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Places to visit in New Zealand

When you travel to New Zealand, you will love to visit popular tourist spots and enjoy the local culture. Amongst other Things to do in New Zealand, you can surely explore some of the best things to do in New Zealand to make your trip a fulfilling one. On a trip to New Zealand things to do can include exploring New Zealand attractions and visiting the places of interest.

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Franz Josef glacier

A majestic and awe-inspiring spot to visit

If you are an adventure buff, love being in close contact with nature, and want to explore one of the only 3 glaciers in the world that descend into a temperate rain forest, then a visit to the Franz Josef Glacier is a must. One of the steepest glaciers in New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier is known for some absolutely stunning features, including ice caves, seracs, tunnels and crevasses. The glacier moves faster than most glaciers in the world, moving up to 50 cms in a day. Moving at this speed also means that all the features like caves, tunnels and others are constantly evolving, meaning that more often than not, they don’t look the same for more than two days in a row. This 12 km long glacier attracts over 2,50,000 tourists every year, with most people wishing to take a hike into its enthralling depths. You surely should consider adding your name to the list!

Location:

Address: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Timings:

Franz Josef Glacier is open for visiting around the year, as the place does not experience harsh weather conditions even in the winter months. There are no time restrictions for walking to the base of the glacier. However, since one can scale the glacier only on a guided tour or in a helicopter, the timings for those tours vary depending on the operators. 

Highlights:

  • Take a 3-hour heli-hike tour across the surface of the glacier to explore the finest things about it.
  • A glacier valley walk is sure to appeal to the travellers who want to experience pristine beauty without getting too adventurous. 
  • Get right to the top of the glacier and make an elegant landing in the snow.
  • Grab the perfect cup of coffee at one of the cosy cafes at the base of the glacier
  • Take a wildlife tour in the area and get a chance to witness one of the rarest species of Kiwis, Okarito Rowi.
  • You can also take a tour of the farmlands and valley on horseback. 
  • On the way to the glacier from Franz Josef town, stop and take a walk on the swinging bridge and witness the splendid view of the valley.
  • Experience the unparalleled thrill of skydiving from over 18,000 feet above the glacier. 
  • After the cold experience of hiking up the glacier, take a dip in the glacier hot pools in the Franz Josef town.
  • Take a kayak tour in the Lake Mapourika and paddle up into the Kiwi sanctuary. 
  • Hit the town for a fun nightlife experience, with dancing, music, great food and a lot more!

Inclusions:

You can take one of the several packages available for a visit to the Franz Josef Glacier. The packages are created to suit the requirements of different kinds of travellers, with curated experiences like hiking to the glaciers, taking nature walks along the valley, exploring Franz Josef town, experiencing the beautiful nature and wildlife in the rainforest and national park. 

Price:

The costs for different experiences when visiting the Franz Josef Glacier can range anywhere between NZ $ 30 and NZ $ 1000. A dip in the glacier hot pools can cost as low as NZ $ 30. The guided hiking tours of the glacier start from somewhere around NZ $ 100 and go all the way up to NZ $ 1000, depending on the heights to be scaled. The skydiving experiences are generally priced in the NZ $ 500 range, as are the helicopter tours of the glaciers. 

Recommended for:

From the long hikes up to the glacier, to the glacier hot pools, from the amazing skydiving experiences to the kayak tours in the lakes, a trip to the Franz Josef Glacier and the surrounding area is recommended for countless things. 

How to reach Franz Josef Glacier:

One can drive up to the Franz Josef Glacier town, with the area situated at a 2-hour drive from Hokitika and a 4 hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Queenstown and Christchurch. 

About Franz Josef Glacier:

Franz Josef Glacier, and the small town based near the base of the glacier, combine to offer a truly exquisite trip in the lap of nature. The pristine white surroundings while taking a heli-hike across the length of the glacier offer a heavenly experience while the helicopter tours of the glacier and the surrounding areas let you take in the striking scenery from a brilliant vantage point. The entire area can be categorised based on the kinds of experiences on offer:

Glacier Exploration

  • Heli-Hiking tours - Takes you up to the glacier where you can indulge in a 2.5 hours’ hike through the picturesque caves, tunnels and crevasses. 
  • Helicopter explorations- Lets you experience the wonderful scenery of the glacier and also makes a landing right on top of the glacier. 
  • Glacier valley exploration – A walk to the base of the glacier and in the valley around it, for the travellers who don’t want to get too close to the ice.

Wildlife Exploration

  • West Coast Wildlife Centre – The home to a rare Kiwi species, known as the Okarito Rowi. A backstage pass when visiting the centre can let you witness the kiwis fairly up-close. 
  • Horseback Rides – Visitors to the area can take horseback rides across the farmlands and the forest regions to witness the magnificence of nature all around them.
  • Kayak Tours – Another way to explore nature and wildlife in the Franz Josef region is to paddle around the Lake Mapourika. Paddling up one of the inlets can also take you to the Kiwi sanctuary where you get to visit the super-cute flightless birds. 

Town Life

  • Glacier Hot Pools – An experience like no other, a dip in these hot pools is perfect to relieve the body of the cold from the glacier. 
  • Okarito Beach – An immaculate west coast beach, that tails into a lagoon that is also called Okarito. 
  • Nightlife – The town is quite famous for its nightlife, with places like Snake Bite Brewery and The Landing Bar being among the biggest crowd pullers. 

Interesting Facts about Franz Josef Glacier:

  • The Glacier is known to move faster than most glaciers in the world, with its fastest speed recorded at 4 metres in a single day!
  • Discovered by German explorer Julius von Haast in 1865, the glacier was named after the then Austrian emperor Franz Joseph the First.
  • According to glaciologists, the Franz Joseph Glacier is on track to shrink by about 38% by the year 2100, all due to the dangerous effects of global warming. 

Can’t wait to take multiple pictures of this glacier? Check out our travel packages and plan your trip today!

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Waiheke island

Step one, actively plan your trip to New Zealand! It would be a shame to while away your existence in one corner of the planet knowing that in another remote corner, resting in the South Pacific Ocean, lies a living, breathing heaven on Earth. You will most likely fly into Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport. Step two, instead of expending your first few days in an over stimulating metropolis, the antitheses to a jet-lag cure, aboard a ferry from Auckland that transports you to the heavenly Waiheke. A 40-minute ride from the city, the Island is one of the most populated regions in the Hauraki Gulf. Waiheke takes its food, wine and art incredibly seriously, and will craft for you, an exemplary, customized jet-lag cure. 

About Waiheke: 

Waiheke Island

Spontaneous souls can plunge into a cornucopia of coves and ocean waters. 

Motu-Wai-Heke in Māori, or the Island of Trickling Water in English, the Island is aptly named. Here, depart from one bay, only to find another cowering behind the edge of a hill. 

All you water babies, Waiheke is THE place for you. A bird’s view of the island from a helicopter tour presents Waiheke as less land and more water. Rather artistically, land segments emerge from their bluer counterparts, thick finger-like projections swelling into established civilization. The established civilization, much like the landscape, boasts exceptional works of art from all over the world. An appreciation for artistry in Waiheke extends to the culinary world as countless wineries and sensational restaurants pervade the Island. 

Waiheke appeals equally to adventure seekers. Owing to a pleasant, subtropical climate year-round, a plethora of activities including kayaking, jet-skiing, diving, snorkeling, biking, hiking, paddle boarding, and windsurfing are possible. 

Also, a foodie’s paradise, one can endlessly wine and dine to the heart’s content!

Sculpture parks, museums, and art galleries embellish the Island, creating a haven for art enthusiasts while supporting artists from all over the world.  

Catering to every kind of traveler, Waiheke welcomes all for a good time irrespective of age, interest or status! Truly, Waiheke is a microcosm of New Zealand’s essence. A care for produce, reverence for the environment, advocacy for creative innovation, and warm, earnest hospitality like no other, Waiheke represents an epitome of the sublime kiwi culture. 

Highlights of Waiheke Island: 

To conjure up a visual of Waiheke - one that most certainly impels you to make flight reservations – imagine yourself sipping an unbelievably crisp glass of wine, enticing your taste buds as you bite into the most succulent serving of seafood. Simultaneously, your feet surrender into layers of warm sand, and your hair succumbs to the forces of beachy breezes, growing wild and free! 

Following are the Island’s highlights: 

The Sun and the Sand - Oneroa Beach, Onetangi Beach, and Palm Beach are all highly frequented. Oneroa and Onetangi lie in the central part of the Island, while the golden-sanded Palm rests amidst a cove between the two. All of these serve as ideal swimming, snorkeling, tanning, and wine-ing spots! Although do not forget to layer up on sunscreen as New Zealand’s sun rays are notoriously unsafe. 

Art and more - The Connell’s Sculpture Park exhibits a mesmerizing marriage of sculpture and nature from over thirty eminent New Zealand artists! Situated in Oneroa, the Whittaker’s Musical Museum is a musician’s utopia, displaying an unimaginable array of musical instruments with shows and concerts on special occasions. 

A bohemian, artsy hub turned luxurious holiday home destination, Waiheke retains elements of both its laid-back creative textures as well as its opulent lifestyle. Serving as past and current home to many artists, Waiheke’s Oneroa Village houses the Waiheke Community Art Gallery, [Space] Contemporary Art Gallery, and several other boutique studios for enthusiasts. The Art Crawl is a renowned experience, taking visitors on a prescribed journey of the Island’s prominent art destinations.

More Wine Please - When I say Waiheke, you say wine! Producing some of the best wines in the world, Waiheke attracts global visitors for this very reason (There’s a probable chance Waiheke exploits its sensational vino to hold steadfast it’s global reputation)!

While Cable Bay Vineyard is eminent for its dazzling views, the Mudbrick Vineyard boasts pristine gardens and delectable seafood. Man O’War Vineyard is the only beachfront source of quality wine - the ultimate relaxation; whereas, Wild on Waiheke Vineyard offers the energetic and wild the opportunity to practice archery and clay shooting while fueling up on exquisite grape juice. Stone Ridge Vineyard bears a rustic, minimal atmosphere and has been rated among the top ten wineries in the world! Or, the Kennedy Point Vineyard, the Island’s only organic winery! Although Waiheke is brimming in wineries – approximately thirty! – these are among the popular few. 

Adrenaline Rush Activities - In addition to the alcohol, a sense of adventure magnetizes national and international travelers to Waiheke. Here, the options are abundant: 

Zipline Activity in Waiheke

  • Zipline through the forests for an aerial view of the bays and vineyards - a major attraction, 
  • Hire a bike and cycle the Island – the Rangihouka Mountain Bike Trails are highly frequented by intermediate to advanced mountain bikers.
  • Walkthrough the Onetangi Reserve and encounter interesting (and safe) flora, fauna and wildlife, 
  • Hike through the Whakanewha Regional Park – especially recommended for bird lovers!
  • Or, hike the Te Ara Hura track, Waiheke’s 2-hour main walking trail. 
  • Embark on the Cascades Walk – a balanced combination of exercise and rejuvenation. The walk begins along the beach, to the Cascade Falls and native forest of Whakanewha. A slight detour on the walk leads to the Batch Winery for a much-deserved glass of refreshment
  • Whizz off on turquoise waters with experienced Jet Ski or Windsurfing tour guides 
  • For an easy-paced alternative, Kayak or Standup Paddleboard in the Hauraki Gulf, independently or with guides.
  • There’s never a dearth of aquatic adventures – Scuba dive or Snorkel in crystal clear waters or spontaneously have an afternoon swim in a cove! Interactive educational experiences of sorts!

    Recommended Restaurants in Waiheke:
  • Mudbrick Restaurant – Mostly known as a prominent Vineyard, Mudbrick also delivers food and views that are out of this world! Its outdoor garden dining experience offers the utmost bliss to visitors
  • Cable Bay – Here, sited upon a hill among the clouds, enjoy slow-roasted meats, traditional wood-fired pizzas and shared meals as you look past the Hauraki Gulf for panoramic views of Auckland city. 
  • Casita Miro – Catering a social dining experience, travelers seek out Casita Miro from far and wide for its Spanish cuisine. Work your way through plates and plates of tapas and clink your five-star wine filled glasses as you celebrate amidst your loved ones. 
  • Shed at Te Motu – A rustic courtyard vibe invites the hungry and curious to indulge in global fusion cuisine, combining flavours, delicacies, and staff members from all around the world in absolute harmony. 
  • Poderi Crisci – Renowned for its four-hour Sunday lunches and Fiducia Dello Chef

 or “trust the chef” menu, Poderi Crisci consistently delivers delicious surprises. Close your eyes and its authentic Italian flavours featuring fresh, local produce – including the owner’s very own kitchen garden – will teleport you to Italy in an instant. 

Location of Waiheke: 

A speck of land encompassing immense richness, Waiheke is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Densely populated, plausibly, it accommodates about 10,000 kiwis. A 40-minute ferry ride separates the metropolis of Auckland from the Waiheke Island – the most accessible of all the Islands in the Gulf. 

How to Reach Waiheke Island: 

International travelers must fly into Auckland International Airport to make their way to Waiheke. New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport, Auckland is extremely well connected to all major cities worldwide. Two ferry companies, Fullers and Sealink, offer 40 minute long rides to Waiheke Island from Downtown Auckland. The important distinction between the is that Sealink operates car ferries, while the Fullers Ferries are pedestrian ferries – comparatively more frequent than Sealink. 

And if you fancy a rather grand commute, helicopters transport passengers directly to Waiheke Island from Auckland International Airport, offering jaw-dropping views en route! 

Interesting Facts about Waiheke: 

  • What began as a bohemian, hippie sanctuary is evolving into a frequented holiday destination for celebrities including Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Bill Gates, to name a few. 
  • Waiheke manufactures award-winning olive oils. The acclaimed Rangihoua Estate is an olive grove with over 4,000 olive trees, its refined oils profitably contributing to the country’s economy. 
  • A riveting community of bird species including the Tui, Blue penguins, Kingfisher, Kereru, Dotterel, Fantail, and Grey Warbler occupies the Island – especially the Onetangi Reserve!  

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Huka falls

While water bodies such as streams, lakes, rivers, beaches make for a relaxing holiday attraction, none of them make for as captivating a scene as waterfalls. Water speeding its way down with all its force, sprouting greenery all around it, making a heavy gushing is a sight that both calms and thrills. Huka Falls is one such waterfall, and probably the only one of its kind. Once you visit Huka Falls, its memory will be etched in your mind forever. Located around 1.5 km from the town of Taupo, Huka Falls enters the Waikato River after its descent. The Waikato River is the longest river in New Zealand. Other than its majestic appearance, Huka Falls has other interesting facets.  

Location Huka falls: Taupo 3377, New Zealand

Timings: While there are no timings to go on a walk to the Falls, if you’re driving there, the parking area is open only from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. every day.

Highlights of Huka falls:

  • A foot-over bridge offers an excellent view of Huka Falls as well as the lush greenery surrounding it. 
  • There is a fairly effortless walking trail in the vicinity. You can also enjoy biking through the trail.
  • In close proximity, there is the Spa Park, which has the Spa Hot Spring.
  • One can avail facilities of a jet boat ride or river cruise to make the most out of this experience.

Recommended for:

It is a much-recommended sight for nature-lovers, solo travellers, those travelling in large groups and those travelling with families. 

How to get to Huka Falls:

The biggest attraction for tourists remains the easy accessibility of this wonderland. Huka Falls is just a five minute drive by car or bus from Taupo town centre. But one would wish that the journey would last longer, owing to the lush green forest-clad road. There are daily bus services from Taupo, several times a day, that ferry visitors there. 

About Huka Falls:

There is a fascinating history about the name of the waterfall. The word 'Huka' means 'foam' in Māori, aptly named after its appearance owing to the fast, gushing flow of the water. This, then, brings us to yet another interesting fact about the Huka Falls. It is said that the rate of the water flow is so high that it would fill an Olympic swimming pool in just under eleven seconds! Yes, that's the kind of speed we're talking about.

There's quite a simple explanation behind this. The Waikato River is almost 100-metres wide, but when it passes through a hard-volcanic canyon, its width is forced to reduce to only 15 metres. This sudden narrowing down causes the water pressure to increase immensely, thereby making it fall rapidly, giving it a foamy appearance. In fact, you would be amazed to know that 2,20,000 litres of water pass through the Huka Falls every second.

Huka Falls is not the only scenic beauty to explore in the vicinity. You can also enjoy a quiet picnic in the area or can spend the day exploring nearby trails on foot or on a mountain bike. You can visit the Spa Park, which is an hour-long walk along the entire length of the Waikato River. You will also get to relax your feet in the Spa Park Hot Spring. The trail is lined with exotic and indigenous trees. With each sturdy tree that one passes by, the sound of the falls gets louder.

It is no surprise then that Huka Falls is the most-visited natural attraction in New Zealand, whether by locals or international tourists. To elevate the experience, there are now facilities to take a jet-boat ride or a river cruise till the pool formed at the base of the falls. Standing near the pool, one could enjoy the light, cool splashes of water falling gently on them.

The fall also has a foot-over bridge right at the top, adding to the attraction of site. Of course, we would recommend a cruise or jet-boat ride for a closer look at the falls. There is only one company, however, that facilitates these jet-boat rides, and so, all visitors are advised to make their bookings well in advance. These boats, that run at an average speed of around 80 km/hour, are a perfect balance between experiencing thrill and relaxation.

We understand that a sight such as this would leave the soul wanting for more. For the insatiable nature lover within all of us, there are some amazing beaches and bays surrounding Lake Taupo, which are also worth a visit. Kayaking across this lake, which happens to be New Zealand’s largest lake, is considered to be the treat of a lifetime. 

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Coromandel Peninsula

A soul soothing vacation

The Coromandel Peninsula is where you need to be if you’re looking for an unhurried, relaxing holiday. Don’t take our word for it. Come and see it for yourself. The strip of land is known for its natural beauty that includes rolling pastures, foggy rainforests and unending golden beaches. If you are looking for a getaway, then this is the place to head to for your next vacation.

Location Coromandel Peninsula:

The Coromandel Peninsula is on the Pacific Coast Highway (east coast of New Zealand's North Island). You can reach this beautiful location easily within an hour and a half from most of the major centres of Hamilton, Auckland, Rotorua and their international airports.

Best Time to Visit:

You can visit the Coromandel Peninsula any time of the year as it does not have very distinct seasons. The lengthy coastline bestows upon the region a subtropical/ oceanic climate that means year-round moderate temperatures. Anytime you choose to visit the Coromandel Peninsula, you can be sure to get an opportunity to be one with nature and relax.


Coromandel

Highlights of Coromandel Peninsula:

Hauraki Rail Trail: This 136 km trail is the best way to pass through some of the best scenery and is counted to be among the easiest of the New Zealand Great Rides. You can reach the trail from Thames, Waihi, Kaiaua, Te Aroha, Paeroa, and the Karangahake Gorge. The trail is family friendly and even young children can easily accomplish it. If you wish, you can also cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail.

Karangahake Gorge: When in Coromandel Peninsula, do not pass up the chance to visit this gorge. Noted to be one of the 101 Must Dos for Kiwis, this attracts nature lovers from all over the world. While most people choose to drive through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge, not many venture into the walkways and the old tunnels, to discover the rich history that lies hidden in the gorge.

Hot Water Beach: Once the tide goes down, you can head along with the crowds to the usually deserted Hot Water Beach. This is where you will find hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Welcome to the world’s best natural spa. Dig your own little pit and settle down into a natural spa. This is possibly one of the best experiences in the world and it must feature on your bucket list.

The Pinnacles: The Pinnacles walk is considered to be one of New Zealand’s most popular overnight hikes. Of course, you can also choose to do it in one day (it takes about 8 hours). However the experience is only complete after you stay overnight in the 80-bed DOC hut and catch the spectacular sunset and sunrise. As you trace this trail, you will be following in the steps of early pioneers who raided the Kauaeranga Valley in their desire for fortune, logging for timber and gum, and mining for gold.

Coromandel Coastal Walkway: Head over to the remote northern part of The Coromandel, home to the amazing Coromandel Coastal Walkway. This untouched land is what will soothe your soul and is worth spending time at.

Cathedral Cove: Don’t miss a visit to Cathedral Cove when in Coromandel Peninsula. Hire a boat or kayak and take the help of local tour guides who will carefully explain the geology, cultural and historical significance of the many scenic sites that you will spot here. You can also access Cathedral Cove by foot. There are several walking tracks that can take you to this cove along with other areas such as Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay and Mares Leg Cove too.

Coromandel

Whenuakura (Donut Island): One of the best-kept local secrets, Whangamata is a beautiful coastal attraction that now attracts several tourists every year.

Recommended for:

A trip to Coromandel Peninsula is ideal for those looking to slow down and recharge their batteries. The quiet, unobtrusive nature, stunning landscapes, and warm and welcoming people will make the experience truly worth your while.

Interesting facts about the Coromandel Peninsula:

Visiting the Coromandel Peninsula has to feature on your bucket list if you are planning a holiday to New Zealand. Here are some interesting facts to know before you head over:

  • Head to the north island of New Zealand to visit Coromandel Peninsula.
  • In Maui, the Coromandel Peninsula and Ranges are known as Te Tara o te Ika a Maui (which means the barb of the fish of Maui). The North Island is also compared to a stingray with the Coromandel Peninsula being the barb of its tail.
  • The two towns are connected by State Highways 25 and 25A, which form a roundabout circuit around the peninsula.
  • The peninsula is part of the Waikato region and it covers an area of 85 kilometres from the western end of the Bay of Plenty. It forms a natural barrier that protects the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames.
  • At its widest, the peninsula is 40 kilometres broad.
  • Most of the population of the peninsula resides on the two narrow strips of the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty coasts.
  • The interior of the peninsula is a protected rainforest reserve.
  • The peninsula is steep and hilly, and lies covered in a subtropical rain forest.
  • In its early years, the area was famous for its hard rock gold mining and several kauri industries. Today, however, it is a haven for tourism, especially ecotourism, which brings in plenty of visitors and aids the economy of the region.
  • The best part of visiting the Coromandel Peninsula is the golden hot water beaches after low tide. You can scoop out the sand to reveal the bubbling water underneath and create your personal natural spa. The hot water fills in the created hole just as you would fill a bathtub back at home.
  • The Coromandel also has an abundance of green mussels right on its doorstep, making it a must visit destination for seafood lovers.

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10 Spots You Cant Afford to Miss

Never Been to New Zealand? Here are 10 Spots You Just Can't Afford to Miss!

For an entire country about 1/3rd the size of California state, New Zealand has a numerous must-visit sites for tourists. Gifted with a stunning topography, several of its attractions are a result of nature’s marvels, which are countless in number. Spend two months in the country and you’d still struggle to lay eyes on its every appeal. Seeing that most of us have jobs to go to, a one-time vacation to this magical land of snow-capped mountains and hot-water-springs, and much more won’t cover all wonderful sites. To make your vacation worth your time and money, here is a list of 10 spots in New Zealand you just cannot afford to miss! After all, one must capitalise on the effort a 12-14-hour plane journey demands!


1. Row along the Bay of Islands:

Oh, what a relief it is to cool your eyes looking at cyan waters! We begin in Bay of Islands, a beautifully strung chain of 144 islands. Think of any activity you can do in, around, or on water, and the Bay of Islands deems it possible. Paihia, a 3.5-hour drive from the metropolis of Auckland is a recommended base to begin your Bay of Islands adventures. As a convenient town center, it allows the convenience to plan your excursions to the outer Islands. Similarly, Russell, Opua, Kerikeri are also charming towns in the area. The exquisite Hole in the Rock formation warrants a visit as do numerous sequestered coves on the Islands. Zip yourself in some water-resistant clothing – possibly a life jacket too – hire a boat, kayak and/or a tour guide and set sail for the experience of a lifetime. 


2. Wine away your worries in Waiheke:

Further down, the culinary paradise of Waiheke awaits your arrival. Best known for its umpteen wineries, juiced and fermented with intention from locally sources grapes, tourists find themselves in perpetual bliss here. Waiheke’s pleasures are infinite: art galleries that inspire, wineries that are deliciously intoxicating, beaches that rejuvenate, and restaurants that promise the finest, freshest seafood. A 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke is an offbeat blend of laid-back bohemian vibes and lavish, extravagant living. With experiences that fulfils the traveller-spirit for every kind of visitor, the alluring Waiheke’s is a must-visit in our list. 


3. Cruise through Coromandel:

A buzzing nucleus for business, science, technology, art, and culture, Auckland inspires yet exhausts its residents. Thankfully, a plethora of vibrant escapades surround the city. Further is Coromondel, a popular holiday destination. At its heart lies mountainous terrain blanketed in rainforest, while the periphery boasts 400km of white sand beaches, truly, a sight out of a film! Ecotourism efforts capitalize on these surroundings, enabling you to walk, hike, bike, dive, snorkel, kayak, sky dive, and more. Enjoy the 7-hour Coromandel Coastal walk and explore the Whenuaruka Wildlife Sanctuary, hike the Pinnacle ranges then rejuvenate in your DIY spa at the Hot Water Beach – where underground springs can unearth healing hot pools; thermal waters await you at the Lost Spring Geothermal Spa and the Owharoa Falls welcome fatigued hikers; snorkel in the Orua Sea Cave or Kayak the famous Cathedral Cove – where a grand cathedral-shaped cove parts two beaches. And finally board the famous Driving Creek Railway ride to enjoy distant views of the Hauraki Gulf and Islands. 

Hahei Coromandel Spots

 
4. Rejuvenate in Rotorua:

A whole lot of adventure calls for rest and relaxation. Rotorua, a member of the Pacific ring of fire is renowned for its natural spas created by geothermal activity. Water from the geysers, mud pools and thermal springs hiss and bubble, playfully, as they revive you with mineral-rich content, healing every ounce of soreness in your muscles! The Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland containing the famous Champagne Pool and Lady Knox pool and the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley are prominent attractions in the city. 


5. Wonderment in Waitomo:

A luminescent world down under, entering the Waitomo caves feels as though you have been teleported to another planet filled with these little creatures. An unforgettable experience, a natural glow in the dark room, the Waitomo caves host abundant species of glowworms – international and local. Exotic, right? These magical creatures create their personal wonderland, painting the ceiling in hues of blue and green. Use this opportunity to educate yourself about the history and science behind these caves and their inhabitants or hop on water raft for a thrilling adventure! 


6. Advance through the Abel Tasman National Park: 

Moving on to the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is a hiker’s, a true hiker’s, paradise! Stretches of virtuous coast lines dominate the park. A collection of golden coves and tranquil blue waters make up this area. The blue hue that illuminates the water that is a result of the phosphorescent plankton quietly residing under the surface and making it glow. The Park is home to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks. The entire stretch takes about 3-5 days to complete, with plenty opportunities to refresh in cove waters. For those inclined towards a less exhausting mission, tailor your hike to your personal convenience and opt for kayak and boat rides instead – an equally satisfying way to experience the park. The lucky few may even be able to spot some dolphins giving them company! 


7. Scale the Franz and Fox Glaciers:

New Zealand is probably the only place where you can actually hike a glacier. Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, the Franz and Fox glaciers invite the brave-hearted ones through ice caves, frozen landscapes, past glacial rivers and inside hot pools. Before you let your imagination and worries run wild, know that the glacier receives abundant sunlight, so the temperature is only a few degrees colder than its surroundings. Explore the area by foot, or soar above in a helicopter tour, opting for a different, yet breathtaking aerial view of such miraculous topography! 

Fox Glacier Spots


8. Get charged for a trip to Fiordland National Park:

Tales of the extraordinary Fiordland National Park stretch far and wide. It is as though the gods personally sketched, carved and filled the region with nothing but perfection. Miles and Miles of water to cruise through, forested mountains and gigantic waterfalls encompass the area. The park consists of Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Dusky Sound, with the Milford Sound being touted as the eighth wonder of the world. Enter a literal portrait of the heavens the second you step onto cruise excursions that traverse you through the region. Sun rays pierce past majestic mountains, shedding utter radiance upon the Sounds. Most cruises navigate up close to cascading waterfalls – and as the periphery of the gushing water drenches you wet, the ferocity of Mother Nature becomes apparent. 


9. Quench your adrenaline thirst in Queenstown:

Probably already on your to-visit list, a trip to New Zealand is incomplete without a visit to the adventure and burger capital of the country! 

The town center is filled with tourism shops, restaurants, clothing stores and everything else that makes up for a buzzing location. A perpetual, endless line of hungry adventurists queue around the legendary Fergburger restaurant – labelled by some as the best burger joint in the world! Away from its nucleus are mountains to hike, cable cars to board, Lake Wakatipu to admire, kayaks to ride, jet boats to ride, forests to zip line through, cliffs to bungee jump off from, mountain biking trails to explore, and utter serenity to intake, even amidst swarms of tourists clicking away at every picturesque view in sight. 


10. Wander through Wanaka:

Yearning to cling to Queenstown’s splendor, yet craving time away from a mob of curious tourists? Head to Wanaka. A rather understated paradise, Wanaka is the South Island’s gemstone. A holiday home for many, Wanaka is yet another ideal destination for hiking and especially, skiing! The iconic willow tree, gracefully standing firm at Lake Wanaka symbolises the city’s essence –elegant yet resilient. As the sun draws its curtains for the day, a blanket of warmth envelops the sky, highlighting the dark, lone tree in all its majesty. Much like the tree, hop on a kayak or boat and float along Lake Wanaka. The joys of staying surrounded by spectacular views are indeed intenisied in Wanaka. Alternatively, if the thought of being on a quiet journey with nature makes you yawn, there are opportunities such as, to go mountaineering, sky diving, rock climbing, and canyoneering, which will never disappoint you. Strap on your gear and allow the heavenly surroundings to propel you!

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Ins and Outs of Travelling

Outside-In (From India to New Zealand)

Visa : Whether you’re travelling by air or sea, you’re going to need a visa to travel to and in New Zealand. The duration of stay goes up to 6 months, and the visa can be applied for online. Once you arrive, you’ll be given a “Passenger Arrival Card” before you disembark from the flight or ship. You’ll need to enter the necessary details and declare what items you’re carrying for customs to clear.

By Air:

Can I fly from India to New Zealand?

There are regular flights from India to New Zealand from almost all major cities in India, including:

  • Delhi
  • Mumbai
  • Bengaluru
  • Chennai
  • Kolkata


Are there direct flights to New Zealand?

Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from India to New Zealand. You can book flights with one layover – this is your quickest option. Layovers usually stop either at Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo or Sydney.


Which airlines fly to New Zealand? 

There are a whole host of airlines that fly from India to New Zealand. These include:

  • Emirates
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Cathay Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Air New Zealand
  • Qatar Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines


What airports can I land at in New Zealand?

New Zealand has two dominant islands – North and South. Both have International Airports that accept flights from around the world.

North Island:

  • Auckland Airport
  • Wellington International Airport

South Island:

  • Christchurch International Airport
  • Queenstown Airport
  • Dunedin International Airport

The biggest international airport is Auckland, followed by Christchurch. 


What is the flight duration from India to New Zealand?

The distance from India to New Zealand is 11,965 kilometres. The shortest flight duration between the two countries ranges from 13.5 to 15 hours. However, since there are no direct flights, the duration can climb up to 20-21 hours, based on layovers.

By Sea:

Can I travel from India to New Zealand, by sea?

Unfortunately, there are no direct cruises or ships from India to New Zealand. If you’re still keen to sail your way to New Zealand, you can fly to countries like Australia and book a seat on a ship/freighter bound to New Zealand. There are cargo ships that travel from Mumbai to New Zealand. They mostly carry luggage, however, some of these ships do allow passengers on board. However, this is highly circumstantial, so do keep a backup flight option in mind.

Are there any conditions for sailing to New Zealand?

If you do get a seat on one of these cargo ships, make sure you procure a medical certificate that states you are fit to travel. 


How long is the journey?

You’re taking the long (and scenic) route, so be prepared for a journey of several weeks. Cargo ships stop at multiple destinations to offload and pick up cargo. Some ports may allow travellers to explore, while others don’t. Do your research in advance. Furthermore, the duration can be extended due to bad weather. This can also cause prices to increase. Do keep all these conditions in mind, before embarking on a cargo ship to New Zealand.


Out and About (Travelling within New Zealand)

By Air:

What is the flight connectivity within New Zealand?

The international airports in New Zealand (see above) also double up as domestic airports. However, there are regional airports that allow you to fly further and deeper into New Zealand’s different regions. These include:

Gisborne Airport, Hamilton Airport, Invercargill Airport, Nelson Airport, Picton Airport, Rotorua Airport, Tauranga Airport, Whakatane Airport and many others.


Which airlines travel domestically in New Zealand?

You can fly between all New Zealand cities and the bigger towns, via domestic flights. Air New Zealand and Jetstar are the main carriers, but there are regional airlines, charter companies and other flight operators as well. 

By Road:

kaikoura Canterbury

 What are the modes of transport available in New Zealand to travel by Road?

Both buses and cars are great options for road travel.

Buses: All cities and the bigger towns have a good bus network. Buses are a cheap and accessible form of transport for travelling between towns and cities. InterCity and Skip are the two biggest bus companies. Fares usually begin at NZ$10. 

Cars: You can rent a car – especially if you’re looking to explore remote or more rural areas. As a tourist, you must have a valid overseas driver’s license or an international driving permit. If you plan to stay beyond 12 months, you must apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence.

Are there any other rules for driving in New Zealand?

  • Stick to the speed limits.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory
  • Do not drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol (this also includes medication that might make you drowsy or dizzy).
  • During winter and early spring, watch out for ice and snow and other weather hazards.


What else should I know about driving in New Zealand? 

Driving in New Zealand is a new and beautiful experience (think of the scenery you’d be treated to!). However, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The roads here are narrower, winding and are sometimes extremely steep. Drive cautiously if you’re not used to these situations.
  • Not all railway crossings have active warnings
  • If you’re looking for a guide, the Automobile Association of New Zealand offers excellent maps, which also suggest scenic routes for travellers. They also offer information on rentals, distances, travelling time, car parks and bus stops.

By Rail:

Otago Central

 Are trains a good option for travelling within New Zealand?

In New Zealand, trains are not a common mode of transport. There are, however, three main lines operated by KiwiRail. These are:

  • From Auckland to Wellington – The Northern Explorer
  • Picton to Christchurch – Coastal Pacific
  • Christchurch to the West Coast – The TranzAlpine 
  • If you do get a chance, do book a seat on the TranzAlipe – it’s considered to be one of the most scenic rail routes in the world!


How much do train tickets cost?

These vary in terms of distance and route. However, tickets usually start at NZ$49 and go up from there.

By Ferry:

Queen Charlotte

 Why would I need to travel by ferry in New Zealand?

The country - New Zealand – is the combination of two large islands (North and South) and a number of smaller islands. Ferries are a great way to travel from North to South, and back. The 2 biggest ferry providers are InterIslander and Bluebridge. Fares start at around NZ$ 55 for passengers boarding on foot. 

Are there different ferry routes I can take?

Ferry travel is also an option for those travelling from the mainland (North and South Islands) to the offshore islands, like Waiheke, Rangitoto, Stewart Island and Great Barrier (near Auckland). 

Do I need to take a ferry to travel by water?

Ferries are not your only option to travel by water! Water taxis are smaller vessels, which give you access to smaller ports that ferries can’t reach. This is especially useful if you’re looking to access the more mountainous regions or off-the-road hiking trails, such as Queen Charlotte Sounds or Abel Tasman National Park. 

