Posted on: November 7th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
You won’t find a city with a more romantic name than Auckland.
The Te Reo Māori (indigenous Maori-language) name for Auckland is “Tāmaki-makau-rau,” meaning “Tāmaki (bride) of a hundred lovers.”
It’s hard not to fall in love with Auckland on first sight. With an iconic cityscape embraced by a sparkling gulf and fertile, green hills, the City of Sails captures the hearts of more than just a hundred lovers.
See the city through the eyes of its first admirers with these incredible Maori cultural experiences in Auckland.
Sail the Gulf like the Great Polynesian Navigators
Image: Waka Quest
There’s no end to the yachts and charters offering sailing tours along Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
After all, this is “The City of Sails.”
But among the countless vessels docked along Waitemata Harbour is a portal into the past.
Here you’ll find the ‘waka,’ a traditional Maori canoe as once chartered by the ancient Polynesian navigators. Inspired by a recent resurgence of voyaging traditions, the New Zealand Maritime Museum in conjunction with local tourism operators developed a breathtaking journey into Maori seafaring traditions aboard Haunui, a handcrafted waka.
When you board Haunui, you’re embarking on a journey just as the ancient Polynesian navigators once did. You’ll learn the sailing traditions and stories of the Maori as an expert Maori crew charters across Waitemata Harbour.
If the famous Auckland landmarks you’ll see don’t captivate you, the oral traditions, artistry and rituals shared by your crew certainly will.
Feel the Land Come to Life on a Maori Walking Tour
Learn the stories behind Auckland’s green volcanic landscape on an intimate, Maori-guided walking tour.
Auckland is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, each bound with a story rich in cultural and spiritual significance.
In other words, a natural treasure trove of Maori culture.
Your Maori guide leads you through Auckland’s unique terrain on walking trails strewn across the volcanoes as they share the history of each site.
Walk to the top of Maungawhau, or Mount Eden, and learn about the legends surrounding this natural wonder. As the highest natural point in Auckland, there’s an unmistakable sense of mysticism from the incredible panoramic views atop this volcano.
Hear the story of how this mountain came to be, as passed down through oral traditions. Spot the remains of pā terraces, or hill forts, and food storage pits once used by the Maori.
As you walk down the volcano, you’ll come away with a sense of the Maori’s deep connection with the land. Ask our About New Zealand Destination Specialists about our favorite Auckland walking tours for your next trip!
Get Off the Beaten Path and Get in Touch with Nature
Image: Scott Venning
Auckland is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Black sand beaches, lush rainforests, waterfalls and soaring cliffs await just outside the city.
But that’s just the problem for many visitors. It’s all outside the city.
Fortunately there’s several tours setting out from the city into the pristine natural wonders at its doorstep.
On one of our favorite New Zealand wilderness tours, you’ll venture into Auckland’s spectacular west coast and into the renowned Waitakere Ranges. You’ll pass through Titirangi, which translates to “fringe of heaven” in Te Reo Māori, and learn about the unique flora and fauna that call these ranges home.
Hear the legends of the forest and its shy bush-dwelling birds so iconic to New Zealand. Discover the medicinal uses of the indigenous plants around you, as still used by the Maori to this day.
Finish the day off with a stop at the west coast’s most arresting black sand beaches – the west coast’s signature feature.
Discover Maori Treasures at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Explore the world’s largest collection of Maori artifacts (taonga) at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Renowned for its interactive exhibits and respectful insights into Maori and South Pacific cultures, you could easily spend days in this three-level museum.
Visit the ground floor to see original full-size buildings adorned with intricate Maori woodcarvings and designs. See Te Toki ā Tāpiri, the last great waka once used in battle, carved from a giant totara tree. Get a glimpse of traditional dress including dogskin cloaks, feather cloaks and flax cloaks as worn by Maori ancestors.
On the first floor you’ll learn more about the Maori way of connecting with the natural world. Step foot on a topographical recreation of Auckland, outlining the routes of the seafaring ancestors and their stories. Learn the narratives behind the origins of the world as understood by the Maori.
Opt for a guided tour to fully immerse yourself and understand the unique culture on display before you.
Stick around the Auckland War Memorial Museum for what is lauded as one of New Zealand’s best Maori cultural performances.
