New Zealand has more than 9,000 miles of coastline, making it a premier destination for beach-goers. Whether you prefer active adventures like surfing and kayaking, or tranquil days soaking up the sun with a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful scenery, New Zealand’s diverse beach culture is worth a top spot on your vacation to-do list. We’ve compiled 11 of the most amazing New Zealand beaches to check out on your next vacation to Kiwi Country.
Part of a series of islands just east of Auckland, Rangitoto Beach and Scenic reserve is part beach, part nature hike and part sea kayaking adventure. A volcanic island formed more than 6000 years ago, Rangitoto holds a unique spot among beach islands in New Zealand. Your Rangitoto visit is best experienced through a sea kayaking tour, ending up with a hike to the top of the island that provides vast 360-degree views of the water and land around you. Along the way, you can explore the native flora and volcanic rock.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
Despite Cathedral Cove being tucked away from the main roads, it still proves to be one of the most popular – and picturesque – New Zealand beaches. The 2,100 acre marine reserve, accessible only by foot or by sea, still manages to attract more than 150,000 visitors per year. A one mile hike in over gorgeous terrain takes you deep in to the heart of some of New Zealand’s most beautiful topography, rock formations, and coastline. Sure to be worth the trek, Cathedral Cove’s crystal clear waters provide some of the best snorkeling in the area, while white sand beaches provide the perfect spot to simply sit and relax surrounded by some of the most pristine, undeveloped natural land in New Zealand.
Hot Water Beach
A staple among all New Zealand beaches, Hot Water Beach is notable for its heated mineral water that naturally springs up through the sand. The interesting thing about the beach and the hot natural spring below the sand, is that you can dig your own personal hot spring beneath the sand. Forgot to pack your shovel? Local cafes and stands have taken to renting shovels out for curious tourists. Be sure to arrive two hours before or after low tide, as the stretch of sand that is hiding the hot water will be exposed enough to dig.
A small coastal city on the northeast portion of the South Island, Kaikoura is a must see just a short drive from Christchurch. While the coast has plenty of great recreation options such as kayaking, white water rafting, and mountain biking, the real highlights in Kaikoura are the numerous wildlife experiences available. Whale watching trips leave throughout the day and the coastal area is home to many of New Zealand’s native animals, such as dolphins and fur seals.
Piha Beach, Auckland
Best known for its striking black sand, Piha Beach – on the west coast of Auckland – is a must see for your New Zealand trip. The shining feature of this rugged coastline is Lion Rock, a large rock formation eroded from a volcanic neck some 16 million years old. In fact, the black sand of the beach is caused by its high iron content, a by-product of its volcanic beginnings. Although this beach is also known as the birthplace of surfing in New Zealand, its calm looking waters hide deceptive rip currents invisible to the untrained eye. For this reason, surfing and swimming at Piha Beach are recommended for confident swimmers, while lifeguards are on duty.
Piha Beach is also part of the overall Piha Canyon area, where more adventurous visitors can participate in canyon adventuring. Taking you rappelling through narrow canyon crevices, through waterfalls, swimming through canyon waterways and jumping in to natural pools, a canyon adventure is the most heart pounding way to experience the entirety of the Piha Beach and Canyon Area.
In Eastland, you can truly be the earliest riser in the entire world. Due to its geographical location, Eastland holds the unique distinction of being the first land in the world that the sun touches every morning. Whether from the soft sand beach or standing atop Mount Hikurangi, the sunrise in Eastland is a breathtaking event not to be missed. After the sunrise, the beach area is pure New Zealand splendor with its quintessential white sand beaches and clear waters. Don’t forget to take some time out to walk along the pier at Tolaga Bay, the longest pier in the country at nearly half a mile in length.
Located on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, Buffalo Beach is another of New Zealand’s beaches famous for its white-sand coast and surrounding local beach culture. While named for a ship that crashed off the coast in 1840, Buffalo Beach has calm waters suitable for all swimming during all tides of the day. While you are in the area, check out the surrounding Lost Spring Thermal resort close to Buffalo Beach.
