Posted on: December 12th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
New Zealand is one of the world’s top travel destinations. From the snow-dusted mountains and ancient rainforests in the South Island to the balmy beaches and geothermal wonderlands in the North Island, New Zealand is known for encapsulating all the world’s landscapes in one country.
This can make packing for your trip a challenge. It’s even more of a challenge if you’re traveling to both the North Island and the South Island, as they couldn’t be more different than night and day.
Waterproof Phone Case – New Zealand is a place of extreme adventures, photo-worthy landscapes and marine wildlife experiences. You’ll want to make sure your phone is well protected against water, dirt and other debris. A waterproof phone case not only lets you stay in touch, but also allows you take pictures of your travels no matter the environment.
New Zealand Power Adapter – New Zealand uses the same power outlet as Australia, which is different compared to the rest of the world. You’ll need a power adapter to keep your electronics charged while traveling in New Zealand. We recommend a universal power adapter with USB ports, making it easy to charge your phone and other handheld electronics that charge through a USB cord.
Rain Jacket – No matter where you’re traveling in New Zealand, you will absolutely want to bring a rain jacket. The weather is known to vary from region to region, more so from the North Island to the South Island. A good rain jacket can also double as a light jacket for those chilly mornings and evenings.
Camera – The moment you set eyes on New Zealand’s stunning mountains, turquoise lakes and lush coastlines, you’ll know your phone won’t do them any justice. As you travel throughout New Zealand, the jaw-dropping scenery will have you snapping photos every second. Bring a camera to capture crisp photos of your travels.
Sunscreen – Whether you’re visiting the mountainous South Island or the beaches of the North Island, sunscreen is super important. Due to the strong Southern Hemisphere sun, skin damage from UV rays can happen even on a cloud-covered day. Avoid the nasty sunburn – always a downer on any trip.
Portable Charger – Perfect for the days where you’re always on the go. Simply charge it up at your hotel and bring it with you on your travels. This is incredibly useful for long days on the road in tour buses or day trips.
Prescriptions and Over the Counter Medicines – If you know you are prone to motion sickness, sea sickness, headaches or even allergies, it’s a good idea to bring OTC medicines to ease any discomfort. It’s really daunting when you have to wonder around a foreign pharmacy looking at unfamiliar brands trying to figure out which medicine is best to cure a sour stomach. We also recommend Kaopectate for traveler’s tummy. And of course, bring along any prescription medicines you regularly take.
Insect Repellent – You can expect a few mosquitoes around most of New Zealand, but if you’ve got a good insect repellent they’ll be a non-issue. If you’re traveling along the west coast of the South Island, you’ll want to make sure your insect repellent also works on sandflies. These small, gnat-like creatures can be a greater nuisance than mosquitoes.
Reusable Water Bottle – Staying hydrated is important anywhere, especially while on long-haul travel to the other side of the world. A reusable water bottle is a great way to always keep water at your side, and is refillable wherever you go.
Hiking Shoes – New Zealand is full of scenic walks and day hikes, and you’re no doubt at least going to be walking around the cities. Walking shoes are always a must, but if you’re exploring the mountains, geothermal hot spots, glowworm caves or even beaches, you’ll want shoes that can do it all.
Travel Documents – Always know where your travel documents are and keep photocopies of them in case anything happens. One of our favorite tips is to keep online copies of travel documents. Simply email copies of your passport, trip vouchers, flight confirmations, etc. to yourself, giving you the ability to access your documents wherever you can log in to your email. This can be a lifesaver, even if you lose your phone!
Figuring out what to wear in New Zealand can be a bit challenging. Sunny beach days are common at the top of the North Island, yet its urban cities often see changeable weather with winds and rains. The South Island is home to the sunniest regions in New Zealand, yet its mountains accumulate snow and cold weather the further south you go.
This is why we’ve made it simple with our guide on what to pack for New Zealand based on each island and season.
Coromandel, North Island. Photo: Adam Bryce
Summer (December, January, February)
These are New Zealand’s warmest months of the whole year, with temperatures averaging between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, daylight can last until 10pm, so be sure to keep up with sunscreen!
Northernmost regions such as Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands and the Coromandel enjoy subtropical weather. Think balmy sunshine, warm golden beaches and inviting bays. Summery clothes with a light jacket for any sudden changes in weather are ideal.
You may want to pack your swimwear and jandals (New Zealand’s word for flip flops!) if you fancy a dip at the beach. Sunhats and sunglasses are also great sun protection.