New Zealand is a gorgeous country to explore – whether by air, road or by water. The scenery is spectacular, and the transport is clean, comfortable and affordable. It’s all a matter of planning – and that’s what Thomas Cook excels at. Let us plan your trip to and across New Zealand. 

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For Kids

If you’re looking for a family holiday destination, look no further than New Zealand. This country of islands is made for family travel. Its moderate climate is perfect for the endless kid-centric activities the place is known for. You can find family-friendly accommodation easily and the food is chilli-free. All you need to do is pick a town with numerous amenities and excursions within a short drive.

Whether it’s Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty with its volcanic mud, stinky gas and Māori performances, or Wellington with a museum, a rickety cable car and bright cafes, or Queenstown and Wanaka for snow sports, or Christchurch and Canterbury for nature parks with pretty birds and animals, there are countless attractions for your kids to enjoy across New Zealand. The question is, are you ready to handle the excitement?

Here are ten amazing things that you can do in New Zealand when you travel with kids.

#1 Say hello to a Kiwi:

Stewart Island

The native bird of New Zealand unfortunately is an endangered species. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get to see it. Visit Rainbow Springs, a wildlife centre and amusement park in Rotorua, for an opportunity to get up close to this unique bird. There is also New Zealand’s prehistoric reptile, the Tuatara, and the world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea for you to spot.

#2 What are the Moeraki Boulders?

Moeraki Otago

On your drive from Oamaru and Dunedin you will spot the Moeraki Boulders. This strange geological phenomenon will have your kids asking numerous questions. What are they? How did they get here? Do your homework and have the answers ready.

#3 Take a step back in time at Shantytown

We might have missed the gold-digging period, but who says we miss the re-creation? Just head to Shantytown, a recreation of an ancient gold mining village from the 1800s.  Get your kids to try their luck panning for gold; if they find anything, they keep it. Waltz in and out of an old hospital, saloon and jail even. Ride the steam train for good measure. Shantytown has been built for kids to enjoy, but it’s educational too.

#4 Make your way to One Tree Hill

Enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of Auckland from the top of one of the city’s volcanic peaks. There is no tree at the top today, but the city has constructed a monolith that commemorates the Treaty of Waitangi, an important part of New Zealand’s history. Do stop for a bit at the observatory and planetarium to allow your kids to gaze out in space.

#5 Visit Te Papa

Te papa

If your kid is a history buff (or you wish to make her one) then a visit to Te Papa sounds like a good idea. This is the national museum of New Zealand in Wellington, and its informative and interactive displays will take kids through all of New Zealand’s history, geography, people and art. The museum is free but certain exhibits may have admission charges.

#6 Get adventurous in Queenstown

Are your kids and you ready for some excitement and thrills? Queenstown is loaded with endless opportunities for adventure. Jet boat rides, quad bike tours, the luge and the flying fox are just a few of the endless stream of activities that you and the kids can enjoy. If you’re visiting in winter, get on the ski slopes and pick up some tips at a ski school. Even a 3-year old kid can join.

#7 Hit the beach

Catherdral Cove

New Zealand’s moderate climate means every day is a great day to hit the beach. For your summer holiday, the east coast beaches around Auckland, Northland or the Coromandel Peninsula are ideal for swimming, paddling and playing. If it’s winter season, the picturesque west coast beaches provide plenty of opportunity to play on black volcanic sand.

#8 See the Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

Step out and get away from digital screens when you are on the South Island. When you and the kids are on the nature trail, you cannot miss the spectacular Pancake Rocks at Punakaikai. The walk-through native bush land and flax is easy enough for young children to do. In fact, they love the challenge. Landed there on a wet and rainy day? Don’t worry; don some rain gear and head to the coast to watch see sea water gushing up between the rocks forming blow holes.

#9 Head to Antarctica

When in Christchurch, a visit to the Antarctic Centre will leave most kids (and adults) mesmerised. Christchurch airport is the jumping point for most expeditions to Antarctica, and the city has captured the buzz and interest in a unique manner with this centre.

#10 Spend a day with the locals

Kaikoura Canterbury

Did we say locals? We mean the local wildlife. When on the East Coast of the South Island, you will spot some of New Zealand’s unique wildlife. Seals, penguins and even whale or dolphin spotting expedition by boat or plane can be arranged.

New Zealand welcome families

This is just a list of activities that you and your kids can indulge in when in New Zealand. But did you know that the country actually encourages families and makes it that much easier for you to visit? Here’s how they do it:

Admission fees and discounts: Many attractions, accommodation, tours, transport and other entry fees have kids' and family rates that can offer discounts of up to 50% off the adult rate. Toddlers (under 4) usually get in free.

Eating out with children: This can be tricky if you have picky eaters or if they tend to be noisy kids. Skip the fancy restaurants, and head to cafes that are children friendly. The kids’ section of the menu might be uninspiring in many places, but you can ask for a smaller serving of a dish from the regular menu. Look for farmers markets and find a spot for an impromptu picnic.

Accommodation: Some days you might not want to step out of the holiday home that you are staying at. Many of the motels and holiday parks have games rooms, playgrounds, fenced swimming pools, trampolines and acres of grass where the kids can burn their energy. You can choose from a myriad accommodation options, including the bach (a basic holiday home) that is a good value-for-money option, as well as a farm stay that can be quite entertaining for the kids with the many animals on site.

Let’s start packing

Take the kids to New Zealand on your next vacation. Here’s what you need to carry with you.

  • New Zealand weather is moderate, but it can be fickle, even in summer. Pack for the beach but also carry along a few long-sleeve tops and jackets.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses for everyone, even in winter.
  • Empty food containers to pack fresh produce from farmers markets for impromptu picnics.

We are geared to plan and arrange holidays for families with kids across all age groups. Reach out to us today and together we will plan a smashing holiday to New Zealand for the whole family.

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Main Attractions in Summer

It’s summer in New Zealand, the best time to visit the land of the Māori! During this season, hordes of travellers plan a trip to this beautiful island nation. So why should you miss the boat? 

To help you stay ahead of the game, and have the most stirring trip, we have curated a list of places that you must stop at when visiting New Zealand in the summer months.  

During the summer, New Zealand offers tourists a plethora of things to do and scenes to admire. If you are always on the lookout for the thrill of an adventure, then New Zealand will open new avenues for you. Surfing, trekking, dolphin safaris, sailing, dune boarding, you can try it all. However, for those who are hard-pressed for time, listing out the main attractions can be a great help to ensure that you don’t miss the best sights and spots. That's where we come in! Here are some of the main attractions that you must explore when in New Zealand during summer months:

  1. Bay of Islands
  2. Raglan  
  3. Coromandel 
  4. Gisborne 
  5. Tongariro National Park 
  6. Queenstown 
  7. Auckland 

1. Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Do you want to get overwhelmed and inspired by silence and beauty? Do you wish to experience therapeutic the blue waters and the calming sea breeze? If your answer is 'yes' right now, then you must visit the Bay of Islands.  From kayaking to bathing with dolphins, this constellation of secluded islands will take your breath away. 

Here’s why the Bay of Islands will also interest history buffs: It was here that the natives of New Zealand (The Māoris) and the Europeans signed the Waitangi Treaty, the declaration of colonial rule over New Zealand.  

2. Raglan 

Raglan Beach

To experience the delights of a life without a laptop and a phone, stop over at Raglan. The town is sparsely populated, which adds to its charm among city dwellers. The Ngarunui Beach in Raglan is a black-sand beauty that finds its way into gorgeous photographs taken by happy visitors. It is a surfer’s haven, and is also recommended for those who are just beginning to ride the waves. 

At the doorway leading to Raglan, you find the Bridal Veil Falls. This natural marvel is an absolute stunner. Hop onto one of the two viewing platforms to witness its beauty and the tranquillity of the surrounding countryside. 

If you are an art lover, and find yourself in Raglan, you are in luck. This place is home to a number of artists, particularly sculptors and painters. In January, Raglan hosts its annual arts weekend that exhibits artwork by local artists. 

3. Coromandel 

Hot Water Beach

During low tide, the Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel peninsula allows you to dig up your own hot tub and jump into it. Make sure you leave your slippers and all the troubles of the world outside to make the most of it. For those who are curious, the water here is heated by the two volcanic hot water springs found on the East Coast. 

Speak to anyone who had a great time in New Zealand and they will tell you about Cathedral Cove. To reach the cove, you have two choices that include kayaking there or walking it. Regardless of how you get there, the journey is surreal.    

4. Gisborne 

 

To witness the world’s first sunrise, you should drop by Gisborne. Since it is the first city in the world to observe sunrise, it means it is the first city to enter a new year. How about landing in Gisborne on the 31st to be among the first ones to welcome the new year? Sounds like quite a plan! Do not forget your boogie boards though, for a waterfall slip and slide at Rere Rockslides. 

Cycling around the waterfront in Gisborne, you will come across several historical places that tell you about the colonial history of the place. If the Thoreau in you wants to walk, then consider strolling in the National Arboretum of New Zealand which is located in Gisborne. The arboretum shelters some of the most unique trees found in the Northern Hemisphere. 

5. Tongariro National Park

Camila Rutherford

Climbing the Tongariro Crossing has to be on the top of your New Zealand summer activity list. What makes this trek such a singled out experience are the colours you get to notice along the way. From red craters to pulsating green and azure lakes, this experience has been dubbed heavenly by many tourists. When here, you will not want to blink even once for fear of missing something gorgeous. 

That’s not it. The biking trails in Tongariro National Park are unmissable too. The Old Coach Road, which is a 15km trail is a favourite amongst travellers, and we assure you that it is worth the hype.  

If after experiencing and embracing all this beauty, you are inspired to hike some more, then consider the one to Tama Lakes. Having two mighty mountains, Mt Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in the background, is sure to give you all the zeal you need for this three-hour hike. 

6. Queenstown 

To feel like you have been transported to Tolkien’s universe, take a trip to Queenstown. Straight out of a fantasy novel, this is where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring trilogies were shot. It is not unusual for movie aficionados to have on their bucket list a specialised tour of all the locations that were filmed in the trilogies. 

Queenstown is also considered the adventure capital, not just of New Zealand, but of the world. It is home to Shotover Canyon Swing that allows you the thrill of swinging off the edge of the highest cliff in the world. Consider visiting Central Otago next to explore some of  the 80 wineries there. The sights are even more majestic with a glass of pinot noir in hand! 

7. Auckland 

Who doesn’t adore penguins? In Auckland, you get a chance to observe the largest penguin colony in the world. If you are more into sharks, then you can even book a dive to swim with them! 

Kayaking to a particular island is something most tourists boast about once they return from New Zealand! If you plan to go Rangitoto Island, then make sure you trek to the summit. You will come across several species of birds along the way, so be sure to carry your camera. Once on top, the most spectacular view of the Auckland islands is bound to leave you gasping. 

The summer months are the best in New Zealand, which is why most travellers plan their holidays around this time. If you are one of those smart people, then this list of the main attractions to visit should surely be something that will come in handy.

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10 Natural Wonders

If Planet Earth chose to bestow virtues and gifts for each country, then New Zealand was undoubtedly handpicked for natural beauty. Stunning landscapes with long stretches of emerald green water bodies and mountainous scenery running along the length and breadth of the country, New Zealand needs nothing more than the natural beauty. It has been endowed with to attract the hordes of tourists each year. If you find yourself in the "Land Of The Long White Cloud" as its Māori name translates, here are 10 natural wonders that you cannot miss seeing!

1. Champagne Pools, Wai-O-Tapu

2. Waitomo Glowworms, Waitomo

3. The Blue Pools, Haast Pass

4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing

5. Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin

6. Milford Sound, Fiordland

7. Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki

8. Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest

9. Fox And Franz Josef Glaciers

10. Lake Matheson, West Coast

1. Champagne Pools, Wai-O-Tapu: 

Champagne Pool Rotorua

Much as you’d like to think otherwise, this is not a place with endless pools full of bubbly (if only)! This 900-year-old hot spring derives its name from the abundance of Carbon Dioxide, which keeps it bubbling, like a glass of champagne. Located a little outside Rotorua, this stunning geothermal formation has a surface temperature of a whopping 74 degree Celsius and its steamy orange lining comprises mercury, gold, silver and Sulphur deposits. This is as exotic as it gets!

2. Waitomo Glowworms, Waitomo: 

If you were fascinated by glow in the dark objects as a kid, then you definitely need to check this off your list. While glow worms can be found all over New Zealand, the most stunning ambience to find them in are the caves at Waitomo. Sign up for a boat ride that wades you through the streams under caves to witness a galaxy of living lights - the most ethereal display of glow worms which can be found only in New Zealand.


3. The Blue Pools, Haast Pass: 

Haast Blue Pools

Ever seen waters so clear that you can see right till the bottom? The calm, tranquil waters are a formation of pure glacial water gathered from the mountains around. Situated in the South Island, on the Haast Pass Makarora Road, Blue Pools are a part of the Mount Aspiring National Park. The pools are easily accessible and can be reached by a short trek through the Tawhero forest that lead to a bridge that allows you to walk over the Blue Pools for a magnificent view and experience. 

4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing:

 Touted one of the best day walks on the entire world, the national park takes you through emerald lakes, magnificent volcanoes and the Lord of the Rings landmark, Mt. Doom.  A World Heritage Site with noted cultural significance, the trek through Tongariro National Park is a dramatic scenic experience which is guaranteed to be a treat for the eyes and the soul. Trekkers to note that there are hardly any potable water sources in the National Park. 

5. Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin: 

Located in the South Island, these larger than life boulders carry majesty of their own. These old rock formations have been silent witnesses to history for over 60 million years. As per Māori myth, these boulders are the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of a large sailing canoe.

6. Milford Sound, Fiordland: 

Milford Sound Fiordland

Hailed as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, the fiord of Milford Sound is located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. Famous for the wide variety of coral and marine life, it houses dolphins, penguins and even fur seal colonies.  The best way to explore its magnificence is through a boat tour that will take you through lush rainforests, powerful waterfalls and the towering Mitre Peak.

7. Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki: 

Pancake Rocks

Yet another wonder work of rock and soil formation are the Pancake Rocks situated on the West coast. The ancient rocks were formed from marine fossils and lifted from the seabed due to seismic activity. Limestone erosion solidified it together into layers. Be prepared to witness nature’s most bountiful waterworks when the sea rushes into the structures and hits the blowholes.

8. Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest: 

The “Lord of the Forest” is an ancient gigantic kauri tree which has stood for over 2500 years at the Waipoua Forest. Named after the Māori god of birds and forests, this majestic tree is a grand reminder of the ancient tropical rainforests that once existed on North Auckland Peninsula. A symbol of pride of the Flora and Fauna of New Zealand, Tane Mahuta is a sight to behold today, thanks to the conservation efforts made by the government.

9. Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers:

Franz Josef Glacier

If you have dreamt of striding across frozen streams, then Fox and Franz Glaciers are the places to be. Easily the most convenient glaciers to visit in the world, these mazes of icy valleys extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea level. You can access the glaciers by helicopters or ski planes and only if accompanied by professional guides.

10. Lake Matheson, West Coast:

Lake Matheson

Famous for mirroring Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, the reflective Lake Matheson was formed by the retreat of the Fox Glacier from its last major advance towards the sea, which created a depression and was later filled with water some 14000 years ago. Home to many water birds and the long-finned eel, Lake Matheson is a traditional food gathering place of the Māoris. 

Blessed with infinite amounts of ancient beauty, New Zealand is one unique destination which needs no man-made wonder to attract the throngs of tourists that it does every year. Its natural beauty provides the perfect landscape for a quiet and adventurous vacation, making it the perfect tourist destination that you need to visit on your next holiday! 

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Amusement Parks and Wildlife

That ice-cold wash of excitement as water splashes all over you, when you come hurtling down a slide. That sigh of contentment mixed with awe when you spot a red panda, nuzzling up to you. They say adventure and wildlife are two of the most fantastic ways to explore a country, and we couldn’t agree more when it comes to New Zealand. For a country that is relatively small, it doesn’t lack for some of the most memorable zoos and amusement parks. So, make sure you take a break from the cultural and historic, to spend time at these vivid destinations.

  1. Spookers Theme Park: Immersive, scary-theme experiences, haunted house
  2. Rainbow’s End Theme Park: Fantasy characters, 20+ thrilling rides, family entertainment zone
  3. Auckland Zoo: 135 species and 1400 animals, red panda sightings, safari nights and photography workshops
  4. Agrodome Farmland: Farm show, olive grove, honey and kiwifruit farms, rural experiences
  5. Velocity Valley Adventure Park: Best known for the world’s only Shweeb Racer, Swoop, FreeFall Xtreme
  6. Hamilton Zoo: Face-to-face encounters with lions, 600 different species of animals, zookeeper talks 
  7. Splash Planet Theme Park: Wet and dry rides, never ending river, pirate fun
  8. Orana Wildlife Park: Open range encounters, lion encounters, white rhino sightings, hand feeding animals
  9. International Antarctic Centre: Antarctic simulation, Hagglund rides, 4D extreme theatre
  10. Skyline Queenstown: Gondola cable car, Luge ride, multi-cuisine dining


1. Spookers, Auckland

This has got to rate high on your list simply because it’s like nothing else you’ve experienced. Located at a former psychiatric hospital, it’s also said to be one of the most haunted places in the Southern Hemisphere! This immersive amusement park has really scary themed rooms and sets, engaged by live actors who play their parts so well, that you’re guaranteed to leave, completely spooked out. And what makes it so special? Obviously next-level lighting, acting, makeup, craft, costume and special effects. The Haunted House here is known to attract most tourists, but don’t miss other scare-fests like The Woods, Disturbia and CornEvil. No, we’re not telling you what they comprise of…discover them for yourself!


2. Rainbow’s End, Auckland

After all the natural, scenic and cultural attractions of New Zealand have amazed you to the next level, it’s a good idea to hop across to this Magic Land for a day. First things first, you meet the most interesting people here – Rai and Bow, Princess Sapphire, Enzo the magician, and a whole gamut of characters. Situated at a 20-minute drive from Auckland CBD, you have the choice of over 20+ rides that come with very creative names: Corkscrew Coaster, Power Surge, The Invader, Stratosphere and much more.


3. Auckland Zoo, Auckland

The fact that this is the largest zoo in New Zealand and is home to over 120 different species of animals, should be enough reason for you to make a visit. Spread over a 17-hectare area next to the beautiful Western Springs park in Central Auckland, you’ll see natural, wide and spacious enclosures here for the animals that will warm your hearts. Ever seen a cute red panda? Well, over here you can. Kiwi, tigers, elephants, meerkats…they’re all living here. So, come on over and feed them.


4.Agrodome, Rotorua

In the heart of 350-acres of lush farmland, your family can enjoy a day of simple, farm fun. For 40 years now, the Farm Show here has been enthralling both young and old alike with its hilarious mix of animal and farm humour. Be witness to some amazing facts and laughs as a Kiwi farmer introduces you to 19 different breeds of sheep. Ever witnessed a sheep shearing demonstration? Here’s where you can. Or just jump in and get a chance to hand-milk a cow or feed a baby-lamb. And then, head out to see the farm dogs herd sheep back through a number of obstacles. Hey, and if you have a ticket that allows you entry into the Farmyard Nursery, you’ll love watching the smallest and cutest baby animals in Agrodome. Next best thing to this? The fruit orchards and olive grove and the chance to taste the most refreshing kiwifruit juice and the sweetest honey. 


5. Velocity Valley, Rotorua

Want to challenge the adventure junkie in you? Head to Velocity Valley, and let your skill, stamina and courage take a beating. What makes this place stick out? Well, to start with, the rides are really unique and creative, and you probably haven’t seen them anywhere else in the world. Home to the only Shweeb Racer – a human-powered monorail racetrack where you can race your friends in a 3-lap circuit, it also features enthralling rides like Swoop, Agrojet – the fastest jet-sprint experience in New Zealand, Freefall Xtreme, Rotorua Bungy – a New Zealand icon and Freestyle Airbag. As you can see from the names itself, thrill lives at every turn here. 

6. Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton

Home to over 600 different species of animals, this was formerly a farm – which basically means the animals enjoy a huge amount of space. For your family, this is an entire day of fun and entertainment, thanks to a very relaxed atmosphere and plenty of picnic spots. The keeper talks are great, and you mustn’t miss a tour, for they cover a wide range of animals. Rhinos, tigers, chimps, giraffes…some of the most fantastic beasts can be spotted here.

7. Splash Planet, Hastings

One of the most highly rated water parks in New Zealand, this one was originally opened as ‘Fantasy Land’ in 1967. With 12 wet rides and 7 dry ones, here’s where your kids can choose from great slide options like Master Blaster, Castle Screamer, Sky Tunnel, Super Cruiser and Single Dipper. The very-popular Never-Ending River is great fun and sure to be a big hit with the kids. And if that’s not enough, try some pirate play with attractions like Pirate Fortress and Pirate Fun. There’s a lot to be done here and we’re telling you, the kids won’t want to leave. So, go prepared!

8. Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch

The only open range zoo is here! And why should you visit? Because here, you can actually see the world-famous Lion Encounter. Get into a specially caged vehicle and get transported to the lion sanctuary where you’ll see this royal beast climbing all around the cage, while being fed. And if you’re still looking for more, eyeball the magnificent white rhino or hand feed a giraffe, right here. It’s so similar to a safari experience and after this, you’ll come back with newfound respect for these awesome majestic creatures.  No wonder this place is called Orana – which means ‘a place of refuge’ in maori.


9. Interanational Antarctic Centre, Christchurch

What are the chances you’ll visit the extremes of Antarctica? When you visit New Zealand, you come close. Located inside the Christchurch International Airport Complex, the ‘frozen’ continent is brought to you in the most authentic way possible. Experience a taste of this unique, breath-taking continent while understanding the impact it has on the globe and the impact humans have on the continent, its wildlife and plant system. After all that, it’s time for some fun…with icy slides, a ‘polar plunge’ ice water challenge, a cave and the impact of an actual Antarctic storm. There’s an all-terrain amphibious Hagglund ride you don’t want to miss and then there’s a simulated Antarctic cruise, complete with 4D Extreme Theatre, that will recreate the continent! Also, for the animal lovers, here’s your chance to get up, close and personal with husky dogs and 26 little blue penguins!


10. Skyline Queenstown, Queenstown

Let’s begin with Queenstown – the fact that it’s known as the Adventure Capital of the world, should tell you what to expect. People have been known to jump off bridges, conquer shallow rivers with spinning jet boats and explore the towering mountains, while here. There’s something about this place, and the most thrilling testimony of this is Skyline Queenstown. A bouquet of thrilling rides awaits you at this theme park, but begin with The Gondola – New Zealand’s version of a cable car, one that takes you 450 metres to the top of Bob’s Peak where you can catch the most vivid views. Once there, choose to take a ride on the world-famous Luge – a zip-paced downhill experience filled with twists and turns. And when you feel you want to catch a breath, check into the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar for some lip-smacking Māori and international cuisine, or journey into the hidden world of the Southern night sky with Skyline’s guided Stargazing experience. 

Feeling your adrenaline pumping already? Just get out there and be prepared to have the time of your lives.

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Senior Citizens

In a world where aging is associated with slowing down and retreating to sedentariness, we are here to convince you to seek out travel adventures that have been repeatedly back-benched due to work, responsibilities, family, and every other excuse under the sun! One such place to surrender your worries and truly absorb the best of our Big Blue is none other than New Zealand! 

While the country is typically known to magnetize adventure junkies and young backpackers, its accessibility extends to all age groups, especially the 50 pluses. “God’s own country”, as it is also known as, New Zealand manages to amass an incredible number of natural havens for its size. From the North Island to the South, divided by the Cook Strait, the country is abounding in volcanoes, springs, geysers, mountain ranges, water bodies, and warm, friendly inhabitants. Here, discover the tranquility and repose that you crave in your latter decades. New Zealand is the perfect place to retire and rediscover an appreciation for our mesmerizing planet and its people.

The country’s small size, diverse accessibility to every nook and cranny, easy-going vibe, and gregarious, respectful culture are some of many factors justifying its allure to senior citizens. Once you overcome the hurdle of an arduous plane journey, travel within the country, even from one island to another, is not only a simple commute but an enthralling treat for the senses! A family visit, anniversary celebration, or retirement dream, New Zealand’s atmosphere of utmost respect and gratitude awaits you. 

The North Island maintains a hospitable climate all year round, especially in the summer season, inviting travelers to its various beaches! While the South Island is subject to harsher temperatures, the summer season from November to February offers beautiful opportunities for outdoor adventures. 

Hermitage Hotel

Senior citizen benefits:
The Kiwis maintain exceptional respect of culture towards their elderly population. With a quarter of the population above the age of sixty, a multitude of benefits and care serve to ensure their wellbeing. 

Visa: New Zealand’s Parent and Grandparent visa is an easily obtainable, multiple-entry visa granting a maximum 18-month stay to parents and grandparents of New Zealand residents! 

Discounts: Several retail stores, grocery stores and transport companies provide senior citizen discounts within the country. Don’t hesitate to enquire at popular grocery chains such as New World and Foursquare; most often they’d be happy to grant you available senior discounts! The same applies to many local clothing brands offering 10%-25% on purchases by seniors. Train tickets and InterCity and Newmans bus tickets are sold at reduced rates for students and senior citizens too! 

Disability services: Most public transport facilities, malls, stores, and accommodations – hotels, Airbnbs, and hostels are equipped with disability services, enabling senior citizens to live and commute with ease. Programs such as the Total Mobility schemes also subsidize taxi fares for those unable to utilize public transportation 

Accessibility: Age-friendly senior playgrounds, walking trails, and cycling routes are distributed around most major cities and towns, providing impetus for physical activity and a sense of community – paramount to the Kiwi culture! 

Insurance: Picking a wise Insurance plan is especially key, accounting for any unprecedented injuries or illnesses. Insurance companies in your home country are certain to provide plans customized towards senior citizens with subsidized rates and high benefits. Further the New Zealand healthcare system’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) lends a hand to senior travelers in the case of accidents and unforeseen circumstances. 

Safety: Among Kiwis, fret never! The country is incredibly safe, inhabiting warm, friendly and helpful residents. So much so that the 2017 Global Peace Index ranked New Zealand the 2nd safest country in the world. Amongst a culture of honesty, utmost trust – so much so that kiwis in rural areas often leave their cars and homes unlocked! And relaxation, there’s no reason to worry. 

So, what are some suitable, age-friendly ways to experience the land? 

The country really does have it all. Choose between the North Island, a treasure chest of geothermal sites and an exposure to the Māori culture, or the South Island, generally a preference of the adventurous explorer! 

  • New Zealand is more than just thrilling adrenaline-filled experiences. Less demanding activities provide equal opportunity to explore the divine scenery.
  • Several walking and hiking trails occupy the land, enabling the more active to explore natural landscapes by foot. A plethora of botanical gardens and forest regions offer a rejuvenating exposure to the vast outdoors. Beaches adorn the North Island and serve as the prime spot for relaxation during the summers. Cruises engage one with rare fjords – such as Milford and Doubtful sounds – and unique marine life in a highly accessible manner. Short ferry rides to nearby Islands such as Waiheke from Auckland or Kaikoura from Christchurch offer one-of-a-kind exposure to the local produce and fresh seafood! The Intercity buses traverse wide and often from most major cities in the Islands. The option with utmost freedom and leisure though is to rent your own private car and intake the jaw-dropping scenery at your own pace. 
  • The revitalizing power of New Zealand’s geothermal hubs is a major attraction to individuals desiring a wind down. A natural spa in the wild and free is the is the absolute reward following years of hard work and responsibility. Rotorua in the North Island is the prime destination for myriad hot springs, mud pools and steaming lakes offering physical and mental nourishment for all ailments. Further, the Bay of Islands enable a wonderful combination of long, exploratory walks, serene views of the beaches, and a wide variety of massage spas! Queenstown too, although known as the adventure capital, is surrounded by congenial jewels such as the quaint Arrowtown, or the breathtaking Milford Sound, which are a bus and/or cruise ride away. Wanaka is another destination in the South Island that encourages laid-back and absolutely decadent dining experiences as one relish fresh, local meals by the charming Lake Wanaka. Similarly, the Coromandel Coast is a must-visit, whether you cherish the land, water, mountains or beaches; its trademark, the Cathedral Cove is an attraction you can’t miss when in New Zealand! 
  • Who says learning and education is only for the young? Nearby, the Waitomo caves are a repository of history and education, displaying the famous glowworm caves, extremely unique to the country. New Zealand’s metropolises such as Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Christchurch are brimming in art and culture. Museums encapsulate works native to the Maori culture as well as generations of European settlers. Street art and graffiti decorate the walls amidst concrete skyscrapers. Opportunities to experience theatre, dance, drama in leisure are plentiful! 
  • New Zealand’s globally eminent wineries and seafood are the epitome of well retired living! 
  1. Marlborough, the iconic wine capital, boasts legendary views and lip-smacking wines, taking tourists through the production and manufacturing processes of these delicious beverages. 
  2. The Abel Tasman area is a hiker’s paradise – geared towards the physically motivated – as well as a wine haven. 
  3. Waiheke in the North Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most eminent wineries partnered with exceptional restaurants boasting the country’s best seafood. 
  4. Gisborne, also in the North, lines the east coast with luscious grape species transformed into some of the New Zealand’s most remarkable wines! Hawke’s Bay, blessed with an ideal climate, allows for several wineries to thrive in the region, majorly contributing to the country’s economy. 
  5. Central Otago is New Zealand’s anomaly – occupied with dry, rocky terrain, its miraculous continental microclimate lends to a thriving population of grapes and consequent wineries! 
  6. Nelson, although understates, is a heavenly blend of art, food and wine, humbly parading many award-winning wineries of the region. 

Rotorua

New Zealand is a senior citizen’s paradise in more ways than one. We would love to help you plan a holiday of a lifetime to New Zealand. Allow us to present the many special New Zealand packages and deals, and you could choose the one that suits you the most.

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South Island

Some know it as Te Waipounamu, others simply refer to it as South Island. No matter what you call it though, this is a side of New Zealand that you must experience. This is a veritable buffet of natural delights, where you can sample everything from looming mountain ranges to lush national parks, to soft sandy beaches, to the energetic vibe of cities like Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Kaikoura and more.


Location:

South Island is bordered by the Cook Strait in the north, by the Tasman Sea in the west and the Pacific Ocean to the south and the east.  


Highlights:

Mt Cook
Aoraki/ Mt. Cook –
Ascend to the glorious peak of New Zealand’s highest peak, where the surrounding land and turquoise waters can be enjoyed. Make sure that you visit the St. John Observatory to open your eyes to the clear and star crusted skies of the World’s darkest sky reserve (an exceptional view of starry nights).

Stewart Island – New Zealand’s largest and most diverse bird population awaits you at Stewart Island. However, if bird watching isn’t on your agenda, how about some hiking? Stewart Island offers you over 240 kilometres of walking tracks.

Port Hills
Fiordland National Park –
If you could bottle beauty and pour it over the land, then this National Park is proof. Home to the breath-taking Milford and Doubtful Sounds i.e wide, deep ocean inlets surrounded by mountains. This is a place that can be explored via boat, on foot or by air - each mode gives you a new lens on this beauty for you to soak in. 

Christchurch – A city that just pulses with eclectic energy, Christchurch is home to unique cafes and bars, lovely little markets, cute cinemas, a vibrant food scene and an explosion of culture. A simple walk could introduce you to different types of street art at every turn. 

Queenstown
Queenstown –
If Christchurch is quirky, then Queenstown is thrilling – literally. This is the adventure capital of the world. Bungee jumping, jet skiing, white water rafting, quad biking, river surfing, canyon swings, skydiving – you’ll find it all at Queenstown.

Otago Central
Central Otago –
If you’re looking to relax and soak in all of nature’s gifts, then this is the region for you. Central Otago offers you rolling landscapes, topped with snow dusted mountains, beautiful blue rivers and more. You can sit back and enjoy this view with a glass of wine, from the region’s many wineries. This is the land of plenty that keeps on giving.

Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman National Park –
Watch seals and dolphins twist, leap and glide through the waters that surround this park. Stroll along the sandy beaches and watch the little blue penguins dive for dinner. Kayak or swim in the clearest of water you have ever seen. Abel Tasman National Park is where you can also find ancient Māori trails to hike along as you explore the wilderness.

Recommended for:

A trip to South Island gives you a little bit of everything – stunning natural beauty, beautiful cities, art, music, food, culture, adventure and much more. There’s a little surprise or something unexpected every day!


How to get to South Island:

By Air: New Zealand is a combination of islands – the vast North Island and South Island as well as smaller ones. The biggest airport in South Island is the Christchurch Airport. However, most international flights land at Auckland Airport on the North Island, so chances are you’ll land in Auckland. Queenstown and Dunedin also boast of their own airports (domestic), so you can choose to land there. If you’re choosing to fly, you can take a flight to Auckland and then onwards to Christchurch, Dunedin or Queenstown. When you reach South Island, you can take domestic flights to explore the different cities in the region. However, if you have the time, skip air travel for more relaxed and scenic forms of transport. 

By Water: If you want to complete the second half of your trip from North Island to South by water, you can catch a ferry from Wellington to Picton (located at the top of the South Island). This is an extremely picturesque route, particularly when you’re cruising through Marlborough Sound. The ferry ride can take upwards of 3 hours – based on the weather.

By Bus: For all the budget travellers, your transport within South Island is taken care off. The bus network is varied – ranging from luxury buses to minivan shuttles. Some of the companies you can look at are InterCity Coachlines, Newmans Coach Lines, Atomic Shuttles and more. 


About South Island:

Lake Haye
South Island has a lot to offer the hungry tourist. Of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, 9 are located in South Island – Abel Tasman, Kahurangi, Nelson Lakes, Paparoa, Arthur’s Pass, Aoraki, Fiordland and more. If that wasn’t enough, you can swap trekking through the lush greenery by scaling the peaks of the highest mountains in New Zealand – the Southern Alps. If a little chill is what you’re seeking, the Tasman glacier, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef glacier, Volta and Murchison glaciers will definitely suffice. Add fiords, lakes, beaches and you have every kind of landscape to explore. When you’re done with the wilderness, then why not explore the wild cities of South Island. Queenstown is built for adventure tourism, while Christchurch indulges the artists. Every part of this island is steeped in beauty and wonder, so why wouldn’t you plan a trip here?


Interesting facts about South Island:

  • South Island is the larger of the two major islands in New Zealand.
  • However, only 23 percent of New Zealand’s residents live in South Island. 
  • The island covers 150, 437 square kilometres, making it the 12th largest island in the world
  • 60 percent of South Island is covered by mountain ranges
  • There are more than 3,000 glaciers spread across South Island

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Chatham Islands

There comes a time in our lives, when the daily grind and hustle gets a bit too much. It’s moments like these when we wish we had a secluded island to escape to, a corner of peace and serenity, a place where our issues and petty problems vanish. Well, that place exists, and it’s known as the Chatham Islands. It’s a place where the locals are friendly and warm, the landscapes are lush and lovely and where the rest of the world fades away.


Location:

The Chatham Islands are an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean – roughly 800 kilometres east of New Zealand’s South Island. It consists of about 10 islands – the largest of which are Chatham and Pitt Islands. 


Highlights:

J.M Barker National Historic Reserve: Learn a little bit about the locals of this land – the Moriori (Polynesian people who originated from the Māori settlers who live in the mainland). The reserve contains treasures like the “momori-rakau” - tree carvings done by ancient Moriori ancestors. 

Nunuku’s Cave: This cave contains ancient and authentic rock carvings and is said to be the home of the legendary Moriori chief Nunuku. He was known for outlawing killing amongst his people, and his pacifist laws were upheld for hundreds of years by locals. 

