Posted on: October 16th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
You’ve heard all the praise about Queenstown as the “Adventure Capital of the World.” Adrenaline-seekers everywhere know they can choose from skydiving to snowboarding, rafting to bungy jumping and anything in between among the best things to do in Queenstown.
But maybe your idea of the perfect vacation is a little more simple.
The good news is Queenstown offers many low-key local gems that are just as exhilarating and unforgettable as its fast-paced adventures. From world class hot pools with a view to mesmerizing starry skies, scenic day tours to unique New Zealand wildlife, you’ll achieve the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.
Here’s our list of the best things to do in Queenstown.
This lightning bolt-shaped lake is the crown jewel of Queenstown. It’s the third largest lake in New Zealand, and also the longest. Maori legend says this lake was created by the remains of a giant, named Matau, burned to death while sleeping as punishment for kidnapping Maori princess Manata. Matau’s heart remains beating in the depths of the lake, creating a ‘heartbeat’ or standing wave. The lake rises and falls about 20 centimeters every 27 minutes, adding to the magic and mysticism of Wakatipu.
Surrounded by incredible mountain scenery, Lake Wakatipu is a local favorite for scenic walks, bike trails, fishing and cruising. Board the TSS Earnslaw, a restored vintage steamship, for a leisurely cruise around the lake and take in the beauty of Queenstown.
Skyline Gondola and Luge
Rated as one of the top ways to experience the best views of Queenstown, the famous Skyline Gondola is the perfect way to begin your visit.
The Gondola cable car takes you on the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere, carrying passengers more than 1400 ft above the city. Sit back and relax as you overlook the majestic views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain ranges and Lake Wakatipu as you ride to the top of Bob’s Peak.
The stunning view from the peak will leave you feeling on top of the world. What better way to ride the high than racing downhill on a Luge!
Skyline Luge puts you in complete control as you ride down Bob’s Peak. You’ll begin with a scenic, leisurely track to get familiar with the controls and brake system. Don’t worry about your speed as you start out – you can go as slow as you like! And you’ll want to take it slow to enjoy the magnificent surrounds.
Once you’ve got the hang of luge you can choose the Advanced Track and feel the glorious mountain air as you zoom downhill through tunnels, dips and bends. With these two tracks to suit the inexperienced as well as thrill seekers, there’s no reason to skip this top must-do Queenstown attraction.
Ski and Snowboard
You don’t want to just see Coronet Peak and The Remarkables from Bob’s Peak – you’ll want to experience these mountains.
What do we mean by experience?
Visit Queenstown in the winter to see its mountains transformed into one of the world’s top ski and snowboarding destinations.
Start with Coronet Peak, the closest mountain to Queenstown and only a 25-minute drive out. This local favorite offers stunning trails for seasoned skiers to glide effortlessly down the mountain. Coronet Peak is also perfect for first timers, providing dedicated trails and slopes for novice skiers.
Enjoy untouched early morning snow from 8am to 9am daily. Don’t worry if you can’t get your snow fix during the day – Coronet Peak also offers night skiing from 4pm until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
For epic skiing and snowboarding, The Remarkables provides the best terrain parks in New Zealand. Hire performance ski or snowboard gear on site and explore the steeps and gradients along its slopes with the striking mountain range in the background.
Movie Location Tours
The Queenstown region has captivated movie-goers with its otherworldly landscapes as seen in movies including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit film franchise, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 10,000 BC and many others. Its towering mountains, ancient beech forests and turquoise blue rivers and lakes make the region perfect for a fantasy setting.
Fall into your own fantasy on one of many film location tours in Queenstown. Traverse the dramatic landscapes you’ve seen on the big screen and see what makes New Zealand scenery a repeat star in Hollywood.
Tall cliffs jut out of the dark waters and tower over the sound, creating a dramatic landscape that has attracted tourists from around the world. This is a must-see attraction for Lord of the Rings film buffs, to visit the natural wonder that served as the backdrop for Middle Earth.
Take a scenic boat cruise on the sound and admire the numerous waterfalls cascading before you, or spot bottlenose dolphins swimming below and sea lions basking on the rocks. Get up close and explore the sound by kayak and see the stark Mitre Peak, the tallest peak in Fiordland.
Quiet yet imposing, Milford Sound is a must to relax yet still experience the best of New Zealand in your Queenstown adventure.
Kiwi Birdlife Park
No trip to New Zealand is complete without seeing its iconic wildlife. And no way you’ll miss the chance to see famous flightless bird, the kiwi. Cross this New Zealand must-do in Queenstown at the Kiwi Birdlife Park.
Find 10,000 native plants and more than 30 animal species, including tuataras, rainbow lorikeets, rare black stilts and brown kiwi at the park. Get up close and personal with New Zealand’s flora and fauna on a private tour or in a live conservation show. Observe the nocturnal kiwi at the park’s Kiwi Houses, set up with specialized lighting effects and infra-red cameras which allow the birds to feel at home and freely roam.
Located on a small peninsula jutting out into Lake Wakatipu, the Queenstown Gardens offer a nice, secluded respite for peaceful relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the town.
Take the opportunity to enjoy the view of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu at your own pace, or bring a frisbee and play a couple rounds of frisbee golf. Be sure to bring a camera to take shots of the blooming rose gardens, towering heritage trees and ducks.
This small snapshot of tranquility is a must while in the city of endless adventure.
Looking for a bit of culture in your Queenstown adventure? For a truly authentic New Zealand experience, take the plunge with Kawarau Bridge Bungy!
AJ Hackett put Queenstown on the map as a global adventure destination when he launched the world’s first commercially operated bungy jumping site in 1988. Native New Zealander Hackett was inspired by an ancient Vanuatu ritual in which young men journey into manhood by testing their courage and jump from tall wooden platforms with vines tied to their ankles.
Test your own courage as you hurtle down more than 140 ft towards the emerald green waters of Kawarau River.
Looking to conquer even greater heights? Try the tallest jump in New Zealand and soar down 400 ft into glorious mountain terrain with the Nevis Bungy. This once in a lifetime experience will be sure to leave its mark on your Queensland adventure.
How’s that for New Zealand authenticity?
Want more than just a few seconds of thrilling aerial views over Queenstown? Get the best fast and furious sightseeing around on The Ledge Swing.
Forget the low-hanging swings in the playgrounds of your childhood. The rope style swing is the only swing found in the heart of Queenstown. Board the Gondola and up top to the Ledge platform on Bob’s Peak, where you’ll be strapped to a harness and lifted 1300 ft above the city. When you’re ready, pull the release cord – that’s right, you’re in control – and take flight!
Skydiving is on every adrenaline seeker’s bucket list, and Queenstown – the birthplace of tandem skydiving – is the perfect place to take the plunge.
You’ll receive instruction and a history of the surrounding areas as you are transported through Queenstown’s stunning surrounds to the drop zone. Suit up and strap on to an instructor for a safe dive. Then plummet from 15,000 feet in the sky and free fall for up to 60 seconds towards glimmering Lake Wakatipu, tall, snow-capped mountain ranges and even the dusky fiords of Fiordland National Park.
You won’t get a better view of Queenstown’s gorgeous scenery than this.
Jet Boarding and Rafting
You’ve conquered Queenstown by air and land. Now you’re ready to take on the town by water with more fast-paced adventure. Extreme water activities can be found in abundance for visitors brave enough to traverse the crystal clear New Zealand rapids.
Hop aboard the Shotover Jet for a high-speed boat ride through the daunting and narrow Shotover Canyons. The boat is custom built for expert maneuvering and 360-degree turns, so be ready for a few hairy spins and close encounters with the canyons on your ride as your boat driver tears up the river!
If you’re looking to get your rafting on in Queenstown, you can whitewater raft on the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. Immerse yourself in the brisk waters of the rivers – expect to be soaked to the bone!
