cavalliislandretreat.co.nz
Culture: Legendary Love Experiences at Kawaha Point Lodge.
The award-winning luxury of Kawaha Point Lodge sits serenely on the water’s edge of Lake Rotorua. Your day of romance and unforgettable scenery starts by private helicopter direct from Kawaha Point Lodge to Mokoia Island where a knowledgeable guide takes you deeper into this triumphant love story. Then a luxury motor yacht takes you back across Lake Rotorua to the Kawaha Point Lodge private jetty. www.kawahalodge.co.nz
Wilderness: Walks on the Wilderness Side at Treetops Lodge & Wilderness Experience
Every guest also receives a map with guides to extensive safe, self-guided walks that helpfully identifies native birds and introduced animals you might see. With seven trout fishing streams, four lakes, riding, mountain-bike expeditions and over 70 kilometers of hiking or walk trails, Treetops offers every guest a new unforgettable walk and much more on its wilderness side. www.treetops.co.nz
Adventure: Abel Tasman & West Coast Wilderness by Sea & Air at Edenhouse.
Enter the world-renowned Abel Tasman by boat to experience golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush and pristine marine reserves. After lunch take off from Awaroa Beach by fixed-winged aircraft or helicopter and then fly for up to two hours. Share unforgettable bird’s-eye views of Abel Tasman National Park, flying over Golden Bay to Farewell Spit, the longest natural sandbar in the world. Your air-expedition flies on down the West Coast following the route where it meets the crashing Tasman Sea, seeing coastal forests and New Zealand’s unique Nikau palms. Land at Karamea, probably New Zealand’s most isolated town, to enjoy a drink with the West Coasters at the Karamea Village Hotel. www.edenhouse.co.nz
Discover: Whale, Fossil Fossicking and Wine Experiences at Claremont Country Estate.
First, fly scenically to Kaikoura by private light aircraft where you will share the astonishing experience of whale watching in the Pacific Ocean, by boat or aircraft. Your second day starts with a fascinating guided Land Rover safari through the 2,400 acre Claremont Estate to view the astounding natural formations called God’s Marbles and then you go fossil fossicking with local paleontologist Leigh Love who guides you to areas of the Waipara riverbed known to contain marine fossils and remarkable geological features. www.claremont-estate.com
South Pacific: Legendary Fire-walking Experiences at Royal Davui Island, Fiji.
Your Fijian-firewalking experience begins with a boat ride across the lagoon waters from Royal Davui Island to Dakuibeqa on Beqa Island. Here you must first request permission to gain access to the ancient fire-walking site by sharing a traditional Fijian Kava Ceremony at the chief’s residence. Only then will you be initiated into the secret rituals that the men must undertake in order to cross the hot stones safely like remaining celibate from their wives for 14 days. Then, safely back across the lagoon to the relaxing sanctuary of Royal Davui, where this privileged experience concludes with an authentic firewalking ceremony. www.royaldavui.com
• Wine: Cycles & Vines Experiences at Greenhill Lodge.
Pedal power is a fun and eco-friendly way to explore vineyards, and the world-renowned Ngatarawa Triangle region and Gimblett Gravels appellation are within a few minutes of Greenhill. First you choose to be ‘On Yer Bike’ from mountain bikes, tandems or rickshaws and then we help you select a suitable route. www.greenhill.co.nz
• Gourmet: Tasting the True Wharekauhau Experience at Wharekauhau Lodge and Country Estate.
See the day-to-day life of classic sheep raising, and dine on the estate’s prize-winning Texel lamb that uniquely marbles delicate fat throughout its fine flesh. It’s complemented with home-grown produce from the estate’s pesticide-free gardens, including asparagus, tomatoes, herbs, the tasty Pajaro strawberry even watercress. The terroir of the Wairarapa’s exceptional pinot noir wines perfectly underpins the nature-true flavours from Wharekauhau’s pastures and gardens. www.wharekauhau.co.nz
Huka Lodge Recipient of Tatler Enduring Excellence Award 2010
At a gala awards dinner attended by leading travel editors, writers and hospitality leaders held at The Ritz Hotel in London, Huka Lodge was honored as the recipient of the Tatler Enduring Excellence Award for 2010. This highly-regarded and prestigious international award honors Huka Lodge, New Zealand, for its outstanding consistency in maintaining the highest standards of excellence for the last 25 years.
Alex van Heeren purchased Huka Lodge in 1984 and with his renowned energy and passion shaped it into the internationally recognized exclusive retreat it is today. Huka Lodge has been and continues to be ranked amongst the best in the world and the Tatler Enduring Excellence Award 2010 certainly bears testament to this. Huka Lodge is a sister property to Dolphin Island, Fiji and Grande Provence Estate in South Africa. All three properties comprise The Huka Retreats, all sharing an unrivalled commitment to providing an extraordinary hospitality experience for guests within global locations of great unspoiled beauty.
Huka Lodge, New Zealand's Award-Winning Huka Lodge, Unveils Exceptional New Accommodation
Within the beautifully manicured 17-acre grounds at Huka Lodge another wonderful new enhancement to this iconic New Zealand retreat has opened. The Alan Pye Cottage, named after the charming Irishman who established Huka Lodge, opened to guests in early 2009. Designed by interior designers Virginia Fisher and Christian Anderson and Sumich Architects, the Alan Pye Cottage builds on and continues many of the themes established in the stunning Ownerís Cottage, which opened on the Huka Lodge grounds in 2005.