Pitt Island: A haven for nature lovers, the island is home to gorgeous scenery, rare birds and offers fishing, diving and great trails to trek. Take a flora and fauna tour, learn about the early Moriori and European settlers of the island, climb to the peak of Mt. Hakepa to see the sunrise, take farm tours, geology tours – this secluded small island has a big heart and too many activities to handle.

Point Munning Seal Colony: Just a short bush walk will take you to the beach where a large seal colony awaits. Stand back, stay quiet and watch these gorgeous creatures in their habitat.

Basalt Columns: One of the natural wonders of Chatham, these hexagonal columns of basalt were formed by waves. Not only are these columns incredible, the surrounding scenery is nothing to sneeze at either!

Apart from these sights, the Chatham Islands also include activities such as beach walks, bush walks, lakeside walks, bird watching, plant tours, surfing, great dining options, charter fishing, diving, snorkelling, horse riding, shopping and the chance to visit remote settlements in the area. 


Recommended For: Iconic locations, gorgeous scenery, fascinating history and heritage.


How to get to the Chatham Islands:

Air Chathams is the only regional, domestic carrier that offers flights to the islands. You can catch a flight from Wellington, Christchurch or Auckland. Flights are available four to six times every week. The flight duration is around 90 minutes. 

If you’re looking to visit Pitt Island, you must charter a plane or boat to take you there. The flight duration is a quick 20 minutes, while the boat ride can take between 1-2 hours. 

Driving in Chatham Island: Chatham Island – one of the biggest islands in the archipelago – boasts of smooth, well formed roads. However, be careful of animals wandering onto the roads. Maintain an average of 40 kms in the populated areas, and 60 kms on the open road. You can rent out a vehicle from Chatham motors to get around the island.


About Chatham Islands:

The Chatham Islands are known for their warm and hospitable locals, gorgeous scenery and quiet way of life. This is a chance to explore some of the most isolated communities and cultures in the area, including Māori and Moriori locals, sealers, whalers, missionaries, farmers and other settlers. The islands are a haven for those seeking a simpler, more serene things in life. A holiday to Chatham Islands means rest and relaxation. You can decide where you want to go and what you would like to see without the worry of large crowds. Rugged coastlines, majestic cliff and boulder strewn beaches are all yours for viewing and enjoying yourself.. 

Although there is no structured public transport, your local hosts will happily arrange for your transport, any guided tours or activities you’d like to participate in. Locals take the safety and enjoyment of their guests very seriously. 

Spend your vacation exploring local tourist highlights like the ancient Moriori tree carvings, the gorgeous Te Whanga Lagoon, bushwalking, hiking and platter after platter of delicious seafood. For all nature lovers and bird watchers, these islands offer many rare species of flora, fauna and birds. 


Do note,

  • Most shops and cafes here accept credit cards, but carrying cash is always a good idea.
  • You can call Mainland New Zealand from Chatham Islands, however, there is no cell phone coverage, making this a true escape! (High-speed WiFi is available, though, so you won’t be cut off completely)
  • The weather on the island is mostly mild (and occasionally moody). Summers offer clear and warm days, while winters witness mild frosts. It can be windy and cold at times and you might experience the occasional shower of rain, so come prepared. Carry a waterproof jacket or wind cheater, sunscreen and your swimsuit – you never know when you might need them!


Interesting facts about Chatham Islands:

  • The archipelago is called Rehoku (“misty sun”) by the Moriori natives and Wharekauri by the Māoris
  • Chatham Island was named after a survey ship, known as HMS Chatham, which was the first European ship to locate the island in 1791
  • The Moriori people arrived in the 1500s and have lived peacefully on the island since
  • Pitt Island is the first place in the world to see the sun rise everyday
  • Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of the rest of New Zealand 

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Top 5 Honeymoon Destinations

You drive past mighty mountains and crystalline lakes. The wind teases your hair as you gaze out of the window, screaming in excitement as you spot another great vantage point for a selfie. And your spouse won’t mind, because the beauty is just too overwhelming to be ignored! You might just spot a cotton-white flock of sheep hovering around in the snowy white hills of New Zealand. Your first ever romantic getaway in the Land of the Long White Cloud is totally worth it! Time stops in this island country that is dotted with frozen lakes, towering cliffs and sweeping coasts. Imagine standing hand in hand with your partner and being rendered speechless as you overlook a wide expanse of charming streams and misty mountains. What do you do next? You jump! A tandem water- touch jump off the Kawaru Bridge will make your stomach drop as you feel completely exhilarated. Get ready to fall for each other once again, quite literally this time! 

You might want to go on an adventure, explore your surroundings or just hold hands by the lake, options lie in abundance. Here are the top 5 destinations in New Zealand that will promise you a fairy-tale honeymoon in 2020!

1. Auckland- Sweet treats and scenic viewpoints 

2. Rotorua- River rafting and bubbling mud baths 

3. Queenstown- Adventure capital of the world

4. Dunedin- Castles and breath-taking views from hilltops 

5. Takaka – Say hello to baby seals and the vibrant community of Takaka

1. Auckland:

Indulge your sweet tooth with syrupy bites and pamper your sweetheart with some melt-in-the-mouth sugary treats. Auckland’s dessert scene is overflowing with delicious treats. If you are a chocolate connoisseur, make your way to Aotea Squares’s OKO. Dig into delicious caramelia mousse and dark chocolate crumble topped off with hot chocolate sauce. Nothing spells romance more than sharing an ice-cream cone with your partner.  Surprise your sweet valentine at Giapo, with frozen sweet treats that look like works of art. They look so divine; you will almost feel guilty for eating them. Apt for newly-weds, since you are on a honeymoon, do go for “Two Become One” - ice-cream cones topped off with chocolate heart halves. This delightful dessert is a great way to say ‘I love you’ to your better half! Auckland is also perfect for taking romantic, long strolls with your partner as you whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears. With beautiful coastlines, bushes and beaches, embark on a love journey with your partner that you would never wish to end. The sound of water beating against the rocks could interrupt the sweet silence as you make your way to a wonderful waterfall. If you long for the light touch of summer breeze as you dip your toes by the seashore, go to the West and revel in the black sand majesty of Piha beach.

2. Rotorua:

Marriage is an adventure, and what better way than to test it. Pump up your adrenaline as you engage in river rafting at the Kaituna River, just 15 minutes away from the city centre. Hold on tight to your partner when you get drenched, splashing your way through the water. Make your way down the steep seven-meter Okere Waterfall and experience a rush like never-before. 

How does a gooey, warm and bubbling mud bath right in the middle of an active geothermal field sound? A day in Hell’s Gate will leave you both feeling relaxed and cared for. The earth boils, viscous mud heals as steam evaporates into thin air. Rejuvenate your skin with nutrient rich waters and soft mud deemed to be a thing of cultural legend. Do try the Sulfur baths that will not fail to recuperate and re-energise.  This is one experience you must not miss out on when in Rotorua. 

3. Queenstown:

Take your chosen one’s hand and explore the adventure capital of the world. Sunset gondola rides and a scrumptious buffet meal await you love birds. Enjoy breath taking views of Queenstown as you rise 450 metres high above the ground. Look down and a blanket of turquoise blue waters stare right back at you. Watch the sky break into colours of soft blues and white. Take the return gondola back into town after a romantic meal with your partner. Be it summer’s balmy nights, autumn’s crisp air or winter’s misty mornings; Queenstown is the ultimate honeymoon destination regardless of when you get married. If you are seeking some privacy and wish to spend some time amidst the untouched beauty of nature, make your way to the Moke Lake. Let go of fancy restaurants and overpriced cafes and make this your picnic spot instead. You could also camp by the lake for a night as the nocturnal sounds of nature lull you to sleep. This hidden gem’s highlight is the perfectly symmetrical reflection of snowcapped mountains and the clear blue sky on turquoise blue waters of the Moke Lake. Sitting quiet and pretty, this lake is the ultimate romantic getaway from the flurrying adventure capital of New Zealand’s South Island.

4. Dunedin:

An idyllic South Island, straight out of a charming fairytale, this destination is a paradise for lovers. Steal kisses with your partner as you walk amidst the exquisite gardens of Larnach Castle. A prime attraction in New Zealand, this memoir of love offers unique dining experiences that will remain etched in your heart forever. Dance around in the Larnach Gardens with your wife as you twirl her around, making her heart sway. Travel back in time as you step into the intricate Victorian interiors of this castle. With magnificent tower views and walls that hold within them tales of romance and unrequited love, this spot is indeed the epitome of romance. Declare your undying affection for your partner atop the Signal Hill as you overlook an array of twinkling city lights of Dunedin. Drive up to the top or embark on a walk instead, the view overlooking the river, the harbour and the peninsula will be rewarding either way! If you visit during the day, views of the glistening Pacific Ocean coastline and historical landmarks will leave you smitten. Note that if you are walking to this spot, it will take around two hours to get here. 


5. Takaka:

This fascinating little town is said to be one of the most frequented honeymoon destinations in New Zealand. Stretches of golden sand and emerald green waters make their way back onto dense, green forests. Explore the Wharariki Beach if you wish to say hello to adorable baby seals prancing around in the pools of water, amidst undulating white sands. If you wish to relax a little and unwind, visit one of the quirky beach shacks and quaint cafes lined up along the high street. If you are up for an adventure, hire a kayak and engage in some island hopping to find your favourite spot. Takaka is a gateway to Golden Bay’s wonders and gives you a peak into its close knit and vibrant community. Head to the Abel Tasman National Park to experience one of New Zealand’s great walks with no shortage of hiking opportunities too. 

Can’t wait to visit these honeymoon destinations before you start the journey of a lifetime with your partner? Check out our New Zealand packages and book your tickets right away! 

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Winter Destinations

Owing to its location in the southern hemisphere, seasons in New Zealand are reversed, and for many people it takes some getting used to. Just imagine cold July and warm Christmas. Seems weird, right?

But believe us, those people who live there or have even shifted there from the northern hemisphere take it in stride and are quite accustomed to this ‘opposite’ order of things.

If you are thinking of a vacation in summer and don’t wish to head to warm places, how about booking your ticket to New Zealand for a change? It will be nice to experience winter in summer, and believe us, it doesn’t get prettier and more fun in winter than it does in New Zealand.

Here is a list of 10 things that make New Zealand one of the coolest places to visit in winter. 

#1 It’s off season, so no tourists – just you

People generally visit New Zealand when it’s cold and dreary in their part of the world. Winters are practically bereft of tourists. So if you dislike crowds, this is the perfect time. Except for a smattering of people at the ski fields, there are hardly any tourists to be seen.

Imagine empty beaches and empty mountains. Even campsites, roads, holiday parks and other popular sightseeing spots will have such few people (or none!) that you’ll think you have the whole country to yourself. 

All of New Zealand will feel like your personal playground. Your only companion is perfect solitude.

#2 Off season means it’s so much cheaper!

New Zealand in winter is off season, which means everything is cheaper. Hotel rates, ticket prices and sightseeing charges all go down. You are guaranteed excellent deals wherever you go. If you don’t see it advertised as such, feel free to ask anyway. The saving will be stupendous.

#3 It’s really not that cold

Your mind says winter and your body automatically believes it’s cold. For some of you who might have experienced the winter of the northern hemisphere winter in New Zealand will actually feel pleasant.

In South Island, it snows only in the mountains and the flat lands are just nippy. Plus, with so many lakes around, the towns are actually warm.

Then up in the North Island, the temperature is so mild that you can actually even plan a day at the beach during the winter.

A word of caution, though. Most of New Zealand doesn’t have central heating. So early mornings can be cold, especially in old homes with single-paned windows. Simply carry enough long underwear, pull on thick socks and snuggle with a hot water bottle.

#4 Snow and snowy mountains everywhere

Hooker Valley

New Zealand is home to some glorious mountain peaks, but when you see them in summer all you see are jagged slopes and perhaps you can catch a glimpse of a glacier or two somewhere in the distance. But in winter, everything changes magically.

June onward the mountains start to change colour and begin to take on whites. The snow line drops lower and lower with each passing day creating the perfect picture for Instagram. You wouldn’t be faulted for wanting to take a bit of them too, since they have now started to take on the appearance of chocolate cupcakes with delicious vanilla frosting.

These snow-white mountains are the perfect backdrop for road trips and you can also access some of New Zealand’s best walking trails and hikes during these cold months.

#5 Exciting snowboarding awaits you

Looking for some adventure? How about snowboarding or skiing? Head straight to Wanaka, home to Treble Cone, considered to be one of the best ski fields in New Zealand. Of course, this is where the crowds will be, but there is no better place to cut your teeth on winter adventure than here. You will find plenty of instructors who will be more then eager to help you find your feet. And once you get the hang of it (after a few falls and soft landings), it will all go downhill from there, literally.

People say that once you figure out how to keep your balance, then there is no bigger joy than flying down the mountain with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair. The fantastic views along the way are simply icing on the cake.

#6 Have you tried your hand, oops, legs at dogsledding?

Now that you’re done experiencing skiing and snowboarding, how about upping the ante a bit? Have you tried dogsledding? Travel to Wanaka in Cardrona and ask for the Snow Farm. You can go skiing here as well and stay overnight in quaint huts. But the biggest attraction is dogsledding.

What can be better than being taken for a ride by howling, fluffy wolf dogs as they race along the snowy white hills! Not many people know about this and wouldn’t it be great if you could go home and talk about your great snowy adventure under the New Zealand sun?

#7 Go awwww at these baby seals

Kaikoura Canterbury

If you like dogs then we’re guessing you might love seals too. And these are babies!

On the South Island, 15 minutes from Kaikoura, is a beautiful waterfall which is home to baby seals in the winter months. How do they get there? It seems mumma seals drop off their babies to frolic and play in the waterfall and become nice and chubby before they make their way into the seal colony on the beach.

#8 Soothe your soul in these hidden hot springs

Kerosene Creek

New Zealand sits on a fault line and is known the world over for its geothermal appeal. Most popular volcanoes are on the North Island and they come with their fair share of hot pools and stinky volcanic lakes that everyone visits.

Compared to that, down south just has big mountains. But tucked away in one corner is a local secret. Southwest of Kaikoura and north of Christchurch is the famous kiwi holiday town of Hanmer Springs. And this has numerous natural hot pools that draw people to it every year. This iconic New Zealand holiday spot doesn’t see many tourists; it’s frequented mostly by the locals who have turned it into an annual pilgrimage of sorts. 

Do add this to your itinerary. The beautiful location, near the mountains and in the middle of woods, is the perfect destination to get away from the crowds and to connect with oneself. Just because it’s in the middle of nowhere doesn’t make it rustic. There is a proper spa resort with all the trappings of a comfortable vacation.

#9 Were you expecting to see the Southern Lights?

The northern hemisphere has the Northern Lights. So guess what you get in New Zealand? You bet! Southern Lights. The same beauty and the same stunning visual display.

#10 Get chatty with friendly locals

Since there are fewer tourists, the locals have plenty of time on hand and are more open to chatting with you. What better way to get to know the local culture and best sights to see than over a mug of beer or glass of wine shared with a local?

And don’t worry if you’re traveling alone. New Zealand is a safe place and you can easily befriend a local without worrying about all the bad things than happen to people who let down their guard.

Have we triggered your travel itch already or not? Plan a winter holiday to New Zealand and we promise you it will be unlike any vacation that you’ve taken in a long time. All you need to do is pick the dates and we will do the rest for you.

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Instagrammable Spots

When everything looks like it belongs in a fairytale, you know that you’ve arrived in New Zealand. While it’s impossible to see all this iridescent nation in one trip, one can get snippets of its marvelous, awe-inspiring beauty from images. More so, from Instagram images that infuse life into mundane, everyday feeds. Yes, Kiwi Land has that effect on people!


Want to know how?

Take a look at Thomas Cook’s list of picturesque and Instagrammable places in New Zealand!

Here's a summary of what you can expect from each:

Bay of Islands - cruise picture, biking picture, skydiving picture

Milford Sound - shore picture, kayaking picture

Hobbiton – farmland picture, food picture

Lake Tekapo – floral picture, star gazing picture

Tongariro National Park – cliff picture, hiking picture

Bay of Islands:

bay of Island

Colour-wash your Instagram profile with the glorious hues of Bay of Islands. 140 subtropical isles, rainbow-hued and picturesque, make up an enclave in New Zealand’s North Island. Enjoy a sun-kissed day amidst cheerful dolphins and silvery, foamy waterfalls. We’ve got a number of ideas that will make for wonderful pictures, here. Cruise around the bay (from Paihia Wharf) and ask your companion to get a shot of you gazing out at the glassy waters. Make sure your body language is poised and the frame opens to striking panoramas of the landscapes. Or, hop onto your bike and hit the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park for a delightful woodland picture. Strike an adventurous pose as you cross one of the old bridges, helmet clad and drunk with laughter. And if you’re itching for that quintessential mid-air shot, skydive from 16,000 ft. and yelp “woohoo”!


Milford Sound:

One of New Zealand’s most coveted tourist destinations also happens to be one of its most instagrammable spots. And, why not? Milford Sound is a fierce, moonlight fjord in the South Island, famed for its graceful peaks, silky waterfalls and fur seal colonies. Come sunshine or snow, an ethereal backdrop is promised. One of our recommendations would be to capture the fjord from the shore. Stand amidst the haze of autumnal-winter tall grass and glimpse straight ahead as twilight drenches the rock. For this shot, we’d suggest wearing a woolen beanie and shawl. Another of our favourites is a summer click out in the bold, blue waters. Set about a kayaking trip and row-row-row your boat. This is yet another back-facing image, so sport some stylish swimwear.


Hobbiton:

Hobbiton Matamata

You need not be a Lord of the Rings fan to fall in love with the Shire, a village from J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth. The unequivocal beauty of this farmland, dotted with pine trees and quaint, dreamy hobbit homes, cannot be missed. Trust us, there’s no better place to create Instagram magic than from the source of movie magic itself! A fantastical movie set tour will end at the Green Dragon Inn, where a sumptuous feast awaits. Rustic interiors complemented by the faint glow of candlelight and firewood, poses as the perfect backdrop for your next picture. Take a shot of the decadent spread that ticks off every sensory category. Capture the richness of golden roast chicken, pumpkin stuffed with chargrilled succotash, baked apple crumble and butterscotch sauce. 


Lake Tekapo:

Lake Tekapo

Despite its miniature population, Lake Tekapo remains one of the most desired locales in New Zealand’s sensuous South Island. Its delicate, romantic beauty is something to be admired in person, but looks darn good in pictures too! There are plenty of pretty nooks to keep the camera-hungry busy. For instance, the musky, radiant and pastel lupine flowering plant was born to bloom for the Polaroid. You must feature these petite pinks, peaches and purples flailing in the wind, overlooking turquoise waters that sparkle like Cinderella’s slipper. And as stunning as this hamlet is in the day, it is even more spellbinding at night under the glint of countless stars. So, make sure to get a sweeping image that will make Vincent Van Gogh proud. You can even leverage the boomerang feature to make things interesting. 


Tongariro National Park:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Decorate your Instagram grid with ribbons of adventure. Tongariro National Park, situated in central North Island, is unlike anywhere else in the world. Breathtaking and masterful, this unique landscape should be on every photographer’s wish-list. Nestled in wilderness-wonderland, let your camera run along the grooves and crevices of dramatic volcanoes as you zip across the sky on a scenic flight. Upload a live story, while soaring high in the air, the excitement is simply unparalleled. For the Lord of the Rings groupies out there, discover the infamous Mt. Doom or Mount Ngauruhoe and capture its glory in a series of aesthetic and thrilling shots. Why don’t you get that classic hiking picture out of the way, you know the one overlooking a sheer drop? Yes, this is the best time to convert yet another Instagram fantasy into reality. 


Tricks of the Trade:

  1. While Instagram has its very own camera feature, use your smartphone, tablet or digital camera to take pictures instead. The sharper the image resolution, the more engaging the snap. 
  2. Always maintain a steady hand while clicking pictures. Invest in a mini tripod to ensure your pictures are aligned to perfection. Use the focus feature to create emphasis.
  3. Make provisions for camera angles, background, symmetry, balance and lighting. Leverage natural light and colour contrasts for the best results. 
  4. Use filters sparingly as it takes away from the essence of a natural setting. If you’re going for a creative spin, select from a wide range of editing apps that can completely transform the image.
  5. Opt away from the traditional landscape and portrait mode, as Instagram images are confined to a box in a grid. Use a square ratio of 1:1, placing your subject in the centre of the frame.

Have we inspired you to sprinkle your Instagram profile with a little Kiwi love? If yes, book your New Zealand package today! 

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Penguins

It’s practically impossible to look at a penguin and not feel an instant boost of joy. After all, these adorable creatures walk like they’re about to give you a great, big hug! Is there anything more endearing than that? We think not. How amazing would it be to meet these flippery-floppy things? New Zealand gives you a rare sneak peek into the universe of ‘Happy Feet’! So, get ready to fill your hearts with a whole lot of love because you have the chance to spot the three main penguin species native to New Zealand – little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and Fiordland-crested penguins!

So, get ready for some extra fluff.

We’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit to observe penguins in their natural habitat.


Banks Peninsula:

For an up-close look at New Zealand’s darling white-flippered blue penguin, head to Banks Peninsula, just outside Christchurch. Nestled on the east coast of South Island, you will discover what is known to be the largest mainland colony of these pocket-sized creatures.  Gaze at this cuddly aquatic bird as it dawdles about, a precious sight, common only to the Canterbury region. Spread across 1,150 square km of volcanic land, the striking peninsula encompasses two large harbours and several smaller bays and coves. Tours leaving from Akaroa will enable intimate encounters with nature’s teensy ones, including observing them in their natural habitats and feeding them too. 


Otago Peninsula:

Chris Stephenson Dunedin

For the finest eco-tourism experience, travel to the long and hilly Otago Peninsula, located in the easternmost part of Dunedin. Hoiho or the endangered yellow-eyed penguin nests in the coastal vegetation, found in and around this plush region. Obscured from other species of birds and mammals, the tiny bird takes shelter. Dunedin is one of the few destinations in New Zealand to provide a rare glimpse into these adorable birds basking in the wild. You can catch sight of them on the beaches as well as on the sand dunes, ambling about their daily business. The best part is, the world’s tiniest penguin species, the little blue penguin, is also found here! 


Oamaru:

Picture this, a colony of yellow-eyed penguins and classic blue penguins systematically building nesting burrows on the vast golden coastline. This spectacular phenomenon occurs during the stroke of dusk in North Otago’s Oamaru town. Nicknamed ‘Penguin Town’, Oamaru is one of the prime spots in New Zealand to get your fill of these plump little beings. Savour the precious, priceless moments of watching a congregation of penguins marching home after a hard day’s work. Witness a sea of bobbling heads meander towards the shore after a day of fishing at the Blue Penguin colony. Isn’t that simply marvellous?  


Stewart Island:

Chris Stephenson Penguin

The third largest island in New Zealand is arguably one of the most delightful places to spot a wide variety of aquatic birds. Lying just 30 kilometres south of South Island, across the Foveaux Strait, this slice of heaven is home to a rich biodiversity. Nature and wildlife photographers will especially enjoy exploring the Land of Glowing Skies, a term fondly used by the sacred Māori people. True to the nation’s penguin family, blue penguins and yellow-eyed penguins waddle among the rocks. Furthermore, one will find an abundance of the brown kiwi or Tokoeka. Interestingly enough, the island is home to more animals than human beings.


Marlborough Sounds:

A sweeping network of sea-drowned valleys and sunken gorges makes up Malborough Sounds, a natural marvel at the northern end of the South Island. There is deep mythical significance to this spot, with legends of the submerged Māori watercraft lurking here. This is yet another place to peek at the regal blue penguins as they dally through their days.  We’d recommend taking a scenic boat cruise along stunning Tasman Bay. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as you spy not only penguins, but seals and whales too. 


Monro Beach:

Hiking to Monro Beach, through New Zealand’s hot-scented subtropical rainforest, is a mesmerising journey in itself. Add to that, the chance to observe the Fiordland-crested penguin and you’ve got yourself a brilliant day! This fascinating species is medium in size, yellow-crested and consists of a bluish-grey upper part and a white under part. One of the most unique races in the world, it is also one of the few that breed on beaches and is easily accessible. So, get ready for an extraordinary experience, amidst the cutest, aquatic bird that will remind you of the blockbuster Happy Feet.


Caroline Bay:

The chance to watch nature take its course, slowly but surely, is perhaps one of the most beautiful sights in the world. You can have such an experience in Timaru, a port city in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand. Caroline Bay is one such destination that specialises in all things, small and fluffy. Yes, little blue penguins bimble to the bay at dusk, nesting along the edges of the shore in roped-off areas. You can observe these gentle and agile creatures from behind the rope. The most special part is watching parents feed their chicks as well as endearing and aggressive nesting burrow interactions. 


Words of caution:

  1. Make sure you observe the penguins from a safe distance as they are extremely timid creatures and are easily disturbed. If you frighten them, they will land up abandoning their chicks. 
  2. Many penguin species nest within coastal vegetation, so ensure you do not disturb a nest while walking about. Refrain from approaching penguins while they’re burrowed in.
  3. While driving around Dunedin, Akaroa, Oamaru and the West Coast, it’s common to sight penguins crossing the road at night. So, make sure you slow down.
  4. Keep away from scruffy looking penguins, as they are most likely shedding their feathers and growing new ones. This is a stressful time for them, so it’s best they’re given space.

Now that you’re aware of the best places to spot penguins in and the etiquette to be followed, go forth and book your exciting New Zealand package !

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Beautiful Islands

When one thinks of New Zealand it is usually the North and South Islands that come to mind. And quite naturally so; they are the two main and the two biggest islands. But the archipelago is also made of numerous hidden islands that are equally gorgeous, if not more. Besides the relatively untouched beauty of these locations, they are also off the beaten path. This means you will encounter fewer crowds when you go island hopping in New Zealand.

Pack your swimsuit, sunglasses and sunblock, and get ready for an awesome time on this trip.

#1 Stewart Island

Ulva Island

Imagine an island that is mostly a national park. Stewart Island lies about 30km south of the South Island and it offers you 2,000 square kilometres of untamed wilderness, 85% of which is part of Rakiura National Park.

What can you expect in your time here? The silence of the night is punctuated by the calls of nocturnal birds like the ruru, weka and kiwis. Daytime will bring the sweet melodies of red-crowned parakeets, robins and bush parrots.

Stewart Island is a haven for hikers. The island is laid with 245km of walking tracks that one can access from the town of Oban. If you are feeling really adventurous, do check out the three-day Great Walks trek. For those of you who are outdoorsy types but wish to enjoy the island at a leisurely pace, then you can take short walks through Horseshoe Point, Fern Gully or Moturau Moana.

While on the island, don’t miss a trip to Ulva Island, home to Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve. Take diving trips and kayak safaris to explore the mind boggling variety of marine life including sea cucumbers, star fish, kina and kelp, besides schools of fish.

Getting there: You can hop aboard the Stewart Island Experience Ferry at Bluff, South Island, from 8:00 daily.

#2 Kapiti Island

Do something exclusive on your New Zealand island hopping tour. Head to Kapiti Island, known for being home to some of New Zealand's most endangered birds, including the kiwi, kokako, weka, takah, morepork, royal spoonbills and blue penguins. This 2,000-hectare nature reserve and its surrounding  protected waters are just 50kms from Wellington and make for a memorable visit. What makes it exclusive, you ask? Only 100 visitors are allowed to visit the island each day, which means no jostling crowds and a peaceful time.

The kiwi today is considered to be an endangered species in New Zealand and it is great to spot this local bird in its natural habitat here, on Kapiti Island, since sadly; they are extinct on the mainland.

If bird watching isn’t your cup of tea, you can go looking for more adventure. Try your hand at kayaking and snorkelling, and if you wish, you can even trek up one of the few walking trails to reach Rangatira Landing, the highest point on the island.

Getting there: The island is a 15-minute ferry ride from Paraparaumu Beach.

#3 Kawau Island

If you want a taste of Māori culture and history, may we recommend Kawau Island? This was home to early migrations of Māori people and it was later purchased as a private residence by Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand's first governors. Besides its unusual history, you can also enjoy various activities such as fishing, swimming and boating here.

The biggest attraction of the island is the ancient Mansion House. This stately structure stands proud, overlooking a secluded sunny bay. The villa is surrounded by an extensive garden that is home to exotic plants and animals from all over the world. As you stroll along, you will spot wallabies and peacocks lounging in the sun, making you wish you could do the same..

Once you have your fill of the mansion, you can walk along ancient walking tracks that will take you through the native forest to beautiful beaches, old copper mines and Māori ‘Pa’ sites.

Getting there: The island is about one and a half hour’s drive from Auckland, and then a ferry ride from Sandspit.

#4 Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Take your taste buds on a culinary journey when you travel to Waiheke Island. This is just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, and amidst the local food scene you can also relax on white sandy beaches and enjoy art galleries. If you wish to spend more than a day there are several boutique accommodations to choose from as well.

Do you love wine? Then you absolutely must make time to visit the island's wineries. Some of the world’s most unique and high quality wines are made here. Do sample local wines that are inspired by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Chardonnay.

Some of the notable vineyards include the Mudbrick Vineyard with its hand-picked fruits and classic French wines. There’s also the Stonyridge Vineyard nestled in a valley of olive trees, replete with the aromas of the south of France and café dining. Lastly, don’t miss the spectacular Te Whau Vineyard that offers the best of Waiheke’s wines.

Getting there: 35 minutes by ferry trip from Auckland, or 45 minutes from Half Moon Bay by car and passenger ferry.

#5 White Island

Looking for some thrill and adventure? Hop aboard New Zealand's only active marine volcano, White Island. This giant occupies a massive area, barren and with streaks of reds, whites and yellows. Stark and beautiful, thrilling and attractive, this island is about 48km from Whakatane and 100km from Rotorua.

Getting there: Ask for the White Island Tours that operates tours specifically to White Island. Depending on weather conditions, the journey could take 80 minutes or more. If you don’t wish to rough it out in the open sea, you can also fly with White Island Flights. Your short and thrilling journey will take you over farmland and startling white sand beaches, and set you down at the rim of the volcano.

#6 Motiti Island

Want to get away from people and the world? Welcome to Motiti Island. This island has great fishing, diving, swimming and snorkelling opportunities. But that’s not the clincher. The island has a population of just 40 people, making it the perfect destination for an idyllic vacation.

You can treat yourself to a fancy seafood dinner made from fresh catch like crayfish, scallops, kingfish, snapper, tarakihi and blue maomao; cooked right on the beach.

The sheltered hidden coves and sandy beaches are just the place to take someone special for a quiet after-dinner walk.

Getting there: Take a ride on a boat charter from Tauranga. Or you can even take a ten-minute flight from Tauranga.

#7 Bay of Islands

Bay Of Islands

If you love beaches and water activities (and who doesn’t!) then the Bay of Islands is just the place to be in. The Bay of Islands is made of 144 islands, including the Purerua Peninsula, Cape Brett, Moturua Island and towns such as Paihia, Opua, Russell and Kerikeri.

There is just so much to do here. You could go sand dune surfing, go on a cruise to the famous 'Hole in the Rock', spend all day at the beach or take a boat ride to spot amazing marine life like wild dolphins, whales and marlin.

Getting there: You can reach the Bay of Islands by taking a 35-minute flight from Auckland or by driving down for three hours.

We hope we’ve rekindled your wanderlust and given you #travelgoals. 

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Christmas Celebration

Christmas in the southern hemisphere is less about snow and reindeer, and more about the sun, the sand and barbeques in the lawn.For those of you looking to spend a warm and sunny Christmas, head straight down to the cheerful land that is New Zealand and get ready for an amazing experience.

New Zealand has a strong European heritage and you will spot many similarities between the New Zealand Christmas and the traditional Christmas, but with a twist that is unique to this part of the world. On the surface it might appear that just the weather is different, but the Kiwi Christmas is special in its own way and as a tourist visiting this land for the first time, you are in for a definite treat.

What are you waiting for? Let’s head over, shall we?

Christmas in New Zealand is filled with unique experiences

Nelson Art Festival

The first thing that you will notice about Christmas time is the weather. December is summer in New Zealand and you will be greeted with sunny skies and warm waters when you arrive. Christmas is the beginning of the summer vacation and many Christmas events and activities revolve around that. Forget this festival as you’ve always known it and relish a Christmas barbeque dinner on the beach instead of a proper sit-down meal, like we are familiar with.

Head out on the streets and enjoy the Christmas Parade as it makes its way down the road. Marching bands, decorative floats and, of course, an appearance by the most loved Santa Claus, himself is what makes this experience unique. Try and coincide your vacation with a trip to Auckland to catch the largest and best-known parade in New Zealand. It’s known to be especially attractive for children.

Instead of a pine tree you will often spot the Pohutukawa tree used as a traditional Christmas tree. This tree is popular and grows abundantly along the east coast of New Zealand, flowering during this season. The bright red and crimson flowers are a wonderful sight and New Zealanders associate them most with Christmas.

There are pine trees too, and these are decorated in a traditional manner with tinsel and twinkling lights, just like in the European and American tradition.

You will find the streets and shops abuzz with activity with families and individuals bustling about to buy gifts for their loved ones. You can soak in all the excitement and joy of the festival, simply by being there.

Make the most of your time in this magical country

If you wish to get out of the cities and want to explore the magical land that is New Zealand, there are numerous road trips that you can plan with your friends or family. The country is filled with an endless array of natural landmarks and the breath-taking vistas along the way will make for the perfect road trip.

What is it that you wish to do in New Zealand? Are you an adventure seeker? Then might we recommend an action-packed road trip? Or would you simply want to unwind and relax, sipping on a glass of wine, reconnecting with yourself? Then turn the steering towards Marlborough where the wine county beckons.

Christmas is a special time in New Zealand, and not just because of the weather and the many unique experiences. The diverse culture, the friendly people, the joyful celebrations and the holiday season make it the best time to visit this country.

Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, getting here will put you in the festive spirit and make your time in New Zealand one of the finest vacations of your life.

Merry Christmas, or ‘Meri Kirihimete’, as they say in Māori.

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5 Reasons to Visit

Have you made travel plans for the next year yet? How about skipping the usual tourist spots and heading somewhere new in 2020? 

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful locations in the world and offers something for the entire family. Whether it’s excitement, or a piece of history or just the thrill of a new place, New Zealand has it all.

Here are 5 amazing tours that you will not be able to experience anywhere else in the world. Take our word for it; you should seriously consider planning a holiday (or more) to New Zealand in year 2020.


1. Milford Sound Tours

Lilford Sound

If you’re looking for a natural wonder, then head right to Milford Sound. The soaring cliffs, thundering waterfalls and dramatic glacial valleys will leave you gasping for breath. You cannot go to New Zealand and not visit this stunning natural masterpiece. Located in the Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site itself, the place is a wildlife haven for seals, dolphins, and penguins.

You can choose to cruise around the fjord, or fly over the majestic location in a helicopter, or even explore the Fiordland National Park by road. Whichever way to decide, Milford Sound will be an unforgettable experience. While here, you can also visit Bowen Falls, Mitre Peak, and Mount Pembroke.

December to February is the best (and more popular) time to visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, try spring or autumn when the rates are cheaper and the crowds are thinner. Do keep in mind that the weather at Milford Sound can be rather unpredictable. Even if you are visiting in summer, be prepared for wind and rain. Wear comfortable shoes irrespective of whether you’re planning on hiking or not. Carry plenty of water. There are limited stores in the region.