For beginners, the four rapids on the Kawarau River are a great introduction to whitewater rafting. Calm stretches of water allow rafters to take in the scenery of the historic Kawarau Bungy Bridge and surrounding rocky cliffs.
The Shotover River provides more challenging rapids for the adventurous rafter – with names like Aftershock, Squeeze, Toilet and Pinball, conquering this river will be a thrilling feat.
After experiencing the extreme thrills of the Adventure Capital of the World, unwind and pamper yourself in the lap of luxury in a rejuvenating hot pool. Soak in the gorgeous alpine view and fresh mountain air as your body and mind surrender to the pure waters and penetrating warmth of Queenstown’s world class hot pools.
On-site massage rooms are available for ultimate rest and relaxation.
The scenery in Queenstown is stunning from any location – land, air, or water. But at night, look up from the landscape below you and greet the illuminating expanse of stars above for a view you won’t want to miss.
Take the Gondola in the center of town to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you’ll be guided to a spot above the clouds with zero light pollution for ultimate clarity. Expert guides will have you spellbound with their wealth of information on stars, constellations and planets all visible from the industry standard telescopes available for viewing.
Canadian Goose down jackets are provided for maximum warmth to fight off the cold. But you’ll soon forget the chill as the mesmerizing stars of the Southern Hemisphere captivate you with their unbelievable brightness.
If you hail from a location too light-polluted to enjoy the night sky, stargazing is a must to complete any trip to Queenstown.
Experience the Best Things to do in Queenstown
Queenstown makes completing your bucket list a breeze. With so many things to do, it’s hard to pack the best the town has to offer in one visit. We’ll help you plan your trip to the Adventure Capital of the World and make sure you don’t miss the must-dos during your stay.
Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
New Zealand is full. Booked. No vacancy.
“But I reallllyyy want to see those beautiful landscapes! The fiords! The glaciers!”
Too late. Nothing else to see here, move along, pick a new country to visit, later gator.
In 2017, New Zealand officially has more people wanting to visit than there is space available to house them.
It’s a huge problem.
Of course, it’s not surprising. New Zealand’s postcard-ready landscape, mild climate and rugged coastline seem tailor made for the wanderlust of travelers of all ages.
But as native Aussies, in proper brotherly fashion we prefer to blame a Kiwi – namely Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
Since the release of the Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand has absolutely exploded as a tourist destination.
Hardcore fans of the film look to retrace Frodo’s steps to Mt. Doom or have a pint at the Green Dragon Inn, while non-movie buffs can’t help but appreciate the photogenic, sweeping vistas of the countryside.
Photo: Hobbiton Tours
There really is something that could tickle anyone’s fancy – and that’s exactly why tourism in New Zealand is shattering records all over the place.
Developers have been scrambling the past few years, trying their best to put up more hotels and rooms for eager visitors. But it seems like they just can’t put them up fast enough.
Room for accommodation is so tight that just recently a group of 53 traveling senior-citizens had a delayed flight and ended up stranded for the night – not a single hotel room left to spare.
Luckily, they were treated to some Maori hospitality and put up for the night in a traditional Maori meeting house. Sleeping bags on the floor and all – just like at camp.
And that’s just the hotels!
Photo: Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s overall infrastructure is being stressed so much that estimates put a $1.5 billion-dollar price tag on improvements to set the tourism industry up for the future.
Think about the rental cars needed to go on those epic self-drive adventures New Zealand is so well known for. The tickets and space needed to participate in the extreme sport staples people know and love like bungy jumping and skydiving.
All these pieces work in unison to create an amazing New Zealand experience and if you don’t plan ahead, you could find yourself stuck.
We’ve been in the travel game for nearly 20 years and we’ve never seen anything like it. But we have picked up some tips along the way to make your trip seamless.
The earlier you book, the better your chances at getting your preferred trip, it’s as easy as that. Some seasons are busier than others, but the fact remains that the quicker you get your trip booked, the easier it will be.
But don’t expect to simply book a hotel room and be on your merry way.
How will you get to the hotel from the airport?
Taxi queues can be long and that meter keeps running no matter how much traffic you’re stuck in.
Uber, Lyft and other car-sharing services are available in New Zealand, but increasingly subject to increase rates during peak times known as surge-pricing. With the number of tourists and locals clamoring for a ride, you could be paying even more than a taxi.
That’s why car-transfer shuttles with their flat rate are the way to go. They’ll be ready and waiting for you at the airport. The last thing you want to do is figure out getting your cell phone to work in a new country immediately after your 13 hour flight! Better book this early while you’re at it.
December, January, February – By far the busiest season. Warm weather and school children are on vacation.
March, April, May – Milder temperatures and the summer rush is dwindling. Fall is a GREAT time to experience the great New Zealand outdoors.
June, July, August – You’ll want to bring a coat, but there’s still plenty to do in the colder months like skiing, glacier hiking and more. The North Island tends to stay a bit warmer than the South Island, but if you really want to embrace the wintery chill, head to the mountains for snowy peaks and fun, outdoor winter activities.
Photo: Julian Apse
You’ve always wanted to snowboard in July, haven’t you?
September, October, November – Beautiful weather. The perfect time to hike one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Pleasant weather all the way through.
Make your car your home by freedom camping in a pop-up camper vehicle or RV. Freedom camping in New Zealand is just as it sounds: the freedom to drive yourself around to your hearts content, pull in to a designated area and stay the night.
No hotel check ins, no shuttle transfers. Just you, the open road and a sense of adventure.
Freedom camping can get you places you otherwise might miss, but despite the name, there are still a few guidelines you need to follow.
Until the past couple of decades, New Zealand was a free-wheeling, camping free-for-all and you could pull over wherever you wanted and stay the night in your camper van or truck.
But as word got out on this come-as-you-please, bohemian travel style, property owners began to crack down and “No Camping” signs began to go up.
Nowadays, a map of designated DOC (Dept. of Conservation)-friendly sites will do you good for finding spots to call home for the night.
The good news? DOC sites are plentiful and can get you beyond the average tourist bubble of accommodations. Find yourself in a remote wilderness one day and chatting up the locals at a pub the next.
Oh, and did we mention they’re free?
Have an Expert Plan Your Vacation to New Zealand For You
We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but after 20 years we think we’ve got this travel thing figured out. We can put you up in a preferred travel accommodation, book you a ride from the airport and get you to and from tours without hassle.
Sometimes the slightest snag can throw off a perfectly good vacation. Can’t find a ride to the airport in Auckland? You could miss your flight to Queenstown.
Trying to bungy jump or simply tour Hobbiton but tickets are sold out? If you didn’t book ahead, you’re out of luck.
We specialize in putting the parts together and setting them in motion. All you need to do is enjoy the ride.
Let us build a free quote for you and we’ll make sure you have a place to lay your head at night.
Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
What’s your travel style? Are you an avid by-the-shoestring kind of traveler, tramping around (that means hiking in Kiwi-speak!) and bunking up with a bunch of hostelers? Never been one to bask in the lap of luxury?
Sure, we’re all about saving a few dollars if it means extending your trip a bit – an extra few nights, a flight another city – all in the name of experiences over luxury.
But sometimes, it’s good to treat yourself to the 5-star, rock-star treatment you deserve. Five-star hotels, spa-treatments, the works – a real A-list experience.
When you’re short on time and can’t spend a month loafing around New Zealand (though we do recommend it!), a bit of pampering is the best way to supercharge your vacation for the ultimate in relaxation that makes you feel like you spent a month abroad.
And for the best city in New Zealand for that first-class experience, look no further than Rotorua.
Plane travel has certainly improved since the early days of commercial flying, but 13-hours in close quarters over 6,000 miles will leave even first-class flyers feeling a bit worse for wear. Still, not a bad trade-off for getting around the world in less than a day!