This daily performance takes you on a moving journey through the story of Auckland and New Zealand. Watch as performers donned in gorgeous traditional dress dance the gracious poi and a spine-tingling version of the powerful haka war dance.
As Auckland’s only venue providing daily Maori cultural performances, you’ll want to pre-book this often sold-out event.
Performances begin at 10:45am until 1:30pm with additional times available during high season.
Get a Taste of Maori-Inspired Kai at Pasifika Festival
Image: Tourism New Zealand
There’s no way you can authentically experience a culture without tasting its food. Even if you’re averse to trying new foods, the scents of kai (Te Reo Māori for food) will have your mouth watering.
The traditional Maori method for cooking food in underground ovens is called hāngi. This usually consists of meats, root vegetables and kumara, a kind of sweet potato, wrapped in leaves and lowered into the earth. After cooking for three to four hours in the heat from the earth, a delicious dish of tender, fall-off-the-bone meat and roasted vegetables infused with a smoky fragrance is ready to eat.
Though you won’t find many eateries in Auckland showcasing traditional Maori cooking methods, you can find Maori flavors at the Hangi Shop or Puha & Pakeha.
One of the best ways to experience Maori kai in Auckland is at the Pasifika Festival, an annual celebration of South Pacific cultures. Not only will you get a taste of hāngi, but you’ll also see signature dishes unique to cultures all across the Pacific Islands throughout 200 different food and craft stalls.
Travel to Auckland towards the end of March to witness this spectacular event. Pasifika Festival will be held from March 23rd – 24th, 2019.
Experience Maori Culture in Auckland
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture brings the North Island to life with its warm Polynesian roots. Although the town of Rotorua is New Zealand’s renowned heart of Maori culture, you’ll find plenty of incredible experiences within Auckland to gain insight into this unique culture.
Want to add an unforgettable Maori experience in your visit to Auckland? Connect with our About New Zealand Destination Specialists for more ideas on experiencing Maori culture on your New Zealand trip.
Posted on: September 27th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Photo: Rob Suisted
Many first time travelers to New Zealand skip over Wellington, but this capital city is full of surprises at every turn.
As the the king of all things cool, Wellington thrives on the creativity emanating from its passionate locals. Step in any direction and you’ll come across a fantastic coffee shop, a lively art gallery or bright new eatery. In fact, Wellington has more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York!
The large city delights combined with a small town feel create an experience entirely its own.
Known as the “coolest little capital,” the thriving arts, culinary, coffee and food scenes are heaven for the city lover. The gentle bays, lush greenery and surrounding hills offer a natural playground for the nature lover.
Here’s our guide on the best 11 things to do in Wellington.
Visit the Mount Victoria Lookout
Photo: Julian Apse
The best way to get your bearings in Wellington is to take in the whole city at once at the Mount Victoria Lookout.
The spectacular panoramic views of the city are framed by lush greenery, the tranquil harbor and rolling hills in the distance. You’ll get a feel for Wellington’s unique coastal charm of vibrant city life set against serene waterways.
Located right next to the city center, you can take the Number 20 bus all the way up or take the scenic walk up to the lookout. The clearing is perfect for a picnic overlooking the city.
Be sure to take a light jacket – nicknamed windy Wellington, you’re bound to feel a breeze as you make your way to the summit of Mount Victoria.
But as you take in the breathtaking vista below you, you might not even feel the wind.
Ride on the Wellington Cable Car
One of Wellington’s most charming assets is the historic Cable Car.
This little red cable car climbs the steep slope from Lambton Quay in the heart of Wellington to Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the city below.
Locals, students and visitors alike make up the nearly one million passengers traveling in the cable car each year.
The five minute journey travels along a quaint, white-fenced railway through dark tunnels illuminated by colorful fairy lights flashing into stunning patterns and imagery.
Emerge at the top for a lookout taking in unsurpassed views of the hill-fringed city.
You’ll also find the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Space Place and the Cable Car Museum at the top. These Wellington-essential attractions are the perfect way to spend an afternoon, ending with a cable car ride back down the hill.
To find the cable car, make your way to Cable Car Lane between Flight Centre and Countdown Supermarket off Lambton Quay.