For more urban areas including Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington, comfortable walking shoes are a must. You might like to bring some dressier clothes for nights out in the cities. Don’t forget a rain jacket and cardigans or sweaters for the cooler mornings and evenings. Pants or trousers are recommended over shorts, but for any outdoor activities such as hikes or beach days, shorts are fine.
Nelson is one of New Zealand’s sunniest regions, so sunhats and sunglasses are essential. Summer clothes are perfect, with cardigans or light jackets for the evenings and cool mornings.
The further south you travel, the lower the temperatures drop. Christchurch sees temperatures in the low 60’s, so pack thin layers with a sweater or light jacket. In southernmost destinations such as Queenstown and Dunedin, bring light layers you can mix and match, with a sweater or light jacket.
Canterbury, South Island. Photo: Fred Rood and Elite Images
Fall (March, April, May)
Cooler temperatures create perfect conditions for outdoor activities with a gorgeous setting. Colorful changing leaves, tufts of gold and orange, snowy peaks in the distance – autumn in New Zealand will take your breath away. With less crowds and temperatures averaging between 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, this is one of our favorite season to go to New Zealand.
Cold mornings and evenings are common, with sunshine during the day. It’s important to pack cozy clothes you can layer up or down as the day goes by, with a jacket to keep warm against any drops in temperature.
A rain jacket is a must, as this is when rains start to pick up in major cities such as Auckland and Wellington.
The South Island is where you’ll see those changing autumn colors. Comfortable layers with a warm sweater or jacket will keep you most comfortable. Boots or comfortable walking shoes will keep your feet sheltered from the elements.
Queenstown, South Island. Photo: Skyline Queenstown
Winter (June, July, August)
Winter in New Zealand brings cooler temperatures averaging between 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The one essential item you need to pack for winter in New Zealand is a raincoat, as these months see the most rain.
Winter is temperate enough to explore the northernmost region of the island on hikes and scenic walks. Warm layers, a cardigan or sweater, and a light jacket will be enough to get you through the day. Bring a warm jacket for the cold mornings and evenings, especially in major cities.
July is the wettest month, so apart from a rain jacket you might also want to bring an umbrella.
The mountain ranges are blanketed with fresh snow, making for stunning views. Frosts and heavy snowfall are common, so warm layers, sweaters and jackets are recommended. You might like to bring scarfs, gloves or hats to help protect you from the cold in wilderness areas such as national parks, the glaciers and fiords.
Bay of Islands, North Island. Photo: Alistair Guthrie
Spring (September, October, November)
Blossoming trees, cascading waterfalls and colorful blooms – New Zealand in spring is a wonderful time to visit. Keep in mind the average temperatures for your New Zealand packing list in spring, ranging between 40 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warm sunny days gave way to crisp evenings, so definitely pack a sweater or light jacket. Thin layers you can mix and match are highly recommended, keeping you prepared for any sudden drops in temperature. If you can easily withstand cooler temperatures, one layer and a light jacket will be just fine.
One basic jacket or coat and versatile layers are perfect for South Island destinations. A warm sweater with a light jacket is also a good alternative. Keep in mind that mornings and evenings can still get quite cold. If you’re traveling along the west coast to the glaciers or Mount Cook, be sure you’re prepared for rain.
No matter what time of the year you’re visiting New Zealand, it’s always important to use sunscreen – yes, even in the winter!
Now that you know what to pack for New Zealand, you’re ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
Safe travels from your mates at About New Zealand!
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!
1. The weather is gorgeous! Crisp, sunny days perfect for hiking through the gorgeous alpine landscapes.
2. Not as many tourists! New Zealand is very remote – and sometimes left out of world maps altogether! But that just means you can enjoy more of this unique island paradise!
3. World of Wearable Art happens every September! The rule is anything that’s in any way wearable is allowed on stage. The results are unbelievably breathtaking, original and creative! Who needs New York Fashion Week? Check out some of the awesome pieces in the past.
4. Spring time means so many cute lambs! We’re not kidding – New Zealand has the highest ratio of sheep per person in the world. Currently there’s about 27 million sheep and more than 4 million people. That’s about 7 sheep per person!
5. Perfect temperature for a canopy tour in Rotorua! Just imagine it…zip lining through ancient forest, adrenaline pumping through your veins, soaring through great heights – no better way to experience the natural beauty of Rotorua!
6. The gardens are in full bloom! Purple lupins, golden Kowhai flowers, Mount Cook buttercups…colors are bursting everywhere!