Tunnel Beach, Dunedin
Located in Dunedin, in the southeast region of the South Island, the tunnel for which Tunnel Beach was named was hand carved nearly 150 years ago to provide an entrance to a small, secluded beach at the bottom of a rock cliff. Tunnel Beach is popular for its stunning views, interesting geology, and crystal clear waters. Tunnel Beach is one of the most popular of New Zealand’s beaches, attracting both locals and tourists all throughout the year. Even in the colder months, the views and rock formations make Tunnel Beach a must visit no matter when you travel. The walk to and from tunnel beach features a fairly steep grade, so wear your walking shoes and come prepared for an experience well worth the short hike in and out.
Located on a private stretch of coastal bay, Scrubby Bay is perfect for those seeking a private beach retreat that features everything New Zealand nature has to offer. Surrounded by high cliffs, vistas, and beautiful rock formations, Scrubby Bay features a semi-open air farmhouse nestled in a valley overlooking the water. A lush, green meadow takes place of sand on this coastline just east of Christchurch, making Scrubby Bay a unique inclusion on our list, but its feeling of seclusion and relaxation is unprecedented. Spend your day in nearby Christchurch before taking the 1.5 hour drive on a highway that takes you through the beautiful rolling vistas of New Zealand, straight to your own private bay.
Very much a locals hang out spot, Sumner Beach is sure to provide an intimate look at local beach culture in New Zealand, besides being a spectacular natural site to behold. Surrounded by a quintessentially coastal, beachy town, Sumner Beach provides both your standard feet in the sand beach experience, along with easy walks and strolls along the promenade, giving you picturesque views of coastal New Zealand. Along the promenade, take some time to stop in to local cafes and restaurants, many of which provide open air café-style outdoor seating, allowing you to drink in the local scenery with your latte.
Dangerous rip currents, rough breaching waves, and not a speck of sand in site, Birdlings Flat is not your average day at the beach. Due to dangerous conditions in the actual water, it is not advised to swim in the ocean here, but what Birdlings Flat lacks in water sport, is made up for with wildlife spotting, gemstone hunting, and walking along the unique flat, pebbly surface of the coast. Birdlings Flat is worth a visit for those not looking to take a dip, but simply enjoy the natural beauty of a beach that trades tons of sand for millions of tiny flat rocks, hiding agates and other semi-precious stones. Also keep an eye out for the local wildlife like dolphins, whales, and seals that are known to call this coast home. Birdlings Flat is by far one of the most unique New Zealand beaches and a can’t miss on your next trip!
The diversity of beaches and relative ease of getting to them make New Zealand’s coast a must visit for anyone planning a trip to the country. Because New Zealand is such a great country to rent a car and get around yourself, you can easily jump from some of the larger cities to several beaches in no time, at your own pace. If you’re ready to see all that New Zealand has to offer, let us do the work for you and book your next custom New Zealand vacation today.
If you’re not convinced yet, give us a call Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US)! Our Destination Specialists are experts in planning the best vacations in New Zealand. Tell them what you like and let them give you 33 more reasons to visit New Zealand!
A vacation in the Cook Islands is a vacation in tropical paradise. The Cook Islands consists of 15 small islands in the South Pacific. Rarotonga, where you will most likely stay, is the largest island and the capital. It’s surrounded by a reef, making the sandy beaches white and calm waters a tropical turquoise color. You’ll also find lush dense rainforests and mountain peaks on this island.
Unlike many Caribbean islands, the ‘Cooks’ remains unspoiled. Many of the islands are uninhabited making this destination one of the few paradises in the world to remain relatively ‘undiscovered’. It’s a great place to relax, hike, swim, snorkel, and really just ‘get away from it all’. Here is what you might expect when you travel to the Cook Islands.
Coming from the US, you’ll likely fly out of Los Angeles (LAX) on an Air New Zealand red eye. Maybe you’ll watch some New Zealand sitcoms, read, or catch up on your sleep. Air New Zealand is a notoriously fun airline and most people have a pleasant experience with the staff and crew. You’ll arrive in Rarotonga around 6am and your tropical paradise awaits!