Photo: Polynesian Spas
Settle in to your first round of star-treatment in Rotorua’s geothermally heated hot pools in a “World Top-10″ spa resort.
The Polynesian Spas feature 28 hot-pools, fed from natural springs in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Each spring features a unique combination of minerals to provide an experience that is relaxing and therapeutic. Water from the Priest Spring contain a high sulfur content, with other minerals to aid in soothing tired and cramped muscles. Perfect for a post-flight soak.
Photo: Polynesian Spas
The Rachel Spring combines highly alkalized water with sodium-silicate that nourishes skin and leaves you feeling rejuvenated. The Polynesian Spas are a perfect refresher when the rigors of the road wear you down.
Hell’s Gate Hot Pools and Mud Baths
That’s right, we’re spa hopping and next on your list is Hell’s Gate. That’s how the rock stars do it, right?
This geothermal wonderland was originally named Tikitere. All geothermal springs in Rotorua were originally given Maori names, as they Maori people are considered the “guardians of geothermal activity” in the region.
It became known as “Hell’s Gate” when an English playwright in for a visit thought the rising steam and bubbling mud pools must be what the gates of Hell looked like.
Photo: Fraser Clements
The star of Hell’s Gate are the hot mud baths. Semi-private vessels filled with geothermally-heated mud and sulfur water. The pools are known for their curative properties as well as the gentle exfoliation that can leave your skin feeling renewed up to 6 weeks after your visit. A lingering reminder long after you’ve made it back home.
White Island Helicopter Tour
Sure, spa treatments and massages are great, but your indulgent, pampered tour of Rotorua doesn’t end there. Nothing says “living the rock-star lifestyle” like boarding a helicopter and landing on an active volcano for a tour. White Island Helicopter Tours offer an up-close look at New Zealand’s largest, most active volcano with an entrance that’ll leave you speechless.
Sure, maybe you’ve rented a fancy car or taken a limo out for a date night or special event, but once you board a chopper for a chauffeured ride out to an island, you’ll wonder why you travel any other way.
You’ll feel like James Bond being taken out to an evil villain’s lair. Or the Rolling Stones receiving that premium, star-treatment.
Everyone deserves a bit of pampering every now and then.
Te Po Dinner
Wind down with a relaxing dinner with entertainment and storytelling by Maori guides. Upon arrival, you’ll view a Maori feast being prepared in the traditonal Hangi-style, a traditional, underground-oven cooking style used for centuries. Then, a poi-dance (traditional Maori dance) and haka (war-cry) demonstration provides an intimate, cultural experience missed by many who travel to New Zealand.
After a blessing by a Maori leader, you’ll be treated to a feast featuring foods cooked in the Hangi and an array of delicious Maori and New Zealand cuisine.
To cap off your luxury-dinner experience, you’ll board a waka (Maori canoe) for a sightseeing, night float filled with oral history and storytelling that culminates at the famed Pohutu Geyser.
Treat Yourself in Rotorua
When you finally make it back home, skill still soft and glowing from the hot pools and mud baths, feeling culturally enriched and spoiled, you’ll understand why everyone needs a true A-list travel experience every so often. We’ll set you up with the ultimate Rotorua experience so you can travel like a rock star from start to finish.
Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
When it comes to New Zealand wildlife, you might be thinking sheep, sheep and more sheep. And you wouldn’t be wrong, either! Until recently, New Zealand’s sheep-to-human ratio sat at about 22 sheep for every man, woman and child in the country.
That’s a lot of sweaters!
But that’s not all that the island nation has to offer. A diverse collection of unique animals make this coastal county their home. In fact, there wasn’t a single mammal to be found for millions of years before humans arrived. Instead, a plethora of wild bird species, reptiles and marine life thrived in the region.
This includes a lizard whose DNA goes back 200 million years, unchanged since the days it walked the land with dinosaurs.
What you won’t find though, are snakes. That’s right, not a single snake slithers around New Zealand. Great news for all the ophidiophobics out there (that means fear of snakes!).
We’ve rounded up a few of the most unique creatures you’ll find, so that your next trip will have you doing more than just counting sheep.
A storied history riddles this legendary bird’s past. Sailors once thought that seeing an albatross in the sky meant good luck. The giant bird was said to have carried the souls of dead sailors to protect the ship from danger. However, if one were to kill an albatross, certain doom would come to all aboard.
These days the albatross isn’t as rife with superstition, but the real facts behind the bird are just as interesting. They are among the largest seabirds on the planet. At their largest, their wings can span more 12 feet across – almost 6 times the average seagull!
The albatross is kind of like the drone of the bird-world. They use nearly autonomous, micro-wing movements to stay aloft using little to no effort. For the albatross, this makes flying a breeze.
They can even sleep while flying and have been known to stay out to sea for years, only returning to land to mate and feed their young. Scientists tracked an albatross recently circling the entire globe – more than 10,000 miles – in just 46 days.
Tip: Before you see an albatross in person, keep tabs on the newest addition to the Taiaroa Head albatross colony via live web-stream! This albatross chick hatched in late January and will remain until it’s old enough to fly away in September. The chick’s parents return from sea daily to feed their young. An amazing look at New Zealand wildlife up-close.
What has three eyes, zero ears and has called New Zealand home for more than 200 million years?
The tuatara, New Zealand’s “living dinosaur”, still carries the same DNA since it walked side-by-side actual with the famed mega-reptiles. A third-eye on top of it’s head (physical, not metaphorical) is thought to help produce vitamin D and regulate night and day cycles, but even scientists still don’t know what it’s really used for.
At the very least, it makes up for having no ears!
As mammals like wildcats and rodents were introduced to the mainland, tuataras became quick and easy prey and populations were decimated. These days they thrive solely on the islands off the New Zealand coast – like Jurassic Park, right in New Zealand.
However, being banished to an island turned out to be a good thing. Without any natural predators, the tuatara can live to be more than 100 years old. The benefits of island life.
If you thought you had to travel to the tropics to see parrots, think again. This New Zealand exclusive is the world’s only alpine parrot and is found only in select parts of the South Island. Like most parrots, the Kea is an intelligent bird. Researchers estimate that the Kea is as smart as a 4-year old – without ever having stepped foot in pre-school.
The Kea is notorious for it’s brash personality. They’ve developed almost non-existent boundaries and humans, a blessing and a curse that makes getting an up-close picture of the Kea possible, but also less savory encounters. Because of the bird’s hyper-curious nature and general trust around people, they have been known to peck and damage cars and rifle through bags and clothing. One Kea even made off with a tourist’s unguarded wallet in Fiordland National Park.
It’s no wonder they call these pick-pocketing parrots the “clowns of the mountain”.
You’ll want to see this beautiful bird in person and the best place to do it is in Fiordland. Take a nature cruise of Milford Sound for beautiful landscapes and wildlife spotting. Kea have been known to hang out in the parking lot of Milford Sound so be sure to keep an eye on your wallet!
Photo: Corin Walker Bain
No other animal can stake the claim of attracting more than 400,000 visitors to New Zealand every year. In fact, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are the most popular cave in all of Australasia, which includes New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea and other islands.
How do they do it?
Tourists flock to the Waitomo Caves to see the hypnotic, blueish glow that lights up the subterranean site. Millions of glowworms cover the cavernous interior and light up like blue fireflies during their feeding stage. The best part about seeing the glowworms is the silent, “black-water” river raft ride that you take to see them. You’ll float along the water beneath the canyon in total darkness, with only the star-like light of glowworms above.
Tip: Waitomo Glowworm Caves make a great back-to-back trip with Rotorua’s amazing geothermal features. Take a tour of both for a day tour you’ll never forget.