Stop and Smell the Roses at the Wellington Botanic Garden
Fancy a light freshening up? At the Wellington Botanic Gardens, the rose beds, begonias and the Fragrant Garden perfume the air with wonderful aromas to reawaken your senses.
After riding up on the Wellington Cable Car, wander downhill through the colorful tapestries of blooming hydrangeas, tulips and rhododendrons.
Step through the Exotic Forest, planted in the 1870s, and marvel at some of the oldest pines in New Zealand. Find your zen in Horseshoe Bend, a tranquil garden of Asian woodland plants and trees.
Escape into the dense forest of the Pukatea Bushwalk, where the calls of native birds will make you feel a whole world away from the city.
Let your nose guide you through the arresting aromas of the Herb Garden and the Fragrant Garden, where the flowers are as alluring as their scent.
Pass through a charming waterfall and bubbling streams to reach the Main Garden. You’ll find ducks gliding on a small, glassy pond, letting out eager quacks for bread crumbs.
At the bottom of the hill you’ll reach the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. This haven of over 3,000 roses set around a heritage fountain is romantic simplicity at its finest. Visit between mid-November to December to see the roses in full bloom.
Stay after dark for a chance to see glowworms light up the gardens for a magical light show.
Explore Wellington’s Laneways
Photo: Jerry Aurum
There’s a transformation taking hold right in the heart of the city, but if you blink you might miss it.
Tucked away between high rises and unassuming buildings of the city center you’ll find quirky little spaces home to Wellington’s hidden gems. These laneways are home to some of the best of Wellington’s three C’s: cafes, craft beer and coffee.
Wander down Hannahs Laneway, dubbed “the world’s tastiest laneway,” for an inner city haven of eclectic local bars, good eats and sweet treats.
Find low-key class in the leather bound menus, fur pelt decor and bookshelves lined with classics in Hanging Ditch, a cocktail bar mastering casual elegance with friendly bartenders who know their craft. Try arguably the best pizza in town at Pizza Pomodoro, and top it off with a stop at Wellington Chocolate Factory, a wonderland for all things chocolate.
No trip to Wellington is complete without visiting Cuba Street, a bohemian playground of vintage shops, world class cafes, restaurants and bars. Fidel’s Café, the crowning king of cool on Cuba Street, serves strong single-origin coffee late into the night and revolutionary homestyle dishes.
Don’t let the minimalist sophistication of Loretta fool you – this Cuba Street staple serves superb coffee and crisp dishes with slick service. Even more impressive is its extensive drink menu, featuring classic cocktails, craft beers and an array of wines.
Score a secondhand designer find in the colorful racks of darling dresses and vintage shoes at Ziggurat, Cuba Street’s shopping treasure trove.
Taste Your Way Through Wellington’s Food scene
Photo: Egmont St Eatery
There’s always a slew of new cafes and trendy joints opening their doors.
Step inside the Wellington food scene and you’ll find exciting flavors set in vibrant spaces with an unrelenting passion for all things local.
Wake your senses in the morning to the warm, fresh scents of Husk’s breakfast menu featuring local, free range produce. Tuck into scrambled eggs with kasundi relish, manchego cheese, fresh coriander and toasted polenta bread or a dish of rousing shakshouka topped with baked eggs and sheep’s feta cheese. Be sure to return in the evening to taste some craft beers brewed on site!
Taste modern, local Kiwi cuisine at Shepherd, an informal yet flavorful dining experience with creative dishes set in a restored canteen.
Hidden away in one of Wellington’s laneways is the intimate Egmont St Eatery, a delightful nook with fresh sharing plates, wines and local craft beers reflecting the season – perfect for a romantic night out.
Sip on Craft Beers
In Wellington, passion and creativity extends to all things – even beer.
The craft beer movement currently taking hold across all corners of the world is more than just a scene in Wellington – it’s an institution. Even if you’re not one to touch a drop of the stuff, the experimental brews you’ll find in Wellington are sure to pique your interest, if not at least lift your brows.
Try something new at Garage Project’s taproom, 91 Aro, known for churning out quality beers unafraid of blending wild flavors into the mix. You might taste anything from honey and elderflower to chamomile flowers and smoked chipotle in their beers.