Where to stay in Rarotonga
Still relatively untouched by “Western Culture” you won’t find common franchise properties anywhere on the island. The locals are quite proud of this fact and even through you won’t recognize the name of your hotel, you will have great service and a wonderful experience. Your About New Zealand Destination Specialist will find you the best deal on the perfect Rarotonga accommodation for you.
At this point, you’ll want a way to get around the island. Most people rent a car or a scooter. To rent one of these, you will have to buy a Rarotonga driver’s license. It’s a fairly easy process, you just have to have a current driver’s license and pay about $20. For the scooter rental, you either have to have a motorcycle license or take a test for an additional $5 to show you can handle the motorbike.
There is also a bus that goes around the island (about 20 miles) and takes about an hour to circle the entire thing. The buses are labeled “Clockwise” and “Anti-Clockwise” so it’s pretty easy to get around without the rental.
You can also rent a bike.
Insider Tip: Scooter rental is the way to go. It’s a great experience and adds to the uniqueness of the vacation. Just be careful! Scooters aren’t toys but often seem like it while you’re on vacation. “Scooter Scars” (as the locals call them) are common due to many tourists’ lackadaisical attitudes.
Stuff to do in Rarotonga
There is an abundance of well-priced tours and adventures in The Cook Islands to keep you entertained. Ask your About New Zealand Destination Specialist to find you the best deals that fit in with your idea of fun.
Options include boat tours to surrounding islands, snorkeling around the reefs, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, hiking, lagoon cruises, sunset sailboat rides, horseback riding, safaris into the jungle, and more.
We highly recommend visiting Te Vara Nui Village where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and night show featuring the traditional hip shaking Polynesian dancing. Yes, just like in Hawaii!
Likely, you’ll have a lot of free time to relax on the beach. Most resorts we work with are walking distance from the beach but we also recommend checking out Muri Beach. The water is blue, warm and inviting. The sand is golden white and soft. It’s easy to rent kayaks, catamarans and windsurfers here. The best part about this beach is that it’s swimming or canoeing distance from the smaller islands of Koromiri. These smaller islands are nearly uninhabited and pretty amazing to see.
If you enjoy a good hike, be sure to hike out to Papua Waterfall. There you will find a natural pool where you can take a swim after your long hike!
Another spot to check out for snorkelers is the Maitai Wreck. The Maitai was on her way from San Francisco to Wellington when she wrecked on South Reef, Avarue, Raratonga on Christmas Day in 1916. Pretty amazing history! You can dive there too, but the wreck is only about 16 feet underwater, so it’s great for snorkelers.
Last tip! Don’t leave Rarotonga without checking out a black pearl shop. The black pearl is a great Cook Islands souvenir. Every time you see it, you’ll be reminded of the time you spent in a true tropical paradise with a small-town community feel to it. You’ll remember the sandy beaches, the Polynesian culture, the amazing marine life, the reef, the forests, the lush tropic plants, and the delicious tropical fruit.
The people, the atmosphere, the sights and the experience all make a Cook Islands vacation a truly magical adventure.
Thinking about a vacation to New Zealand and not sure when to go? We think the best time to visit New Zealand is in the Spring (Sept, Oct, Nov.) The weather is beautiful, the flowers are blooming and the food & wine are at their best! Don’t believe us? Here are 33 reasons to visit New Zealand in Spring!
21. Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival. (This happens in late spring!)
Image credit: Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival on Facebook
22. Warm, sunny days in Nelson. And absolutely incredible chardonnay. I mean, if you’re into that kind of stuff.
23. Better deals on hotels and airfare during non-peak seasons!
24. It’s fishing season in New Zealand, anglers are welcome!
25. Baby yellow-eyed penguins in Dunedin!
26. Golf courses in New Zealand. Enough said.
27. Hiking in Rotorua along the awesome volcanic and geothermal landscapes is a must.
28. Seeing the gorgeous peaks in Wanaka with an experienced guide is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
29. The weather in the Bay of Plenty is perfect for full gardens, vibrant wildlife and spectacular sunsets!
30. Visit the rain forest in the Coromandel Peninsula in spring and have your own personal safari without the hustle and bustle of lots of tourists. Even better, try it by bike!