Address: Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Entry Fees: Free


2. Waitomo Caves Tours

Saitomo

The Waitomo Caves is an underground labyrinth of caverns that springs surprises at every turn. Remarkable limestone formations, massive stalactites and stalagmites, and a subterranean river all await you when you descend into this mindboggling network. Here you will spot entire walls covered with glow worms, and the shimmering creatures are the perfect magical backdrop to the caves' natural wonders.

You will need to book yourself a spot on any of the several guided tours that are available. The tour includes a walk through the caves and then a boat ride through the glow worm grotto. You can book your tour either at Auckland or Rotorua. These are often combined with other Waitomo attractions, which include the Hobbiton film set from The Lord of the Rings films trilogy.

It can get rather cold inside the caves. Do carry a jacket and wear comfortable shoes. Keep your cameras and GoPros back at hotel since they are not allowed inside the cave structures.

Summer, from December to February, is the best time to visit, although it can get crowded. Book your tour in advance and opt for an early morning or late afternoon slot if you want relatively fewer people.

Address: 39 Waitomo Caves Road, Waitomo, New Zealand

Hours: Open daily

Admission: Prices vary for each tour

3. Lake Wakatipu Tours

The crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu are bound by mountains and cloaked in legends. There is so much going on here, it’s no surprise this natural wonder draws visitors all year through. If you are in Queenstown, then do plan to spend a day on Lake Wakatipu. Trust us, it will be the highlight of your vacation in this region.

You can choose between a thrilling tour or enjoy something laidback at the lakefront. From extreme jet boats that ferry passengers to 4WD vehicles for off-road adventures; from helicopter tours that fly travellers over the lake to calm fishing charters where you can catch your own dinner, if you please, there is something for everyone here.

Should you desire, you can take a relaxing cruise aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw and head for dinner to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Alternatively, you can also glide along the river on a catamaran while soaking in the incredible view of the Remarkables mountain range.

Dress warmly, in layers, as the wind can pick up speed suddenly and it gets really cold then. You can take your pick from a short 90-minute excursion or a full-day 8-hour trip.

The lake is a year-round destination, and you can enjoy various aspects of the landscape depending on when you visit. Summer months give you a chance to explore lake activities while in the winter months you can try your skills at the skiing slopes.

Admission: Free

4. Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Matamata

Lord of the Rings, anyone? Imagine the thrill of visiting a movie set and standing at the exact spot as one of your favourite characters from the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit movie did. Ooh, the excitement!

The lovely people at New Zealand have preserved the movie set just as it was and turned it into a tourist attraction. And what an attraction it is! You can visit Bilbo’s home and see where he hosted a party for his friend Gandalf. Or you can stop for a drink at the Green Dragon, the Hobbiton watering hole.

When in New Zealand, you must include a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set in your itinerary. Of course, the gently rolling hills of Matamata are inviting and as you wander along the foot trails that will take you past quaint rows of real-life hobbit holes, you can enjoy the natural beauty of The Shire. A knowledgeable guide will be with you at all times to help you make the right connections, whether you are familiar with the films or not.

Word of advice; the attraction is very popular and if you want to beat the crowds you can opt for a VIP tour where you have The Shire to yourself.

Hours: Tours available from 9am-4:30pm

Entry Fees: Adults: $79; Child: $39.50. Children under 8 years old are free with a paying adult.


5. Port of Tauranga Tours

This is yet another popular tourist destination with numerous cruise ships arriving at the port every year. Centrally located in the Bay of Plenty, the Port of Tauranga sits smack in the middle of the township of Mt Maunganui. A trip to this laid-back beach town gives you easy access to day trips to Rotorua, where you can spend hours at the steaming geysers, bubbling muds and other geothermal wonders.

You can spend your day exploring the communities of Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui. Also called the ‘surf city’ you will be taken in by the relaxed atmosphere that is prevalent all around. If you plan to stay a day here, you can hike to the top of the 750-foot ‘Mount’ beach that offers you incredible views of the entire town and the beach itself. There are numerous dining, entertainment and shopping options in downtown Tauranga for those looking to take back a piece of the holiday with them.

Include a visit to the historic Brain Watkins house to know how 19th-century New Zealanders lived. The house hasn’t changed one bit in the last 130 years.

Address: Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand

There you go; five splendid reasons to book your tickets to New Zealand in 2020. All you need to do is decide on the dates and leave the rest to us.

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20 Top Beaches

Are you a Beach Bum? Here is a List of 20 Beaches in New Zealand that are Unlike Anything You've Seen Before

What do you think of when you imagine going to the beach? A few of us think of relaxing in the sunshades, some of us think of running straight into the water. Others, still, think of playing in the sand. The adventurous ones among us know it’s all about surfing, kayaking and diving. 

Imagine, going to a single geographical entity- the beach- that offers all of this, and much more! And now, imagine having so many varieties of this entity in one country! If just the sound of this is fascinating, then we’re pretty sure the following listicle about the must-visit beaches in New Zealand will not just fascinate you but will make you want to pack your bags right away!

1. Awaroa Beach:

How many times have you heard the public buying a beach to gift it to their country? No, this isn't a fabricated story. The 'people's beach', Awaroa, in the Abel Tasman National Park (South Island) was bought by the public after crowd funding from around 39,000 Kiwis. This beach was then gifted to New Zealand's Department of Conservation. Restoration work is regular here to protect the area's ecosystem and to help the coastal birds nesting in the surrounding areas.

This crowd funded beach is a people-pleaser not just because of the emotional attachment of the Kiwis, but also because of the pleasant solitary time it provides to its visitors.

There are rules against staying on the beach, but there are certain campgrounds in the vicinity.

2. Moeraki Beach:

Some go to the beach for a dip in cool water; others go for a relaxing sunbath. Then, some others go to sit under the setting sun and just unwind. For this third category of people, Meraki beach in northern Dunedin (South Island) seems to be the perfect choice entirely because of the mysterious, but useful spherical boulders. 

The surrounding areas of this rocky beach act host to a variety of seafood restaurants.

3. New Chums Beach:

This beach on the Coromandel Peninsula is famous as one of the few still untouched beaches of the country. Part of the reason for this is that this beach has no road access. New Chums Beach is a 30-minute clamber from Whanapoua, a nearby holiday settlement. This peaceful beach is home to gentle waves, creating a perfect ambience for some quality time with nature.

4. Gillespies Beach:

The landscape of this beach is all the reason anyone would need to visit it, honestly- to the east one can see the majestic Southern Alps, and to the west, there are miles and miles of the Tasman Sea. 

Gillespies Beach is around 20 kilometres away from the Fox Glacier township.
 

5. Wainui Beach:

It's common (and exciting) knowledge that New Zealand is the first place in the world to see the sunrise. However, do you know what this means for all you beach lovers? That you can literally swim at the crack of dawn at the Wainui Beach in Gisborne. A little further towards the north, one can reach Tolaga Bay to dive into the longest wharf in the Southern Hemisphere!

6. The Catlins:

If you're looking for a place that will take you back in time, then the Catlins is the place to go. In the south-eastern region of South Island, this place has the vibe of the 1950s and thrives on farming instead of tourism. 

As lovely as the prospects of this rugged coastline sound, it's also a little tricky to get here- The Catlins can be reached through a detour between the cities of Dunedin and Invercargill. Away from the mainstream settlement, The Catlins is perfect for a solitary getaway. Be mindful, however, of the sketchy cellphone coverage and the limited ATMs. But, one can spot the rare Hector's dolphins frolicking in the surf in Porpoise Bay. New Zealand sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins are also a rare, but not an impossible sight here.

Curio Bay has a fossilized forest in its vicinity. And the best part? Both of these have campsites in close vicinity.
 

6. Rarawa Beach:

Far North's Rarawa Beach is equivalent to taking a step into paradise. Its soft white sand will far surpass otherworldly pleasures of life.

This clean, non-crowded beach is not-so-frequently visited, and hence, is a treat for the eyes and the soul. The calm and quiet is, literally, unparalleled here. It also houses a fragile dune system that nests birds. So, be kind to the birds and keep away from the dunes.  

One of the less commercial beaches, Rarawa beach, does not have many facilities but has a basic camping ground in the vicinity. 
 

7. Karekare Beach:

This is a strange beach. And, when we say 'strange' we mean beautiful, peaceful, and majestic at the very least.

Despite attracting a lot of attention after its feature in the movie ‘The Piano’, Karekare Beach has stayed relatively unpopulated. The beach lies close to a cluster of residential settlements but has managed to retain its pristine and majestic vibe.

It is a good area to head to Karekare if one wants to explore and enjoy the local life of Auckland, for this beach is in close vicinity to the village of Tirirangi, where one can visit galleries, eateries and shops.

8. Matai Bay:

New Zealand is full of surprises, and Matai Bay is just another one of them! One would find this hidden jewel on the KariKari Peninsula in the Northland region. The clear waters, smooth sand and quiet ambience of this beach make it a perfect pick for spending a warm afternoon just swimming in the water or resting in the shadows.


9. Hot Water Beach:

Does the name of the beach excite you? Yeah, well, the thought of taking you here excites us just as much! 

There's something different about this beach- visitors to this place pack their best shovels and arrive two hours before (or after) the low tide. Why, you may wonder? Well, just imagine the joy of digging a hole at the tide line, and tada! You're in your personal hot spring spa. Well, it is yours till the tide comes up!

hot water beach


10. Piha Beach:

This is called New Zealand's surfing harbour, and rightfully so! Located on the wild west coast, just thirty minutes from Auckland, Piha has many prospects- surfing, exploration, walking, and picnicking. The waters here seem to have a life of their own, owing to their rips and currents. But the moody and misty waters are definitely an experience to cherish!
 

11. Torrent Bay:

Torrent Bay is one of the many long-stretching beaches of New Zealand and is a part of the Abel Tasman National Park. This beach is famous among locals as a warm swimming spot. For tourists, this is also a drop-off point for water taxis ferrying to the Abel Tasman National Park.


12. Kaiteriteri Beach:

This picturesque beach is famous among locals and tourists alike because of its almost magical golden sand and the long hours of sunshine. It is an idyllic beach experience, as many would agree. 

This beach is located at the top of South Island; this location allows visitors to conveniently hike and explore the area's walking tracks, while the options of swimming and sunbathing are also available. Among other things to do at the beach, there are facilities for hiring a kayak to paddle around the nearby coves and lagoons. 

The beach is also home to penguins, seals and dolphins.
 

13. Whale Bay:

This beach is a five-minute drive from Raglan, towards the south. The landscaped hills, lined with native trees, has made the beach just as popular as surfing has. Whale Bay has plenty of surf schools for those who want to hone their surfing skills and wish to spend a great deal of their vacation riding the waves.

Since this place is frequented by surfers majorly, there are plenty of food shops, cafes, restaurants, and resorts in the vicinity.


14. Mission Bay:

While New Zealand has many places meant for those looking for a quite vacation, it also has places meant for those who crave for the hustle and bustle of the city. Mission Bay beach is one such place. A short drive from the central business district of Auckland, this beach is home to several restaurants, ice cream parlours and even pubs! On any ordinary day, one is sure to find families and groups of friends playing, paddling in the ocean, or just lazing around.

What sets Mission Bay apart, other than its bustling feel, is its large grassy area with plenty of Pohutukawa trees that are a sight to behold with red flowers during the summer!


15. Ninety Mile Beach:

No, Ninety Miles Beach is not ninety miles long. However, it is beautiful, picturesque and definitely impressive. Its massive sand dunes are sure to remind one of the deserts, but its clear and cool water, alongside the Aupouri Forest, give it the perfect beach feel. Incidentally, this also happens to be the most famous and the biggest beach in New Zealand.


16. Medlands Beach:

Isn’t it the absolute dream to enjoy a peaceful, romantic lunch (with a view) with your partner, with water playing at your feet? Well, Medlands Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park guarantees a similar experience, amidst its golden sand and native forest.

This small, secluded beach is also famous among visitors for kayaking.

17. Bark Bay:

This beach in the Abel Tasman National Park is an absolute favourite among the kiwis and is gradually attaining the same reputation among the tourists. The reason? Well, imagine being able to camp on the beach and waking up to the sun rising from within the water. Isn’t that reason enough?


18. Matai Bay:

New Zealand is full of surprises, and Matai Bay is just another one of them! One would find this hidden jewel on the KariKari Peninsula in the Northland region. The clear waters, smooth sand and quiet ambience of this beach makes it a perfect pick for spending a warm afternoon just swimming in the water or resting in the shadows.


19. Okiwi Bay:

This one’s a little different from the kind of beaches one is used to, but is equally fascinating. The Okiwi Bay replaces sand with pebbles, and this variation has made this a very popular destination among the locals, especially during the holiday season. Located in Marlborough, South Island, this beach offers kayaking to coastal cliffs, long walks along the Goat Hill Track, and a scenic drive to the French Pass - there is something for everyone.


20. Wharariki Beach:

We’ve introduced you to the most famous beach, the longest beach and many other record-holding beaches… How about we also tell you about one of the windiest beaches? The Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay, South Island, is one of the windiest beaches in the world, and naturally so, is more popular for its scenic beauty than for other activities. Its stunning scenery, coupled with rock formations, makes it a super hit spot among tourists and locals alike! One can reach this via a 20-minute farm track from the end of the Whatariki Road.

Still dreaming of soaking up the sun on the soft sand? Don’t wait for the next summer, or the next appraisal. Get in touch with Thomas Cook, and be sure to turn this dream into reality, ensuring the best experience for you.

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Snow Zealand

New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it welcomes shivers and down jackets from June to September, every year. During the winter season, several key areas in the country magnetize hordes of tourists to mountains lathered in snow. Much of New Zealand’s charm can be attributed to such beautiful precipitation. A few scattered gems around the country, as follow, best manifest this snowy time of year!

So where must you go? 

1. Central North Island

Beginning in the Central North Island, the Mt Ruapehu is the North Island’s highest peak. Its slopes catering to beginner, intermediate, and advanced level skiers provide a thrilling way to revel in the snow. If whizzing down mountain slopes isn’t your preferred source of enjoyment, indulge in the hot pools and waterfalls surrounding Mt Ruapehu’s slopes. These offer unforgettable views of its snow-capped glory.

The North Island provides limited opportunities to bask in chilly sheaths of snow, while the South Island is abounding in destinations that come alive during the winter season. 

2. South Island

Clark Glacier

Proceeding to the South Island Kaikoura, a short drive away from Christchurch, is home to the majestic Kaikoura Range. A unique gem of New Zealand, here, soaring snow-capped mountain ranges meet the waters of the Pacific. A walk along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway grants views of icy waters and blanketed peaks. Renowned for its whale watching opportunities, the winter season marks heavy migration traffic among several whale species and a consequent influx of travelers. Several whale watching tours are rendered more pleasant by a mesmerizing view of the eternal Kaikoura Range, pure and pristine. 

3. Tekapo & Mt. Cook National Park

Tekapo Canterbury

Down South, the Tekapo and Mt Cook National Park region symbolizes an unspoiled utopia, catering to all those wanting ti get closer to nature. The highlight of Tekapo, a small town enroute the Southern end of the island, is the Lake Tekapo. Its turquoise waters are an iconic image of New Zealand, adorned even further by the Southern Alps skirting its periphery. Meanwhile, the Mt Cook National Park, a short bus ride from Tekapo, is an area of absolute solace. The only modern development interfering with the natural landscape are three centers for accommodation – one hotel and two hostels – and the tourism center/museum. Several walking/hiking routes such as the Hooker Valley Trail, the Kia Point Trail, and the ultimate challenge, the Mueller Hut trek are testing yet rewarding ways to revel in the winter’s offerings. For a gentler taste of New Zealand’s natural beauty, a simple walk around the town or a variety of nature trails are at your disposal. No matter what you choose to do, the mighty Alps are in clear sight at all times, their immensity deeming all your worries negligible. 

4. Christchurch – Canterbury Region

Canterbury Plains

The Christchurch-Canterbury region on the east transforms into a winter wonderland. Extensive plains turn into the fetching Alps, which are in omnipresent. 

Methven, a quaint town an hour and a half away from Christchurch draws recreational skiers, snowboarders and Olympic athletes to its most prized possession – the eminent Mt Hutt Ski resort. Other ski resorts comprise the Porters Ski area, Hanmer springs Ski area, and the Broken River Ski Area. While in the main city of Christchurch, a plethora of cultural activities, relaxation spas, and outdoor trails provide equal opportunity to chill in the snowy climate. A short drive from Christchurch lies the Hakatere Conservation Park, best associated with Lord of the Rings. A bewitching landscape amidst an iconic scenery is made even charming as the area is blanketed by snowfall. Seek out Lake Heron, Lake Camp, or Lake Clearwater in the Park to witness the finest views of all. 

5. Queenstown & Wanaka

Further west, the remarkable Queenstown and Wanaka area flaunt The Remarkables range. Mountains with massive terrain painted in golden rays and idyllic snow sheets. The Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone – the country’s largest ski area - are popular spots for skiers, snowboarders, and winter lovers in general. Queenstown boasts a range of adrenaline spiking activities such as skydiving and bungee jumping accompanied by unimaginable views of the majestic Remarkables. Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu draws travelers in, to soak in its serenity whilst providing opportunities for kayaking and jet boat rides across the scenery. So impeccable that one can only marvel at the reality of Nature’s heavenly gifts. Meanwhile, Wanaka’s appeal lies in its local dining and wining outlets, relaxing water bound activities, and the one and only Lake Wanaka. The Lake featuring a lone tree, an icon of New Zealand’s identity is the perfect spot for a cup of hot coffee and meaningful conversations. On an inviting day, hike up Mount Roy in Wanaka or Mount Isthmus in Hawea – resting on the outskirts on Wanaka – for once in a lifetime sights of the lakes and Mount Aspiring. 

6. Central Otago

Lake Pukaki

Central Otago is a whole lot of sweet nothing. Miles and miles of plains, farmland, mountainous terrain, gravel road and grasslands dominate here. Cruising through Central Otago at a leisurely pace is an indispensable joy. The route traverses from Clyde/Alexandra to Omakau or Lauder to Idaburn. The 50km long Hawkdun Range marks the area’s appeal. Fairly flat and smooth, the row of ceaseless peaks make for ideal photography breaks en route. The St. Bathans Blue Lake in the neighbourhood is a glistening gem, while the road to Falls Dam marks a rugged journey culminating in hard-earned, sensational perspective of the Hawkdun range 

Best time to visit New Zealand to Experience Snow

June-October marks the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere. June signifies the “early-season” for skiers, as tourists begin to trickle in. At this time, the snowfall is restricted to a gentle drizzle and mountain peaks are just beginning to display the winter glory. 

July brings with its school holidays, booked-out ski resorts, populated hot pools and springs, and the thickest of down jackets. Precipitation alters between rain and snow and white blankets begin form on the expansive mountain terrain.  Around August, snow sheaths are ankle-high, perhaps knee-high in the mountains and snowstorms aren’t an anomaly. Come September, the blankets thin out, but yet retain their winter glory. The temperatures warm up and flowers bloom throughout the icy land. Snowfall is rarer, and sunny days frequent this charismatic land. 

Whether you crave the thrill of zipping down a mountain, learning the keen ways of snowboarders, hiking along demanding terrain, or simply, soaking in geothermal pools, New Zealand will not disappoint. 

It gratifies the excited, the calm, and the curious. It brings thrill, it renews vitality, and provokes utmost tranquility. All you need is an open mind, a welcoming heart and a sense of wanderlust to make yourself at home among these therapeutic snowy lands.

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Amazons Lord of The Rings is casting

A shout out to all the elves, dwarves and wizards of the world. Brace yourselves, a whole new expedition is about to unravel. Trolls, orcs and wargs, beware, the hobbits are back! The portal to Middle-earth is opening once again with Amazon Studio’s fabulous new prequel series set off in The Second Age, some thousands of years before the exciting events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit transpired. The first season is reported to release in the year 2021, with a confirmed primary cast already revealed.

Where will it be shot, might you think? The answer is quite simple. Awe-inspiring New Zealand, of course. Remember when the tumbling hills of Matamata swiftly transformed into paradisiacal Hobbiton, while the volcanic plains of Mt Ruapehu shapeshifted into the fiery pits of Mt. Doom (from where Sauron forged The Ring)? Queenstown, New Zealand's playground of adventure, was the backdrop for several shots, including ones that hero Eregion Hills and the Pillars of Argonath. And now, the spellbinding nation gears up for yet another series, jumping out of J. R. R. Tolkien’s vast, varied and vivacious imagination. 

The question arises, are you ready to travel to a world where your favourite characters walk and talk? Are you up for the challenge of starring in one of the episodes as an extra? Are you inspired enough to experience the wonders of Sir Peter Jackson’s genius for yourself? If yes, embark on a bold, fearless journey across New Zealand’s stunning North Island and South Island. Discover, learn, demystify and play. The enchantment of the Lord of the Rings will 

forevermore stay. All you must do is conquer the way. And who knows, maybe you’ll blaze the trail?

Take a look at Thomas Cook’s list of the best Lord of the Rings filming locations for you to visit! 


North Island Locations:

Matamata:

Welcome to the Shire, home of courageous and fastidious Bilbo Baggins and fellow happy hobbits – an imaginary race of tiny humans with abnormally hairy feet. Nestled in the heart of Waikato town in the Matamata region of North Island, New Zealand, is a place that encapsulates the essence of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth near perfectly. Here, lush green farmlands and hillocks take on a whole new meaning of ethereal. Crystal blue lakes sit alongside majestic pine trees, a backdrop that seems fitting for an evening of Gandalf the wizard’s spectacular fireworks. And that’s precisely why a world-wide search to find a place that best fit the author’s vivid descriptions led to the discovery of this quaint, picturesque hamlet, formerly known as Alexander sheep farm and now celebrated as Hobbiton. LOTR fans, here’s your chance to live, breathe and feel the magic that lingers thick in the air, like billows of smoke from a hobbit’s pipe… Tour the 12-acre movie set that takes you inside hobbit holes, the Mill, the glow worm caves and finally, Green Dragon Inn for a share of sumptuous delicacies inspired by this magnificent realm.

Wellington:

You are now delving deeper into the extravagant LOTR universe, time travelling through some of the most iconic moments in literary and cinematic history. Trek to the forested area of mighty Mount Victoria, aka Hobbiton Woods, where Frodo and friends sought shelter from the malicious black riders. Remember those dark, impenetrable hoods? Immerse yourself in the dreamy landscapes of Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park that became Rivendell - the Kingdom of the Elves. It was here that Elrond magically healed Frodo from his knife wound. Drive up the west coast to Queen Elizabeth Park, near Paraparaumu, and you’ll be presented with the ground upon which part of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was held. Finally, make strides over the hills to the Wairarapa region that meanders to the eerie Putangirua Pinnacles, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli pursued the Paths of the Dead. 


South Island Locations:

Nelson Tasman:

J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy universe is built upon the premise of the infamous gold ring (moulded by Dark Lord Sauron) that holds the power to rule all things. One can’t imagine watching the series without gawking at the perfectly rounded, gleaming accessory and mimicking Smeagol’s “my precious…!” Did you know that Nelson Tasman happens to be home to the talented goldsmith who fashioned the ring for the big screen? In-fact, 40 different rings were used in production, one of which happens to be on display. Middle-earth nerds, go gung-ho and buy your very own copies in 9 and 18ct gold! Once you’ve got your gold fix and harnessed its charm, take a helicopter ride and feast on panoramic views of Dimrill Dale - a valley lying east of the Misty Mountains, below Redhorn, Silvertine and Cloudyhead peaks… (Tolkien’s very own geography)

Canterbury:

The mystical Kingdom of Rohan, sits north-west of its ally Gondor and further north-west of the evil Mordor – the realm of the Dark Lord. The real-life manifestation of this alluring grassland is in Canterbury’s sheer sided hill, Mount Sunday, that sits huddled in the Ashburton District. Here’s your chance to wander the plains that were once featured on the silver screen. Although zilch remains of the set that took a staggering nine months to build, the location still exudes a deep mysticism and basks in magical properties. A true fan will enjoy exploring this site, after which Mount Potts Station offers solace in the form of comfortable bedding and hot grub.

Mackenzie Country:

Coming back to the gory carnage that was once the battle of the Pelennor Fields, crafty genius Peter Jackson shot this epic scene near Twizel, in the Mackenzie Country. It’s hard to forget the horrific image of hundreds of orcs clashing into the brave, heroic men of Gondor and Rohan. You can almost hear the war cries, amidst blazing turmoil, a scene that requires special effects and timely editing. Walk along the grassy fields that extend to the foothills of the princely mountains and you’ll find that the place looks exactly like what Tolkien described in the books. There’s nothing quite like living your favourite story-book chapters in, it’s a surreal experience. 

Southern Lakes:

Do you remember the opening sequence of Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers? It features the gorgeous north-western slopes of Mount Earnslaw, lingering over immense natural landscapes and topographies, a stunning look book into the fantastical world of Middle-earth… Head to the delightful village of Glenorchy. At the northern most end of its Lake Wakatipu, you will have access to a similar view. LOTR fans, you will be thrilled to know that you can discover and explore Lothlorien – the enchanting beech forest that pops up on the road to Paradise. Fancy a visit to the Pillar of Kings? Well, from Chad Farm Winery you can get a glimpse of where the computer generated Anduin and Argonath (monument) would have sat.

Fancy a duel in the mountains, with the elves as your comraderies? Or, perhaps a quest through the valleys and forests with the guidance of Gandalf, the wise? Or maybe, you simply wish to break bread and drink wine with Merry, Pippin and Samwise? With a vacation to New Zealand, your LOTR dreams will grow wings (to fly) and you could also be the lucky one to get cast on the Amazon series! Select from Thomas Cook’s New Zealand tour packages and let fantasy, adventure and drama unfold before your very eyes… 

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Traveling Safely

New Zealand is one of the most visited and welcoming tourist destinations in the world. It has created an efficient and a well-developed tourist infrastructure that rivals some of the best ones in the world. Like any other holiday destination, there are certain rules, written and implied, tha t need to be followed while you enjoy your holiday here. And like any other travel destination it does have its share of risks. But they’re of the common type and there are none that should deter your from visiting again.

As a traveller, it is your responsibility to treat your holiday destination with respect and you will find it returned in full measure. As far as New Zealand is considered, it is one of the safest travel destinations in the world for tourists. According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, New Zealand ranks as the 2nd safest country in the world. The country itself is a haven of peace and tranquillity interspersed with pockets of excitement in the form of adventure sports and other outdoor activities.

However, New Zealand will be as safe as your own conduct and the extent to which you follow the rules of the land. Let us take a look at all the safety aspects that you should consider while in New Zealand.


Keep yourself safe

Following the rules and a little common sense go a long way in keeping you safe anywhere in the world. Though the crime rate in New Zealand is one of the lowest in the world, petty theft and crimes of opportunity are always a possibility. Here are a few tips that will keep you safe in New Zealand.

  • Make copies of important documents like your visa, passport and return tickets and keep them in a separate location.
  • Make a list of all your electronics such as cameras and smartphones listing their details and serial numbers.
  • Always keep your hotel informed about your whereabouts.
  • Keep a printed list of important phone numbers like New Zealand’s emergency number (which is 111), your hotel’s contact number and the numbers of your country’s embassy, with you at all times.
  • When you’re out exploring glaciers or volcanoes, do not stray away from your guide.
  • Always follow the safety instructions issued by your guide and wear the recommended safety gear.
  • Avoid accepting lifts from strangers and do not hitchhike.
  • If you’re going hiking, do not go alone and take an experienced person/guide along.
  • Do not try to take a shortcut at unknown places and avoid going into dark areas, especially at night.
  • A taxi or a ride with a trusted person is the safest way to travel around the cities.
  • In a pub or a club, do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave your drinks unattended.
  • Always carry a basic first-aid kit for emergencies.


Secure your possessions

Waipoua Forest
Nothing spoils a vacation as quickly as the theft of your possessions. Here are a few simple measures to secure your possessions and ensure your peace of mind.

  • Never leave your valuables or important documents such as a passport or credit card in a parked car.
  • Also ensure that you do not leave any luggage, brochures and maps visible in a parked car. They’re obvious giveaways that you’re a tourist.
  • Do not leave your bags, backpacks, cameras and smartphones unattended in a public place.
  • When going out for an adventure activity, leave your valuables locked in your hotel room’s safe. If your room doesn’t have one, ask the reception about one.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery while sightseeing.
  • Always withdraw small amounts if you ever need to withdraw cash at an ATM. Make sure the ATM is located in a well-lit area.
  • If you’re camping overnight, do not carry unnecessary valuables with you.
  • Park your camper van only in designated areas such as a holiday park or a Department of Conservation’s camping ground.
  • In case any of your possession does get stolen or misplaced, notify the local police immediately and provide them with the details from the list you’ve prepared.


Road safety

Driving around New Zealand is an awesome way to explore the country. Not only can you do so at your pace, but you can easily explore the off-beat attractions that are well off the beaten track. Here are some tips that will keep you safe on New Zealand’s roads.

  • New Zealand drives on the left-hand side just like we do in India, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to drive.
  • You must always carry your valid driving license while driving. Keep your rental papers handy to present for inspection if asked.
  • Do not use a mobile phone while driving unless you’re dialling the emergency number 111. The police use a number of fixed and mobile cameras to catch offenders.
  • Traffic rules are rigorously enforced by the police, so stay within posted limit at all times.
  • It is compulsory for all the passengers to wear a seat belt along with the driver. Children under 7 years must be buckled into a child seat.
  • Driving under influence will invite a heavy fine, suspension of driving privileges and even jail time.
  • Drivers under 20 have a zero-alcohol limit. If you’re under 20 and are caught driving even after one drink, it will be considered driving under influence.
  • Get plenty of rest before embarking on a road trip, especially if it’s a long one. Avoid driving at night.


Stay safe outdoors

Maitamo Cave
The great outdoors of New Zealand are its biggest attractions. From river rafting to mountain climbing and diving to bungee jumping, you can have adventures galore in New Zealand. But misadventures have the tendency to hurt you if you’re not careful outdoors. Here are some tips that will keep you safe while you enjoy all the adventures New Zealand has to offer.

  • Make sure to protect yourself from the strong Kiwi sun with a good sunscreen and a cap or a hat.
  • Drink plenty of water and always have a bottle handy when outdoors.
  • Whenever you’re near the ocean or one of New Zealand’s beautiful lakes, always wear a life jacket.
  • The weather in New Zealand can change at the drop of a hat, so make sure you check the weather when you venture out for camping or trekking.
  • Make sure you have enough food and water to last you the entire trek or camping trip.
  • When you’re cycling or trekking along the trails, do not stray away from the marked trails. It is easy to get lost in the wilderness.
  • If you’re out swimming in the ocean, make sure that you stay well within the areas marked safe with flags.

New Zealand is one of those countries that won’t let you remain indoors for long. Its outdoors is meant to be explored and experienced first-hand. These are our tips to keep you safe in all situations while you’re holidaying in New Zealand. As long as you remain aware of your surroundings and follow these safety tips, you won’t be running into trouble anytime soon.

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Abel Tasman national park

When you picture New Zealand, you inadvertently end up picturing vast open landscapes and unspoiled scenery. So, it makes the most sense to fit experiences that can cater to this vision into your itinerary! If it’s tranquil afternoons and meditative walks that you want, you’re certainly going to get an abundance of them at the Abel Tasman National Park.

Named after a Dutch settler, Abel Tasman, who was one of the first to visit New Zealand, the park offers a stunning mix of tropical forests and white sandy beaches. Surround yourself with the finest of nature by visiting this gorgeous place.


Location:

Address: 1, Kaiteriteri-Sandy Bay Road, Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri, 7197

Tel: Free phone: 0800 ABEL TASMAN (0800 223 582), Phone: 03 528 2027

Hours: As you can stay in the lodges at this park, there are no set timings for you to worry about.

Timings: Abel Tasman National Park is open throughout the year, with lodging available in the park itself. Access to different sections of the park may vary based on weather conditions and the mating seasons of the animals. Other than this, visitors are allowed to explore the park at their leisure. 


Highlights:

  • The Abel Tasman Coastal Track offers a walk you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The track can take anywhere between 3-5 days to complete and is filled with wonderful sights. 
  • Sea kayaking is a very popular activity here, with travellers taking individual kayaks and getting acquainted with wild seals.
  • Stay at stunning beachfront lodges where you can enjoy lip-smacking meals and rest after a long day of exploring nature.
  • Witness a multitude of birds in the forest and beaches. 
  • Marvel at gorgeous waterfalls at Anchorage, Torrent Swing Bridge, Medlands/Bark Bay falls and other beautiful locations. 


Inclusions:

The Abel Tasman National Park offers a range of different packages for travellers from all walks of life. Thus, depending on the package that you pick, you can enjoy a Kayak and Walk trip for 3-5 days, 3 Day Guided walks, Self-guided Walks, and trips that include cruises. There are also a few packages available that allow you to experience walking, kayaking and cycling across this gorgeous park. 

Price:

As there are a ton of packages that you can choose from, you’ll find that the tariffs to stay may vary. For instance, prices for the trio package (which includes kayaking, cycling, and walking) start from $ 2115. On the other hand, most single day trip packages, such as the Vista Cruise and Cruise and Walk packages start from $65 – 76, and move upwards based on the timings and inclusions.

Kayaking packages start from $ 90 and can go up to $ 175, while packages that include both, Kayaking and Walking start from $ 145 and go up to $ 175. Finally, beach stop packages can range from $ 64 to $ 86.

You must also factor in the cost of getting a water taxi while planning your trip. If you’re getting a water taxi to facilitate a single day trip, you may have to pay around $ 37 for a one-way trip. On the other hand, hiring a private water taxi to get around the park as per your own convenience can cost you around $ 250.


Recommended For:

Tranquil walks that make you feel as though you’re one with nature, lavish beachside cottages, scenic journeys on the sea, and wildlife. 


How to reach Abel Tasman National Park

The closest city to the Abel Tasman National Park is Nelson and the drive from here can take around 1.15 hours. Nelson has its own international airport and you can find flights from India that head to this city. Major airlines like Cathay and Singapore Airlines don't fly to this airport, however, you must keep in mind that you’ll experience at least two stopovers along the way – one in Hong Kong and one in Auckland. 

If you are travelling within New Zealand, you can drive down from multiple cities like Christchurch, Blenheim, Picton, Collingwood, Takaka, Westport, Richmond, Motueka, and, of course, Nelson. You’ll also find bus services that travel between these cities and the national park. 

Finally, you can also take a ferry from Wellington and enjoy sailing across deep blue waters and feeling the thrill of spotting your destination from the deck. 


About Abel Tasman National Park

As the Abel Tasman National Park has made quite the name for itself, you’ll be surprised to know that it is a family-run park. 8 generations of the Wilson family have dedicated their lives to ensuring the park remains self-sustainable and a safe haven for all the creatures that live in it. 


Lodges

If you’re planning to truly transport yourself to a simpler time, you must stay at the Meadowland Homestead, which is an exact replica of the home built by William Hart field in 1884. In fact, it even lies on the original site. The home has 13 rooms as well as a common drinking and dining area where you can socialise with other guests and enjoy expanding your circle of friends.

The Torrent Bay Lodge is another property in this national park that guests truly enjoy. With a blend of Kiwi and modern architecture, the lodge offers an aesthetic place for you to wake to the sounds of birds and water. Like the Meadowland Homestead, this lodge has 13 rooms and a common drinking and dining room.