These quirky marine-mammals are best known for their aerial-acrobatics. While all dolphins exhibit breaching behavior in order to breathe from their blowholes, dusky dolphins seem to perform out-of-water stunts like aerial jumps, spins, tail-over-head dives, barrel rolls and more – seemingly for no other reason than their own enjoyment!
Dusky dolphins are found off the the south African coast, South America and many oceanic islands, but the largest concentrations are found all over New Zealand waters, including the Kaikoura Coast. Guided tours allow you to swim with these curious creatures in their natural environment.
Dusky dolphins are curious around humans and interaction with them is possible without the need for feeding, changing their environment or otherwise disrupting their natural habitat.
Tour-goers have reported dusky dolphins in pods numbering in the hundreds. The dolphins swim with and seem to mirror the behavior of humans (diving in as humans dive in) without being coaxed in to an encounter.
This tuxedoed New Zealand native is the rarest species of penguin in the entire world. The distinct, yellow banding around their eyes sets these quirky creatures apart from their Antarctic cousins to the south.
Yellow-eyed penguins, also known by their Maori name hoiho, are increasingly endangered. They generally breed on the South Island of New Zealand and habitats are found off the coast of Dunedin.
You didn’t think we’d get away without mentioning New Zealand’s most iconic animal, did you? This large, flightless bird is an icon that is inseparable from New Zealand. The word Kiwi is used as a term of endearment for native New Zealanders and even adorns the country’s $1 coin.
Not bad for a bird that can’t even fly.
The Kiwi’s arrival to the island nation remains sort of a mystery. Some say the bird descended from an ancestor capable of flight. Others say they arrived before New Zealand broke off from Australia millions of years ago. Essentially, just walking right over.
The Kiwi is a cherished part of New Zealand wildlife and culture, whichever way they arrived.
We’ll set you up with the perfect trip for wildlife watching in beautiful New Zealand. Whether you’re Albatross-spotting off the coast of Dunedin or staring in awe at glowworms, you’ll be sure not to miss anything on your trip.
We’ll even send you to Fiordland National Park, but make sure to watch your valuables around the Kea!
Posted on: July 11th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photo: Mike Heydon
When you imagine your ideal, relaxing getaway – what comes to mind? Is it idyllic, rolling green vistas? Walking though sun-kissed vineyards heavy with ripe grapes? Kicking your feet up with only the sound of the birds and rippling water to keep you company?
How about copious amounts of some of the best wine on the planet?
Waiheke Island, also known as the “Island of Wine”, is going to be your next favorite vacation destination.
Owhanake Bay Estate – This winery is located right on the edge of secluded Owhanake Bay. Idyllic rows of grape vines line the grounds of this more than 8-acre estate. The vineyard also grows organic olives, fruit and other produce that they use in their amazing food menu. Just a short stroll down to the Bay and you can enjoy your glass of wine right on the beach.
Try: ‘Anchorage’ Syrah 2013; Gold medal award-winning red
Photo: Miles Holden
Cable Bay Vineyards – These are the views that dreams are made of. Serene, lush vistas bob along the Cable Bay grounds. You’ll enjoy the hip, modern wine-bar aesthetic, the wide open-air patio and pristine lawn dotted with picnicking couples and friends. Sit on the lawn with a glass of Cable Bay’s amazing wines and charcuterie.
Try: 2016 Waiheke Island Rosé; Locally grown, Rosé all day
Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard – Although this list is all about the wine, it’s impossible not to mention the food at Mudbrick. Executive chef Matthias Schmitt has worked for some of the greatest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. He brings his expertise to Mudbrick creating dishes using fresh, local ingredients to pair with their award-winning wines. Grab a spot overlooking the lavender and rosemary fields and enjoy the sweet scent as you taste the vineyard’s best.
Try: Mudbrick Velvet 2015; 98/100 by renowned wine critic Sam Kim
Photo: Camilla Rutherford
Hay Paddock Vineyard – Short on frills, long on exceptionally flavored wine. Hay Paddock forgoes the high-profile chefs and high price tags that come along with visiting an amenity laden wine bar. Hay Paddock specializes solely in wine. Owners Chris Canning and Jules Silk, a novelist and painter respectively, put their passion for the arts in to every bottle they craft.
Try: Harvest Reserve Syrah 2012; Winning international favor when released, this wine showcases the ideal Waiheke Island climate that produces such amazing Syrahs.
Te Whau Vineyard and Restaurant – For more than 20 years Te Whau has been a premier vineyard and destination on Waiheke Island. It still retains the small, boutique family vineyard feel from their humble beginnings while still becoming one of the most renowned vineyards in the region. Te Whau produces ‘Bordeaux-style’ reds, a style found over much of Waiheke Island.
Try: ‘The Point’ Boreaux-style Blend 2013; The flagship wine of Te Whau, nationally rated and award-winning.
Photo: Julian Apse
Wild on Waiheke Estate Vineyard – Have you ever been drinking a glass of wine and thought to yourself, “I’d really like to shoot a bow and arrow right now”? Then Wild on Waiheke is the place for you.A family oriented vineyard and craft beer brewery, Wild on Waiheke is a quirky destination offering great wine and craft beer along with fun activities for the family or group outings. Try the life size chess board, archery, laser clay-pigeon shooting and more. Keep the kids occupied while you taste amazing wines or join in yourself.
Try: Sauvignon Blanc 2016; Self-described as “nothing too fancy”, these simple, honest wines are sometimes all you need on a hot day out on Waiheke.
Jurassic Ridge – A family owned vineyard run by true wine lovers. Lance Blumhardt, a former neurosurgeon, and his wife, a current neurosurgeon opened Jurassic Ridge purely for the love of exceptional wine. The vineyard is named Jurassic Ridge due to the geology under foot. Rock formations more than 155 million years old form an ancient mountain ridge where the vineyards were planted. Making wine may not be brain surgery, but Blumhardt and his wife bring that same attention to detail to crafting amazing, aged wines.
Try: Jurassic Ridge Montepulciano 2009; Blumhardt was the first to introduce Montepulciano grapes to Waiheke Island. Nearly two dozen other wineries have since adopted the variety for their wines.
Photo: Miles Holden
Tantalus Estate – In the heart of the Onetangi Valley sits the 20-acre estate of Tantalus. Arguably the top destination in Waiheke Island, Onetangi Valley has several top wineries all within walking distance. The pristine grounds of the estate are covered in amazing plant life and greenery in attention to the acres of vineyard. Special attention has been paid to sustainability in the production of Tantalus’ wines. The entire vineyard is pesticide-free. Wildflowers and other plants are grown with the grape vines to increase biodiversity. This allows beneficial insects that control pests to thrive.
Try: Évoque Reserve 2014; 10-year vintage that received a score of 96/100.
Stonyridge Vineyard – One of the first wineries on Waiheke Island, Stonyridge Vineyard is partly responsible for the New Zealand wine boom. Stonyridge produces some the top-rated wines not only in New Zealand, but worldwide. The picturesque vineyard is located at the same latitude as the southern tip of Sicily, another world class wine region. Stonyridge is settled behind a ridge that blocks cold southwesterly winds. This gives Stonyridge’s Cabernet’s a real chance to shine and thrive. Stonyridge currently holds the title for producing one of New Zealand’s most expensive reds. At $250 a bottle, the Larose Cabarnet Blend is pricy, but when it comes with this many accolades, it’s sure to please.
Te Motu Wine – Picky wine for picky palates. Using only prime specimen, fully ripe fruit, the wine at Te Motu Vineyard is pored over with the finest-toothed comb. Each step of the process is meticulously crafted to produce the same perfection for every bottle, every time. Te Motu produces only 4500 bottles of each vintage so that each small batch has the same attention to detail as the last. Stunning views of Onetangi Valley are reminiscent of the French countryside, while remaining distinctly Kiwi.