31. The culture and sights in Northland in spring. Out of this world.
32. Do you have a green thumb? Check out the Taranaki Garden Spectacular, an event filled with gardens, landcape design ideas, tours, garden walks and community events.
Image credit: Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular on Facebook.com
33. And best of all, longer daylight hours means you’ll maximize the time you can spend in the beautiful landscapes on the North and South Islands.
If you’re not convinced yet, give us a call Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US)! Our Destination Specialists are experts in planning the best vacations in New Zealand. Tell them what you like and let them give you 33 more reasons to visit New Zealand!
New Zealand is made up of gorgeous rolling hills, natural hot springs, awe-inspiring mountains and a lot of lovely coastline. In fact, no matter where you are in the country, you’re never more than 79 miles from the ocean! The scenery and lush landscape are breathtaking and often the reason people travel to the country. But in New Zealand, there is just as much life brimming under the sea!
Kaikoura, which is a Maori word for “meal of crayfish”, is home to some of the most diverse marine life on the island. In fact, it is considered to be one of the world’s best whale watching locations in the southern Hemisphere. Large male Sperm Whales feed just off the coast and the unique geographic make up allows Kaikoura to host these majestic residents.
There is aten thousand footdrop off in to the ocean just off the shore that has a pocket of cool ocean water where the whales reside. The large fish that live off the coast provide a great diet year round.
Thinking about visiting Kaikoura? The US summer months (June, July & August) are when the whales come much closer to shore.
This is also migration season for the Humpback Whales from Antarctica. They pass the coast of Kaikoura as they move towards warmer waters so there’s a high possibility of seeing the majestic creature during this time.
You may also spot a number of other whales including:
Southern Right Whales
What else is there to do in Kaikoura?
Not only is Kaikoura home to some of the most gorgeous and majestic whales, there’s a thriving marine life of a smaller size in the waters. Perhaps the most adorable are the New Zealand Fur Seals that make their home in Kaikoura.
Make Friends with the Seals
New Zealand Fur Seals are known for their sleepy nature, in fact, many who visit New Zealand might run into a seal or two snoozing off the coast line! They can often be quite the road block too, as seen in the below picture! It’s important to give seals the space and respect they deserve. They maybe cute, but can be dangerous to humans and dogs if they feel threatened.
Photo Credit: Jacanruss from Instagram
Though fur seals are usually pretty docile, they can scoot pretty quickly if they feel threatened or want to protect their pups. Luckily, if you’re hoping to get a good snapshot of these cuties, there’s a spot where you can see hundreds of seal pups tucked away just north of Kaikoura.
A Kiwi who lives in Kaikoura told us that every year these seal pups find their way from the ocean up to this waterfall and it becomes nature’s day care center for the pups. Even our Destination Specialists ensure us it’s something you won’t want to miss.
If you can handle the cuteness, check out this video below!
Want to swim with the seals? Why not ask your specialist about this Seal Swim Tour?
Meet the friendly dolphins
Dusky Dolphins have also been known to be found in the Kaikoura waters. They almost always try to steal the show when visitors are on whale watching tours.
There are estimated to be several hundred dusky dolphins in the waters of Kaikoura. They are fun, energetic animals that like to put on a good show. They can be seen splashing and jumping when visitors in boats & kayaks venture by.
Pods containing several hundred dolphins are said to call Kaikoura home. You’re able to swim with the dolphins, kayak alongside them or if you want to just sit back — you’re sure to see dolphins on a boat tour!
Check out a few of our favorite shots from travelers who explored the vibrant marine life of Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea!
Plus lots of other activities including..
Maori Cultural Events
Museums & Theatres
White Water Rafting
Just to name a few…
Want to visit Kaikoura and see this gorgeous wildlife? Give us a call Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US)!
Let us help you find the perfect time to take part in Kaikoura Whale Watching or maybe a swim with the dolphins. Our Destination Specialist would love to help plan your dream vacation.