Meals

Get acquainted with the concept of farm to table, as all meals offered at the Abel Tasman National Park are made with locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Begin your days with a hearty breakfast that keeps you full until you dig into the picnic meals prepared by top chefs at the park. You can also enjoy barbecued items, desserts, cheese boards, and customised menus and cater to all your cravings in a single day.


Interesting facts

  • 95% of the visitors don’t venture further than 50 meters into the forests, which means you can still boast of discovering areas no one knows about!
  • Abel Tasman, the park’s namesake, never actually set foot on this land!

Escape from the hassles of technology and hyper connectivity by heading to the Abel Tasman National Park and rediscovering what it means to be a citizen of the world. 

Heed the call of the wild. Check out our travel packages to New Zealand and plan the perfect trip! 

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Top 10 Cities

Long stretches of stunning beaches, sharp cerulean blue skies, mirrored lakes, glorious mountains and the ever-friendly New Zealanders form a big reason why people love to travel to this idyllic island nation in the Pacific Ocean. If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, then be prepared to unlearn everything you know about the world as you see it from close quarters here. Whether you’re here for a hair raising adventure or to simply enjoy a quiet and relaxing trip, sunning yourself on the beach, whether you’re here to rediscover yourself or to set forth on a new journey with your partner on your honeymoon, New Zealand is worth every bit the hype. 

What’s wonderful about the country is that the cities are a wonderful amalgamation of urban and natural bliss. It’s not very often that you will find yourself in a city where you can look up and see snow-capped mountains in the distance or go on a drive and come right up to a swirling blue beach. New Zealand is blessed by nature and those who live here are lucky enough to enjoy its bounties, endlessly. Meanwhile, if you decide to visit New Zealand, then here are the cities you must include in your list, just so you can partake of this bounty, albeit temporarily. 


1. Queenstown

There might be several divided opinions about which is the best city in New Zealand and while many come to mind, it’s a bit inevitable that this list begins with Queenstown. Queenstown is adorned by the Lake Wakatipu. The is description defying, as it’s that stunning. Also known as the adventure capital of the country, Queenstown is in South Island and has some breathtaking vistas along with adrenaline inducing activities that have made it a favourite among adventure seekers. Bungee jumping, rock climbing, canyoning, abseiling, white water rafting, paragliding, heli biking and skiing are just some of the fun activities you can do here. But if you are looking for saner pursuits, there’s enough here for even those with families. Simply soak in the beauty around you and you’ll wish you never had to leave.


2. Auckland

Located in New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland is one of the most populated cities in the country. Yet, there’s something very earthy and essential about the city too, that’s located around two large harbours. The Viaduct Harbour offers sights of superyachts and trendy bars and cafes, but Auckland is a treat for those who love the outdoors and adventure of the exotic kind. Auckland alone has around 48 volcanic cones, and these can be climbed for some of the most amazing views you’ll get to see. There are guided walks and the volcanoes have much cultural and spiritual importance for the Māori.  Auckland has a vibrant arts and culture scene but it’s the culinary space that gets most of the wows. The gastronomic experiences that you can enjoy here are delicious, whether you’re at a farmer’s market or at a fine dining restaurant. 


3. Christchurch

Christchurch City

Located on the East Coast of South Island, Christchurch is known for its quiet English beauty. Filled with several heritage spots to peruse, the city is famed for its street art scene. The Avon river in the middle of the city creates a natural landscape that’s altogether entirely breath taking. For those who want to explore South Island, Christchurch is a great place to begin and you can head to the Banks Peninsula or the Southern Alps or Canterbury Plains. Within the city itself, there are numerous places to see and explore and you can cycle along the banks of the Avon river. Try not to miss Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

 
4. Rotorua

Redwood Treewalk

Located in North Island, on Lake Rotorua, this town is famous for its bubbling mud pools, hot springs and the Pohutu Geyser that erupts several times in a day. Rotorua is the place to go if you want to have more than a glimpse of the fascinating Māori culture. There’s never a moment’s boredom here and it’s easy to feel like you have been transported into an alternate dimension. The forests are lush and almost magical. Soak in a natural stream and feel your tense body relax as the stress of every kind melts away. 


5. Dunedin

Hoopers InletDunedin is in South Island and is known for its Scottish heritage and awe-inspiring sights. Lush gardens, clean cycling trails and gorgeous heritage attractions such as gothic style architecture, museums and castles make this a fascinating city to visit in New Zealand. If you love wildlife, don’t miss seeing the little blue penguins and the endangered yellow-eyed penguins here. Dunedin’s beaches maybe perfect for water sports but do visit them at night for breath taking visuals of starry skies. Not too far from Dunedin, you can visit the lush Purakaunui Falls in the Caitlins.


6. Wellington

Kelburn Hill - Wellington

The capital of New Zealand is located in North Island and is a beautiful city offering the best experiences in every way possible. There’s culture, history, nature and remarkable cuisine here and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Visitors find themselves lounging in Oriental Bay or indulging in more enthusiastic activities such as mountain biking or seawater kayaking. The Te Papa Tongarewa museum is an excellent interactive museum where you can learn about New Zealand’s history and culture. For fans of Lord of the Rings, Wellington is where you can get into a Weta Cave and learn about the magic that went into making the movies. A cable car ride up to Kelburn offers some remarkable views of the city while connoisseurs of food and wine will find themselves more than adequately indulged here.

Weta Cave Museum


7. Napier

For a charming European experience and the chance to see so many Art Deco buildings, Napier is your best bet. This small city looks a bit like a 1930s film set and it’s easy to see why. The gorgeous old world buildings notwithstanding, this is a city that takes its food and wine very seriously. Every year in February, the city declares its affiliation and love for Art Deco by holding an Art Deco Festival where you’re surrounded by vintage cars, fashion and music of the 1930s. If you like quirky things, don’t miss out on the marvellous murals painted as part of the Sea Walls collection.


8. Whangarei

Whangarei is often called the City by the Sea. It’s the perfect blend of old and new with its colonial architecture as well as modern buildings, museums, galleries, cafes and restaurants. But what sets apart this North Island city is the glorious Whangarei Falls which is said to be the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand. Along with this, the city has several other natural wonders, beautiful beaches where people can relax or of course, the scenic Bay of Islands. 


9. Tauranga

Tauranga in the North Island is a surprisingly urban city set in the Bay of Plenty. This harbourside city is also known for its proximity to Mount Maunganui which is considered to be one of New Zealand’s most popular beach towns. The waterfront area has a distinctly chic vibe with its cafes, restaurants and pubs while fishing, sailing and diving are activities that are often in demand here. Not too far, there are the McLaren Falls and the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. 


10. New Plymouth

New Plymouth, located in the Taranaki region in North Island is gorgeous and with Mount Taranaki forming the stunning backdrop, it’s indeed one of the most memorable cities you will visit. There are beautiful parks here as well as some lovely art galleries and a thriving arts and culture scene. The Mt. Egmont National Park has some intriguing hiking trails and is popular among those who seek adventurous pursuits. The New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a 13km promenade where you can stroll along leisurely, taking in the stunning sights, and popping into one of the many cafes or restaurants to replenish yourself. 

Some of the other places in New Zealand that are wonderful and should be visited include Hamilton which is famed for its Hamilton Gardens, Nelson which features lovely beaches, lakes and awe-inducing mountains, Raglan which is a laidback beach town, Mangawhai with its peaceful Pacific beaches and Kaikoura, where you can spot dolphins, seals and whales with ease. New Zealand’s enduring charm lies in its perfect integration of urban ease and luxury with culture and support for its indigenous Māori people. 

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Top 25 tourism Attraction

25 Must - Visit New Zealand Tourist Attractions To Visit In 2020

New Zealand needs no introduction. This is the place to go to if you are attracted to unspoiled natural landscapes and stunning man-made landmarks. Add a heady mix of epic adventures and you’ve got yourself a holiday destination unlike any other. But the sheer array of possibilities in New Zealand makes it difficult to create the perfect itinerary. How do you choose?  Here is our list of the country’s top 25 must-visit attractions for 2020.

#1 Franz Josef Glacier

Glacier hiking is a thing, and it is quite possibly one of the things you can do in New Zealand. Swing your pickaxe at Franz Josef, one of the country’s best-known and steepest glaciers. Another equally famous glacier is the Fox Glacier, which might not be as steep but is definitely the longest and the fastest moving.

#2 Tunnel Beach

If you’re in Dunedin and looking for a quiet getaway with someone special, then you can simply walk down to this hidden treasure. Tunnel Beach is known for its secluded coastlines and deeply exciting tunnels. The rock formations are incredible too.

#3 Hamilton Gardens

Don’t go to Hamilton Gardens expecting a beautiful landscaped garden. It is more, much more than that. This 54-hectare lush green park combines the beauty of 21 gardens, each of which has incorporated the art and traditions of different civilisations into its layout and design. Walk through the garden and spot cultures from Māori, Europe and Southeast Asia too.

#4 Hot Water Beach

 

Hot water Beach

Yes, Coromandel Peninsula’s scenic Cathedral Cove gets plenty of attention from tourists and locals alike, but don’t ignore Hot Water Beach. This local treasure, with its golden sands and bubbling hot waters, is also worth checking out. Bring along a shovel to the beach so you can dig yourself your private little thermal mineral water spring.

#5 Wai-O-Tapu

A land of seismic activity, New Zealand has several geothermal treasures and the best ones can be found at Rotorua. The most famous of them all is the iconic Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland with its majestic forces of nature and coloured thermal waters. There are many other spouting geysers, mud pools and volcanic lakes for you to discover.

#6 Mount Maunganui

Some of New Zealand’s most popular beaches are located here. If you are passing through the Bay of Plenty region, do keep aside some time for this place. You can walk up the mountain top for stunning panoramic views of the Tauranga Harbour.

#7 Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

New Zealand is famous for its vineyards and you are just a ferry ride away from downtown Auckland if you wish to enjoy a glass or two. The island is also quite popular for its beaches and lush forests that border its shores. You can plan a day trip to the island and try out all the activities that it has to offer.

#8 Sky Tower

Step back into the modern world at the Sky Tower. A landmark monument, this is the place to be in to enjoy fine dining with your special someone while also feasting your eyes on remarkable views of the Hauraki Gulf.

#9 Abel Tasman National Park

This is the first choice of those looking to spend time in the great outdoors and go hiking. The iconic Abel Tasman Coast Track (one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks) can be found here. Besides trekking and hiking, you can also go kayaking in the stunning blue waters and the surrounding coves. Who knows, you might be joined by dolphins that will come over and swim next to you.

#10 Lake Wakatipu

One of the biggest natural attractions in Queenstown is a sparkling blue glacial lake that can be said to envelop New Zealand’s most popular tourist town. Lake Wakatipu is a popular destination for walking, cycling or having a day picnic as well.

#11 Cape Palliser

One of the best coastal destinations near Wellington, it is just right for wildlife lovers. The area is covered with massive seals that lounge all around Cape Palliser’s rocky beaches. If you’re a little energised, take a hike up the stone steps that lead to the lighthouse. We guarantee the breath-taking views will last you a lifetime.

#12 The Bay of Islands

Just three hours from Auckland is the absolutely gorgeous Bay of Islands. Head over to walk along twisting trails, discover secluded coves, and be amazed by the amazing rock formations that cover this region. There is an abundance of marine life and you can spend hours simply watching life under water. Don’t forget to visit Cape Brett, the Poor Knights Islands and the towns of Paihia and Russell.

#13 Lake Taupo

The country’s largest lake is in the middle of the North Island. A prominent gem, it is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts and adventurous travellers. If you like thrills, do try the lake’s water-touch bungee jump. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

#14 Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua

New Zealand is known for its fantastic road trips, one of which is the Northland’s Twin Coast Highway. Don’t take our word for it; do it for yourself. Drive along a seemingly-endless line of stunning beaches and harbours, before you arrive at Cape Reinga. Stop and take in the magical sight of swirling waters where two oceans meet.

#15 Tongariro Alpine Crossing 

Want to go on the world’s best day hikes? Make the Lord of the Rings journey up and over two active volcanoes and you will be greeted by a few surreal sights, like a bright red crater, emerald lakes and steamy fumeroles.

#16 Hobbiton Movie Set

Lord of the Rings fans cannot miss this Tolkein-esque experience. Barely at a distance of an hour is where middle-earth comes to life. The Hobbiton movie set has retained the original hobbit holes and several film sites that you can view from up close. It’s the perfect spot for that perfect holiday photograph.

#17 Hokitika Gorge

As a special treat for staying with us this far, we’ll like to tell you about Hokitika Gorge. Located in the west coast region of South Island, what makes this gorge special is the turquoise waters that you will not see anywhere else. Walk around and be mesmerised by the breath-taking glacial waters, rock pillars and plankton that abound here.

#18 Cruise the Hauraki Gulf

Leave land behind and head into the Hauraki Gulf. From these beautiful sparkling waters, you can get stunning views of Auckland city, views that are unlike any other. Sail, kayak or cruise around the many easy-to-reach islands, including the iconic Rangitoto volcano, the Tiritiri Matangi bird sanctuary and even Waiheke Island for some fine wine and dining.

#19 Te Papa Tongarewa

When you’re in Wellington don’t forget to visit the Te Papa Museum. It is replete with artefacts and gives you a glimpse into the history of the local populace, the Māori culture and many other important aspects of New Zealand society since time immemorial.

#20 Marlborough

As you move down towards the tip of the South Island, you’ll enter the Marlborough region. There is so much to enjoy here. It is home to New Zealand’s largest vineyards and wineries, and the stunning river-drowned valleys that make up the iconic Marlborough Sounds. Sit back with a glass or wine or get on to the Queen Charlotte Track and go hiking and cycling.

#21 Tiritiri Matangi Island

Your visit to Tiritiri Matangi Island located on New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf will take you to an incredible wildlife sanctuary that’s home to various native and coastal birds. On this predator-free island, several threatened and endangered species have been introduced and protected from extinction.

#22 Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves are known the world over for the native glow worms that light up the subterranean limestone walls with a magnificent glow. People travel from all over to get a glimpse of this sight. Take a leisurely underground tour to enjoy this natural luminescent show at your pace. If you wish, you can also pick something more adventurous such as caving, hiking or even rafting.

#23 Auckland’s West Coast

The wild west of Auckland is a world of fantastic beaches, legendary surf, rugged rock forms and typical Kiwi beach culture. If you feel the pull of the water, jump right in. Or you can head into the forests and trek deep into the jungles to catch a glimpse of some wildlife. Or do what holidays are perfect for – lie back and relax.

#24 Whakaari/White Island

New Zealand’s most active volcano is a crater-shaped island that steams nonstop. Nothing can prepare you for its power. Continuously bubbling mud, egg-yellow sulphur deposits, roaring vents spouting eye-watering gases and a lake of steaming acid. 

#25 Southern Alps

The Southern Alps is the highest mountain range in all of Australasia and covers almost the entire length of the South Island. This is where more popular mountains such as Aoraki/Mount Cook, Mount Tutoko and Mt Aspiring reside. Glacial lakes and forested wonders complete the experience.

Where are you going to start first? Let’s start packing.

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Top 10 Skydiving

10 Best Places for Skydiving in New Zealand

One moment is all it takes to step off from a plane and hurtle thousands of feet down, with the wind rushing past your ears and the sight of mountains and lakes sending you on an adrenaline buzz like never before. New Zealand is renowned the world over for its reputation as an adventure sports playground, one which most people can’t seem to get enough of. But skydiving in particular is one of the most thrilling things that you can do ever. The sort of rush that you get from doing this as you drop down rapidly, wind beating around you is something that can never be replicated. 

What’s even more wonderful about skydiving in New Zealand are the gorgeous landscapes that you get to do it in. Once your parachute has opened and you float down gently and slowly, you can take in these beautiful surroundings and store them in your memories as one of the most stunning moments of your life. Since skydiving is so popular in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to know which kind of skydiving would be best for you.


Different types of skydiving

Queenstown Skydiving

  • Tandem Skydiving – Recommended for beginners although some experienced divers too don’t mind trying it. In tandem skydiving, the instructor is strapped on to your back to ensure that your experience is perfect and safe. They will manoeuvre you from the moment you jump off the plane and pull the ripcord to open the parachute to the moment you land. 
  • Static Line Skydiving – In this, you’re alone but a static line attaches you to the aircraft. As you dive, there’s just a few short moments of freefall before the main parachute opens up. This is usually preferred if you want to try jumping solo and you haven’t done skydiving before.
  • Accelerated Freefall Skydiving – This is only recommended for pros and involves the diver jumping off a plane along with two instructors. These instructors ensure that the harness is gripped firmly, and they also ensure that you continue to remain stable as they instruct you with hand signals. The freefall lasts for around 50 seconds. 

 

Ten places to go skydiving in New Zealand

1. Auckland

Auckland has often been referred to as the adventure capital of the world and it wears this moniker with pride. The experience and adrenaline rush as you hurtle towards the ground at a speed that’s faster than 200kmh is something that cannot be put into words. The freefall is from 16000 feet and more and as you rush past scudding clouds, the feeling of intense exhilaration is completely natural. 

2. Queenstown

Queenstown Skydiving

Tandem skydiving is said to have originated here and Queensland is one of the best places for skydiving in New Zealand. You get to jump from 15000 feet but once your parachute has opened, you will be able to see some stunning views of snowy mountains in the distance. Since Queenstown has some stunning locales, you can be sure that your descent will be most scenic. During winter, you’ll get to see the swirling icy blue ocean but at other times of the year, you’ll see lush green hills and a sparkling blue sea. 

3.Abel Tasman

The Abel Tasman National Park is one of the popular places to go skydiving in New Zealand. Located in Central Motueka, you’ll find yourself looking at the iridescent blue of the ocean and the numerous mountain ranges that populate the park. It’s no wonder that this is a much sought-after skydiving location in New Zealand. 

4. Fox Glacier

Imagine skydiving with the backdrop of a glacier? How much more exciting can skydiving possibly get? At Fox Glacier, there are no limits. It’s one of the most amazing spots you can go skydiving in New Zealand and it’s no wonder why. After all, where else can you get to see rainforests and snowfields and the bluest of oceans? Don’t worry if you’re thinking this is all too fantastical to be true. This thought is only natural for every person who hurtles down thousands of feet from here.

5. Bay of Islands

For adventure enthusiasts, this is one skydive that has probably been on their bucket list for the longest while. The jump takes place from 16500 feet and it’s said to be the highest recorded jump in North Island. What’s even more stunning is the sight of 144 islands that appear like specks in the bay as you take your jump. 

6. Glenorchy

Glenorchy is a small village that has gained international fame because it has appeared in several renowned movies. It’s a popular skydiving spot because of the perfect views of forests and mountains that it offers. Some of the skydiving sessions are done in the locations where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were set, and this certainly adds a tantalising element to your skydive.

7. Franz Josef

Not only is this said to be the highest skydive in New Zealand, it’s also extremely scenic. The Franz Josef glacier lies below and above, as you soar through the sky and take in the dramatic views of the ocean, rivers and mountains. Some of New Zealand’s highest mountains can be seen here. Skydiving here is very popular and comes highly recommended because the freefall is nearly 90 seconds long. 

8. Rotorua

Rotorua is known for its geysers and hot springs, but did you know that skydiving here is also recommended because it’s extremely exhilarating? After all, the view from 15000 feet will change the way you view this iconic New Zealand spot. The sight of the valleys and geysers just add to the thrill of shooting down like a star. 

9. Lake Wanaka

The wonderful thing about skydiving in New Zealand is that it’s not just about the adrenaline rush. The country is so beautiful with many natural wonders that you can enjoy all these glorious sights as you freefall from the plane. In Lake Wanaka, the views are simply stunning. Sights such as Aspiring National Park rainforest, Mount Cook and Lake Wanaka add to the thrill of this skydive. 

10. Taupo 

Lake Taupo Skydiving

Lake Taupo is huge and one of the most popular spots for skydiving. All around you, there are gorgeous mountains like Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu and below you, the shimmering surface of the lake. With dense white clouds floating around you as you rush past them and the parachute opens up, you’ll feel the thrill of the moment, down to your very toes. Many people come here for their first tandem skydives as the picturesque location helps them get over and conquer their fears eventually. It does help to have a trained skydiver with you who will direct you safely to the ground. 


Some important things to remember

  • Ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing that’s loose but sturdy. 
  • Don’t wear flip-flops. It’s best to wear proper fitted shoes.
  • Your goggles should be sturdy. 
  • Take safety seriously and double-check your harness.
  • Take lots of deep breaths to calm your mind.
  • Make sure you stick to the weight limit as it matters greatly. 
  • It’s avoidable to go skydiving during winter because the weather will be freezing, and you will not be able to enjoy anything. 

Skydiving is one of the craziest and yet extremely thrilling activities that you can do and if you can get to do it in New Zealand, then it’s worth every dollar!

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Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton movie set

“The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and there the king once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards and woods”
 - J.R.R Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)

These were the words (among others) that Sir Peter Jackson, and his team, lived by when searching for the iconic hills and lush green lands of the Shire – home of the hobbits and where this epic tale began. An aerial sweep of New Zealand’s most green areas revealed a stunning 1,250-acre sheep’s farm located in the heart of Waikato. That’s when they realised, they had found the hobbit’s home. 

If you’re an ardent fan of the books or the movies (or both), the Hobbiton Movie Set should be a priority when you visit New Zealand. This is one of the most visited sites in the country. You can stop by the Green Dragon Inn for ginger beer, apple cider or ale. You can discover hidden titbits about the making of the movies, via the guided tours. You can eat dinner like a hobbit and see the Shire by moonlight. Furthermore, every spot on this set is worthy of an Instagram picture or story. So, this year, why not travel to Middle Earth and visit one of literature and film’s most iconic locations?


The land of fact and fantasy:

Hobbiton

Hobbiton took months to make, once the location was decided. At one end of the secluded farm, is a towering pine tree, spreading its branches over a lake, adjacent to a hill. Today, Bag End (home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins) is situated at the top of the hill. The surrounding areas were (and continue to be) green and lush. Like the land had stepped away from the 20th century, making it a perfect location for this fantasy movie trilogy. Starting March 1999, the crew of the movies embarked on a 9-month quest to bring Hobbiton to life. The New Zealand Army helped with construction, and very soon 39 temporary hobbit holes were built across the 12-acre plot used for the movie set. Filming started in December 1999 and was wrapped in 3 months. In 2009, Peter Jackson returned to film the Hobbit trilogy, and what was left behind is the gorgeous film set you see today. In 2012, the Green Dragon Inn was opened. That’s not all though. There’s a whole world of movie magic waiting for you at Hobbiton. So, let’s find out what you can do there.


Your journey begins at Hobbiton:

Hobbiton

What was once a movie set is now a thriving tourist attraction, with so much to do and see. You may feel a bit overwhelmed, so we’ve put together a quick guide to the Hobbiton attractions.

The Tours: The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: Step into a new world on this tour, as your guide escorts you around the movie set, pointing out the intricate work, the most famous locations and explaining how the movie was made. Make your way through the Hobbit holes, the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll receive a complimentary beverage to conclude your adventure. 

Timings Tours depart daily from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Durations 2.5 for the tour and meal combo
Price $84 (adults), $42 (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free
Price Post Feb 2020 89 (adults), $44, (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free


The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour + Meal:
Sample the Shire’s finest cooking at the delicious lunch buffet served at the Party Marquee. The garden and bar seating overlooks the movie set, giving you great view during your meal. The rest of the tour, will be with your guide, exploring the best of the movie set.

Timings Tours depart daily from 10:05 AM with lunch served at 11:35 AM. 12:05 departure with lunch at 1:35 PM and 1:25 departure with lunch at 2:25 PM.
Durations 2.5-3 hours approximately
Price $120 (adults), $78 (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are frees are free
Price Post Feb 2020 $125 (adults), $80, (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free


The Evening Banquet Tour:
The shire glows at dusk, making this the perfect time to experience this fantasy-based land. Your guide will lead you through this enchanting 12-acre plot, describing little anecdotes and sharing stories about the trilogies. The tour ends at The Green Dragon Inn, with a complimentary beverage, before guests are moved to the dining room for a bountiful banquet. Post-dinner, guests will join their guide for a walk through the wandering lanes of the Shire. Handheld lanterns will be provided to guests and the paths are lit, making the shire glow and gleam at night.   

Timings Check with the official website for availability
Duration 4 hours approximately
Price $195 (adults), $152 (9-16 years), $104 (5-8 years) and for children under the age 4 the tickets are free.
Price Post Feb 2020 $199 (adults), $162, (9-16 years), $104 (5-8 years) and for children under the age 4 the tickets are free


Private Tours:
The Hobbiton Set also offers exclusive tours for groups or individuals. The tour starts with a drive through the set and the personal guide will escort you across the site, recounting incredible details of how the set was created. Visitors can also opt for a Festive Feast Lunch at the Party Marquee (catering must be booked in advance and additional costs may apply). 

Timings Check with the official website for availability
Duration 2 hours approximately
Price $750 for 4 guests, $84 for any additional adult (17+), $42 for additional guest (9-16 years), $0 for additional guest (child must be accompanied by adult)


All rates are in NZD and bookings for the tour must be done in advance.

Apart from the tours, Hobbiton offers unique experiences, like:

Events: Schedule a function, a corporate event, a birthday or even a wedding at the movie set!

The Inn: A meeting place for all the residents of Hobbiton, you can now enjoy traditional ales, a lovely apple cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer. Enjoy an incredible meal, while you sink into an armchair by the fire or in the Beer Garden overlooking the village.

The Shire’s Rest Cafe: Located in the heart of the Waikato countryside, this converted woolshed offers delicious home cooked food, ranging from snacks, meals, craft beers and drinks in lush surroundings. 

The Shire Store: The Shire Store is where you can shop for souvenirs to remind you of this magical experience. Books, collectibles, exclusive branded clothing and more are yours for the purchasing. 


How to reach the Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton is located in Matamata – two hours from Auckland and an hour from Rotorua. You can choose to drive down on your own or opt for a guided tour shuttle. You also have the option of catching a bus from Auckland for NZ$ 50-60, however, bear in mind that the trip will take approximately three and a half hours.

Now that you know the magic that awaits you at the Hobbiton Movie Set, how quickly will you book your tour or your trip to New Zealand. At Thomas Cook, we’re experts at getting you where you want to be. Our New Zealand Holiday Packages are crafted to include the best of this incredible country, including a visit to Hobbiton. Visit our website, and kickstart your quest today!

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30 Top Things To Do

30 + Things to Do in New Zealand

New Zealand is the land of magic- there is magic in its seas, in hills and all trails and hikes. There is something to do for everyone- for a child, for a travel-enthusiast, for a nature-lover, for a couple on their honeymoon, or for a family looking to spend some quality time with each other. We believe its nearly impossible to list down all the things that one can see in New Zealand. But we also believe that there are certain things that just absolutely cannot be missed!

Here’s a list of 30+ things you can do in New Zealand-

1. Trek to a Volcanic Island

How many countries will offer you the chance to climb to a volcanic island?

New Zealand is home to Rangitoto Island, which also happens to be the country’s youngest island (at only 600 years old!). Save for the native bird families that you would spot here; this island is largely uninhabited. The peace, quiet, and the mesmerizing view over the Auckland islands is the reason so many tourists choose to take up the trek to the island. 

2. Dune Boarding at 90-Mile Beach

This is one of those activities that everyone must engage in, at least once in their life. The 90-Mile Beach offers a chance to boogie board down the dunes of pure white sand. Among other activities is surfing the left-hand breaks. 

Located at the northern tip of New Zealand’s north island, this 90-mile beach offers you uncountable miles and minutes of fun and adventure!

3. Sailing through the Bay of Islands

If you’re looking for something to ascertain your belief in the healing and rejuvenating power of nature, then sailing through the Bay of Islands is just what you need to do. From the face of it, Bay of Islands may seem like just a bunch of deserted islands and secluded beaches. But what it actually is, is a peace sanctuary where you can hire a boat, or a kayak, and become one with the never-ending clear blue waters.

4. See (and eat) the large colossal squid

Te Papa Museum in Wellington houses a 470-kg specimen of a colossal squid that was captured in the Antarctic waters in 2007. We insist you go check out the squid, not just because it really is something unique, but also because we want you to know what you’re signing up for when you visit Giapo (which you absolutely must!).

Giapo, an ice cream chain, known for creating the most unique ice creams in the world, have come up with the Colossal Squid ice cream, which is, literally, the squid ice cream. 

So, first, go see the squid at Wellington’s museum, and then go eat the squid at Auckland’s ice cream parlour!

5. Wine Tasting- can anyone really say no?

Each country has something that tourists remember it by. And New Zealand has many of these things- one of them is the wine. Would you really want to go around New Zealand without tasting its special wine? No, right? Then head to Waiheke Island, which is a day’s trip from Auckland City. It is super accessible by ferry and houses some super amazing award-winning vineyards.

6. Touring the Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is one of the most-visited places of New Zealand. Also called Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, this exquisite place is located on the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s isolated geographical location only adds to its surreal appeal. 

One of the best things about the Cathedral Cove is how one can reach the cove- one can take the route by the sea, through kayaking, or one can walk to the cove. Either way, one is amidst nature, with no noise or distractions. 

7. A Walk to Remember- to Auckland’s Highest Volcanic Cone

A short, but steep walk up the Mount Eden (in Auckland) will land you at the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone. If you don’t mind the slightly strenuous walk, you must make this trek to enjoy the almost sacred view of the entire Auckland city. 

8. Diy Spa at Hot Water Beach

We’ve said it before, and we will definitely say it again- New Zealand is awesome! Can you guess why? Well, entirely, and entirely because the country lets you create your own spa! 

The Hot Water Beach in Coromandel requires you to carry your own spade and dig up your own hot water pool, provided you reach there before or after two hours of the high hide.

9. Re Re Rock!

For long, Gisbornites were attracted to the Re Re Rock Slide. Families would flock to this remotely located Rock Slide with props to make this 200-metre slippery ride a smooth one. Body boats, lilos and the like were the favourites. A recent drone video shot in the area caused an internet sensation- the little-known Gisborne attraction grabbed the limelight. For those seeking adventure and thrill in New Zealand, this undoubtedly is one among the hot favourites. 

10. Explore the Maori Culture: 

Can you really say you’ve visited a country without exploring its culture like the locals?

For those wanting to immerse into the indigenous culture of New Zealand there are numerous attractions/options. Tasting a Hangi, seeing how powerful a Haka is, spending the night in a Marae, learning about Maori heritage at Te Papa, getting a green stone carved in Hokitika- are to name a few. For sure one finds oneself filled with an awe for the land and its people whichever way one chooses to learn about New Zealand's past.

11. Paddle your way to the Maori Rock Carvings

 For a little history and much fascination, visit the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings. You can reach the caves by navigating through the calm waters of Lake Taupo and will not regret doing so once you set your eyes on these carvings.

12. Glow-in-the-dark has reached another level!

The Waitomo caves are famous not just in New Zealand but all over the world for the flow worms that inhabit the caves. The Arachnocampa luminosa (the species of glow worms) are found elsewhere in the country, too, but the Waitomo caves are the most easily accessible to visitors.

13. Watch the Kiwis:

If you’re not too keen on visiting wildlife sanctuaries or zoos, you can wander around the nature trails, forest walks and hikes to spot the much-loved kiwis.

14. Kaikoura’s humpback whales:

This is one activity enjoyed and cherished by tourist groups of all ages and demographics. Through the rich waters of the Kaikoura Canyon, one will find humpback whales on their migratory route from Antarctica. If you’re lucky, you may spot pods of orcas, too.

15. Beach Hopping in Abel Tasman National Park:

Endless clear, blue waters merging with the yellow and orange shades of the sky- this is exactly what the pristine coastline of New Zealand has to offer to you. The Abel Tasman National Park located at the tip of New Zealand’s South Island, has a group of beaches for everyone to explore and relax at. In fact, it has just so much to see that it would actually take you around five days to explore the entire coastal track of the park. Boat tours and kayak rides are very frequent sights in the area.

16. White River Rafting or Jet Boating- which one would you choose?

The Waiau Uwha river, near Hanmer Springs town, is known as the spot of adventures. You can choose the more conventional, family-friendly jet boat ride, or can opt the less-chosen but more thrilling white-water rafting. Both choices, nonetheless, will leave you asking for more, for they’re both experiences to remember. The icing on the cake are the expert drivers and very conversational guides.

17. Uncovering the Castle Hill:

Castle Hill, near Christchurch, gives tourists the option to make their own track to make it to the ethereal hill. Surrounding you will be lush greenery- nature in its true element. It’s a perfect spot to spend a few hours with nature, or with your loved ones, just walking around and enjoying the marvel that surrounds you.

18. The Inviting Moeraki Boulders:

When in the South Island, you cannot possibly leave without visiting the Moeraki Boulders. These boulders have a mysterious but fascinating vibe about them, and hence, attract almost all visitors’ attention. During low tides, its possible to climb up and sit over the boulders. During high tides, though, you can only see fleeting glimpses of these boulders from amidst the waves of the sea.

19. Would you, maybe, wanna swim with the smallest dolphins?

New Zealand is the parent country of Hector’s Dolphins- a (now endangered) dolphin species. Conservators have created a marine reserve at the mouth of the Akaroa Harbour. This safe haven is probably the best and the most convenient place for all tourists to look at and play with Hector’s dolphins.

20. The penguins await you!

Dunedin is home to Little Blue Penguins- the world’s smallest penguins. There are routine tours organized to watch these cute penguins. It’s not just tiny penguins that one can spot, but also the albatross for Dunedin is the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross!

We’re still wondering just how and when one can have enough of it.

21. Catch a breadth at the Catlins:

The entire point of a vacation is to unwind, to rejuvenate. What better way, and which better place to do it at, other than Catlins- past the majestic waterfalls. This is absolute heaven for all nature lovers. 

Some even call it the South Island’s version of Cathedral Caves.

22. Visit New Zealand’s Castle

Located on the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin’s Larnach Castle is the New Zealand’s Castle and one of the oldest buildings in the country. The castle, though famous as a venue for weddings and balls, is open year-round for tourists. If one wants a complete hands-on experience, they can also choose to spend a night or two in the castle. 

23. See the serene Southern Lights:

We’re sure you have heard about the Northern Lights. But, are you ready to see the Southern Lights? Well, New Zealand offers an amazing view of the Southern Lights- away from the hustle-bustle of major cities. There are increasing chances of spotting the southern Lights in remote locations like the Catlins, Steward Island and around Lake Tekapo.

24. Doubtful Sound- heard of it before?

Doubtful Sound is the one place where sound really is doubtful… which means that this is the place where you will find real solitude. This place is not very accessible- this makes it an even bigger advantage for people who just want some quiet time with nature. Spending time in this spot is an experience straight from a fairytale- impressive waterfalls, birdsongs and fresh greenery. 

25. Are you up for New Zealand’s Highest Bungy Jump?

The Nevis Bungy Jump is the most terrifying bungy jump of New Zealand, and for good reason. This jump requires a cable car ride to position the participant in the middle of the Nevis Valley in Queenstown. Once positioned, the participant then is dropped down through 134 metres into the Nevis River.

26. Walk through the Milford Track:

The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s greatest walking tracks. It was once called the ‘finest walk in the world’. This hike is not an easy one but is definitely worth it. The 53.3 km track takes around four days to complete, during which you will cover Fiordland National Park, Lake Te Anau and Sandfly Point. To avoid overcrowding and to make this experience memorable for all, the walker numbers are restricted.