7. Adorable baby kiwis are hatching! Though they are flightless, that didn’t stop them from becoming the national bird of New Zealand!
Photo Credit: kazzy from Instagram
8. The BEST time to see Milford Sound! Perfect for kayaking or a cruise on the glassy water. But for a tour to match this dramatic landscape, a scenic flight over the fiord is just the thing!
9. Whale watching is incredible this time of year, and Kaikoura is the place to be! Known as the whale watching capital of New Zealand, you’ll spot giant sperm whales, fur seals, humpback whales and maybe even blue whales!
10. The Whangarei Growers Market happens every Saturday and has some of the best locally grown produce. Here you’ll find anything from bananas to olives, cheeses to salamis and so much more!
Image credit: The Whangarei Growers Market on Facebook.com
11. The lupins and bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo. I mean, come on. This looks like out of a fairy tale picture book!
12. Once you’ve see the lupins, why not stay in Tekapo and do a little stargazing? You’ll be in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, the largest dark sky reserve in the world with a Gold rating from the International Dark Sky Association. Keep an eye out for shooting stars and the Phoenix constellation!
13. Kayak through the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch. In a city known as the Garden City, there’s no way you’ll skip out on its gardens!
14. Imagine seeing New Zealand in spring by train. That is an event in and of itself! Pass through looming mountains, green hills and bursts of flowers on the TranzAlpine, known as one of the great rail journeys in the world!
Image credit: KiwiRail Scenic on Facebook
15. Hiking in the South Island is pretty spectacular this time of year. Check out the Routeburn Track in the Fiordland National Park!
16. Snow may still be on the ground in certain places, time for a late season shred? Some say this is the BEST time of year to ski. Head to Queenstown for remarkable skiing in the Remarkables mountain range!
17. Love spicy food? Try New Zealand’s hot sauce – Kaitaia Fire, made from the chilies blooming in spring in Northland. Once you’ve tried Kaitaia you’ll accept nothing else!
18. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s last great wilderness, gorgeous every time of year. In spring, even more gorgeous! This is THE place for hiking with spectacular views – nothing else will come close!
19. Ohau Waterfall & Seal Pups. Don’t know what this is? Check this out! It’s a bunch of baby seals having an epic cuddlefest!
20. Abel Tasman National Park! Perfect for hiking, kayaking, snorkeling or just relaxing at the beach. You can do it all in the spring!
21. Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival. (This happens in late spring!) Taste craft brews from all over New Zealand – from crisp pale ales, juicy saisons to refreshing lagers and heavy stouts, you’re sure to find something that hits the spot!
Image credit: Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival on Facebook
22. Warm, sunny days in Nelson wine region. And absolutely incredible Chardonnay. I mean, if you’re into that kind of stuff. The Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics aren’t too shabby, either.
23. Better deals on hotels and airfare during non-peak seasons! Who doesn’t like to save?
24. It’s fishing season in New Zealand, where you’ll find the world’s best wild trout fishing! Anglers are welcome! Be on the look out for “Anglers Access” signs. They’ll help you find the best fishing spots.
25. Baby yellow-eyed penguins in Dunedin! These babies may grow over 2 feet tall and are the rarest penguins in the world.
26. Golf courses in New Zealand. Enough said.
27. Hiking in Rotorua along the awesome volcanic and geothermal landscapes is a must. Get a light workout in and hike to the world’s largest hot spring in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley – the surreal landscapes will make you feel like you’re walking on another planet!
28. Seeing the gorgeous peaks in Wanaka with an experienced guide is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and lakes so blue you won’t believe there’s not an Instagram filter overlaying them.
29. The weather in the Bay of Plenty is perfect for full gardens, vibrant wildlife, amazing beaches and spectacular sunsets! It’s easy to see why this is a favorite holiday destination for many locals.
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! Pedal along the Ohinemuri River to see the spectacular Owharoa Falls, or try the Coromandel Mountain Bike Track for more of a challenge.
31. The culture and sights in Northland in spring. Ancient Kauri forests, healing waters of Ngawha Springs, paddling a traditional Waka (maori war canoe) – the cultural sights and experiences are out of this world.
32. Do you have a green thumb? Check out the Taranaki Garden Spectacular, an event filled with gardens, landscape design ideas, tours, garden walks and community events. Find inspiration for your next gardening projects or simply admire the colorful and exotic plants around you.
Image credit: Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular on Facebook.com
33. And best of all, longer daylight hours means more time you can spend in the beautiful landscapes on the North and South Islands. If only there were more hours in a day!