New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the world. From the rolling hills in Matamata to the breathtaking mountains in both the North and South islands. Something very unique to New Zealand are glaciers that feed into breathtaking rain forests.
Two of the most famous glaciers to visit are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. There are a number of experiences that are available on both glaciers for visitors of all activity levels.
Fox Glacier is a 13-kilometre-long (8.1 mi) Glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of the South Island. Home to gorgeous ice caves and arches, Fox Glacier was named after one of New Zealand’s Prime Ministers. The Maori name is Te Moeka o Tuawe.
If you want to visit this incredible glacier, there are multiple ways to see it which cater to both active and leisurely travelers. You can go ice hiking, see its spectacular areal views from a scenic flight or get-right-on-it during the glacier face walk. Guided tours are available. It is not recommended to go beyond the barriers and climb onto the glacier due to the unstable terminal face.
Stay in the Fox Glacier township, “Weheka” 4 miles from the glacier.
The fly-in, fly-out heli hike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches.
This is an informative and leisurely trip to the dynamic face of the glacier. It is here that the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen.
Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef is visited by adventure seekers from all over the world. Maori call the glacier Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere. Located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of the South Island, this glacier welcomes 250,000 visitors every year and is a must-see for adrenaline seeking adventurers. The glacier has different activities for all travelers, so you don’t want to miss out! Guided and unguided walks are available, but a helicopter is required to get up to the glacier due to the unstable terminal face.
Explore the glacier in a heart pumping way by vertically climbing the ice. This is a day packed with adventure and adrenaline highs. You’ll have an expert guide you through the glacier every step of the way, whilst still enjoying the dramatic scenery and awesome terrain of the Franz Josef Glacier.
For those who are seeking the beauty of the glacier at a slower speed, why not try the two hour Guided Glacier Walk? You’ll take a flight up to the top of the glacier and get to see the beauty of the surrounding mountains as the guide lets you explore the awe-inspiring formations.
Whether you want to take a heli flight to the top of the glacier and walk around, or just want to see where the glacier runs into the waters below, there are glacier experiences fit for every person’s adventure level. Don’t miss out on this gorgeous sight you can only see in New Zealand.
If you are ready to start planning your glacier exploration, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
Ever have the urge to jump into the ocean in the middle of winter? Maybe you’d wish it was warm enough outside to take a swim. New Zealand doesn’t let silly things like seasons dictate when you can enjoy the water. In fact, there are countless number of hot spring experiences all across the North and South Islands. Here are our (and the world’s) favorite Hot Spots in New Zealand.
Hot Water Beach New Zealand – Mercury Bay
Located on the east side of the North Island, Hot Water Beach is a unique experience to dig your toes in the sand and relax in the natural hot water. You can rent a shovel for $5 and dig your own spa in the sand! The water can get very hot but luckily the ocean is just a short walk away!
Waiwera Thermal Resort – Waiwera
Just north of Auckland, Waiwera is a popular thermal water destination. There are hot water thermal pools surrounded by native New Zealand fauna. And this destination is family friendly! Whether you want to relax or relive your childhood, don’t miss out on Waiwera.
Taupo Thermal Hot Pools – Taupo
Located in the middle of the North Island, the Hot Pools in Taupo are a great place to stop. It offers a number of attractions anyone can enjoy. While some of their services do cost, Otumuheke Stream is a hot stream that flows into Waikato River and free for visitors. There are lots of little hot spots along the way – just follow the steam!
Hells Gate – Rotorua
Hells Gate is an awesome way to experience the thermal phenomenon in Rotorua in a relaxing spa setting. Most people come to see Kakahi Falls, the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere! It’s a special waterfall to the Maori people because they believe the sulfur in the water healed their ancestor’s years ago. If you’d rather stay in, there are a number of hot mud spas in the park too.
Polynesian Springs – Rotorua
This is one of NZ’s oldest spa attractions and a must see if you’re traveling through Rotorua. You can choose to relax in a Hot Mineral Bath, take part in one of their numerous spa treatments or experience the healing properties of one of their mud treatments. Whatever you choose, the Polynesian Springs provide a place to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the hot water year-round.