27. Gold-hunting in Arrowtown:

Yes, it is completely okay to be excited and shocked at the subtitle. Arrowtown has a rich history- at one time, the area used to be flooded with miners looking to make their fortune. Now, though, Arrowtown has been replaced a different kind of gold fortune- the leaves of the trees in and around this town turn every shade of yellow and orange- creating a golden landscape of their own. If anything, this is the kind of fortune everyone must experience once in their life. 

28. Wanaka Tree!!

Is it possible for a tree to go upright in the middle of a lake? Why don’t you go take a look on your own while we try to figure out how this is even possible? The Wanaka Tree is located in the western corner of the Wanaka waterfront. While it may not have a rich history behind it, it surely is one of its kind and makes for great Instagram posts!

29. Walk the (iconic) track:

We call the walk through the Roys Peak ‘iconic’ simply because this trail has become such a sensation on the internet. Everyone likes what’s visually appealing, and this trail is definitely much more than that! This walk starts near Wanaka and takes one through 1500 metres of breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka, bays and mountains.

30. Glacier Hiking… Say what?!

While New Zealand is home to several glaciers, the two most famous ones are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier near the West Coast of the South Island. Recent reports suggest that the rapid deterioration (yes, we feel your disappointment) has led to the closure of the hiking track. But, worry not- you can take a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier and walk on the giant iceberg! Now, that’s something to tell your grandchildren, yeah?

31. The Marvels of Mount Cook:

We’ve talked about so many spectacles of the Kiwi country. But, the one we’re going to tell you about now is certainly going to leave your jaw hanging when you see it. Mount Cook, or Aoraki as it is called in Maori, will leave you speechless and astounded with its snow-dusted peaks. This is New Zealand’s highest mountain and is surrounded by the Mount Cook National Park. There are also several short hikes for you to explore the area around and to bathe in the beauty of the forest.

32. Hop into Hobbiton:

Hobbiton is perhaps the most unique activity one could find in New Zealand! For all of you who are scratching your heads and wondering about what we’re actually talking about, Hobbiton is the real-life movie set that was featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie series. You can relive your favourite movies again and observe and appreciate all the little details that led to the grand experience you cherished on the big screen. This is, perhaps, our biggest recommendation, for all its little details involved.

Hmmm, that was quite a list. Worried about how you will do all of this and more? Well, leave the planning to us. We, at Thomas Cook, only need to know where you wish to go and what you want to do, and we guarantee to give you an adventurous and organized vacation through the beaches, hills and forests of New Zealand!

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Glacier Walks Ice Climbing and Heli Walk

Glacier Walks, Ice Climbing & Heli Walk Guide for your Next New Zealand Trip

Picture this. You, being surrounded by walls of white ice, glaringly bright pathways, and splashes of blue water and sky. Stunning right? Glacier walks, considered hiking’s colder cousin, are one of the best ways to explore a side of nature that you don’t commonly come across. The thrill of completing these walks is unparalleled as it requires determination, physical strength, and an undying thirst for adventure.

Though you may not think it, New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to enjoy glacier walks, ice climbing, and heli walks. With each glacier offering unique views and a different experience altogether, it can certainly be a challenge to pick one over the other. 

Let’s take a look at the top spots in New Zealand for glacier walks and what they bring to the table:


Franz Josef Glacier:

The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most popular spots for glacier walks as it moves at an astounding speed of 4 meters a day. This means that most of the caves, pathways, tunnels, crevasses, and seracs look completely different in as little as two days. The glacier’s continual evolution is what attracts tourists again and again, as no two walks on this spot are ever the same. 

Address: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Fox Glacier:

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier, located close to a town with the same name, is another popular tourist hub in New Zealand when it comes to thrilling glacier walks and ice climbing. The glacier sprawls across 13 kilometers and plummets down a distance of 2,600 from the magnificent Southern Alps. As the glacier receives a minimum of 30 meters of snowfall annually, you’ll find compacted snow at its very top, with blue ice spread across the rest of its body. Like the Franz Josef Glacier, this is a fast-moving glacier and offers different views, caves, and crevasses each time you visit. 

Address:  Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 752 0763

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Tasman Glacier:

Tasman Glacier

Spread across a whopping 27 kms, the Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier you’ll find in New Zealand. Of the many tracks that are available to travellers, the Blue Lake track is the most famous as it takes you to a magnificent terminal lake called the Blue Lake. If you’re feeling brave enough, you can take a dip in this lake during the summer season. This, of course, won’t be possible in the winter as the lake tends to freeze over. The Ball Shelter Track is another popular one, taking tourists high enough to enjoy a stunning view of the glacier’s body and lakes. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier


Hooker Glacier:

Though not as expansive as its other counterparts, the Hooker Glacier is another well-known spot for mildly challenging walks. What makes this 11 km long glacier so popular is the fact that the track is perfect for beginners, but not so smooth that it becomes boring. Starting with an easy path, the track quickly becomes rockier as you cross the first bridge. As you reach the second swing bridge, you get to see the glacier in all its glory. There are three huts scattered along the glacier that mark your progress: Hooker Hut, Gardiner Hut and the Empress Hut. Though a relatively shorter path when compared with the other glaciers, this one is incredibly enjoyable. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +6434351186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Mueller Glacier:

If you’re looking for an advanced tramping track but aren’t too keen on trudging through ice and snow, the Mueller Hut track is just the ideal one for you. Located on the Seally range, this route takes you 11 kms up and down the same path on a mostly alpine track. You will get to climb an elevation of 1000 meters on what is vastly a steep path that requires a fair amount of technical climbing knowledge. At the top of the path, you’ll find the Mueller Hut, which has 28 bunk beds, provisions for cooking, mattresses, toilets, lighting and water. Staying here overnight is a wonderful experience that makes you feel like a true adventurist! Just imagine walking up to views of a beautiful glacier. 

Do keep in mind that the best time to visit this is between December and April. After this, the path is entirely covered with snow and is quite hard to climb. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

Murchison Glacier:

Located east of the huge Tasman Glacier, the Murchison Glacier boasts of being the second largest one in New Zealand. In order to get here, you can take a boat trip from the Tasman Glacier and then enjoy a wonderfully scenic experience exploring ice caves, frozen paths, and various other nooks and crannies. One of the things that sets the Murchison Glacier apart from others is the fact that this is a great place to ski. Most of the tours that set off from this glacier take tourists to spots that are perfect for beginners and experts alike. Many travellers also choose to camp on the glacier itself and spend a night on the cold, lonely campsite. Murchison hut, which is a lodge nearby, is a great place to get your bearings before another day of skiing and walking. 

Address: Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 435 1186

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier


Volta Glacier:

Finally, when in New Zealand, you must also stop by the iconic Volta glacier, another prime spot for skiing and exciting walks. If you want to get here via helicopter, you must head to the Matukituki Valley and get the chopper from there. The landing site is right above the Bevan Col, and you must walk to the Todd Collins lodge (on the Bonar Glacier) from there. You can then spend the next day walking down the Iso Glacier and Therma Glacier to reach Volta. Once you reach, you can set up camp and ski or explore the area near you. A trip like this will surely make you feel like a mountaineer! 

Address: Mount Aspiring National Park, Southern Alps, South Island, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3-443 7660

Hours: There are no specific hours for visiting the glacier

With so many exciting trails just waiting to be explored, it’s no wonder that thousands of travellers visit New Zealand to indulge in guided walks and tours of these glaciers. The stunning beauty and the sheer novelty of walking on the glaciers is more than enough to inspire even the most lethargic people to take long walks. 

When it comes to planning your trip, don’t move at a glacial pace! Check out our travel packages and book your tickets today!

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Bay of Islands

Beaches, sunshine, water activities and a rich history – it’s the perfect combination for anyone looking for an offbeat holiday away from the crowds. When you visit the Bay of Islands, you are stepping inside a subtropical micro-region that is renowned for its spectacular beauty and ancient history. Barely three hours away from Auckland, your trip to Bay of Islands’ 144 islands will be the trip of a lifetime.


Location:

The Bay of Islands is a region that lies on the east coast of the Far North District on New Zealand’s North Island.


Timings:

The average temperature in the Bay of Islands doesn’t vary too much and the weather is pleasant all year through. The months of January-February and then June are the busiest for tourism, taking the prices of hotels and flights up. April is a good time to visit if you wish to save on costs.


Highlights:

What can you expect at Bay of Islands? A cornucopia of beautiful beaches, hidden coves, serene harbours, inviting waters, a stunning coastline and lush forests, with a heady mix of a unique history.

Paihia: Begin your journey of exploration of the Bay of Islands with Paihia. There is an abundance of coves and beaches that are just a hint of all that lies beyond. Book yourself a seat on the many cruises that leave from the wharf daily.

Kerikeri: Take a step back into history at Kerikeri. Duck into art galleries and also understand the culture of this wonderful nation. Enjoy a meal made only from the freshest of local produce. A charming place, this town is full of character and flavour.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds: This is where the historical treaty was signed between the Māori tribes and the representatives of the British Crown. Enjoy a culturally enriching experience at these hallowed grounds and understand New Zealand’s early history.

Russell: Walk along the streets of this quaint town and gaze at years of history that comes out through the old buildings. A coastline brimming with cafes, restaurants and art galleries makes Russell a truly romantic destination.

Kawakawa: Imagine a town being world famous for the Hundertwasser toilets. Designed by the town's famous Austrian resident, Freidensreich Hundertwasser, this is a trip worth your time.

Matauri Bay: If you like water sports, then Matauri Bay is the place to be. This picturesque beach settlement lies north of the Bay of Islands and besides being popular with surfers and divers, it attracts golfers too.

Kaikohe: The town of Kaikohe has the right blend of rich Māori culture and a European heritage. Do make the time to visit this small town when you are holidaying in Bay of Islands.

Okaihau: Sitting snug between Kaitaia and Whangarei is Okaihau, a friendly country town. Drop in to experience a classic Northland pub and also explore the interesting fire service museum that this town is home to.


Recommended for:

A trip to Bay of Islands has to be on the list of must-visit places for anyone looking to step away from the grind. The quiet getaway with its secret coves and stunning beaches will soothe the soul of every weary traveller. If you are in need of a soul-cleansing vacation, then book your tickets to Bay of Islands today.


Interesting facts about the Bay of Islands:

The Bay of Islands has quite an interesting history surrounding it. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that it is counted among some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Here are some things to know about it before you visit:

  • The Bay of Islands is the birthplace of modern day New Zealand. But did you know that it was once a busy seafaring and political base that combined Māori and European culture?
  • The Bay of Islands is today a tourist attraction and it offers plenty of holiday fun and water adventures for the complete family. Enjoy delicious food and wine to go with it.
  • Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations. It shot to fame after American author Zane Grey publicised it in the 1930s.
  • The bay is 16 kilometres wide and its irregular shape plus the 260 sq km drowned valley system forms a natural harbour.
  • The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands, the largest of which is Urupukapuka.
  • Bay of Islands was first inhabited about 700 years ago, when Mataatua, one of the large Māori migration canoes was sailed to the Bay of Islands by Puhi, an ancestor of the Ngapuhi iwi (the largest tribe in the country today). The Māori settled and their population spread throughout the bay and on many of the smaller islands. These people went on to establish some of the present-day tribes, including the Ngati Miru at Kerikeri.
  • The first European to set foot on the islands was Captain Cook, who gave the region its name in 1769. He was later followed by several people, including missionaries.
  • The first pure European child recorded as having been born in New Zealand is Thomas King, who was born in 1815 at Oihi Bay in the Bay of Islands.
  • It is believed that the Bay of Islands has the second bluest sky in the world, after Rio de Janeiro.
  • The Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up, translated and signed by 43 Northland chiefs and later by over 500 other Māori chiefs in 1840. Till date, this treaty is consulted while making any additions or modifications to New Zealand law and society.
  • The Bay of Islands lies in the northern most region of New Zealand. This imbues a sub-tropical climate to the region, thus giving rise to various flora and fauna that aren't seen anywhere else in the country.
  • The numerous small islands and untouched beaches are what make the Bay of Islands a tourist hot spot and a global attraction.
  • From Cape Reinga, the northern most point of Northland, visitors can get the spectacular view of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean colliding.

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North Island or South Island

North Island or South Island: Here’s what each offer!

Excellent! You have decided on your big New Zealand vacation. Everybody has heard of the Kiwi country that is replete with spanning white sand coastlines, geothermal hotspots, serene mountains, Māori culture, adventure sports and (ooh!) wine. But one thing that might pop up as trouble in paradise is the one question - which island do you choose to spend most of your time in - North or South? While there is no definite answer to this question, having a bit of background on what each of the islands has to offer goes a long way.

The last thing you want to do is underestimate New Zealand to be the small country as it appears on the world map. The landscapes are varied with a plethora of things to do in the country and good trip around either of the island will take you 2 weeks. Allow yourself that time, otherwise, you can end up spending more time getting to the sights rather than experiencing them. Hence, to get your holiday planning perfectly underway, we have prepared a comprehensive list of the factors that you should consider for having your pick. However, don’t fret choosing the ‘right’ island because both of them have plenty to offer and are marvellous in their own right.

So here you go!


Final destination(s)

Taupo Great

Like mentioned before, either of the islands has sundry world-class landmarks and of course, there is an overlap in their nature. But there are certain peculiarities that make the difference. North Islands is an amalgamation of urban attractions as well as natural wonders. The two famous cities of Auckland and Wellington are located on this side. Auckland is an ideal place to kick start your trip on a comfortable footing because it offers something for everyone from sailing along the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours to bungee jumping from the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere - the Auckland Sky Tower! For the culture vultures, Wellington, the country’s capital serves as a hotbed for the Māori cultural centres and places of experimental architecture. Your visit is incomplete without stepping into Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum that stands against the mesmerizing waterfront, amidst the bustling local market of Cuba Street. This is your place to go souvenir hunting. Many of the best harbours like the Bay of Plenty, the Bay of Islands, The Hauraki Gulfs define the boundaries of this country.

The South Island has destinations that are reached at the end of a beaten track. Since 76% of the population stays on the North Island, The South Island is bereft of civilization and holds some of the best kept natural secrets of New Zealand. Starting with the star landmark of the Southern Alps from which emerge the many fjords like Milford Sound. There are gigantic glaciers namely Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Queenstown is the nation’s adventure capital that offers an array of alpine sports and is matted with cosy cafes and breweries to blow the steam.


The land and the weather

Rippon Vineyard

Since the physical area of the country is relatively small, you can’t expect drastic variations in the climate. The country generally maintains a Coastlines, mountains and farmlands commonly run through the country’s landscape. The North Island is famous for the romantic white-sand beaches, especially the subtropical Bay of Islands, which is warm even during winters! The weather is a tad milder and sunnier here, although it can get wet and stormy during the winters. But largely, expect this place to be washed with golden sunshine with Marlborough, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay where the sun sets after 10.00 pm in summers!

The South Island has a raw charm because of its rugged landscape and scanty infrastructure. Even the weather is harsher here. It is home to the Southern Alps, glaciers, majestic fjords, entangling waterways.


Wine and dine

Queenstown

Welcome to the lesser-known wine haven of the world! New Zealand boasts of producing not some stellar boutique wines but also covering varieties of reds and whites. Over 80 wineries invite you in the vintage wine lands of Hawke’s Bay, which offers you quality red wines like Carbernet Franc and Merlot. While a little further ahead, Gisborne has a repute for whites like Chardonnay. A lot of the vineyards are open for public tasting and complement the drink with an assortment of fresh artisan produce.

The island country naturally has lip-smacking fresh seafood options. The geothermal farmed prawns are delicacy found in Taupo and Tamaki Māori village gives you a taste of the Māori cuisine. You can also try fresh oysters at Coromandel Peninsula.

With top wines, innovative Kiwi chefs have also developed a culture of fine dining restaurants in the big cities of Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.


Thrill and leisure

Roys Peak

The North Island offers the best of both worlds. You can take a good hike along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, take a hot dip in the springs of Coromandel Peninsula or treat your eyes to the geothermal wonders of mud pools and geysers of Rotorua while being the periphery of the metropolis. The exhibitions, museums and events in Rotorua and Waitangi presents the Māori culture to you first-hand. You can indulge in ‘hangi’, which is a traditional method of cooking food in a pit of heated rocks and sipping fine wine while exploring the many old vineyards in Auckland and Hawke’s Bay. North Island is your traditional leisure trip in the tropics.

With South Island, you think of the perfect destination for people who like to take the road less travelled. It is an adventure junkie’s paradise with Queenstown, namely the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’! May it be skydiving or paragliding, bungee jumping or water rafting, you do all the activities to get your heart racing. If North Island has ivory sand beaches, the South leaves you floored with panoramic vistas of the snow-clad peaks like Cardrona, Coronet , Treble Cone and The Remarkables. If a legendary skiing experience makes it to your travel bucket list, get ready to cross it off in South Island. For rambling around in forests, trust Milford Track with its dramatic fjords and lush rainforests. Add the Abel Tasman Coast Track and the Routeburn Track to your hiking trails and get lost in the wilderness!

Either way, North or South Island, New Zealand has something for everyone. A major part of a good travel experience is credited to being mindful about your itinerary and making it specific to your interests and requirements. With this, we attempt to bring you the best of travel choices and help you navigate through the dilemma.

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Saving Money on Trip

Saving money while having fun in New Zealand: Totally possible!

Let’s face it. Travelling to some countries is more expensive than others. New Zealand is one of those countries that can put a strain on your wallet. Some tourists consider the Southern Hemisphere far more expensive as compared to travel anywhere else. Obviously, it is no cheap trip like Bangkok, Vietnam or Sri Lanka, where you tend to get maximum bang for your buck. Here, you’ve got to be careful because the currency conversion of the New Zealand dollar to the Indian rupee isn’t friendly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the most fun while travelling here… because if you follow these top 10 tips suggested by us, you can cover this stunningly diverse country, with savings and smiles.


Avoid peak season

Ask any smart traveller for his or her top tip and you’ll hear this. Peak season in New Zealand is between December and February, which is when the country witnesses favourable weather. But alas, this is when airfares, prices for hotels, festivals, sightseeing tours… basically everything skyrockets. So, we recommend travelling in spring or autumn, both of which have their own perks.


Select between North and South Islands

It’s not that small a country, so travelling to both North and South islands may exhaust you of both time and money. So, think carefully about what you want to do. Of course, both islands are spectacular so we can’t really vouch for one over another. But here’s the thing. If you’re travelling around the North, land in either Auckland or Wellington. And if South is your choice, Queenstown and Christchurch have plenty of interesting sights and activities in store.


Choose your activities carefully

Milford Sounds

Everyone knows that New Zealand is Adventure Destination. But if you’re on a budget, you’re going to have to choose what adventures to go for. Bungee jumping, sky diving or skiing – these things cost quite a bit, so be wise. Also remember, some of New Zealand’s natural landscapes like Milford Sound and the South Island’s glaciers can only be reached by helicopter or boat, so that will be expensive. What we advise is looking for discounted rides and thrills on travel sites like Viator. And of course, opting for cheaper outdoor experiences like cycling, beach-hopping and hiking.


Travel smart

Bus, bus, bus. It’s cheap and cheerful, in New Zealand. So, whether you’re traveling within the city or inter-city, opt for bus providers like Mana Bus and InterCity. In Auckland and Wellington, you can even get a travel pass with discounted rates for local attractions. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Then opt for a campervan – because while it isn’t exactly cheap, it gives you the chance to cook and stay within it. Moreover, you can take advantage of the many free camping sites along the way.


Cook your own food

Blue Lakes

Eating out can be shockingly expensive in New Zealand, so be warned. Grocery shopping on the other hand, can bring down your costs drastically. The cheapest supermarket chain in New Zealand is called Pak n Save, so visit these and pick up cheese, bread, vegetables, fruits and all your regular groceries to put together a meal yourself. You can also shop at The Warehouse, which is New Zealand’s version of Walmart. Here you’ll find cheap clothes, toiletries, linens and such stuff. Hey, it’s also an opportunity for you to get creative. Make a picnic out of it at a lakeside in Queenstown or at Christchurch’s lovely gardens or take an excursion to Auckland’s parklands. Do an outdoor barbecue or visit a farmer’s market where things are known to be pretty cheap.


Control your coffee shop splurge

Oh it’s certainly great fun to go to a coffee shop and splurge on an Americano or a Cappuccino once in a while. But, if a cup of Joe is a necessary morning-evening fix for you, then think different. What we recommend is carrying coffee/cappuccino sachets from home that can be added to hot water and had on-the-go. For those who are addicted to Indian chai, there are masala chai ready mixes that are really useful on trips like these. Believe us, you’ll be saving a whole lot of dollars by opting for these.


Drink water from the tap

Good news! In New Zealand, tap water is absolutely safe to drink! In fact, the South Island has some of the best potable water in the world. So please save your money by not buying those plastic bottles of water that are exorbitant. In fact, here’s a pro tip: bring your own steel bottle and save money, while saving the planet.


Nature is free, so spend time with it

Best part about New Zealand? Entry to all National Parks are free. So are the beaches. So, if you like to hike, swim, build sandcastles and walk, this is literally Nature Heaven. Just pack a nice light lunch and you’re all set to enjoy the entire day, with the most exquisitely natural blues and greens.


Discount Cards are your best friends

Lake Pukaki

Discounts are the best news when you’re travelling. When in New Zealand, save money by investing in a SmartFuel Card if you’re planning to drive a campervan or a car, a NewWorld card that helps you save big time in grocery store chains and the Top 10 Holiday Park Pass which can help you save on stays and activities. Also check for different discount cards to suit your specific needs.


Stick to your budget

Lastly, make a realistic budget based on the travelling and activities you plan to do. Try using a budgeting app like Trail Wallet, to help you out with this. Definitely make sure to see how the New Zealand dollar is faring against the rupee, at the time of your travel. Just remember, that things in New Zealand are always going to be more expensive than what you are used to, so account for things accordingly.

Now that you know top tips on how to save and yet enjoy your travel in New Zealand, why delay that much-dreamt-of trip? Choose the package that best suits you. Leave the rest to us.

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Unusual Customs

Unusual New Zealand customs that will have you smiling when there!

They say that a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and souls of its people. New Zealand proves this in ample measure. For a small country, it sure packs a punch when it comes to displaying the most unique cultural customs. An amalgamation of European-based and Māori culture, New Zealand is a potpourri of compelling traditions. Here are some you’ll notice whilst travelling.

Yeah Nah Mate: a local term often used when they appreciate the offer but won’t accept it

The Hangi: a traditional cooking method involving fire, stones and a pit

The Hongi: the traditional Māori greeting of pressing noses and foreheads together

The Haka: a Māori war dance to commemorate victory

Love for drinking: alcohol holds special significance down under

Bare feet: New Zealanders love walking barefoot, especially in summer

Sharing food: sharing is caring here, when it comes to food

A positive attitude: no matter how bad the situation, “it’ll all be alright” in New Zealand

Keeping it private: talking about anything under the sun is fine, but don’t get too personal

Passion for sport: All Blacks is not a rugby team here, it’s almost a religion


Yeah Nah Mate

New Zealanders are friendly people and you’ll have no difficulty befriending them. They hate turning down anyone’s request, not if it can be helped. But here’s the thing…they also have this very confusing term that they use very often - ‘yeah nah mate’. So, for example, you offer someone a cup of coffee and they reply with a vague ‘yeah nah thanks’ which basically means that though they appreciate the offer, they’re fine without the coffee. It could also mean ‘kind of’ for something that they aren’t too sure of – for example, ‘is it raining outside?’ may get you a ‘yeah nah mate’.


The Hangi

This is a form of traditional cooking in New Zealand that you must definitely watch and try when you head to its shores for the first time. Basically, it’s a big pit that is filled with stones and then heated up by a large fire. Once the fire dies down and the stones are scorching hot, the meat or fish or root vegetables called kumera are placed into the earth oven, wrapped in leaves or sacks or flax mats. Mud is used to cover the food up, so that the heat is retained long enough to cook the food. The food may take anywhere between three to seven hours to cook, during which people gather around for a drink or a chat or even a game of cricket. Such a great way to spend the day, a unique Kiwi experience indeed!


The Hongi

Rotorua

Don’t make the mistake of confusing this with the hangi. The hongi is a personal greeting saved for special occasions. Two people are required to press noses and foreheads together – it symbolises the passing of the breath of life (te ha in Māori). Hongi is common when welcoming visitors onto Māori grounds, so next time you venture there, keep an eye out for it.


The Haka

If you’ve watched rugby matches in New Zealand, you probably know about this. The haka is a traditional Māori war dance, that has been immortalised by New Zealand’s All Blacks team. Traditionally performed to induce fear and declare the Māori warrior strength, it’s now used more before matches to create a sense of unity and cheer for the team.


Love for drinking

Auckland Night

You must realise that alcohol is a big part of New Zealand’s culture. The locals attach a lot of significance to the simple act of having a beer with a friend or colleague. Having said that, there is no judgment passed on you, if you’re a teetotaller. However, do remember that even if you are, Kiwis and alcohol are inseparable. So, if you’re invited to dinner or a barbecue party, it is common courtesy to carry a bottle of wine with you.


Bare feet

This can actually be quite endearing or odd, depending on how you see it. Did you know that the Kiwis don’t really like wearing footwear, especially in summer, when you’ll see many of them wandering about barefoot, even in cities like Wellington? Goes to prove why New Zealand is the nation of the hobbits.


Sharing food

Who doesn’t love this custom? In New Zealand, sharing food is what brings them together. Be it a barbecue or a hangi, a packet of hot chips or freshly caught crayfish, sharing is caring in New Zealand. So, remember, if you’re invited to dinner, you’re expected to bring a little something – maybe a dessert. If you’re specifically asked to ‘bring a plate’ it means that everyone invited to lunch is going to bring some food to share. So, take along some potato salad or fresh fish or whatever else you fancy.


A positive attitude

This is possibly the most striking feature about the New Zealanders. They are famously optimistic, even when the going gets tough. Even in the worst of situations, they’ll be assuring and say something like ‘it’ll be alright, mate’ or ‘no worries, mate’. Such is their positive energy that you can’t help but smile and believe it’s all going to be good.


Keeping it private

Te Puia

While the New Zealanders are a friendly bunch, you must know that they are also quite private when it comes to their personal life. So if you’re sitting with a bunch of them at a cafe or a bar, they’ll be wonderful to chat with – so go ahead and expect animated conversations when you ask for travel tips and weather predictions, best places to watch the games and history of a particular area – but don’t ask questions about marriage or kids, house, car or income. That’s not seen as good manners, at all.


Passion for sport

Te Puia

When your little country is home to the most successful sports franchise, you cultivate an almost-fanatical love for sports. The All Blacks, a rugby team that’s been victorious over the past 100+ years, is a cornerstone to New Zealand’s national identity. So if you’re visiting a Kiwi sports pub or bar, make sure you read up a little bit on rugby trivia. Conversation is likely to be interesting; we assure you.

New Zealand, as you can see, is a country that is as unique as it is beautiful. To truly appreciate it, you need to travel and live amongst them, imbibing their culture.

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Bike Trips

Biking through New Zealand is so much fun!

If ever there was a country made for exploring on a bicycle, it is undoubtedly New Zealand. With its breathtaking scenery and a wealth of attractions to explore, biking your way around the country could very well turn out to be the ride of a lifetime. As you ride through some stunning landscapes, you will be introduced to New Zealand’s cultural delights. ‘Nga Haerenga’ (the journeys) are the best way to get around the country. When you’re on a bicycle it becomes that much easier to get off the beaten tracks and stumble upon unexpected treasures.

New Zealand has a rich network of bicycle trails crisscrossing its wilderness, so it is good news to know that renting a bicycle is easy too. Almost every major city and the main centres around the Great Rides have plenty of rental providers. And the rides come in all sizes, to match every level of stamina and enthusiasm. From a few hours, to a day to a week, choose one that fits your idea of fun. Then there’s the Tour Aotearoa which is one of the greatest bicycle backpacking adventures in the world. It is a test of your will and endurance as you travel around 3,000 km from Cape Regina to Bluff.

If you’re keen to explore New Zealand on bicycle, you have plenty of choices. So, get ready for the ride of a lifetime through some epic scenery that seems to have jumped straight out of a world of fantasy.


Before you start…

Before you embark on your biking adventure, here are a few tips that will prepare you and really let you enjoy your ride.

  • Book a ride that lasts at least a couple of days to really enjoy the experience.
  • Travel light as the riding trails pass through a variety of terrains.
  • Always wear appropriate safety gear.
  • Always carry a printed map, food and water.
  • Ensure that you have at least the basic repair kit and supplies.
  • Take it slow, because the journey is your destination.


West Coast Wilderness Trail

Huka Falls
This is the heritage cycle trail of New Zealand that begins at Greymouth in the north and ends at Ross in the south. It passes through the Southern Alps, rainforests, beaches and lakes, but is largely flat. It is considered to be an easy enough trail, suitable for beginners. The trail is 139 kilometres long and takes around 4 days to complete at the rate of 35 kilometres a day. It leads you through the fascinating history of New Zealand as it retraces old railway lines, tram lines and even old packhorse tracks.

The section between Kumara and Lake Kaniere starts at the restored Theatre Royal Hotel in Kumara. It gradually climbs up the Kawhaka Pass leading through dense forests, historic water races, bridged gorges and Cowboy Paradise. Spend a night at the Lake Kaniere Reserve before taking on the flat section between Hokitika and Ross which spans 11 restored bridges and the Mananui Tramline.


Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

Kaiteriteri
At 306 kilometres long, this is the longest cycling trail in New Zealand. You can cover it in 6 days at the rate of around 50 kilometres a day. From the base of the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, the trail serves up a veritable feast of spectacular panoramas and memorable experiences. The trail mixes it up with cross-country tracks, old railway lines, canal paths and quiet country roads. As if that’s not enough, you can enjoy a plethora of exciting activities such as penguin-spotting, glider flights, wine tastings and even soothing hot tub soaks while on the road.

Starting on the main Waitaki Highway, it follows a glacier-carved valley and jumps over the Tasman River towards Twizel. Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo are some of the highlights of the trail that also feature lush farmlands, Māori rock art, tunnels and mysterious elephant-shaped rocks. The tour ends with a celebratory toe-dip in the Pacific Ocean.


The Timber Trail


This short trail will take you on an intriguing sojourn that ventures deep into the Pureora Forest Park. The 87-kilometre-long trail is littered with the relics of a long-defunct timber industry and it meanders along old logging roads and tramlines between Pureora and Ongarue. It will take you through a teeming ancient forest and over sweeping suspension bridges for a ride that lasts 2 days. There are 8 to be exact and they are some of the highest and the longest suspension bridges in New Zealand.

The trail climbs over 350 meters over Mt. Pureora before descending across the western edge of the Hauhungaroa Range. The ancient artefacts and the exotic virgin forest are two of the main highlights of this bicycle tour. It can be undertaken as a one-day tour by choosing to ride a single section of the trail. The trail itself ends at Ongarue, but you can extend it up to Taumarunui, 26 kilometres away.


Hawke’s Bay Trails

This is perhaps the easiest bicycle trail of New Zealand. Stretching over 200 kilometres, it traverses the flat Heretaunga Plains and passes between the twin cities of Hastings and Napier. Starting from Bay View in the north, it includes many Hawke Bay attractions in between, before ending at Cape Kidnappers in the south, 4 days later. The Puketapu Loop is a half days’ worth of riding along River Tutaekuri and serves up a pretty view of the region’s beautiful countryside. You can take in the vistas of Napier’s art deco facades and cycle leisurely along the tree-lined Marine Parade.

The iWay is a network of urban cycling trails in Hastings and Napier that links to the regular trails around the cities. The ride from Clive to Clifton is graced with idyllic seaside scenery. This section also boasts of wineries that make for a relaxing pit stop for your bicycling adventure. As you advance along the trail, you will also pass through a bunch of vineyards offering cellar-door tastings accompanied by excellent meals.


Thermal Bike Trails - Te Ara Ahi


The 51-kilometre-long Te Ara Ahi is an exciting trail that takes you through a mad wonderland of bubbling mud pools, steaming vents and inviting natural thermal pools. It is rich in Māori history and folklore and covers some of the most spectacular hotspots of the Rotorua region. The 700-year-old Whakarewarewa village houses the survivors of Mt Tarawera’s eruption of 1886. Take a leisurely ride through the stunning Sulphur Point section and be sure to keep some time aside for a relaxing soak in one of the thermal pools.

The trail proceeds forward onto the Waimangu Volcanic Valley after which it climbs around the mountain. Some parts of the trail are steep and may require you to get down and push your bicycles up the slope. Once you reach Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, it is just a 6 kilometre ride before the trails ends at Waikite Valley Thermal Springs. From here, you can either choose to take back the shuttle or turn right around and do it all over again, only in reverse this time.

Mt Burke

Blessed with the great outdoors, the soul of New Zealand resides out there in its mountains, forests and the ocean. Biking through New Zealand is an enriching experience and the one of the best ways to get close to that essence. The simple pleasure of cycling is enhanced many-fold when accompanied by New Zealand's stunning scenery. We’ll show you the best of this spirit that makes New Zealand such an exciting destination. Book your holiday online or drop into your nearest Thomas Cook branch.

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How to Plan a Trip

One of the most underrated travel destinations, New Zealand is a treat for the senses. From the swooping panoramas of the Southern Alps to the pristine white snowscapes of its many glaciers, the natural wonders of New Zealand were hidden from the world until the hobbits of the Shire brought the surreal beauty of the Middle Earth right into our homes. The fantasy worlds of Shire, Rohan and Mordor have found a home in New Zealand and will welcome you with open hearts to explore the delights of the land under the ‘Land Down Under’.

lake wanaka
So how do you go about exploring a country whose soul resides in its outdoors? A trip to New Zealand is an adventure that has to be lived to be believed. Fortunately, New Zealand is an easy country to get around. You can start with the North Island and make your way down the country, ending your trip at the southern end of the South Island. From its northernmost tip to its southernmost end, New Zealand offers you the whole smorgasbord of experiences that together make for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

So, get ready for a memorable adventure that will make you fall in love with the outdoors. Read on to find out how you can plan the perfect trip to New Zealand.


Which is the best time to visit?

Lake
Every travel destination has a specific time of the year that is deemed to be the best time to visit. But there are a few rare destinations that are a delight to visit all around the year, regardless of the weather. Then there is New Zealand which you can cycle through “four seasons in a day”. So, planning your New Zealand trip around the weather is a futile exercise. But knowing the year-round weather conditions will help you plan your holiday based on what you want to be doing. Here’s a quick look at the season-wise weather to help you decide.

Spring (September to November)

The New Zealand spring starts off cool but warms up rapidly as the summer approaches. But the hotel rates remain low until November with the summer season right around the corner.

Summer (December to February)

With temperatures averaging around 25°C, summer is the warmest time of the year. This is also the most popular time to visit New Zealand. You will find New Zealand much busier during this season with high travel and accommodation rates.

Autumn (March to May)

The mellow autumn temperatures range between 6 to 20°C, making autumn a pleasant time to be in New Zealand. The hotel and travel rates go down along with the dwindling tourist population.

Winter (June to August)

A cold winter sees the temperatures range between -3 to 15°C. As the rest of the country settles down for the winter, the ski slopes come alive with the buzz of excitement and adventure. If you don’t mind the cold, you can enjoy some of the best discounts on your travel and accommodation.


Plan your itinerary

Lake Hayes
Perhaps the hardest part of all trips is planning the itinerary, which is doubly difficult in New Zealand. Plan your travel depending on how much time are you planning to spend in the country. Be brutal while making your selection to come up with a travel plan that will have you spending the least amount of time on the road. Here are a few pointers that should help you come up with the itinerary of your choice.