Try: Cabarnet-Sauvignon 2013; Te Motu’s flagship wine.
Obsidian Vineyard – So named for it’s almost pure rock soil, Obsidian may as well be called the “little vineyard that could”. Growing wine grapes in conditions like Obsidian’s is difficult. The Knight’s Valley region is warm, almost too warm. The rocky-soil drains very fast, almost too fast. The fruit takes a long time to ripen and drop, almost too long. But, the wine that eventually is produced from the struggle has a subtle complexity that is hard to find in other wines.
Try: Obsidian Syrah 2015; Described by vineyard owners as “if black had a smell, this would be it… The wine is dark and mysterious with tremendous intensity and tannin.”
Peacock Sky Vineyard – A true family-owned affair run by a wine enthusiast husband and wife team. Peacock Sky has produced world class wines since 2008. The alfresco patio offers idyllic views of the vineyard. Enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired menu paired perfectly with the wines of the season.
Try: Pure Malbec 2014; 4-star single varietal.
Batch Winery – Take a tour of this craft vineyard and winery for a look at the winemaking process from start to finish. You’ll peruse rows upon rows of ripe grape vines. See the harvesting and fermenting process up close. You’ll even get a chance to see the actual bottling and corking process in the bottling room. Not to mention, the views outside are some of the most picturesque on the Island. “Bach” (pronounced “batch”) in New Zealand means a simple holiday home where families congregate, relax and bond. A concept synonymous with Batch Winery.
Try: Thomas’ Batch Pinot Noir 2016; A fruity Pinot with hints of strawberries and cream, raspberry licorice and juicy red summer berries.
Destiny Bay Vineyards – There is a lot more to Destiny Bay then just impeccable attention to detail for their award-winning wines. Special attention was also given to the structure and layout of the winery itself. Utilizing the latest in energy efficient structures and winemaking practices, the vineyard is a model for sustainable practices. More than 500 native trees were planted around the vineyard to increase biodiversity and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the site.
Try: Destiny Bay Mystae 2013; A blend of all 5 varietals for a unique bouquet of fruit taste.
Casita Miro Restaurant and Vineyard – Inspired by the food and wine of Spain and the Mediterranean, Casita Miro specializes in shared plate tapas-style service and amazing wine. The world-renowned restaurant has stunning views overlooking the vineyard below. No detail was lost in the Spanish architecture inspired building. The ambiance provided by this fine dining and wine experience is unmatched.
Man O’ War Vineyards – This vineyard is secluded away from the “wine belt” of the Onetangi Valley on Man O’ War Bay. The drive out to this vineyard is surely rewarded with the views you have that overlook the water. Sip a glass or three of any vintage (trust us, they’re all amazing) and soak in that Bay view.
Take your wine straight down to the water’s edge and relax on the lawn or walk along the rocky beach. Watch yachts and sailboats drifting lazily in front of you. The ambiance here is nothing less than serene.
Try: Man O’ War Pinot Gris 2008; A Waiheke staple.
Passage Rock Wines & Bistro – You’ll feel like you’re amongst old friends in this intimate vineyard venue and restaurant. The unassuming, small estate produces a Syrah that is the most awarded in all of Waiheke. An outdoor dining area that is directly adjacent to the vineyards make dining at this classic bistro an event you’ll never forget.
Try: Passage Rock Reserve Syrah 2015; Continuing the tradition of their multiple 5-star awarded wines.
Kennedy Point Vineyard – Waiheke Island’s only certified organic vineyard. Grapes are grown to organic standard without chemical fertilizers, sprays or pesticides. Olive groves are grown to the same standard, for production of truly organic New Zealand olive oil.
Poderi Crisci Vineyard and Restaurant– Inspired in wine and design by Mediterranean vineyards, this winery is a small slice of Italy in New Zealand. You’ll love the Italian inspired villa that offers great wine and a fine dining menu of seasonal dishes. Figs, olives, greens and herbs are also grown on the estate and used in the menu.
Try: Poderi Crisci Chardonnay 2012; An inspired Burgundy-inspired white.
Waiheke Island is a mecca for the wine enthusiast. The Napa Valley of New Zealand has produced some serious wines that have won some serious awards. Try a tour of Waiheke Island and taste your way through the Island of Wine.
Posted on: July 6th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Think of Milford and Doubt Sounds as metaphors for life. The grandiose fiords are world-famous for their size and striking appearance. But they didn’t start out that way.
Sometimes, the key to creating something grand is by making small steps every day. Over time, these subtle changes will lead to something magnificent.
You don’t have to look far to see this proven right in your own life. The very ground you walk on was shaped and shifted over millennia. Land masses broke from super-continents to form the places you call home.
It was smell steps like these that formed Milford and Doubtful Sound, the “Eighth Wonders of the World”.
See why New Zealand’s most beautiful places are two can’t-miss destinations on your next trip to Kiwi country.
Both Milford and Doubtful Sound are in a region of New Zealand known as Fiordland National Park. The nearly 5,000 square miles of New Zealand’s south-west tip contains some of the most quintessential and incredible landscapes in the world.
When you think about New Zealand and the amazing scenery it’s known for, you’re probably thinking of two things: the rolling, grassy vistas that were popularized in movies like The Lord of the Rings, and tall, steep peaks, shadowed by mist, rising above calm waters below.
Photo: Tourism Holdings
The latter is Fiordland. And by far the two most visited places in Fiordland are Milford and Doubtful Sound.
Over the course of millions of years, shifting tectonic plates caused tall rock formations to reach out from beneath the sea. As the earth continued its slow-motion crash on to itself, sharp peaks reached high in to the air.
During the ice age, glaciers formed and began to move. Inch by inch, they slowly began to erode rock and sediment, forming the narrow-tunnels found in Fiordland today.
Small steps. Big changes.
Photo: Tourism New Zealand
Sometimes it’s the journey. Other times it’s the destination. When it comes to Milford Sound, it’s both.
The scenic drive out from Queenstown is like a “best-of” tour of New Zealand’s pristine landscapes. You’ll drive along winding roads that hug Lake Wakatipu, a turquoise-blue, glacier-fed lake.
Stop along any of the pull-outs and viewing points along the way and you might recognize the vast expanse of water, rimmed by mountains. On the big screen, it served as the backdrop for Middle Earth in several scenes of The Lord of the Rings.
As you enter New Zealand hill country, tall mountains give way to grass-covered, wavy hills and colorful lupins line the highway.
This scenic highway is precisely why Milford Sound is New Zealand’s most accessible and most visited site in Fiordland.
Every year nearly 600,000 tourists come to Milford Sound, taking advantage of the highway leading there. This makes it easy to take a day trip from the populous city of Queenstown, or a quick stopover if you make your base in Te Anau.
And it’s easy to see why once you arrive. Although you could argue that the word “epic” is a bit overused in travel writing, there is no better way to describe Milford Sound.
Photo: Adam Bryce
The tall, steep crags jut out of the water, peaking high overhead. It’s home to the tallest peak in Fiordland, Mitre Peak, reaching in to the sky nearly 6,000 feet. It’s the iconic landscape that single-handedly has attracted visitors from across the globe.
But an increase in visitors also means an increase in the number of boats cruising the Sound to accommodate them. On Milford Sound, you’re in the company of a number of different tour boats, operators and cruise ships, all looking to see the same sites that you are.
However, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be surrounded by raging party-boats – but nothing beats the ambiance of feeling alone on the water, a mere speck among rocky skyscrapers towering overhead.
If silent ambiance is your prime objective when visiting a natural wonder, look no further. Doubtful Sound is the slightly less popular younger brother to Milford Sound. It doesn’t have quite the same name recognition, it’s a little bit harder to get to and the peaks aren’t quite as tall.
But being a little more out of the way proves beneficial to the unmatched ambiance found at Doubtful Sound.