Onsen Hot Pools – Queenstown
Travel down to Queenstown in the South Island for this relaxing gem. The Onsen Hot Pools provide a romantic backdrop for any traveling couple. Filled with a soothing and nature provided combination of rain water, purified lake water and mountain spring water, the pools are truly a natural source of relaxation.
Whether you’re traveling during the US Winter or the NZ Winter (May-July), these New Zealand hot springs experiences will not disappoint. Start planning your trip today and make sure to include some of these glorious, natural H2O experiences!
If you need some help planning, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
Auckland is located on the North Island of New Zealand and is one of the most visited cities in the country. It is home to iconic sky tower, the Auckland Domain and an extinct volcano. It is a city full of adventure and activities that span all ages and interests. Plus it is easy to fly to Auckland with numerous direct flights from the US. There are plenty of things to do in Auckland but here are a few tours you should check out!
Auckland Harbour Cruise
This half day cruise takes you through the gorgeous harbor where you can see the city skyline, hear commentary about the nearby landmarks and enjoy a mouthwatering lunch. This is a great tour to do when you arrive in Auckland. Sit back and enjoy the ride as well as the spectacular views.
Taste of Auckland City Tour
This full day tour lets you experience the beauty of Auckland with all of your senses. See the gorgeous city of Auckland, taste the complex flavors of New Zealand Wine, smell the salty air as you drive along the coastline, hear the local Gannets as you visit their nesting site on Tasman Sea and feel the true spirit of Auckland with every step.
Located in the Waitakere Park Ranges near Auckland, Piha Canyon is an action-packed experience. Abseil under waterfalls, jump from caves and natural slides as you explore a historic logging dam from over 100 years ago! End the day relaxing by the gorgeous Tasman Sea. It’s a great way to experience the awesome natural beauty New Zealand offers.
Just a short drive from Auckland and you’ll end up at the Coromandel Peninsula. This beautiful destination is a hot spot for water activities, so if you feeling like taking a dive into gorgeous blue waters make sure to check out these spots:
- Cathedral Cove - Hot Water Beach (a true natural spa experience!) - Coromandel Peninsula
Start planning your trip there. Check out one of our favorite deals!
Looking for more things to do in Auckland? We have put together a comprehensive list of all the things to do in Auckland or call us Toll Free 888-359-2877(Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US) with any other questions you may have.
New Zealand is known for its green hills, mountain scenery and picturesque views. It has been the set of a number of movies but the most well-known and, dare I say the most-loved, is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The twelve-acre spread in Matamata gave Peter Jackson the perfect backdrop to bring Tolkien’s world to life and now this magical world is a reality for all who visit New Zealand. While popular landscapes from the movie can be seen across both islands, Hobbiton Movie Set is the only place where the set, including 44 Hobbit holes, has remained in place.
Here are 5 reasons you need to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set!
1. It is one of the most visited attractions in New Zealand!
Though one of the newer attractions in New Zealand, opening after its reconstruction for The Hobbit series in 2011. The Shires Rest & Hobbiton Movie set located on Alexander Farm has quickly risen in the ranks and now hosts more than 350,000 visitors each year!
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
2. Enjoy Ginger beer at The Green Dragon Inn!
The Green Dragon Inn, featured in the movies as a popular meeting spot for Hobbits in The Shire, is open to the public. Every tour offers a complimentary beverage at The Green Dragon Inn including Ginger Beer, apple cider or ales.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
3. The guided tour is full of movie secrets!
The Hobbiton Movie Set is only available by tour but that doesn’t limit you on what you’ll see. The best part about a guided tour is you hear tidbits of information about Peter Jackson, movie making techniques — like how some Hobbit Holes are larger than others depending on the size of the actor — and interesting facts around the set. Did you know The Party Tree in the movie is artificial? The leaves were imported from Taiwan and wired onto the branches!