The capital of craft beer in Wellington, Hashigo Zake prides itself on having “no crap on tap,” as per their staff t-shirts. Here you’ll find a careful curation of some of the best craft brews found not only in Wellington but also across New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the US. With something for every taste, let the bartenders know the flavors you enjoy – be it chocolate, coffee or any kind of fruit – and they’ll sort you out.
Don’t miss Golding’s Free Dive Bar, reminiscent of your neighborhood bar, for a colorful and friendly spot showcasing New Zealand’s quality brews. As a “free dive,” Golding’s is free to choose any sort of liquor they wish to serve, so you’re sure to find a selection of champion beers.
Fall in Love with Wellington’s Coffee
There’s no better way to start your day off in Wellington than with a strong cup of locally roasted coffee.
Named as one of the world’s best 8 cities for coffee, the flat whites served here are unparalleled – even in Melbourne.
Get an up close look at the art of coffee brewing at Lamason Brew Bar, a cozy retreat on the corner of Bond and Lombard Street. Specializing in top shelf espresso and single origin coffee, their siphon coffee is undeniably the star of the show, brewed with siphons looking like something out of an alchemist’s arsenal.
Find ethically sourced coffees with a detailed backstory at The Flight Coffee Hangar. Every cup is served with a card reviewing the taste profile of the coffee. With friendly recommendations from the knowledgeable staff, you can’t go wrong with a cup at Hangar. Try the flight of three coffees to sample their impressive blends.
A Wellington icon, L’affare is the considered the grandaddy of the local café scene. With the look and feel of an industrial coffee packaging plant, their wholesome menu and espresso roasts will warm you right up.
Go Museum and Gallery Hopping
Think you don’t have a single artistic bone in your body? Wellington is guaranteed to change that.
Noted as “A powerhouse of the arts in the Southern Hemisphere” by Going Places Magazine, creativity pulses through every corner of Wellington. Throughout the city you’ll find dozens of art galleries, museums, theaters and public art. Not to mention the world famous World of Wearable Art (WOW), an international design competition where artists push the boundaries of fashion.
Enter a world dedicated to New Zealand’s art, history and indigenous culture at Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand. You’ll find a day isn’t enough to explore the vast collections of modern art, Maori woodworks and artifacts, historical masterpieces and interactive exhibits.
Here you can immerse yourself in the emotion emanating from the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition, and relive this World War I campaign through the eyes of eight New Zealanders. Learn about the cultures of the various Pacific Island peoples through clothing, textiles, tattoos and photos.
After discovering the treasure troves of Te Papa, skip on over to City Gallery Wellington. With an ever-rotating array of compelling exhibits by local and international artists, you’re guaranteed to come away with rattling feelings of amusement, anger or amazement.
Travel further up the waterfront to Wellington Museum, often considered Wellington’s best kept secret. This small museum packs in a wealth of history and exhibitions detailing the evolution of Wellington into The Coolest Little Capital. Stop in The Attic at the top floor for a steampunk-styled exhibit displaying curiosities ranging from flying saucers and lions to art installations with captivating cinematic elements.
Experience Movie-Making Magic
As internationally recognized director Guillermo Del Toro puts it, Wellington is “Hollywood the way God intended it.”
Home to world-class movie-making talent, leading international studios and spectacular filming locations, there’s no doubt Wellington is considered New Zealand’s film industry capital.
Indeed, the movie magic found within the hills of windy Wellington has earned it the affectionate name “Wellywood.”
Movie buffs can browse the meticulously crafted props, costumes and collectibles created for films such as the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises on a tour behind the scenes at the Weta Cave.
Visit different filming locations around the city on a guided tour – sometimes led by an extra from one of the films! Walk through Middle Earth as you learn about the specific scenes from Lord of the Rings shot on the ground you’re standing on.
If you’re more about the cinematic experience of sitting back and being transported into a completely different world, Wellington’s world-class cinemas will do the trick. Ever the haven for Lord of the Rings fans, catch a flick at the Embassy Theatre, a classy cinema once host to the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Lovers of all things film will want to stop by Time Cinema, a small spot dedicated to the display of vintage film memorabilia and quarter-monthly film screenings.
Explore the Wellington Waterfront
Escape from the bustle of the city center and stroll along Wellington’s quiet waterfront.