Access to Doubtful is limited to a ferry ride over Lake Manapouri. You won’t find the rows of coaches, buses and cars that cover Milford. Instead, a very limited number of boats cruise through the beautiful fiord.
This makes Doubtful Sound a slightly more solemn excursion, if you’re looking for a true “one-with-nature” type of experience.
The rocky cliffs that arise from Doubtful Sound apex at a round crest, as opposed to Milford’s angular, jagged peaks. Soft, green ferns and forest cover much of the mountainous rises and foggy mist often rests like pillows in the treetops.
But the main attraction at both Milford and Doubt Sounds isn’t what you see, but what you hear.
The Sound of Silence
Much like the world’s other natural wonders, Milford and Doubtful Sound have the power to leave you speechless. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you’ll know that upon reaching the rim, there’s a distinct shift that happens upon arrival.
All the usual chatter that fills the parking lot on the way of families swapping stories of the road and siblings arguing over who won the “License Plate Game” seems to disappear.
Looking in to the void that the Earth created renders an eerie hush where you could almost hear a pin drop all the way in the valley below.
Maybe it’s the overwhelming sense of your place on the planet, or maybe no one wants to be the sole person to break the silence and ruin the mood. In any case, it’s an experience that’s unique to witnessing something so grand that an entire crowd can be left short for words.
At Milford and Doubtful Sounds, you’ll feel that same majestic sound-of-nothing from the “valley” itself, on a “sound of silence” cruise. You’ll cruise through the giant fiords, craning your neck to take in the enormous rock formations, standing tall around the still water.
As you reach a center point in the great fiord, the captain of the ship turns off the ship. Then, all you’re left with is the soft babble of water and the call of birdsong. But the Captain didn’t call for silence.
They didn’t need to.
Visit Milford and Doubtful Sounds
Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the crown jewels of Fiordland. Let us plan your Fiordland adventure. Whether you’re up for a scenic drive from Queenstown or a ferry ride in to the unknown, it’s a trip that you’ll never forget.
Posted on: June 28th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
There is perhaps no trip more memorable than a honeymoon. You’re riding the high from the biggest day of your life and want the good times to keep going. It’s a story you’ll tell for the rest of your life.
Better not make it a boring one!
The story of your New Zealand honeymoon is one that you’ll get tired of telling. Just imagine the conversation when you get back:
“So, how was the honeymoon?”
“Well we went to New Zeala-”
“Wow New Zealand! THAT’S AMAZING!”
You won’t get too far in that conversation until everyone’s excitement is soaring. People are fascinated by the country and we’re sure you will be too. Whether you’ve seen it in movies like the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, or you’re already aware of the gorgeous landscapes, fiords, glaciers and mountains. Any way you decide to experience New Zealand, you’re sure to have the perfect post-wedding adventure.
New Zealand Honeymoon Essentials
Photo: Miles Holden
Romantic Dinner for Two
You’ve landed in New Zealand. It’s your first evening in Kiwi country and you want to get it started right.
Nothing says romantic night out like a quiet dinner out on the town. But don’t settle for just anywhere. Make it extra special with a visit to one of these amazing restaurants.
How about a romantic sky-gondola ride followed by dinner with an amazing view? Take a gondola ride up the Skyline to Stratosfare Restaurant in Queenstown. With a focus on delicious wine and fine dining fare, Stratosfare makes for a great spot for dinner, or even just after dinner drinks with a view.
Afraid of heights? Go underground to the chic Japanese restaurant Tanuki’s Cave. This hip sake bar is the perfect spot to start off a night on the town.
Put on Your Dancing Shoes
You just ate dinner and the night is still young. What next? Dive in to New Zealand’s best night life and dance the night away at these clubs and bars.
Orleans – You may be thousands of miles away, but don’t skip out on this Kiwi take on The Big Easy. Orleans in Auckland specializes in New Orleans cuisine, but turns up on the weekend with live band, upbeat rhythm and blues.
Impala – This new addition to Auckland night life is all about the dancing. Craft beer, fancy cocktails and amazing wine round out the bar at this upscale venue. Famous guest DJ’s make sure the party stays turned up at Impala.
Ink Bar – Located in the super trendy “K-Road” neighborhood of Auckland, Ink Bar is a late night spot for underground house music and drinks.
Recover in Style with a Spa Day
Photo: Polynesian Spa
Partied a little too hard on your night out? Find the ultimate in rest and relaxation in one of New Zealand’s many spas and hot pools. There’s nothing like a soak in a heated mineral pool to clear the toxins from your body!
The Polynesian Spa is an amazing oasis surrounded by natural plants and rocks. Pools are filled with heated, natural mineral water for a relaxing soak. The Polynesian Spa was voted one of the top 10 spas in the entire world – it’s that good.
How about a personal spa of your own? Head to Hot Water Beach, rent out a shovel and get to digging. The water below the sand is HOT due to the geothermal heating beneath the surface. Hot Water Beach is one of our top thermal pools in New Zealand and we’re sure you’ll love it.
Hell’s Gate is a geothermal attraction with hot mud pools, geysers and waterfalls. In this unique spa experience you can exfoliate in the hot mud, see the southern hemisphere’s largest hot waterfall and take a soak in hot, healing sulphur pools.
Couple’s Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tour
Photo: Camilla Rutherford
After you’re rested up, keep the relaxation day going. Go for the quintessential romantic couple’s experience: a vineyard and winery tour in New Zealand’s beautiful wine regions. Stroll through lush orchards. Treat yourselves to some of the finest dining in New Zealand. Taste New Zealand’s world-famous wines and toast to the rest of your lives.
Waiheke Island alone is home to nearly 20 wineries and vineyards. With splendid views of expansive, rolling vistas and the surrounding water in the distance, Waiheke Island is that picturesque, romantic getaway you’ve been searching for. Travel + Leisure even named Waiheke Island one of the best places to honeymoon right now.
Leaps of Faith
Now that you’re rested up, it’s the perfect time to get your adrenaline going again. New Zealand is packed with adventure experiences that you’ll love doing together. There are enough unforgettable experiences to be had to last a lifetime. Hop on over to Queenstown and participate in some of the extreme sports that this “Adventure Capital of the World” is known for.
AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping – The first commercial bungy company in the world. Bungy jumping put New Zealand on the map for extreme sports nearly 30 years ago.
Skydiving Queenstown – You’re 15,000 feet up and every instinct in your body is telling you not to do it. Your toes hang over the ledge of the plane as the countdown begins. And then you jump and find out first hand what made it all worth it. Skydiving over New Zealand’s picturesque landscape is indescribable, but we’re sure you’ll have the time of your life.
Take to the Open Road
Photo: Sara Orme
Driving yourself through a new country with just the two of you is an amazing journey and a personalized experience you’ll never forget. Every mile of a self-driven New Zealand road trip is a delight.
New Zealand is the ultimate self-drive destination. Rent a car and head up the rocky coast. Stop along the way for lunch. Wind your way along rolling hills, careening through lush greenery. Stop for a photo-op wherever you want – and believe us, you’ll want to stop often as you see the landscape pass by your windows.
No longer will you ask, “are we there yet?”. Instead, you’ll be saying “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Want to get outside but not quite the jumping-out-of-a-plane type? New Zealand is nearly 1/3 covered in National Parks, so you’ll find plenty to do to experience the country’s beautiful landscapes.
Take your partner on a kayak-for-two and paddle around Rangitoto Island. See amazing seal colonies in the wild. Crane your neck to the sky for unmatched views of rugged, mountainous landscape. You’ll both work together paddling your way around calm waters to secluded beaches and more.
Stargaze the Darkest Skies in the World
You may never look to the stars the same way again. The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve is a gold-rated reserve. This means that it has some of the least light pollution on the planet.