4. You can now eat dinner like a Hobbit!
One of the newest additions to Hobbiton is theEvening Dinner Tour. You’ll make your way through the twelve acre set as your experienced guide recounts facts and movie magic. At the end of the tour, you’ll settle in at The Green Dragon Inn and enjoy traditional Hobbit Fare in a banquet style feast. To end this magical night, every guest will be given a lantern and will travel back through the glowing enchanting village. The Shire in the moonlight is a breathtaking view that is unforgettable.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
5. The photo opportunities are endless!
The stunning scenery and sets of Hobbiton make you feel like you’ve stepped into Tolkien’s world. Throughout the tour you’ll get opportunities to take pictures at iconic stops including Bilbo Baggin’s house, The Green Dragon Inn and the home of Samwise Gamgee. The picturesque charm of Hobbiton will inspire anyone to snap a picture or two.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
The best part is that The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit sights don’t stop there! There are a number of locations in New Zealand that you can visit to retrace the steps of beloved Tolkien characters including Christchurch, Wellington & Queenstown.
If you need some help planning your Middle Earth vacation or just want to know more about Tolkien themed day tours, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
In December 2015, Air New Zealand will host direct flights from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand. This means traveling to New Zealand just became even easier with five Air New Zealand hubs in North America!
Training with Tourism New Zealand
In preparation for the inaugural flight from Houston, the staff at About New Zealand partnered with Tourism New Zealand for a massive training event Thursday. 24 vendors from all across New Zealand showed up Thursday morning and, after a Texas sized breakfast, the teams got to work.
The morning jumped right into fast paced training sessions for our staff. The vendors in town ranged from luxury accommodations to award winning Maori Cultural experiences and even self-drive experiences in the comfort of a camper van, like tourism New Zealand’s Kombi Diaries.
There are some pretty interesting things waiting you in New Zealand including Helicopter Tours to Franz Josef, luxury day cruises on Doubtful Sound, accommodations fit for royalty (literally) and lots of Hobbit inspired experiences. We even got a look at a real prop worn by a Dwalin in The Hobbit!
Photo courtesy of Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand
By midday the About New Zealand staff was full to the brim with New Zealand knowledge and Tourism NZ was out the door to Houston for their final stop. Housing this many vendors in one day was a milestone for About New Zealand. It was exciting and exhausting but most importantly it was another way we can improve your travel experience!
What does this mean for you? Our partnership with Tourism New Zealand and the amazing turn out of New Zealand vendors ensures your next New Zealand vacation is one you’ll never forget! After extensive training, our Destination Specialists are even more excited to start planning your New Zealand vacation!
Looking for information on New Zealand airports for your future trip? Check out our quick guide to New Zealand airports, both international and domestic.
New Zealand International Airports
With five international airports, traveling to different areas in New Zealand has never been easier. Christchurch & Auckland are the largest airports, housing millions of passengers each year! All of the New Zealand airports have facilities and transportation options to make traveling to and from this beautiful country more comfortable.
Auckland International Airport – AKL
Considered the main hub for international travel to New Zealand, Auckland airport recorded over 15 million passengers in 2014. The airport services all major airlines for international flight as well as domestic flights all over the country.
Bus: Bus fares from AKL to Auckland city average $16 per adult with an approximate travel time of 45-60 minutes. The bus operates 24/7 to accommodate all travelers. The bus schedule can vary, so check online for departure times. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or at one of the kiosks in the airport.
Shuttle: Costing a little over $30 a person, plan to take an hour from the Airport to the city with a shuttle ride. Shuttles are shared with other passengers and depending on peak traffic time, travel may take longer.
Taxi: Taxi fares from the Auckland airport range from $75-$90 on average and can take 30 minutes from the airport to the city center. All taxi drives carry a value and service guarantee, so travel should be smooth. Traffic can present problems, so it is best to leave early during peak driving hours.
Wifi is available (first 30 minutes free), toilets and showers, pharmacy, Luggage Trolleys, VIP Lounges, Family Facilities, Medical & First Aid, Foreign Exchange & Banking, Telephones & Chapel, playground for children.
Christchurch Airport recently completed an upgrade in 2013 to accommodate the growing number of passengers coming in and out of this airport. Christchurch has had over 727,000 international passengers this year and is the stop for travelers visiting the South Island. The Christchurch airport services major airlines including Air New Zealand, Jetstar, China Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, China Southern Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.