Privacy for guests staying in the Alan Pye Cottage is paramount and to this end the property has its own entrance and is gated. It is sited to take every advantage of the unrivaled Huka Lodge aspect of the deep turquoise green waters of the Waikato River. The Alan Pye Cottage has been built to exacting standards using the finest heritage materials ñ cedar and various heart timbers, stone and brick. It draws on design elements from the 1920s and 1930s and is a slightly eclectic yet very elegant retreat with a definite English Arts and Crafts influence pervading the interior and exterior design.
The Cottage boasts two large and stylishly appointed bedrooms, each with fireplaces, en suite bathrooms and generous dressing rooms. Both bedrooms are superbly decorated and offer a highly considered level of comfort. A generous open plan living room features a large brick fireplace, decadently comfortable furniture and everything guests need to feel this is a true ìhome away from home.î
A well-equipped kitchen is set up for a personal chef ñ guests may choose to stay in or to wander over to the main Lodge and dine there. Guests of the Cottage have use of all Huka Lodge facilities and services. A study is tucked away with desk, plasma flat screen television and sound system. This room also has its own complete bathroom should it be required to accommodate and accompanying party. A laundry is also available within the Cottage.
For outdoor pleasures, a heated infinity-style swimming pool and a separate private spa pool have been integrated into the outdoor landscape. There is also a fabulous stone outdoor pavilion within a courtyard garden.
The Alan Pye Cottage is certain to carry on the fine tradition of generous hospitality and elegant living established by Alan Pye and his wife at Huka Lodge so long ago. A legacy that drives Huka Lodge to this day to continue to find more ways to define the experience for its guests and to make it extraordinary. With the recent strength in the U.S. dollar it has never been a better time for the U.S. traveler to visit New Zealand. The NZ dollar has weakened by almost 35% in the last 6 months and is currently almost NZ $2.00 for US $1.00.
Depending on the season, nightly rates for the Alan Pye Cottage range from NZD $3,060 to $7,640 for two guests to NZD $4,595 to $8,075 for four guests. Rate includes pre-dinner drinks, a five-course dinner and full country breakfast. Taxes not included.
For additional information on the Alan Pye Cottage or Huka Lodge, please visit www.thehukaretreats.com or call + 64 7 378 5791.
Light Aircraft Strip Now Open
A new grass small aircraft airstrip has been opened exclusively to Wharekauhau guests with full Civil Aviation Authorisation, allowing guests arriving by private aircraft to land in front of the lodge after a few minutes from New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. For details, check web site www.smartmailpro.co.nz/redirect.aspx?xr99
Ski at Blanket Bay, Glenorchy
A scenic, 15-minute helicopter flight up the lake from Queenstown, Blanket Bay lies in a sheltered inlet surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps. Commanding spectacular views of the lake and rugged countryside this lodge enjoys a private, unrivalled lakeside location. From here you can experience the Southern Alps in all their glory, skiing completely untouched snow on mountain terrain never before explored. With exclusive use of a helicopter, join a guide and spend a day on the powder scaling the spectacular mountainsides and enjoy lunch in a picnic spot of your choice. At the end of an action-packed day return for cocktails on the balcony and a delicious candlelit dinner beside a crackling log fire.
For more information, check Web site www.slh.com/blanketbay)
Windhawk Helicopters Offers The Best Of Marlborough, New Zealand - By Air!
Windhawk Helicopters - the new adventure tourism operator based in Marlborough, New Zealand now offers “The Best of Marlborough”, a unique scenic flight which showcases the spectacular scenery of Marlborough’s wine region and Sounds from a new perspective.
Lifting-off from Windhawk’s own base within the vineyards (and minutes from Blenheim), “The Best of Marlborough” scenic flight takes in Marlborough’s world-famous wineries, rivers and peaks before tracking North to the beautiful Marlborough sounds. The flight lasts nearly an hour and affords plenty of opportunities to pause high above some of New Zealand’s most magnificent scenery before touching-down back at Windhawk for a glass of Marlborough wine.
Windhawk Helicopters already offers professional flight services within the Marlborough region. These include guided trout fishing, heli-hikes, lakeside/mountain picnics, wedding photography, frost protection and corporate charters, in addition to bespoke scenic flights to suit all individuals.
Ben Barnett, company director and pilot, grew up in Marlborough and accumulated a thousand hour’s flying time as a pilot overseas before returning to the region in 2006 to start Windhawk Helicopters. “We are so lucky that the Marlborough region has so much to offer from the rugged high country, the vineyards and the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and a helicopter puts it all within reach”, explains Ben.
For more information, contact Windhawk helicopters, Pip Walsh, Marketing Manager, 179 Brookby Road, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand; T: + 64 (0)3 5729132; F: + 64 (0)3 5729139 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or check web site www.windhawkhelicopters.com
Where to Eat
Taste & Flavor at Wharekauhau
The food philosophy at Wharekauhau is simple: What's fresh, in season and in the neighbourhood. Dishes are largely created from the lodge gardens, the farm and the region, wherever possible. Wharekauhau lies in the exceptional region of Martinborough, renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir grapes.
Wharekauhau 'Taste & Flavor' Cookbook
Now available from the lodge, the Wharekauhau Cookbook. Learn culinary secrets that make this a truly special lodge experience. Signature dishes are European contemporary with a New Zealand twist. Ingredients are truly regional.
For more information contact Western Lake Road, Palliser Bay, RD3 Featherston, Wairarapa, New Zealand; Telephone: +64 6 307 7581 Facsimile: +64 6 307 7799