Did you know that in many urban areas as few as 300 stars are visible at any given moment? At Dark Sky Reserves you’ll be able to see as many as 15,000!
See the cluster that makes up the Milky Way. Constellations come to life and you can pinpoint individual stars with ease.
Photo: Vaughan Brookfield
With the use of telescopes, high powered binoculars and the simple naked eye, you can point out planets, distant galaxies, other planets’ moons and more.
Cozy up with your partner and stare off in to the galaxy. Keep an eye out for shooting stars – they’re more common than you think when there’s no light pollution washing everything out!
Get Away From it All
Honeymoons and other romantic vacations are meant to get away from it all and put the focus on having an enriching experience with you and your partner. So how about a chance to really get away?
Imagine yourself in a secluded, luxury cabin embraced on 3 sides by tall, lush hills. Right out front, through floor to ceiling windows and wide open space is a beautiful, calm bay just outside your doorstep.
Photo: Scrubby Bay
Bask in the lap of luxury with a stay in one of New Zealand’s luxury cottages. With your own personal waterfront, the privacy of complete seclusion, a private swimming pool and spa and New Zealand’s amazing landscape in your backyard – rest and relaxation has never been more relaxing.
Check out Scrubby Bay, just outside of Christchurch. The remote bay is only accessible via a 40 minute four-wheel drive transfer. Or, really live it up and upgrade to a scenic helicopter ride that lands just steps away from your luxury property for an epic entrance and exit you’ll never forget.
Don’t Start Off with a Headache
There are so many sublime experiences to be had in New Zealand, you owe it to yourself to make it your honeymoon destination. Remember, you’ll be relaying this story to friends and family for years to come – make it a good one. A New Zealand honeymoon is the perfect way to start your lives together and we can make it easy for you. Tell us what you’d like to do and we can make it happen for you. We’ll send you a free quote so you can start making priceless memories in no time.
Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy
If A. J. Hackett jumped off a bridge would anyone follow him? That’s the question the New Zealand native asked back in 1986 when he opened the world’s first commercial bungy jumping operation in Queenstown. The world answered with a resounding “Yes!” and soon people from New Zealand and all over rushed to see the extreme sport of “bungy jumping”.
The rest is history and New Zealand’s place as the overseas adventure travel capital was solidified.
We’ll show you why picturesque Kiwi country continues to be known the world over for extreme adventure sports in our guide to overseas adventure travel in New Zealand.
Skydiving New Zealand
New Zealand’s landscape is some of the most picturesque in the world. Deep fiords, tall, snow-capped mountains and green, rolling vistas give New Zealand that postcard-look at every turn. What better way to see it all than by plummeting towards it from 12,000 feet up?
Skydiving in New Zealand is the most epic way to top off your overseas adventure travel vacation in New Zealand. You’ll receive instruction, suit up and strap on to an instructor for a safe dive. However, nothing can prepare you for that initial leap through the clouds!
Photo: NZOne Skydive
Not ready to take the plunge? Opt for a bungy-jump with the company that started it all. The A. J. Hackett Ledge Bungy provides you with nearly 9 seconds of free-fall before being hurtled back up by your ankles. It’s the unforgettable experience that put Queenstown on the extreme sport map.
High Speed River Boats and Kayaking New Zealand
Hop aboard a high-speed thrilling river boat for an exhilarating journey through the Shotover River Canyons. You’ll zip past past jagged cliff-faces at nearly 60 mph. Squeeze through stunning narrow canyons mere inches away from the rocky walls to your side. Hold on tight as the unique Shotover Jet performs high speed, 360-degree spins along the way. This is not your average river boat cruise.
Want to take it a little bit slower? Get your feet wet first with a bit of kayaking at Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Embark from Onetahuti Beach in a double-kayak and see some of Abel Tasman’s amazing landscape. Paddle around pristine waters and New Zealand’s renowned rugged coastline and rock formations. You’ll feel like you’re exploring uncharted land as you paddle your way through. Lay your eyes on the lush, jungle landscape that surrounds you.
Once you make landfall, you’ll have the chance to explore some of the island and continue your adventure on foot.
Photo: Camilla Stoddart
Tip: Paddle over to see the Seal Colony where you could see native fur seals frolicking in their natural habitat! Along the way, lookout for more of New Zealand’s great wildlife like sea birds or even a Little Blue Penguin. The pristine waters around the reserve are so clear, you can even see fish swimming by as you paddle through.
Caving and Canyoning New Zealand
Get to know New Zealand from the inside-out by trekking through some of its best caves and canyons. Strap on your helmet, turn on your headlamp and harness up. This spelunking adventure is the best way to see some amazing subterranean wonders. New Zealand’s cave system is among the most diverse and challenging in the world.
Sure, you can take the simple walk through wide caverns and see some great sights. Stalactites and black water rivers are pretty accessible to those looking for a slightly more hands-off experience.
Photo: Absolute Adventure
But what would overseas adventure travel be without the adventure? For a a more harrowing trek you’ll want to head in to New Zealand’s narrow cave system. You’ll crawl, squeeze and rappel through the complex cave network. Feel your way through certain sections with only the light of you and your cave mates headlamps. Along the way your guide will give you an informative run down of the caves history and geology.
Photo: Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
No trip to New Zealand is complete without heading to Waitomo for the iconic Glow Worm Caves. You’ll see beautiful rock formations and geological wonders before embarking on a silent “black-water raft” ride. The silent float on the river-cave offers a stunning look at thousands of glow worms that call the cave home. See the soft, blue light that these bio-luminescent insects give off as you drift silently through the dark expanse. Staring at the glow worms as you float through the silent, dark cave makes you feel like you’re looking at thousands of stars in the sky.
Glacier Walks and Volcano Hikes
Mountaineering has a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. Did you know that Edmund Hilary, the first person to summit Mt. Everest, was a Kiwi? His interest in climbing mountains was spurned from a childhood trip to Mt. Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. Celebrate Hilary’s legacy with an adventure of your own in New Zealand’s glacier and volcano regions.
Start off at Franz Josef Glacier where you’ll take a scenic helicopter ride to the top. You’ll get an incredible view of the top of the glacier area along the way before landing right on the ice. An expert guide will lead you through the glacier’s rugged terrain. Walk through narrow ice canyons. See snow-capped mountains and pristine blue-ice. The almost Antarctic feel to Franz Josef Franz Josef Glacier makes you feel a thousand miles away.
Photo: Franz Josef Glacier Guides
From there head for the North Island. Make a stop in Tongariro National Park and participate in a “Great Walk of New Zealand“. You can even trek up Mt. Nguaruhoe – better known as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings.
Your final stop on this circuit of New Zealand wonders is the sulfuric, geothermal region in Rotorua. Once you arrive, don’t be alarmed if things smell a bit odd. “The Sulfur City” is more than just a nickname for Rotorua. The sulfur rich minerals brewing below the earth escape in to the atmosphere leaving a strong sulfuric smell all around. But after some getting used to, it’s just a reminder of the amazing geothermal activity happening just below you.
Just outside Rotorua proper sits the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. This area was created by New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption more than 100 years ago in 1886. In geologic terms, where things are measured in hundreds of millions of years, this valley is brand new. Valley walks take you through stunning emerald pools, hot springs and steaming crater lakes. Be sure to check out Frying Pan Lake – as the name implies, the lake cracks and sizzles from geothermal heating!
Photo: Rotorua Geothermal Region
New Zealand – Overseas Adventure Travel Mecca
In New Zealand you’re never short on options to push your vacation to the next level. Sure you’ll want to see the stunning landscapes that made Middle Earth come to life in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. But in between the relaxing walks and scenic drives, make a few stops that will truly take your breath away. Let us plan a trip that will show you why New Zealand’s reputation for overseas adventure travel is well-earned.