  • Be realistic when it comes to choosing your travel destinations, keeping the length of your trip in mind.
  • Start off with a draft itinerary and whittle down your list until you’re left with the top 10 or top 5 destinations around the country.
  • Measure and consider the distances between cities to keep the travel time to the minimum.
  • If you’re planning a road trip, design it in such a way that you keep moving in one direction while chalking up your sightseeing along the way.


Distances in New Zealand

A road trip around New Zealand will introduce you to the local culture from up close. While renting a car is easy here, coming up with a route is not. With so many wonders to explore, a tight road trip itinerary will help you explore most of the country in the least amount of time. Here’s a brief look at the travel times between some of the most important cities of New Zealand measured at average speeds.

  • Auckland to Wellington – 8 hours of driving time
  • Wellington to Picton – 3 hours of ferry ride
  • Picton to Christchurch – 4 hours and 30 minutes of driving time
  • Christchurch to Dunedin – 4 hours and 30 minutes of driving time
  • Christchurch to Queenstown – 6 hours of driving time
  • Dunedin to Queenstown – 3 hours and 30 minutes of driving time

Keeping these distances in mind, you can easily chalk out a sensible drive across New Zealand.


Your holiday essentials

Now that you have decided the best time to visit, drawn up an itinerary and planned your road trip, it is time to look at the travelling essentials that you will need on your holiday around New Zealand. Here’s what you need to carry on your New Zealand trip.

  • Indian passport holders need a visa before travelling to New Zealand.
  • You will need a valid Indian driving license to be able to drive in New Zealand. Since the Indian driving license is issued in English, you do not need to apply for a separate driving permit.
  • Along with the visa fees, you also need to pay for an NZeTA and IVL before you even arrive in the country.
  • Your passport is your main identity document and will be valid as a proof of ID in most scenarios.
  • If you plan to stay awhile in New Zealand, you must have a ‘Hospitality New Zealand 18+ Card’ in order to be able to buy alcohol.
  • Travel insurance is a must and offers you the peace of mind as you enjoy your holiday in New Zealand.
  • The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the currency used here and you get access to plenty of ATMs around the country. Though credit cards are accepted, a small transaction fee is charged on all transactions.


How to get around New Zealand?

While a road trip is the best way to explore the length and breadth of the country, public transport is the most convenient and insightful way to get around, especially within a city. Following are some means of transport to be out and about in New Zealand.

  • Renting a car or a camper van
  • National Coaches
  • Hop-on Hop-off Buses
  • Bus tours
  • Domestic flights
  • Trains

Now that you know all that there is to know about planning a trip to New Zealand, it is time to get down to it. Make it a 1-week-tour to explore either of the islands or make it a 4-weeks-stay and explore the country thoroughly. Whichever option you choose, you know you’re in for a memorable holiday. New Zealand’s appeal is in its outdoors, and the wide range of holiday packages make it easier for you to choose one.

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Maori Map

A walk along the Māori Map of New Zealand

So, you’ve decided to take your next vacation in New Zealand, (also called Aotearoa by the Māori)? Or maybe you’re toying with the idea. Nevertheless, its research time for your next international trip! There are so many things to do and see – the Waitomo Caves, Milford Sound, Lake Tekapo, Abel Tasman National Park, Franz Josef Glacier, the art in Christchurch, the adventure sports in Queensland, the beaches, museums, cities, towns and more. Exciting right? New Zealand’s great cities and towns will provide more than enough verve and vitality, but its rich Māori culture is what will give your trip soul. 

Champagne Pool
So, who are the Māoris? The Māori’s are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. They arrived via canoe-led voyages to the shores of New Zealand, between 1320 and 1350, where they settled – building the culture, language, customs, mythology and crafts you’ll see on your trip. It was only in the 17th Century, that Europeans arrived in New Zealand. Māori culture and mythology identifies deeply with the land – not just in different settlements and landmarks, but also in stories and myths that whisper across the land. 

So, today, we’re going to take a walk along the Māori Map of New Zealand – places where you can experience Māori culture, important landmarks and some lovely Māori myths of the land. It’s time to discover a new (and yet very old) side of New Zealand; are you ready?


Māori on the Map

Nearly 60 percent of Māori’s can be found in the Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland regions. There are Māori activities that take place in South Island, but these options are limited. If you want to dive into New Zealand’s indigenous culture, we suggest you swing your gaze towards these regions in the North Island.

Rotorua
Rotorua:
Any exploration of Māori culture, MUST begin in Rotorua. This iconic city is steeped in Māori legends, history, music and cultural performances. You can take a historical tour of a Māori village, paddle in Lake Rotorua in a carved canoe, and even stay overnight. Some of the cultural attractions in Rotorua include, Tamaki Village, Geothermal Park, Mitai Māori Village, Rotorua Museum, Pohutu Cultural Theatre and Rotorua Healing tours. 

Bay of Islands: One of the most historically significant areas in Māori history, the Waitangi locality in the Bay of Islands region is where a treaty was signed between the Europeans and the Māori. Take a tour of the Waitangi treaty grounds, sit back and take in powerful Māori performance, stroll through the Te Kohagu Museum of Waitangi, discover heritage buildings and take a ride on a Māori waka (canoe). 

Devon Port
Auckland:
Auckland shows its softer side in the variety of Māori experiences and attractions found across the city. The Auckland Museum is a great place to start to gain a little insight and history into Māori culture, or you can take different Māori tours like the Māori Walking Tour of Maungawhau or the guided tour in Orakei, sail in Waitemata Harbour on the traditional Māori canoe and indulge in the best of Māori cuisine at the Hangi Shop or at Puha & Pakeha. 

Hokianga
Hokianga:
Carve out an entire day (and maybe even a night) to stay at Hokianga, where you can see everything from a Māori Powhiri (the Māori welcome), Māori dances, Māori fighting and haka (the war dance) and the preparation of hangi (traditional Māori meal). Take a walking tour to New Zealand’s largest kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest and learn about the myths and legends found in its leafy paths. 

kaikoura Canterbury
Kaikoura:
The Māori’s didn’t just place their seal on the land, they also let their stories and beliefs seep into the water. Take a whale watching tour in Kaikoura, where you’ll meet the children of the sea god Tangaroa (the whales). You’ll also hear about the many legends of whales guiding Māori canoes to safe shores during stormy nights. This is a chance to experience the deep bond between the tempestuous sea and the traditional Kaikoura locals. 

There are other cities and towns that have pockets of Māori culture to sink into. Stay in a Māori Marae in Whanganui National Park, visit the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, watch the inspiring and rousing Haka at the Queenstown Gondola, wander through the old historical site in the coastal town of Waimarama, carve your own greenstone (a Māori tradition) in Hokitika. 

Now, if you don’t have a whole day to spare, a great way to acquaint yourself with the Māori culture would be to visit some of its iconic landmarks.

Ruapekapeka (Bay of Islands): Every culture has a history of turbulence, and Ruapekapeka pa is the site of the first campaign of the New Zealand Wars. Built by Warrior Chief Te Ruki Kawhiti in 1845, the defence battlements are still evident today.

Otuataua Stonefields: 200 years ago, Māoris were cultivating nearly 8000 hectares of volcanic stonefields around Tamaki-makau-rau in the Auckland isthmus. Today, 160 of those stonefields remain. Here you can see Polynesian sites, cooking shelters, storage pits, mound gardens, terraces, along with 19-century European dry-stone farm walls. In 2001, this ancient site became the country’s newest reserve, named the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.


Takiroa Rock Art Shelter:
You can find some of the oldest examples of traditional art at Takiroa. Glowing with a rusty shade of red ochre, these abstract and animal shapes decorate and liven the stern grey and being stone found in the region.

Otatara Pa – Spread over 33 hectares, this is one of the largest historical sites in New Zealand. Wander through the ancient remains of this reserve, where you’ll see terraces, homes and food storage pits – all evidence of the thriving ancient Māori community that lived there.

Other landmarks you can explore are Papamoa, Puketakauere Pa, Rangiriri, Kororipo Heritage Park and Mangungu Mission. 

Finally, on your journey across New Zealand, you may hear the whispers of Māori myths in places that you never would have expected. Here are just a few of them:

Gulf Harbour
Tongariro National Park:
According to Māori mythology, the mountains were once gods of great strength. Tongariro – one of the seven mountains surrounding Lake Taupo – was in love with the sole female mountain Pihanga. However, other mountains loved her too and a battle ensued for her favour. Smoke, fire and hot rocks erupted across the land as the battle was waged. Eventually Tongariro emerged the winner, winning Pihanga’s love and the place of favour next to her. 

Mount Taranaki: Taranaki was one of the mountains that fought for Pihanga’s love - and lost. He travelled, through the night, he scarred the earth as he moved west. At his new spot, by the sea he cried for his lost love and his tears formed the mighty Whanganui River. It is believed that when a cloud covers the mountain, it is Taranaki hiding his tears. 

Lake Rotoiti
Lake Taupo:
2,000 years ago, this lovely lake was created by a volcanic eruption. However, the Māori’s tell a different tale. The lake was originally a dust bowl when it was discovered by the explored Ngatoro-i-rangi. To promote the growth of the region, he picked up a totara tree and threw it into the bowl. The tree pierced the earth, releasing fresh water forming Taupo moana – the sea of Taupo. It is said that the tree is still visible under the water!

Redwoods
Waipoua Forest:
In the heart of the forest stands Tane Mahuta – the largest kauri tree in the country. According to Māori legend, Tane Mahuta created the earth by lying between the sky and the earth (his parents) and pushing them apart, leaving space for him and his siblings to live. To this day he stands in the forest, pushing against sky and earth. 

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and the Māoris. They’re deeply intertwined, with stories soaked into the soil. Experience the best of Māori culture when you book a trip for New Zealand.

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Canterburry

If you’re thinking about New Zealand, we’re pretty sure that Christchurch is on your list of places to visit. And why not? Christchurch is a gorgeous, quirky and resilient city, filled with world-famous street art, lively green botanical gardens, the silky slide of the Avon River, cathedrals, museums, theatres, seasonal markets and more. However, have you thought about stepping outside the confines of Christchurch, into the Canterbury region? If so, then boy, do we have some good news for you. It’s time to step into a wider world…


Canterbury’ Calling Card

Canterbury, also known by its Māori name – Waitaha – is a region in South Island, New Zealand. Although the largest city is Christchurch, this region also includes cities and towns like Timaru, Ashburton, Rangiora, Rolleston, Kaiapoi, Lincoln and more. Canterbury is a diverse region with English, British, Dutch, Australian, Chinese, Indian, Philippino, Samoan residents (to name a few), along with the local Māori and European New Zealanders. Covering an area of 44,508 square kilometres, Canterbury has a lot of experiences to indulge in and secrets to divulge…let’s find out what they are.


Canter over Canterbury: What to do?


Whale watching in Kaikoura:

Located on the east coast, this peaceful town is your gateway to meeting some of the most magnificent denizens of the deep – whales. You can get close to them in the water or watch them swim from a helicopter. Kaikoura is one of the few places in New Zealand where you can see sperm whales, all year round. Orca and killer whales surface from December to March, while Humpback whales breach during June and July. If you’re looking for dolphins, you’ll find them anytime you visit! Kaikoura has a busy sea calendar all year round. 

 

Aoraki/ Mt. Cook:

Fresh air, unbeatable views and the quiet company of nature – that’s just the basics of what Aoraki/Mt. Cook has to offer. New Zealand’s highest mountain spears right up from the heart of Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park. It’s joined by 140 peaks and 72 glaciers – all part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site named Te Wahipounamu. There’s miles and miles of trails to trek, like the Hooker Valley Track which leads to a glacier lake, or the simple but beautiful Governors Bush Walk. At night, tip your head back and take in a crystal-clear view of the stars, planets and constellations – all thanks to the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve located in this region. There are also plenty of great restaurants, lodges and cafes in the area, where you can drink in the amazing view and satisfy your tummy at the same time. 

Arthur Falls


Arthur’s Pass National Park:

The next stop on New Zealand’s natural guidebook is definitely Arthur’s Pass. The eastern side of the park boasts of wide, shingled riverbeds and rustling beech forests, while the western side is a wild tangle of dense rainforests and deeply gorged rivers. Hiking and mountaineering in the summer turns into skiing and snowboarding in the winter – this is a place for all seasons. If treks are on your mind, you can explore well-known trails like Arthur’s Pass Walkway, Goat Pass, Bealey Spur track, Cass-Lagoon Saddles Tracks and the hike to Avalanche Peak. 

Tekapo


Lake Tekapo:

You’re going to need a great camera for this one. The Lake Tekapo region is absolutely stunning. Not just the deep turquoise waters, with the mountains and clouds in the distance – everything here is worth a picture. Spend your time gazing at the diamond-like stars at the Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, visit the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, wander in a field full of perfect pink and purple lupins, take a flight over the Southern Alps from Lake Tekapo Airport, unwind at the Tekapo hot springs. What you can’t take a photograph of, commit to your memory – this scenery is absolutely unforgettable.


Twizel: 

Want to slip away from the relentless pace of the big cities? Why not head to Twizel? Enjoy the scenic view of the Southern Alps as you take a boat ride or fish at its many lakes. If you’re a cyclist, then the stunning and scenic Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail passes through Twizel. Finally, the cherry on top of the cake – Twizel was one of the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings! You see, even the smallest of towns can keep a big secret.


Mt. Somers
 

Yes, you can hike here and take in some incredible views. Moreover, Mt. Somers truly has some amazing experiences to offer. Skate on a frozen lake in the middle of the forest, watching the sun rise over the mirror-like surface of the areas’ lakes, feel the world swoop and swirl around you as you go white water rafting. One word – unforgettable.

Timaru

Every vacation needs a breather - a chance to slow down, catch your breath before you dive back into all the holiday fun. If you’re looking for the opportunity to do that, stop by Timaru. Not only is it home to one of New Zealand’s biggest wineries, it also boasts of lovely walks and trails. Sit back at Caroline Bay and just breathe in the sights and sounds of the area. If you’re there at dusk, you can watch herds of small blue penguins waddling up the shore. Adorable!

Akaroa


Akaroa

The charm of Canterbury is clearly reflected in the town of Akaroa. Whether it is at Giant House – a huge piece of artwork made of sculptures and mosaics that cascade over a hillside, or the delicious Turkish poached eggs on Ciabatta and acai and poke bowls at Rona’s, or the quaint Akaroa Museum. It’s not hard to fall in love with Akaroa. 

These are just some of the experiences that await you in Canterbury. So, if you’ve planned a visit to Christchurch, make a little bit of room (or a lot) to explore the region. Everything from whale watching, to snowboarding to stargazing to fine dining is yours for the taking, if you open your heart to Canterbury.

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Natural Beauties Flora Fauna and More

New Zealand's Natural Beauties:  Of Flora, Fauna and Everything Beautiful

There is something special about an island nation that is so incredibly beautiful that it cannot be expressed in words. Now imagine a country that has 600+ islands in it! That is New Zealand for you. Thanks to its geography, New Zealand has hundreds of natural attractions spread all over the archipelago. Natural trails for trekking and hiking, picturesque beaches, islands with native tribes, unexplored caves, skiing options - New Zealand has it all. Add to that the amazing wildlife that includes the yellow-eyed penguin, Hector’s dolphin, little blue penguins and the New Zealand fur seal and you have yourself a destination that is nothing short of magical. 

The pleasant climate of the country is so perfect that you can travel anywhere any time of the year to witness everything New Zealand has to offer. Here is a list of some of the best natural attractions that draw millions of tourists to the country’s shores every year. 


Beautiful Beaches

Piha : Just 45 minutes from Auckland, Piha is a laid-back seaside village that packs a punch. Dotted with rugged cliffs, it is not just a scenic location but also a popular destination for surfing. The Kitekite waterfalls and the Lion rock are the two best attractions of this beach. You can stay in any of the various caravans, cottages or private beach houses present here, according to your interests and budget. 

Hot water beach : Located at the eastern coast, just 175kms from Auckland, the Hot Water Beach has always been a top tourist destination for multiple reasons. However, it is the hot water springs that draw the maximum attention. You can dig up a hole at the shore with ease and enjoy your time in the thermal water bath. Do take care though to not get hit by waves and stay safe as these hot water spring spots are not far from the sea. All said and done, it is a definitely a great place for you to relax, especially during the winter months. 


Picturesque National Parks

Abel Tasman National Park

Even though it is the smallest National Park in the country, the Abel Tasman National Park is the most refreshing and interesting of all. Not just popular for its forest trails, it is also renowned for the incredible variety of flora and fauna you get to witness here. Fur seals relaxing on rocks, little blue penguins diving into the sea and birds chirping excitedly are just a few of the many beautiful experiences that you get to enjoy here. Also, it is a great destination to interact with the Māori tribe as the locals here are always welcoming.

Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park

If you love trekking through mountains and want to explore nature in its purest form, then Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park is the place to be. With 23 peaks over 3000m high, there are many easy-to-access trekking options for you to explore. Furthermore, it is undoubtedly one of the best locations in the country for star gazing. Don’t forget to click some stunning pictures of the night sky filled with millions of stars. The Department of Conservation has set up several huts in the park for tourists to stay at subsided rates, as well, making it an affordable visit.   


Tranquil Lakes

Lake Tekapo

Just 3.5 hours away from Christchurch or Queenstown, Lake Tekapo is one of the most surreal lakes in New Zealand. It offers a scenic forest trail, a beautiful boat riding experience and also has a UNESCO Sky Reserve site, popular for its amazing night sky. Spend a night at the Mount John Observatory, stargazing in peace. Just spending some time at the turquoise-coloured lake with scenic mountains in the background is an amazing experience in itself. 

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is one of the best natural attractions in the country for the innumerable options it presents travellers with. You can trek or hike through various natural trails, enjoy mountain biking, visit the amazing Huka Falls or enjoy fishing in the lake. Also, with a considerable amount of population in the island, you have lots of options for accommodation. Just 4 and a half hours away from Wellington, it is surely a place that should be on your bucket list.


Snow-capped Mountains for Skiing

Cardrona Alpine Resort

Located in the South Island, Cardrona Alpine Resort is the ideal skiing destination in the town. With the range filled with paths that fall under various difficulty levels, it is the perfect spot for skiers of all levels - beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert. Snowboarding and gondola rides are the other activities that you can take part in. However, if you think that this place is perfect only for the winter season, you are mistaken as it is also a great hub for mountain biking during the summer.

Coronet Peak Ski Area

Night skiing is something that sounds awesome straight off the bat and that is exactly what you can try here at Coronet Peak Ski Area. The well-lit track is open for skiing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, until the end of August. Just 20mins away from Queenstown, the commercial ski field is open to tourists from all around the world with different packages depending on the activities you want to take part in. It also has a stunning space for music and dance events where you can enjoy the night with fellow tourists. 


Off-beat Caves

Waitomo

For any adventurer, exploring caves is one activity that is at the top of the bucket list. There is something so fantastical about a cave system that it brings an adrenaline rush to anyone who explores such a place. The perfect long cave system is one that has waterfalls, a river stream in which you can ride your canoe and multiple locations for rock climbing, and Waitomo has everything you can want and more. However, the biggest attraction of this place is the fact that it turns luminous every night because of the numerous glow-worms it houses. With over 30 million years in the making, you can literally see traces of evolution in front of your eyes!

Te Anau

Another glow-worm cave in the offing, Te Anau is a cave that has man-made bridges inside for you to navigate your way. Mentioned in the old Māori legends, the cave was found only 70 or so years ago. However, since then, it has been a top tourist place in the islands of New Zealand. The limestone caves are perfect for all age groups. You can complete the 2.5 hour trip on a boat ride in small groups to enjoy the tour to the fullest. 

With all these natural attractions, New Zealand is certainly a naturally diverse country. This is exactly what makes this archipelago so mesmerizing and attractive to visit- there is something for every kind of nature enthusiast. Also, all the places have some tranquil picnic or camping spots for you to just chill, relax and enjoy the picturesque views in front of you. 

To know about how to reach there, connect with Thomas Cook to get information regarding the best packages that will help you visit these incredible locations at affordable prices. Plan your trip today!

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Best Time to Visit New Zealand for Indian Citizens

What’s the Best Time for a New Zealand Vacation for a India Traveller?

New Zealand has a relatively short history as the first form of civilisation can be traced back to 1200-1300 AD. The fascinating Māori tribe stumbled upon this exquisite piece of land while exploring the Pacific Ocean and went onto inhabit the island for years to come. Over time, the Europeans found their way to the oasis and made permanent settlements there. With majority of the population being European or Māori, the two have had the biggest impact on the culture and history of the country. As a result, the tiny nation of New Zealand has a lot more to it than meets the eye. 

Located in the southern hemisphere, the country experiences climates that run opposite to other parts of the world. As such, the summer season graces the nation from the months of December to February, while the winter season settles in during the months of June, July and August. Similarly, spring and autumn switch places too. It’s no surprise, that tourists flock to Kiwiland during the golden sunshine days. 

The archipelago of New Zealand has over 600 unspoiled islands that can be classified into the Northern Islands and the Southern Islands. Apart from a few southern islands that have temperatures below the freezing point, most other islands have incredibly pleasant climates throughout the year, making it an ideal destination to travel to.

If you are pondering over the best time to visit New Zealand, we can confidently say that one can travel to this ethereal and dreamy region all through the year. While summers offer pleasant weather conditions for exploration, winters enable ample opportunities to indulge in winter sports. Keep in mind that New Zealand hosts a number of colourful and unique festivals to celebrate its diverse cultures. One can witness a variety of authentic performances from troops from New Zealand as well as other parts of the world. Planning your trip to coincide with any of these festivals will surely add to your experience!

Apart from the festivals, New Zealand has innumerable natural attractions that you must glimpse. Awe-inspiring beaches, happening harbours, picturesque trekking trails, virgin Islands, magical ski settings and mysterious unexplored caves are some of the many highlights. Milford Sound is famous for its hills, waterfalls and penguins! Waitomo is home to unique glow-worm caves, while the Abel Tasman National Park offers you memorable experiences through its beaches and nature trails. Similarly, you can experience the thrill of visiting hot water beaches, colour-splashed geothermal reserves, huge gardens with blossoming flowers, volcanoes and glaciers. The list just goes on and on, making the decision to visit this country an absolute no-brainer!

Spring (September to November)- Wonder of Wisteria

Climate:

The temperature of New Zealand in spring fluctuates between 5°C and 19°C, although the average temperature across the country ranges from 10-12°C. The nation basks in a pleasant, comfortable and alluring atmosphere. It is one of the best seasons to visit New Zealand in because of the blooming flowers and the lush green fields all around. Also, spring season does not receive that much of rainfall, making it an ideal time for you to explore the beaches as well. Due to the gentle climate, it is the perfect time for you to indulge in some amazing treks and hikes through the various national parks and other natural plains. 

Highlights:

Victorian Fete is one of the most popular festivals of this season. Locals dress up in traditional Victorian costume to reminisce about the British influence on the culture. Do try riding a Penny Farthing to have a unique experience! Listen In Auckland is a concert of talented musicians belting out their performances at the Mt. Smart Stadium, while Freqs Out Halloween Festival is quite similar but with a fewer number of participants. 

Tips:

Indulge in a few fitness regimes before visiting New Zealand in the spring. You will require stamina to be able to successfully participate in the various outdoor activities on offer. Snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and trekking are some of the many physically challenging activities that you can be a part of. Carry at least one layer of your woollens during this time of year. Since it is a shoulder season, you can book your hotel rooms upon arrival as well.

Summer (December-February) Sun and Sand 

Climate:

New Zealand summer is incredibly great in every aspect and in no way is short of paradise for its tourists! This season is best-suited for travel, with the minimum temperature not dropping below 12°C and the maximum temperature hardly going above 25°C. The long hours of amber sunlight enable one to explore the landscapes and terrains with ease. However, it is the wettest season of the year with respect to rainfall. 

Highlights:

Be it the historical monuments, swanky restaurants, scenic beaches or national parks, summer is the best time for everything. It is also an ideal time for you to enjoy your bonding sessions with the locals, from the Europeans to the Māori people, as everyone spends major chunks of the day outdoors. Furthermore, you get to enjoy a summer Christmas, which is unlike the typical Christmas experience anywhere else in the world. 

The summer season also sees the maximum number of music festivals, with artists from around the world coming in to perform. Rhythm and Alps and Rhythm and Vines are the best music festivals of the year, without a doubt. Hosted between 28th and 31st of December, attending any of these is also a great way to celebrate the New Year. 

Tips:

Summer is peak season, which means you need to book your tickets and accommodation well in advance. One important thing to note, New Zealand’s ozone protection is weak. Hence, you should always apply sunscreen before going outdoors. Carry summery clothes as it can get really hot during the days. Since it is also rainy season, do carry your umbrella and ponchos with you. Your emergency kit bag should have wet wipes and sanitiser for sure. 


Autumn (March-May) Fall Finery

Climate:

New Zealand during the season of autumn experiences temperatures somewhere between 6°C and 25°C. While the month of March remains relatively hot, the climate begins to cool off as the season goes through May. The average temperatures sway between 10°C and 12°C, however it can drop down to 6°C at night. This season experiences slightly more rain in comparison to spring but less in comparison to summer. 

Highlights:

Autumn in New Zealand is just like spring, in terms of the aspect of affordability. It is also the best time to visit New Zealand to experience and explore the bold and breath-taking wilderness, with multiple shades of green, brown and red. Individuals can trek through the alpine forests, indulge in rock climbing, camping, biking and other various outdoor activities as the pleasant weather conditions allow you to do so. 

Homegrown is the longest running and most popular music festival, celebrated during late March. With more than 7 stages and 40+ bands performing, it is a great time to visit the country. Furthermore, World of Music, Art and Dance is an incredible festival, with artists from various countries performing their local art forms.

Tips:

Even though it is a shoulder season, it does not mean that there is a huge drop in the number of tourists here. Since it is the period just before the chilling winters and after the summers, a lot of people tend to visit the place to experience weather conditions that are a mix of both. You should carry your umbrella and raincoats with you, especially while trekking or hiking.  


Winter (June-August) Ice Princess

Climate:

New Zealand winters are deliciously frosty, with temperatures hovering from 1°C to 15°C. However, certain southern islands can average 10 to 12°C. This season is pleasantly cold, with not too many blizzards coming in from the ocean. Furthermore, almost all the precipitation during this time of the year comes in the form of snow. 

Highlights:

Witness the majestic winter season smack in the middle of the year, a unique experience in itself! This is the best time to visit the country if you are interested in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing and hiking through snow. For an adventurer and nature-lover, there is no better time to visit the country as you will get an opportunity to connect with nature. With this season seeing the least number of tourists, you can enjoy some tranquillity and serenity. Also, this is the most budget friendly season as all the rates are at their lowest. 

If you are not adept at winter sports, do not worry. The Queenstown Winter Festival allows you to enjoy your time outdoors, with amazing music performances, film screenings, food and game stalls. 

Tips:

You need not stress about booking hotel rooms or flight tickets well in advance as this is the low season of the year. The more you travel to the southern islands, the more you’ll see a drop in temperature. Hence, make sure to pack warm winter clothing. When outdoors, do not forget to wear gloves as it can get really chilly. Also, while trekking along the glaciers, make sure to have a trek leader with you. 

Now that you’ve befriended New Zealand, check out our travel package and embark on an adventure of a lifetime! 

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Romantic Places

Land of Kiwi. Land of Rugby. Land of food. Land of romance. New Zealand is picture-perfect. Verdant grasslands, pristine beaches, diverse landscape, delicious delicacies, thrilling adventure sports, stunning shopping experiences, New Zealand will make you fall in love all over again. In blockbuster, record-breaking Bollywood movie style! Here’s where your loved one and you can relive every moment of romance with adventure and lots of excitement! New Zealand is famous for its culture and scenery, but how can one forget the A-class MasterChef style cuisines and local delicacies. 

New Zealand is as fascinating as a beautifully filmed romantic movie. Although every part of it will fill you up with amazing memories, here are 5 destinations that will redefine your definition of love.


1. Queenstown:

Do romantic songs inspire you? Would you like to recreate the scene of your favourite love song? Queenstown will sweep you off your feet with its beautiful vineyards, chic boutiques and natural hot pools. Relive the classic chiffon saree moment and dance to the tune of “Sadka Kiya” from ‘I Hate Luv Storys’, at the breath-taking Queenstown waterfront. Prove your love by jumping off the Queenstown mountain, only to land on the ground safely. Capture these moments on Instagram and keep these memories alive forever.  


2. Auckland:

Selfie-lovers will find interesting backdrops in Auckland. This big city will feed your ambitious holiday list. Be it adventure activities that will leave your heart in your mouth or a candlelight dinner that will melt it, Auckland is designed for love. Make your trip even more romantic by getting two halves of heart shaped ice creams, one for each, from Giapo for an Insta pic that will send your likes soaring through the roof. Dance the night away and go club hopping, to explore the different themes and vibe each place has to offer. Adventure seeking couples can jump off the Sky tower or indulge in kayaking for an adrenaline rush. Gift a greenstone to your partner that signifies love. Try out new ice cream flavours at the Hokey Pokey outlet in South Auckland. 


3. Coromandel Peninsula:

Set foot on this alluring beach paradise where the trees sway to the rhythm of the sea and so can you! Be the Katrina Kaif to your Siddharth Malhotra and dance in swimsuits to “Sau Aasmaan”, from the movie “Baar Dekho”. Get down on your knee and relive the day you proposed for a tik tok video that you’ll want to watch over and over again. Feeling the urge to take your romance to another level? Go snorkelling and discover the beauty of the ocean under your feet.


4. Christchurch:

Sing to the melodies of “Kyu chalti hai pawan, kyun jhoome an gagan, na tum jaano na hum” at the very place this song was shot. Or come closer as you support each other during an ice-skating class and rediscover the strength of your love. Christchurch is a place that will add the perfect amount of spice and sweet to your relationship with its lively nightlife, awe-inspiring buildings, murder mystery dinner and loads of exciting activities.


5. Waiheke Island:

White sandy beaches lined with towering palm trees wait to welcome you. Waters every shade of blue invites you to dive in. Vineyards that are all set to entice you. What can be more intoxicating than a trip to Waiheke!  Romantic strolls through beautiful vineyards, sipping on fine wine in an intimate setting as you watch the sun set is something that should feature in every romantic guidebook. You could also take your commitment miles ahead with a scenic drive in a vintage car or fulfil the dream of dupatta flying, in a convertible for an extra dose of fun. 


6. Waitomo Caves:

Starry-eyed romantics will have the best opportunity to spend quality time at the Waitomo Caves. Head to this Northern Island attraction and get star struck by the beautiful night sky, just like Katrina Kaif and Hrithik Roshan do in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. Experience stars around you as thousands of glow worms gather under the limestone caves and sparkle right in front of your eyes. Add some thrill with adventure activities like abseiling, black water rafting and spelunking. Call it a day by camping on the hillside amidst nature.


7. Marlborough:

Clink your wine glass filled with the world-famous Sauvignon blanc at an alluring winery. Treat your taste buds to mouth-watering scrumptious seafood, staring at the most outstanding view of flora and fauna with your partner. Feeling romantic? Run through the long vineyard trail towards your loved one for the classic DDLJ feels. If you’re all about nature, relax and admire the lush forests by taking a kayak trip or hopping on a cruise, to explore the Marlborough Sounds. If that is not enough, take a walk along Queen Charlotte Track and engage yourselves in one of the most famous hikes of New Zealand. 

Every inch of this Island will fill you up with love and add a tinge of magic in your relationship. With so much to offer, there is no better place for a romantic getaway that will be a treasure for lifetime. Start planning the special Bollywood moments you will want to relive with your spouse!

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Plan a proposal at these Romantic Locations

A perfect partner deserves the perfect proposal. The memory of which seems like a happy song that they just can’t seem to get out of their heads. A memory that takes them back in time, back to that moment all over again.  A proposal isn’t just a proposal, but the promise of a lifetime, that stays with you forever. Wondering where and how to propose? Thomas Cook India will help you make an offer that nobody can refuse! Check out these magical destinations and ideas in New Zealand for the perfect magical proposal.


1. Auckland:

While love at first sight is not unheard of, love at first bite is certainly something different. Pamper your sweetheart with syrupy bites and melt in the mouth treats. Surprise the love of your life by buying them a delicious ice cream shaped like the half of a chocolate heart. This is when you ask him/her to complete you, by being your better half! Like this idea? Head to Giapo, that serves frozen sweet treats as works of art and ask for the ‘Two become one’ ice cream! Or simply ask them to write ‘Marry Me’ in edible letters on your partner’s preferred choice of ice cream for a sweet proposal. Up above the world so high…no, we are not suggesting you sing a lullaby to your loved one but take them on a hot air balloon ride instead! A private spectacle indeed, where even though you can see what seems like the entire world beneath you, you are just a dot to the same. Away from the rest of the world. Propose to your favourite human being amidst sailing clouds and endless oceans of blue and watch them turn speechless for a fleeting moment. Too good to be true, isn’t it? 


2. Rotorua:

Pop the question amidst pitch darkness as you embark on an underground boat ride at the Waitomo Glowworm caves. Listen to your beloved gasp in surprise and watch the curve of their smile glisten as the light of glittering glowworms falls on their face. Never will you be more aware of each other’s presence than in the quiet, luminous caves half engulfed in darkness. Listen to the sound of your own heartbeat quicken, that follows the pin drop silence after you pop the question. Faint sounds are overpowered by feelings that ring loud and clear in your ears. Go forth, for this romantic setting will certainly not let you down. Now, want to match the adrenalin rush that comes along with rafting at the roaring Kaituna River or rappelling off steep-edged cliffs? Why not ask for your dear one’s hand in marriage as they clutch your arm, splashing your way through the water? We are sure both you and your partner will experience an adrenalin rush like never before after dropping the big question. If you would rather subtly slide in the question in the middle of a gooey, warm and bubbling mud bath with your loved one, when relaxation is at it peak, who could ever say no? It’s almost not fair! 


3. Queenstown:

Get down on one knee at the city of love, a new Paris awaits you. Ride into the sunset in gorgeous Gondola rides followed by a lip-smacking and wholesome buffet meal.  And as you rise 450 metres high above the ground, think out loud, “What a view,” as you lovingly gaze at your partner. Watch the sky break into shades of orange, yellow and golden as the sun bids goodbye. Say hello to your new life as you finally ask your love to marry you.  Be it summer’s balmy nights, autumn’s crisp air or winter’s misty mornings; Queenstown is every romantic’s favourite haunt. Which is why you should start your new journey here. Ever wanted to simply hold hands and gaze at the wondrous ripples formed on the lake together? Head to the Moke Lake that reflects snow clad mountains and clear blue azure skies. And break through the deafening silence to ask a question that will change your life forever, “Will you marry me?” Or embark on a helicopter ride to a secluded and isolated mountain that waits just for you. No human interruptions, no manmade disturbances. It is just you and the love of your life. 


4. Dunedin:

If a fairytale like proposal is what your partner is longing for, this idyllic South Island is the place to be! Talking about fairytales, how about an unforgettable proposal in a castle? Walk amidst the glorious gardens of Larnach Castle as you steal kisses from your sweetheart. And as you dance around in the exquisite gardens, make your soon to be’s heart sway as you ask her/ him to marry you. Travel back in time as you step into the intricate Victorian interiors of this castle. With magnificent tower views and walls that hold within them tales of romance and despair, this spot is indeed the epitome of love. If quiet proposals aren’t your thing, declare your love for your partner atop the Signal Hill as you overlook an array of twinkling city lights of Dunedin. Drive up to the top or embark on a walk instead, the view looking over the harbour and peninsula will be rewarding either way! If you visit during the day, views of the glistening Pacific Ocean coastline and historical landmarks will leave you smitten. Note that if you are walking to this spot, it will take around two hours to get here. 