Lined with brightly colored boatsheds, heritage and art trails, local cafes and a stretch of golden beach, the waterfront is the perfect place to unwind by the sea.
Learn the history of Wellington on the Maritime Heritage Trail, stopping at historic buildings showcasing Edwardian industrial architecture.
Discover the subtle yet powerful Writers Walk along the waterfront, dotted with fifteen text sculptures featuring quotes about Wellington from prominent New Zealand writers.
Make your way down to Oriental Bay, an idyllic strip of golden sand and sparkling turquoise water. Roll your towel out and soak in the sun or rent some kayaks or stand up paddleboards and take to the water.
End your afternoon with a scoop of perfectly creamy gelato from Kaffe Eis on Oriental Parade and sit back as you enjoy unbeatable views of the bay.
Get close to New Zealand Wildlife
Surrounded by nature, Wellington is dotted with pockets of green and incredible native New Zealand wildlife experiences.
Nestled in the green belt south of the city center is Wellington Zoo, New Zealand’s first ever zoo. Learn more about the over 500 native and exotic endangered animals that call this zoo home. Get up close to the irresistibly cute Red Pandas, meet Tahi the one-legged kiwi and leave with a sense of wonder and amazement at the careful conservation efforts and spacious green habitats you’ll find here.
Step into a world of untouched New Zealand nature at ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary, a picturesque reservoir home to New Zealand’s most rare and extraordinary wildlife. Only 10 minutes from the city center, you’ll feel an entire world away as you walk through the ethereal wilderness – as nature intended.
ZEALANDIA’s mission is to restore its native ecosystem to its pre-human state, complete with native wildlife roaming freely. Spot exotic birds on scenic walks or join a guided tour for knowledgeable insights into the sights and sounds of the sanctuary. Visit at night to join a kiwi-spotting tour!
Want More Things to Do in Wellington?
No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to the nation’s capital. Nowhere else combines a big city experience with small town charm as well as windy Wellington.
For more ideas on things to do in Wellington, contact our expert Destination Specialists. We’ll help you plan your New Zealand trip to hit all the highlights and must-see destinations, including Wellington.
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: 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 to 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.
Photo: Fraser Clements
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!
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 Spa features 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.
The Rachel Spring combines highly alkalized water with sodium-silicate that nourishes skin and leaves you feeling rejuvenated.
The Polynesian Spa is a perfect refresher when the rigors of the road wear you down.
Hell’s Gate Hot Pools and Mud Baths
Photo: Fraser Clements
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 the 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.
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.
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.
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.
(...) activities, drop offs/pick ups, hotel accommodations etc. and did a great job. The trip was awesome, even though we did miss one or two of our already paid for activities haha! Would definitely recommend About Australia to anyone traveling to an unknown country/continent :) Thanks Darin!
Outstanding trip and customer service
Wound up with an opportunity to take some vacation time on short notice. After reaching out with a little less than a month to go til departure, we were able to arrange the most active and(...)
(...) exciting vacation we’ve ever done. Our agent, Ana, took care of everything and was a pleasure to work with. NZ is an amazing destination. Definitely recommend the Glowworm/Rotorua tour out of Auckland and the Doubtful Sound tour that runs out of Queenstown. Ana also took care of our arrangements for the second half of our trip in Australia. Definitely recommend visiting both if you have the time.
Janet H. Rust
We had a fabulous time in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. You arranged fun excursions that we all enjoyed and then a relaxing time in Fiji before we returned to the US. Especially enjoyed(...)
(...) the tour of the Opera House in Sydney, holding a Koala, feeding and petting kangaroos and wallabies,snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and spear fishing with a local family in Cairns. The tour of Lanes and Arcades in Melbourne was informative and fun, and seeing the Penguins march in from the ocean was fabulous. Queenstown was absolutely beautiful! We felt like we were busy seeing and doing something everywhere we went, but loved it all. It was really nice to relax and snorkel in Fiji before we had to return home. Thank you so much for arranging a trip of a life time.
Clyde & Sharon
A Great Experience!
It would actually please us greatly if our visit to Hobbiton might be the catalyst for others to visit the Shire. We’ve been Tolkien fans forever and lifting a pint in the Prancing Pony was one(...)