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!
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: February 9th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
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.
Alright, so you’re on your way to Rangitoto Island. You’ve got your flip-flops, your sand buckets. You’re all set.
But wait… where’s the sand? Where are the umbrellas? The lifeguard stands??
New Zealand isn’t your average country and this isn’t your average day at the beach. You didn’t fly halfway around the world to see the same old thing you could see back home!
What you will find is a 600 year old (just a baby in geological terms!) volcanic island with its rugged, black volcanic rock. Rangitoto Island and Scenic reserve is part nature hike and part sea kayaking adventure.
Take 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.
Start things off with a unique visit to this island reserve and we assure you won’t even miss the sand!
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.
Both Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove are ideal to visit in one New Zealand visit. Check out a potential itinerary for taking in both beaches here.
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. It’s 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 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.
Looking for information on New Zealand airports for your future trip?
Check out our quick guide on major 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
Ready to book your flight?
If you need assistance planning your flight or trip, our destination experts are ready to help you. Our ARC Accreditation ensures you’ll get the best experience when book your flight to New Zealand with the help of seasoned travel agents. Call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
Does the thought of an international adventure entice you?
New Zealand is full of geographical diversity; the entire country is covered in mountains, glaciers, rainforests, lakes, farmland, and the most gorgeous coastline, which provides an enormous amount of variety for thrill-seekers. It is the adventure travelers paradise. If you’re wondering where to go in New Zealand, there are locations all over the country that yield extreme sports, adventures and fun. We have compiled a list of the top 26 adventure destinations and attractions that you must visit once in your lifetime. Travel-Tip: If you’re up for a road-trip, self drive tours are the best way to explore New Zealand at your own pace.
Queenstown, New Zealand | South Island
Queenstown, home of the New Zealand Winter Games, is the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and the ‘adrenaline capital of New Zealand- it’s no wonder it’s number one in adventure tourism! You’re sure to find an overwhelming amount of thrilling adventures guaranteed to supply the adrenaline rush all daredevils search for.
1. Kawarau White Water Rafting
A ” leisurely” grade 2-3 white water adventure rafting adventure suitable for persons of all rafting abilities – a great family experience. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, the scenery may be familiar; raft down into Middle Earth.
2. Kawarau River Sledging
Get up close and personal with the roaring rapids of the Kawarau River while you soar through canyons, gorges and whirlpools for a world-class “wet & wild” river experience.
3. Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump
Home to the world’s first commercial site and most famous of leaps; it is the world’s most beloved bungee site at a 141 foot leap, it is New Zealand’s only tandem bungee jump site. ProTip: Tandem refers to two or more people.
4. Shotover Canyon Swing
Launch yourself from a mounted platform 358 feet above the Shotover River, a thrilling 197 foot free fall, until you reach a gigantic 656 foot swing where you will act as a human pendulum until you rest. You can drip in a chair, upside down, backwards, and even tandem. It’s all about your comfort level!
5. Shotover Jet Country
The world’s most exciting Jet Boat ride that whips through Shotover canyon at 56 mph.
6. Nevis Highwire Bungee
The 14th highest bungee jump in the world, it is dubbed the “world’s wildest bungee jump.” After a rugged 35 minute 4×4 drive you’ll launch yourself into an 8.5 second freefall, a 440 foot drop over the Nevis Valley. Nervous? Can’t decide? Maybe this hilarious and informative client review will soothe your nerves.
7. Ski & Snow Board
Hit the slopes during New Zealand’s longest season and find adventure in every corner. There’s sNOw excuse – Queenstown is surrounded by lakes and gorgeous mountains which makes it extremely popular for extreme sports. Even the dogs in New Zealand are daredevils!
8. Dart River Safari
A stimulating wilderness jet trip excursion through the most incredible scenery across glacier-fed rivers while learning about fascinating New Zealand Maori legends and culture.
Experience an authentic skydive in the birthplace of tandem skydiving. This is not for the faint of heart – jump from 9,000-15,000 feet at nearly 125 mph for an insane 60 second free fall before you deploy your parachute and reach land again.
10. Moa Zipline
Ride up the Skyline Gondola and then glide through the treetops on a series of four flying foxes.
11. Tandem Paraflights
Strap into your harness and get ready for the flight of a lifetime at over 600 feet in the air, enjoy an exhilarating birds-eye-view of the incredible scenery .
12. Ledge Sky Swing
Enjoy a scenic gondola ride before you’re strapped in to swing 1,300 feet over Queenstown. This takes swinging to a whole new level!
13. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
If you’re an early riser, take a tour over the most awe-inspiring landscape in the world.
Auckland, New Zealand | North Island
Despite being New Zealand’s largest and most urban city in the country, it is the only city in the world built on an active underground volcano field, which yields thrilling adventures for you to embark on.
14. Sail the Auckland Harbor
Explore the colorful landscape and sandy beaches while sailing on an American Cup Racing Yacht through the most unique sea kayaking locations.
15. Piha Canyon Abseiling Adventure
Abseil down cascading waterfalls surrounded volcanic rock walls, swim through pools of blues and greens, bungee jump, cave explorations, and slides as you wander the canyon.
Tauranga, New Zealand | North Island
Located along the coast in the Bay of Plenty, it is the 6th most populated city in New Zealand, while a bit more leisurely than thrill-seeking, it still yields a fascinating adventure.
16. AquaTek Fishing & Diving
Inshore & offshore game fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling – the perfect mix of thrill and adventure. Be ready to catch and see some of the ocean’s largest fish.
17. Swim With the Dolphins
Experience Tauranga’s natural aquatic life – above or below sea level, and swim with the dolphins. Alternatively, watch the dolphins, orcas, and whales safely in an aquatic vessel.
18. Surf Lessons
Whether you’re just learning, or a professional surfer, Tauranga has some of the best waters to surf with equally impressive backdrops. You’ll be catching waves in no time.
Rotorua, New Zealand | North Island
Located in the heart of the North Island, this city is known for its geothermal activity and critically acclaimed tourist attractions.
19. Geothermal Park
50 acres of volcanoes, fumaroles, and pools of boiling mud; you can feel the Earth come alive beneath your feet. Helicopter over Hell’s Gate Thermal Valley to the Pacific Ocean coastline and into the active volcano of White Island.
20. Agroventures Adventure Park
Five of the most iconic New Zealand adventures all in the same area: bungee jump, sky swing, jet boat rides, New Zealand’s only wind tunnel – Freefall Xtreme, and the world’s only shweeb racing in a suspended monorail racing pod.
21. Rotorua Canopy Tour
Voted the best outdoor activity on the North Island. Zipline and swing bridge across the native forest for a thrilling way to experience the forest canopy.
22. Wairoa River Kayaking
Pick from a series of grade 2-5 experiences and raft or kayak through the world’s most commercially rafted waterfall.
Roll down the hills of Rotorua in a giant inflatable globe for some thrilling wet or dry adventures.
24. Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike | North Island
After an exciting scenic flight, take a two hour guided hike the magnificent glacier scenery and landscape.
25. Mangaweka Gravity Canyon | Taihape, New Zealand – North Island
Home to NZ’s highest bungee jump and original zipline equipped with flying foxes and giant swings, you can raft through the Rangitikei River (grade 5) after you launch yourself 262 feet into the impressive canyon.
26. Horse Back Riding | North Island
Trek around the peaceful Manawatu River for a leisurely adventure with breathtaking backdrops and natural outdoor experiences.
Awaken your wanderlust.
We have custom New Zealand Adventure Tours and packages that include all of the main New Zealand attractions and activities that are sure you to give a rush of adrenaline and provide you with experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
We do hope that you find this information helpful. Should you have any questions or need some help planning your New Zealand adventure tours, don’t hesitate to call us directly Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm Central US) or visit www.AboutNewZealand.com. We’d love to help you customize your once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list vacation to New Zealand.
Posted on: June 24th, 2014 by Marketing_ANZ No Comments
Experiencing New Zealand by taking an escorted tour presents a unique opportunity for experiencing a level of relaxation and enjoyment you didn’t know was possible. We received an email the other day with a question and it was so good, we decided to share it.
Posted on: June 20th, 2014 by Marketing_ANZ No Comments
The yellow light of the torches flicker to fight the darkness of the night. Suddenly, a giant warrior covered with traditional tattoos begin to yell out as he approaches… Lead in their chant by a their that man, the group of strong warriors begin yelling out in unison, slapping their hands against their thighs, stamping the ground, standing ready to charge into battle…it’s at this moment you realize one of the best decisions you’ve ever made was going on Maori Cultural Tours.
Part 2 of our Overseas Adventures in New Zealand Series
Kia Ora. New Zealand is the home of a young, vibrant, and active population that works hard and plays harder. If you have enjoyed the first half of the trip full of mountain biking, dancing, and hiking, get ready for the fire, ice, and water of the South Island!