Taxis: Travel time by taxi to the city center of Christchurch averages 15-20 minutes and costs $45-$65 per fare, though prices may vary.
Buses: Christchurch airport buses operate 7 days a week and offer an inexpensive option to the city center. Expect bus fare around $8 one way. Tickets can be purchased directly with the driver.
Shuttle Shuttle rides average about 30-40 minutes for travel time from CHC to the city center and cost around $25 for one passenger, $30 for two. Shuttle rides can be scheduled ahead of time or at the airport. Make sure to allow plenty of time due to the amount of drop offs on one trip.
Unlimited Free Wifi available to all passengers, Toilets & Shower facilities, Foreign Exchange & Banking (open for all international flights), wide array of food options, 20+ of retail & service stores
The Dunedin airport, located 30 kilometers south of the city, services the Lower South Island & international flights to and from Australia. Major airlines include Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia Airlines and Mainland Air.
Shuttle: It takes about 35 minutes from DUD to the city with a far of $30 per person or $40 for two. The DUD shuttle provides an inexpensive way to travel but travelers should allow extra time when using the shuttle for transportation, due to the number of drop-offs.
Taxi: Taxis to Dunedin from the Dunedin airport can cost about $90 fare and take 20-30 minutes. Please allow extra time depending on peak traffic periods.
Car Rental: Car rental services are available at the Dunedin airport with a number of major car rental services. Bookings are recommended to ensure a car is available.
Dining options, Toilets & Shower facilities, exchange facilities for international flights, bars, fast food, parenting room, arcade room, tax-free shopping and souvenirs, wheelchair access, conference facilities
Wellington services destinations in Australia (Brisbane, Sydney, Gold Coast & Melbourne) & domestic flights to Lower North Island. Major airlines include Qantas, Virgin Australia, JetStar, Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand.
Shuttle: Shuttle Rides can be found outside of baggage claim. Discounts apply to travelers in groups of two or more ($20 for one person, $25 for two). Plan for about a 25 minute trip from WLG to Wellington city.
Bus: Bus trips cost no more than $6 per person with a travel time of 30 minutes from WLG to the city. The bus leaves every 20 minutes from the airport till about 9:20PM at night. Check the schedule online to plan ahead.
Taxi: Taxi trips average about 20 minutes from the WLG airport to the city at a rate of $40, though prices vary on peak traffic times. All taxi drivers must possess special license, so they are considered “knowledge experts” in Greater Wellington.
Toilets, Showers; lots of shopping options including tax-free souvenir shops, bookshops, clothing, fine clothing, music and movies, dining options including cafes, restaurants and bars; banking and currency exchange options, wifi, wheelchair access, parenting room, Wildcard programme offers exclusive deals for shopping food & beverage, parking, competitions and giveaways.
Queenstown is an international hub for travelers and out of all the New Zealand airports, this one has the most scenic landing strip next to a gorgeous mountain range. Air New Zealand, Jet Star, Qantas and Virgin Australia flights are serviced here.
Bus: Bus fare to the city is $8 a person and can take about a half hour from ZQN to the city. The bus travels to all major hotels in the area.
Shuttle: Shuttles from the Queenstown airport cost about $10 a person and travel time takes about 20 minutes. Discounts apply for two or more travelers.
Taxi: Fare costs average $30 and take about 15 minutes to the city center. Please allow more travel time for peak traffic hours.
1st hour free Wifi available to all travelers, toilets, shopping, retail stores including jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, reading material, food and drink options like bars, cafes, lounges available open and pay-for-use, disabled access, parents room with toys, telephone areas
Domestic airports are located throughout the country to accommodate travel inside the North & South Islands. Travel accommodations for each airport depend on location and size.
Hawke’s Bay Airport – NPE
New Plymouth Airport – NPL
Palmerson North Airport – PMR
Nelson Airport – NSN
Invercargill Airport – IVC
Tauranga Airport – TRG
Blenheim Airport – BHE
Rotorua Regional Airport – ROT
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