Posted on: June 8th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
New Zealand is, pardon the pun, a hotbed of geothermal activity. It’s located in the “Ring of Fire”, an aptly named cluster of volcanic activity around the Pacific Ocean. In fact, many of the islands surrounding New Zealand were formed from volcanoes. Luckily, most of the New Zealand volcanoes and powerful cones haven’t erupted in hundreds or thousands of years. Shooting geysers, hot springs and sulfuric lakes are active reminders of the country’s volcanic history.
Check out our list of the best places to experience the sights, sounds and smells of New Zealand volcanoes and geothermal regions.
Whakaari / White Island
White Island is New Zealand’s most active volcano. Its peak rises more than 1,000 feet in the air, but much of the mountain is hidden below sea level, making this the largest volcano in New Zealand!
Photo: Chris Sisarich
For an epic tour of White Island, you’ll arrive by helicopter and land on its surface. Walk the rugged surface and feel real volcanic rock beneath your feet. White Island seems to live and breathe as a living being as steam rises and falls. Vents and cracks along the islands exterior hiss and release gases up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit! You can get up close to the bubbling mud pits and steaming acid lakes that make up the island.
Photo: Rob Suisted
Like many New Zealand volcanoes and regions, White Island was originally named by the Maori. In Maori, the name for White Island is “Te Puia o Whakaari”, or “the dramatic volcano”. No stranger to drama, this volcano wants to be seen and heard. Numerous small eruptions and a peak with seemingly constant cover from thick, white steam ensure that White Island stays on the minds of native Kiwi’s and tourists alike.
Rotorua, The Sulphur City
Just a skip away from the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua is known for its unique Maori culture and amazing hot springs and geysers. You’ll know you’ve arrived in Rotorua when sense that distinct smell of sulfur that permeates the air. It might take some getting used to at first, but just think of it as the Earth’s magic at work! Besides, it’s a small price to pay for being in one of the most historically significant sites in all of New Zealand.
You’ll want to check out Te Puia, an amazing geothermal wonderland that is home to the Maori Arts and Culture Institute. Start your visit off with a visit to the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. Pohutu Geyser shoots steaming water more than 100 feet in to the air once or twice every single hour. It’s a geyser so reliable you could almost set your watch to it.
Photo: Chris McLennan
Boiling mud pools, hot springs and steaming valleys all cover the landscape of Te Puia. Witness unique Maori cooking that utilizes Te Puia’s boiling springs. Known as Ingo in Maori, meat and vegetables are placed in to baskets and lowered in to steaming water from the Earth which cooks it through. The Maori have used this method of cooking for centuries and it’s still used today.
At first glance this may look like a regular beach. But bubbling just beneath the sand is naturally heated mineral water from springs below. This makes Hot Water Beach a prime location to pull up, dig in and treat yourself to your own personal spay day. Dig a hole big enough for all of your friends, or keep it small for a solo soak.
You should plan on arriving to Hot Water Beach about 2 hours before or after low tide. This gives you a lot of easy digging area to hit the spa in no time. Forgot to pack a shovel? Local cafes and shops within rent out digging implements if you didn’t pack a shovel in your carry-on
Photo: Adam Bryce
TIP: Always test the temperature of your newly-dug hot spring before getting in. As its name suggests, the water can get VERY HOT!
New Zealand is a new island nation. Its land isn’t even 10,000 years old yet! That’s just a blink of an eye in geologic terms. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley was created just over 100 years ago from the eruption of Mount Tarawera. This eruption is New Zealand’s deadliest on record and remnants of the site’s violent history are still evident to this day.
Photo: Waimangu Geothermal Region
Take a walk through Waimangu’s Volcanic Valley and you’ll see the rising steam of hot springs and crater lakes. The Emerald Pools are a stunning bright green water feature that sit atop a crater left by Tarawera’s eruption. Many New Zealand volcanoes feature crater lakes and miniature ecosystems in the water atop extinct cones.
Be sure to check out Frying Pan Lake, the largest hot spring in the world. You’ll be able hear the lake crack, sizzle, sputter and hiss from the geothermal heating below! It’s a sight and sound you surely won’t want to miss.
Tongariro National Park
Take a trip to Mt. Doom and see how the real-life mountain of Mt. Ngaruhoe became the fictional volcano of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films. Tangariro National Park also provided the backdrop for many of the films iconic scenes. The amazing local landscape, incredible mountain peaks and lush forest is unlike any other. It’s no wonder that director and native Kiwi Peter Jackson chose to film much of the movie in his home country.
Photo: Camilla Rutherford
Tongariro is also the home of many of New Zealand’s greatest walks and hiking tracks. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Northern Circuit are among the top 9 Great Walks in the country. You’ll see the park’s amazing plant and animal life, snow-capped mountain tops and the emerald pools of the park’s crater lakes. Microscopic minerals suspended in the water give the lakes a super-saturated, amazing turquoise and blue color.
New Zealand Volcanoes
We have no doubt that you’ll find these great regions and New Zealand volcanoes just as amazing as we do. Maybe you’re a geology super-fan who wants to tour the “Ring of Fire”. Or you’re a Lord of the Rings super-fan who just has to see Mt. Doom. Or maybe you just want to walk on a real volcano. Either way, we can put together the perfect itinerary to see one or all of these amazing sights.
Give us a call at (888) 359 – 2877 Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST or and we’ll plan the New Zealand trip of your dreams.
Posted on: May 15th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Sometimes seeing a place in photos is all it takes to get yourself excited to take a trip. You browse through photos imagining yourself in far off places. But plain old photos are officially a thing of the past. These 360-degree images show off some of the most scenic places in New Zealand in the second best way possible – right behind seeing them live in person.
Be sure to click and drag around these breathtaking 360-degree photo-spheres and you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be there yourself.
Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park
Aoraki / Mt. Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and offers incredible views. Alpine flora and crystal lakes dot the landscape of this incredible mountain trek.
Zoom in close on the crater lakes at the foot of the mountain for a small look at how glacial minerals give the waters that beautiful sapphire look.
Tip: Want to see more amazing glacier-lakes? Jump right over to Franz-Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier for guided tours through these amazing natural wonders. You’ll fly in on a helicopter to hike these icy landscapes – truly incredible!
Horuhoru Rock / Waiheke Island
Waiheke is the second largest island in New Zealand, just behind Great Barrier Island. Horuhoru Rock sits just off the coast of Waiheke and is most notable for being a a safe nesting site for more than 2500 Australian gannets, a large seabird native to New Zealand. Access to Horuhoru Rock is limited, but we love the remoteness of this uninhabited isle! Not to mention that great panorama of the Hauraki Gulf.
If you look up and to the left of the island and the distance you can even see an Australian gannet swooping in to Horuhoru Rock!
This active volcanic vent is located in Tongariro National Park. Mt. Ngauruhoe breaths sulphurous gases in to the atmosphere from the cone. This volcano shot to worldwide stardom with the release of the Lord of the Rings films. Director Peter Jackson used Mt. Ngauruhoe to represent Mt. Doom in the films.
After you see Mt. Ngauruhoe, see the rest of Tongariro National Park. Go with a guide on a trek of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – a hike you’ll never forget in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Fiordland National Park
This park is the largest national park in New Zealand. Its giant fiords were carved out by glaciers little by little for hundreds of thousands of years. What’s left is an amazing natural wonderland that is pure New Zealand. Fiordland is consistently voted one of the best places to go in New Zealand. Milford and Doubtful Sound’s amazing landscapes are some of the top travel destinations in the world. Take a guided tour of Milford Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Mt. Aspiring National Park
Just north of Fiordland, Mount Aspiring National park is located in the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Some of the country’s greatest walks and hiking sites are located in the park. Incredible rock formations and crater lakes are some of the best and most accessible in New Zealand.