5. Stewart Island:

Careless whispers in your loved one’s ears as the sky comes alive with beams of pink, green and red lights. The ominous spread of shining stars amidst swirls of pink and purple will instantly make you fall in love with everything around you. Watch these wandering ribbons of light form rainbows in the sky as you finally declare your infinite love to your beloved. Strokes of psychedelic green, red and orange ornaments the virtual darkness of this polar region in the southern hemisphere. The magic of Southern lights puts you in a spell. This proves true when the spectacular Southern Lights sunset mesmerizes you. As the sun goes down and the stars come out, dancing lights create a scene while a thick ray of high energy particles puts you under the spotlight. The only audience is your partner. Shine on. Could the setting be any more romantic? 

Can’t wait to visit these romantic destinations and plan the perfect proposal for your partner? A perfect partner and perfect proposal should never be kept waiting. Visit the Thomas Cook website to check out our New Zealand packages and book your tickets right away! 

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Skytower Auckland

Entertainment, adventure and fine dining, all under one roof! Soaring towards the sky, piercing its way through the clouds, Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand. Astonishing views of faraway lands, fun activities and exquisite delicacies to relish, this place offers it all. Standing at the observation view point, you will be stunned with the picturesque view which is like a beautiful painting on a canvas. Over 415,000 people visit this iconic tower every year. You could be next.

Location : Corner of Victoria and Federal Streets


Timings:

Month Timing
May to October 9 am to 10 pm. One cannot buy a ticket to Sky Tower after 9.30 pm.
November to April

from Sunday to Thursday : 8.30 am to 10.30 pm. One cannot buy a ticket to Sky Tower after 10 pm.

Friday and Saturday: from 8.30 am to 11.30 pm. The latest you can buy a ticket is at 11 pm.

(Note: Sky Tower is open 365 days. Although, it may be closed from time to time due to weather conditions. Hence, check before planning your trip.)

 

Highlights:

  • A chance to view the city life from a height of 220 metres above the street level
  • Get panoramic views till a distance of about 80 kilometres in all directions
  • Opportunity to see natural and man-made wonders within as well as outside the city like volcanoes, Islands, architecture, blue waters, and more
  • Get an opportunity to dine with an alluring view at Orbit 360 degree, a revolving restaurant that gives you a complete view of the city in all directions; The Sugar Club, that is elegant and glitzy; and the Sky Café that will surprise you with its exotic coffee and ice creams
  • Shop for some amazing Kiwiana souvenirs, official All Blacks Adidas products and other mementos from the Sky Tower Gift Shop
  • Enjoy the specially organised fun activities which are held only during the New Zealand school vacations 
  • There is free Wi-Fi**. So, you can send pictures of your visit to your loved ones back home

(Note : Wi-Fi** only when there is network availability)


Price:

Sky Tower Admission Includes:-

  • 220 metre Sky Deck viewing platform
  • 186 metre Main Observation Level
  • 182 metre Sky Café
Admission for Price
Adult $32 (15 years and above)
Child $13 (6 to 14 years age group)
Child Free (5 years and under)
Family $75 (2 children and 2 adults)
Concessions  
Students with valid ID pass $23
Senior Citizen with valid ID pass $23

 

(NOTE: All children must be accompanied by an adult. Bookings are not essential but recommended for groups.)

(NOTE: You have to pay extra if you wish to engage in the various activities)


Recommended For:

It is a rare opportunity that you may get to experience adrenaline pumping activities, fine dining and a view of the Kiwi world at one single place. Sky Tower is, without doubt, your go-to place if you wish to view the breath taking man-made and natural wonders from a single location. The sight of the sun melting into the horizon is a must-capture photo op and the flashy nightlife of the city is mesmerising, especially when you have a 360-degree panoramic view.


How to reach Sky Tower:

Sky Tower is located in the heart of Auckland City near Victoria and Federal Streets.


From Auckland Airport:

Sky Tower is about 45 minutes away from Auckland Airport. You can catch a bus or hire a taxi from the airport. One can get a taxi just outside the international terminals and it costs about $75 to travel to the city. You can also catch a SkyBus at the bus stop located right outside the International Airport for just $17 for an Adult to travel to main Auckland. 


From Britomart:

Britomart is Auckland’s bus and train station. It is a 10-minute walk from Britomart to Sky Tower. You can also travel from Britomart to Sky Tower by Link Bus.


Via Link Bus:

Link Bus is the easiest way to travel within the city of Auckland as it covers all major destinations. The services begins from 6.10 am and lasts up to midnight with an interval of 15 minutes during weekdays. Weekend and public holiday services begin from 6.20 am to midnight, with an interval of 10-15 minutes.

 

About Sky Tower:

Nestled in the heart of Auckland, Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, with a height of 328 meters. It was built 20 years back using high performance and high strength concrete. The construction of this tower took about 2 years and 9 months. It has been designed to withstand heavy storms with an intensity of up to 200 km/hr (125 mph). The construction and design of this tower makes it capable of standing strong even during an 8.0 magnitude earthquake occurring within 20 kilometres of the tower.

At the base of Sky Tower, is SKYCITY entertainment complex. It is home to two premium hotels, 20 stylish bars and restaurants, a 700-seater theatre and a magnificent casino. The building consists of three glass elevators which take about 40 seconds to reach the top floor. Alternatively, there are 1,267 steps that one has to climb to reach the Sky Deck from the base of Sky Tower. There are three, circular public observation levels that provide 360-degree views of Auckland at Sky Tower which are Sky Deck, Main Observation level and Sky Café. 

Sky Tower is an entertainment hub. Thrill seekers can try adventure activities like Sky walking and Sky jumping to get their adrenaline pumping. There are various workshops and events that are held for all age groups throughout the year. You can take part in fun activities like Yoga workshops, Live Sports match screenings, Bingo nights, Whiskey nights, video games, and more. Exciting adventurous activities, fine dining experiences and breath-taking views, all under one roof.

 

Interesting facts about Sky Tower:

  • The Sky Tower was built over a duration of two years and nine months.
  • There are three viewpoints at Sky Tower that overlook the beautiful city of Auckland as well as the surrounding areas and waters. They are the Sky Deck, Main Observation level and Sky Café.
  • The building has three glass elevators that take about 40 seconds to reach the top floor. Each lift can carry 75 passengers each. The elevator travels at a speed of 18 kmph
  • Alternatively, there are 1,267 steps that connect the base of Sky Tower to Sky Deck. It would take about 29 minutes for a person to reach the Sky Deck if you climbed at a speed of 2.5 mph.
  • On a bright day, you will have the opportunity to get a panoramic view of a distance of about 82 kilometres (51 miles) from Sky Tower. That's as far north as Leigh Peninsula, as far east as Great Barrier Island, as far west as the Waitakere Ranges, and as far south as the Bombay Hills

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Rangitoto Island

If New Zealand is on your mind, let us introduce you to the most charming landscape in the country…. Rangitoto Island! Home to the world’s largest Pohutukawa woodland, this archipelago will add beautiful colours to your trip with its multi-coloured foliage. Being the youngest natural creation, it houses the largest, distinctive, symmetrical volcanic cone that attracts tourists from all over the world. Rangitoto is a major adventure hub that entices all thrill seekers and wanderers. All you have to do is sail 13.3 kilometres from the coast of Auckland, and you’ll encounter the country's largest volcano. Built over 600 years of activity, this volcanic island paints reds and blues on a canvas. It’s no wonder that Rangitoto in Maori means “Bloody Sky” due to its surprising history.  


Location:

Rangitoto Island is located about 13.3 kilometres away from the coast of Auckland

Hours: 07:30 AM to 5:00 PM


Timings:

If you’re planning to sail to Rangitoto Island from Auckland, you can hop on to a ferry that departs between 9.15 am to 12.15 pm on weekdays and 7.30 am to 1.30 pm on weekends and public holidays. It takes about 25 minutes to reach. From the Island, one can take a ferry back to the mainland, that departs between 12.45 pm to 4.30 pm on weekdays and 12.45 pm to 5.00 pm on weekends and public holidays. 

The tours are open throughout the year (when the weather permits). 


Highlights:

  • A close encounter with the youngest volcano in New Zealand
  • Walking trails that help you explore most of the Island
  • 25 minutes long ferry ride to Rangitoto Island on a high-class vessel
  • An opportunity to kayak from Auckland to Rangitoto Island
  • An hour-long walk to the summit or an alternative choice to ride on a 4WD road train
  • A chance to explore the lava fields and red forests
  • Soak in exhilarating 360-degree views from the top of the summit


Packing checklist: 

  • Drinking water and lots of snacks and lunch
  • Appropriate footwear and clothing
  • A hat and sunblock (during summers)
  • Swimwear and a towel if you decide to snorkel or take a dip
  • A garbage bag to hold your waste so you can dispose it off properly in the main city
  • A torch for the lava caves

 

Price:

Rangitoto return

Adults: $30.00-39.00

Child: $15.00-19.50 (5 to 15 years age group)

Family: $105.00 (2 children between age group of 5 to 15 and 2 adults)

(NOTE : The prices vary depending on the tour you select)

 


Recommended For:

It is a rare opportunity to encounter nature at its best so closely. Rangitoto Island, without doubt, is one of the youngest and the largest volcanoes in New Zealand. The view from the summit is breath-taking as faraway lands and blue waters surround it on all sides. Every year, thousands of tourists visit this Isle for its red forests and rare species of birds. 


How to reach Rangitoto Island:

The best way to reach this beautiful island is by taking a guided tour and sailing towards it from Auckland. If you wish to seek some adventure, you can also kayak towards this Isle for a splendid experience.


About Rangitoto Island

Resting about 13-14 kilometres away from the coast of Auckland, Rangitoto will give you a glimpse of the isolated world that resides within. This symmetrical summit cone emerges approximately 260 metres above sea level. This young volcano was born 600 years ago and is the largest one amongst the other 50 in New Zealand. Blanketing over 2,311 hectares of area, Rangitoto stands strong till date.

Rangitoto means ‘Bloody Sky’ in Maori. The history of this name goes back to the famous Maori phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua ("The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua"). The island is believed to be the resting place of Tama-te-kapua, the captain of Arawa waka who was badly wounded after losing the battle against Tainui iwi. A Maori myth that is linked to this place is about the children of Fire Gods. After getting into a fight with the Fire Goddess, the kids lost their homeland which was destroyed by the God of Earthquakes as a backlash to their argument with the Goddess. Rangitoto rose from the sea and Lake Pupuke was formed as a result of the earthquake. The mist surrounding the island is said to be the tears that the children shed due to the sad destruction of their homes. 

With an interesting history and an alluring present, this volcano attracts thousands of tourists and globetrotters every year. Climbing on the summit, you will have an amazing 360-degree view of the breath-taking waters and faraway lands. This land offers a plethora of activities, whether it is underwater, on water or land, depending on your interests.

Guided tours will help you explore the volcano or the lands surrounding it (on foot or by road train). Taking a tour is an amazing way to explore this land, getting to know more about its history and stories. 

Explore the mysteries of the ocean world by snorkelling. Learn about the mythology of the Maoris and hike through the red forests to spot exotic birds. Get a peek into the architectural history of this land by heading to the Bach 38 Museum. Meander through the black lava caves and spot the emerald islands that surround Rangitoto Island.

It is recommended to wear good quality trekking shoes as the trails are uneven and the rocks are sharp. Don’t forget to stock up on food and water as you will not find any supplies there. Carry sunscreen during summers due to its unexpected climate variations. Reach the shore on time of the last ferry ride as it’s a long swim back to the main city and you don’t want to be stranded without food and water on a deserted island. 


Interesting facts about Rangitoto Island:

  • Rangitoto is the youngest volcano in the history of New Zealand which was born about 600 years back
  • Rangitoto means ‘Bloody Sky’ in Maori
  • This volcano rises up to 260 meters above the seafloor
  • It is home to the world’s largest Pohutukawa forest and exotic birds with this habitat
  • About 250 species of trees and plants, which include orchids and ferns, are found on this island along with types of lichens, algae and mosses
  • There are no virtual streams running through this Island; the moisture requirement is met by rainfall only

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Lesser Known Places to Visit

New Zealand is a potpourri of history, spirituality, culture and nature. From its sprawling forests to its emerald and pink lakes, pristine beaches, charming vineyards, picturesque landscapes, scenic islands and active volcanic zones, there are many roads for travellers to follow. Many filmmakers, artists, solo travellers, adrenaline junkies and photographers are attracted to the enticing backdrops and the wide array of activities provided by this Island country. A visit to New Zealand does not always have to be a visit to the cliché cities and towns on the beaten path. Explore untouched and lesser known locales with your family, to add some adventure to your trip. With many sights to see and things to do, here are 6 destinations you must visit, ditching the mainstream tourist traps.

1. Lake Quill:

This destination is a nature lover’s paradise. Amidst the towering snow-capped mountains lies a beautiful blue lake - Lake Quill. No matter how many lakes you might have visited, Lake Quill will still surprise you with its elegance and aura. Beautifully nestled on a mountain top in Fiordland National Park, it is an amazing journey to cross the funnels of the Sutherland falls to reach this alluring setting. The mesmerising picture that it paints with its blues, whites and greens is a feast to the eyes and a delight for the soul. An amazing day can be spent by trekking or hiking to this serene spot with your family for a perfect adventurous trip. Trek to the lake or get a bird’s eye view of this blue water body by taking a scenic helicopter ride. 

2. Earnslaw Burn:

How fascinating is the fact that this place made a cameo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Even with its cinematic fame, this alluring setting does not get as much importance as it should. Set in the beautiful hamlet of Glenorchy, Earnslaw Burn features an icefall which tumbles down a 2000m rock face to supply numerous waterfalls. Its stunning alpine backdrop offers a spirit of adventure and solitude, depending on your interests. It is a hub for adventure enthusiasts as it provides a plethora of activities like horse-riding, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, fishing, paragliding, abseiling and much more. You can also set up a camp and watch the sun melt into the towering mountains.  


3. Karamea:

Wish to explore the hidden paths of the South Island? Head to Karamea, a hamlet which is placed on the edge of the West Coast region. Sandwiched between forest hills and the Tasman sea, this town serves up a taste of the wilderness. Home to some enchanting forests and caves, you will be able to add new dimensions to your adventure activities. Known to be a hiker’s paradise, this town offers adventure activities like short walks, one day hikes and multi-day trekking opportunities like a Great Walk. If cardio is not your thing, you can go kayaking or caving. Want to relax a little and soak up in the sun? No worries, all you have to do is go to the mesmerising Scotts Beach. Do remember to pack a picnic basket while you head to this beautiful beach.  Discover Maori history and get to know more about their traditions by heading to the Karamea Museum. 

4. Curio Bay:

There are many things to capture on your camera at Curio Bay, which include penguins, whales and dolphins to name a few. Interestingly, this place has a fossil forest that dates back to the Jurassic era. This fossil forest is about 180 million years old, being one out of the three accessible fossil forests in the world. The bay also houses rare yellow-eyed Penguins and a resident pod of Hector’s dolphins. Curio Bay surrounds you with jaw-dropping scenery and exotic wildlife. Whether you explore the forests, swimming with the friendly dolphins or watching the sea lions laze at the shore, this coastal destination is worth a visit with your family. 

5. Whangarei & falls:

Whangarei is a city which rests beside the sea. The seashore is lined with a number of eateries and entertainment spots that make this location vibrant and lively. Landscapes decorated with beautiful colonial architecture, fancy restaurants and cafes, iconic museums, colourful art galleries and specialty shops add to the aura of this alluring town. Heading west of the city, you will come across the suburb of Maunu. This place has a natural history museum that consists Kiwi bird houses. Besides it, there is a nursery for the native birds. Whangarei also houses the Whangarei falls that tumble over the cliffs, feeding the natural pool that lies at its foot. It is a complete divine sight of nature with pleasant sounds of gushing water.

6. Whangamomona:

One of the major highlights along the stretch of the Forgotten World Highway is the small controversial town of Whangamomona. Controversial for historic and political reasons, this land is like none you have come across before. Vacationers visit Whangamomona to relish the celebrations of the Republic Day of the countryside which is celebrated every two years. Celebrations include activities like gumboot throwing, whip cracking and possum skinning which depicts the humorous side of the local residents. Also, there are various stalls which sell traditional handicrafts. The historic, Local Hotel of Whangamomona, is the only bar in this neighbourhood. Travelers stop here to grab a meal and to have a look at the collection of photos which illustrates the town’s old days. A day’s trip or a halt at Whangamomona is enough to capture and enjoy the history, culture and the refinement of the rich country hill.

Every corner of this alluring land will fill you up with memories and experiences different from the rest. These lesser known places and activities make for an unforgettable trip to New Zealand. So, pack your bags for these untouched paradises instead of the busy main cities and try something different this year. 

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Fiordland national park

Mother Nature’s Masterpiece

Drama and beauty are fused together at the Fiordland National Park in South Island, New Zealand. Spread over an area of 12,607 square kilometres, Fiordland features a gorgeous natural phenomenon wherever you look. On the one hand you have incredible ancient forests that cling possessively to the mountain slopes, on the other waterfalls that tumble slip and relinquish themselves to the gigantic fiords. All of this glory lies in the shadow and shimmer of snow-capped mountains. 


Location:

The park is located in the Southwest Corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The main base of the park is located at the small town of Te Anau, which is 171 kilometres southwest of Queenstown. Te Anau is well-equipped with hotels, cafes and other conveniences that tourists may need after their visit to the park. 

Tel: +64 3 249 8900

Hours: Between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM (these fluctuate).

Timings: Fiordland National Park is open every day of the year. 

1st May to 22nd October: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

23rd October to 30th April: 8:00 AM- 05:00 PM. 

Christmas Day: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM.

Highlights:

  • Feel the presence of the majestic mountains and the deep waters of Milford Sound, as you cruise along this spectacular coastline
  • Spot the Fiordland crested penguins and New Zealand fur seals as your sail around the islands of Doubtful Sound. You may even see a whale!
  • Peer into the mirror-like surface of Lake Te Anau, fringed by native forests and framed by tall snowy mountains in the background
  • Discover the sheer power and size of the park by trekking through the most popular routes – Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Kepler Track and more
  • Take scenic flight across the park
  • Go Jetboating or visit the Fiordland Cinema
  • Visit the shimmering glow worm caves

Recommended For:

The park is home to 14 fiords (steep valleys) that stretch across 215 kilometres of the coastline. This lush land is one of the most visited areas of New Zealand – by both locals and tourists alike. Nearly 1 million people have visited Fiordland in 2019. With attractions like the iconic Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves and more, the park is an open invitation to gawk at the wonder of nature.  


How to get to Fiordland National Park:

There are different ways to reach the national park – suitable for every budget.

By Car: Drive from Queenstown to Te Anau via State Highway 6 or you can choose State Highway 94. The latter is a longer route, which takes more than 2.5 hours, however it is extremely scenic.

By Plane: During the summer season, you have the option of three flights a week that go from Queenstown to the Te Anua airport. If you’re flying from Auckland and Wellington, the closest airports to fly to are Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill. 

By Bus: From Queenstown to Te Anua you can catch the daily bus to the national park. 


About Fiordland National Park:

Mother Nature must be an artist, because Fiordland National Park is a masterpiece. Featuring 14 different fiords, including the iconic Milford Sound, the park is a smorgasbord of natural wonders. The Māori’s believe that this area was crafted by the demi-God Tu-te-raki-whanoa. Whatever its origins, Fiordland National Park is a treasure trove. An area that represents biodiversity at its best.

 The land itself is covered with ancient trees and rocks that have witnessed more than we could in a thousand lifetimes. The forests, lakes and the coastline are home to some of the most beautiful and rare birds and animals. On your trip to the park, you’ll encounter seal pups, penguins, dolphins and even the occasional whale breaching the water. A trek through the forests will reveal all kinds of shrubs, tree ferns, mosses, lichens, silver beech trees, alpine daises, herbs, buttercups and even bright purple fungi. The lovely black coral trees in this area are over 200 years old. 

The park is the perfect playground for all those with a deep appreciation for nature. The skies, the water, the forests and the mountains are yours to explore. Take a scenic flight via helicopter, float plane or vintage biplane. Sail over the Manapouri and Te Anau lakes on a cruise. Experience the beauty of Milford Sound on an overnight cruise. Slip into the earth’s glowing embrace as you tour the famous glow worm caves in the region. Take a scenic road trip to Milford Sound, via the gorgeous Milford Road. Go scuba diving in one of the fiords. Kayak your way to the gushing waterfalls. Go fishing on the lake. Wake up at the crack of dawn and photograph the sunrise over Milford Sound. Each new day is a new adventure at Fiordland Park. One visit will never be enough.   

Interesting facts about Fiordland National Park:

  • The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and in 1990, it became a part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site (which includes a total of 4 national parks)
  • The first Europeans visited the Fiordland in the 1770’s
  • Some of the oldest rocks in New Zealand are found in Fiordland National Park
  • Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the “eighth wonder of the world”
  • Visitors can explore over 500 kilometres of the walking trails that cut across Fiordland National Park
  • Milford Track is considered to be the “finest walk in the world”
  • The kakapo – the only flightless parrot in the world – lives in the Park. Furthermore, the only alpine parrot – the kea - in the world is also found in Fiordland National Park
  • Some of the most breath-taking and untouched parts of the park served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy

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5 Top Travel Tips

How to travel in New Zealand like a pro? Five travel tips that will come in handy

If we were to interview ten people about places they want to visit, at least eight of them would have New Zealand on their list. And why not? It’s snow-covered mountains, serene beaches, unique wildlife and fascinating (Māori) cultural practices have made it an important part of people’s bucket list. 

It’s easy to decide to visit the Kiwi country. It is also easy to go ahead and make the bookings. But, what’s difficult is ensuring that one is able to make the most out of the trip. After all, one only has a limited number of days to explore this exotic country, right? So, here are some useful tips from Thomas Cook to you- to help you make the most out of your New Zealand vacation-


Best Time to Visit:

As is common knowledge, New Zealand’s seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern countries. What this essentially means is that December through February are the summer months in New Zealand. And, since summer suits most people, all major tourist spots in the country are swarmed by local as well as overseas tourists. So, if you’re planning to take a summer vacation, you must plan well in advance to ensure you get the best packages possible. Thomas Cook has exclusive packages for various group sizes and durations. 

The best time to visit, however, will also depend on the kind of activities you and your accompanying group is interested in. For winter activities, like skiing, it is advisable to visit during the winter months of June and July. 

We would recommend visiting during the spring or fall seasons during which tourism is relatively quieter, and one can enjoy a little bit of all seasons.

Narrow down your agenda:

If you’ve read our take on the activities and sights New Zealand offers, you would know that when it comes to this extraordinary country, there is just so much to do! And, in all practicality, it is nearly impossible to do all of that in just 10-15 days. For this reason, we advise all travelers to narrow down their agenda, and to decide which part of the country they would like to focus on. In constraints of budget and time, which are very normal, you must decide whether you want to explore fully the North Island or the South Island. Once you have clarity on this, it will get easier for you to plan your trip economically, inclusive of connecting flights, internal transportation, accommodation, activities and sight-seeing!

How much money is enough money?

Even in this age of digitization there exists a certain paranoia of not carrying enough cash and eventually running out of. But, for the sake of convenient and safe travelling, it is advisable to carry plastic money- travel cards, credit cards or international debit cards. Almost all restaurants hotels, shops and other business establishments in New Zealand accept card payments. All you have to do is find out from your respective bank about any additional charges on foreign transactions.

Packing Light- nearly impossible but extremely important

When on a vacation, most of us want to look our best selves- partly because we want nice pictures, and partly because we want to feel good and confident in a new land. But, with this need to look and feel good also comes the added burden of carrying so much. Not only does extra luggage become problematic at the airport, but it also becomes a problem to carry around, especially when there are a lot of connecting flights and domestic transfers involved. The best way to go around packing light is to buy a smaller suitcase. Psychology (and we) say (and hope) that you will only carry as much as would fit in your bag.

However, having said that, it is also important to pack all the essentials.

Here’s a special Thomas Cook list of what one must not forget to pack:

  1. Extra copies of your passport, visa and other important documents. This is the basic 101 of travelling- especially international travel. Have copies of important identification documents, visa, and insurance documents handy- either with you at all times or on your email from where you can access them quickly.
  2. Carry an extra debit or credit card. You can decide to have a freeze put on it so that you don’t spend more than what you’d decided. But it is always a good idea to carry extra funds with you, provided you need to use them in an emergency.
  3. Basic first aid: If we look forward to all the pleasant situations we could be in, then we must also be prepared for all the unpleasant situations we could land ourselves in. For this, it is important to carry a small first aid pouch with you. Ideally, this should have band-aids, antibacterial ointments, and the medicines for nausea, diarrhea, cold, fever or any other ailment that you know you’re susceptible to.
  4. If you’re travelling during the New Zealand summer, ensure that you carry sturdy boots for hiking, t-shirts and comfortable hiking pants, sunblock (and lots of it), light, refillable water bottles, sunglasses, sun visers, and swimming suits.

If you’re travelling in the winter, carry layers- warm jackets, waterproof jackets, wind-beaters, fleece jackets. Ensure that you carry gloves, caps and mufflers, too. As beautiful as the snow looks during the winter, the winter can be a little ruthless on some, especially on those who are not used to the low temperatures.


Prepare for the expected:

When going to a foreign country with cultural practices different than one’s own, it is always a good idea to read about the country’s culture and practices so as to not unintentionally offend anyone there, and certainly, to make the most out of one’s experience.  While there are not many conventions that New Zealanders are uptight about, there are just some things you should keep in mind:

  1. Remember to take your shoes off before entering a Māori meeting house (called Marae).
  2. Remember to walk on the left side of the footpath.
  3. Remember to respect the personal space of anyone and everyone around you.
  4. If and when invited to a barbeque meal, do not forget to carry something (starters, dessert, etc.)

These are only some things that all travelers must keep in mind. Of course, the more one reads about a place, the more one can learn and hence, enjoy. Based on your personal preferences and routine, there are many other things that you could add or subtract from the list. But, for the big things in the larger scheme of things, Thomas Cook is here to settle all your travel plans. 

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Bunjee Jump Across

That split-second feeling of trepidation followed by that overwhelming rush of undiluted excitement. The rush of wind as it takes you by surprise, just as the sudden drop does! And most importantly, that mixed feeling of freedom, liberation and euphoria. Truly, bungee jumping is more than just ordinary fun! As an adventure seeker, you’d be committing blasphemy of the highest order if you do not bungee jump at the birthplace of bungee jumping. New Zealand is the spiritual home of bungee jumping and one of the best adventure destinations in the world for experiencing the joys of the sport, in its true glory.

The idea of bungee jumping is inspired by the centuries-old, coming-of-age ritual for boys on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The boys would pass into manhood after jumping from tall structures, with vines tied to their feet. While bungee jumping has evolved over the years, the basic premise remains unchanged. You jump from a height over hundreds of feet, tied to an elastic nylon cord and pull to a stop just short of the ground which is rushing to greet you at an astonishing speed. But what has changed for better is the safety aspect of this adrenaline-pumping sport.

Now that you know all about bungee jumping, it is time to experience that rush for yourself. Take the leap and bungee jump your way across New Zealand. Here are our picks for some of the best bungee jumping destinations across New Zealand.

Auckland Harbour Bridge, Auckland

Sky TowerAuckland

Auckland’s most recognised landmark is also its biggest adventure destination. With the bungee pod attached under the bridge, you dive straight down 40 metres and high-five the ocean before bobbing back up. When you book your jump here, you get a free ride to your jump point in the Bungy Bus which starts from the Auckland Sky Tower five times in the day: 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Make sure you’re there at least 10 minutes early to catch the bus. Minimum age limit is 10 years and children under 15 need a written consent from parents or accompanying adult.

Taupo Bungee, North Island

Taupo bungy

Taupo Bungee lets you share the rush of joy and excitement with a partner with a tandem jump. The 47-metre-tall drop is New Zealand’s only cliff-top bungee jump. As you stand at the edge of the cantilevered platform, the Waikato River at the bottom awaits your caress if choose to be dunked at the end. It also offers you the option to combine bungee and swing to double your thrill. Located only five minutes from central Taupo, the bungee site is well connected with public transport. Or you could simply hire a car to reach. Book your tickets in advance and save money with the Early Birds Deals.

The Ledge Bungy and Swing, Queenstown

Do you want to enjoy the thrilling rush of a bungee jump against a dark backdrop studded with twinkling lights in the distance? The Ledge Bungy and Swing in Queenstown offers you bungee jumping at night, the only one to do so in New Zealand. Sitting atop Bob’s Peak, the Ledge can be reached after a short Gondola ride. You’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the lake and the mountains around, before you harness up for your jump. The Ledge offers the most varied jumping experience, combining the fun of the swing with the excitement of bungee. Flip, twist or somersault your way down the ledge and create the memories of a lifetime.

The Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Queenstown

This is where it all started! New Zealand’s first-ever commercial bungee jump is still operational and is as exhilarating as ever. Kawarau Bridge Bungy take their safety very seriously and the staff always double-checks your harness before your jump. The 43 metre drop might be tame for seasoned adventure seekers, but is still an exciting adventure, especially for newbies. Share your excitement with a tandem jump. If you’re not yet ready for your first jump yet, you can watch others jump from the observation deck as you psych yourself for your own jump. This one is recommended for its cultural importance and of course, its wild excitement.

The Nevis Bungy, Queenstown

Go big or go home! The 134-metre-high Nevis Bungy in Queenstown is New Zealand’s highest and the third-highest free-falling bungee jump in the world. The 8.5 seconds of free-fall is pure joy fuelled by a massive surge of adrenaline that is an exhilarating mix of fear and freedom. Suspended between two clifftops, the jump-off platform will add to your anxiety while approaching. But reaching this bungee point, over the challenging Nevis Road, is almost as exciting as the jump itself. The easiest way to reach is the Bungy Bus which departs from Queenstown Bungee Centre at regular intervals between 9:20 am to 2:40 pm. Be sure to check in at least 30 minutes before your bus is scheduled to leave.

Hanmer Springs Bungy, Canterbury

As a beginner, you will love the Hanmer Springs Bungy for its comparatively tame 35-metre fall over the Waiau River. Hanmer Springs is known more for its soothing hot springs and relaxing thermal pools. But this bungee jump is its Hanmer Springs’ sole adventure activity. Enjoy the scenery rushing by as you jump off from the 135-year-old Ferry Bridge in a classic swan dive into the alpine river valley below. This is a highly recommended experience to build up your confidence and conquer your fears before you take on the big boys elsewhere. You can also enjoy jet boating, quad biking and river rafting, while you’re there.

Sky Tower Bungy, Auckland

Enjoy the unbridled thrill of a rousing adventure, bang in the middle of Auckland’s Central Business District. Bungee jumping from Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand, is a bit different from other places. The jump is more of a controlled descent guided along two supporting ropes acting as rails to prevent you from bouncing into the building. The 192-metre jump is 11 seconds of pure adrenaline rush and lands you 53 floors down into the SKYCITY Plaza below. You can also try the Skywalk where you walk along the edge at the top of Sky tower without handrails. It is as exciting as the jump and highly recommended. Getting to Sky Tower is easy as you can simply hop on to public transport or hire a cab.

The land of stunning natural beauty is also the land of uninhibited adventure. Be it the cities or the outdoors, you can have the thrill of a lifetime almost anywhere in New Zealand. Even in the land where adventure is a part of outdoor activities, bungee jumping stands out with its pure rush of thrill and excitement. Choose from a range of New Zealand holiday packages and book your holiday online. Take that leap on your next holiday and we promise you, you’ll be hooked!

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Cultural Festival

The Land of Cultural Festivals: New Zealand Celebrates Festivals Like No One Else!

The picturesque island nation of New Zealand has a deep-rooted Māori culture that’s been influenced, over the years, by many other cultures. As New Zealand was once colonised by the British, you’ll see European undertones in the lifestyles of the locals. Being a small country with a population of just 5 million people has helped the people to build and maintain a tight-knit community, which contributes to the further preservation of the culture. The Kiwis are extremely proud of this and one can see it through the solidarity and compassion with which they live. 

As a tourist, the best way to experience this is through the amazing festivals that the country holds during different times of the year. While some give you a glimpse of the Māori culture, some let you enjoy the amazing food and others focus solely on the various cultural art forms of not just New Zealand but also the world. There are certain festivals for party lovers as well that focus on modern music styles including alternative, rock, punk and electronic music genres. 

Let us look at the 10 best cultural festivals in New Zealand, that you can enjoy as a tourist!

Pasifika Cultural Festival:

The Pasifika Cultural Festival takes places in the first week of March every year. A festival that strongly focuses on New Zealand’s Pacific Island communities, this festival is one of the best and the biggest ones in the country. Here, you get to experience the different cultures from Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, Aotearoa, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and so on, through the multiple dance, art, music and food events spread over two days. With more than 80,000 people visiting, it is the biggest representation of the cultures of the said communities!

Auckland Lantern Festival:

The Auckland Lantern Festival is a festival that lets you enjoy yet another culture in the island nation of New Zealand. Held between February 13 and 16, the celebrations are with respect to the Chinese New Year. The Albert Park is lit up with lanterns and the four-day celebration ends with a spectacular show of fireworks. During the festival, you can enjoy the ever-popular Chinese cuisine. Additionally, you also get to witness various forms of martial arts, cultural dances and music performances that are a part of the Chinese culture. The festival is not only attended by the Chinese locals but also by other residents. 

Parihaka Peace Festival:

The Parihaka Peace Festival, as the name suggests, is a festival that celebrates non-violent ways to lead one’s life and encourages people to co-exist with humans from all races. A small Taranaki coastal Māori settlement, Parihaka has a gorgeous setting with volcanic lava spread around and unpretentious buildings where the ethnic tribe lives in peace. Thanks to the various events involving food, dance and music, the festival is a great way to start the Kiwi summer in the month of January. 

The traditional Māori Kai Festivals:

Travelling to New Zealand and not exploring one of the Māori Kai Festivals is nothing short of committing a felony. The Māori Kai is a chain of festivals that take place across the island nation during different times of the year. This gives tourists visiting the country the opportunity to experience the incredible culture of the Māoris, any time of the year. In these festivals, you get to savour some of the best dishes of the Māori tribe, like wild pork, mountain oysters, mussels, kebabs and so on. All the festivals give you excellent opportunities for you to interact with the local Māori people.

Rotorua Culture

Womad Festival:

New Zealand’s award-winning festival, the WOMAD Festival, is an attempt to bring artists from different parts of the world and collaborate with different cultures. WOMAD stands for World of Music Arts and Dance and the name itself suggests how beautiful the event is. You get to experience top performances from artists belonging to different cultures, however you’ll find that there’s a strong focus on folk and original art forms. Of course, you can also enjoy some delectable food from different cultures. The ambience you get to experience here is something unique in many ways because of the cultural diversity on display.

Rhythm and Vines:

Rhythm and Vines is the best music and camping festivals in New Zealand. A part of the Waiohika Festival, tens of thousands visit this annual celebration to enjoy the New Year in the best possible manner. The line-up of stars is never disappointing, with top artists from around the world performing their gigs of alternate and electronic music. It is a dream destination for the party-goer in you. Camping at the site is another way to enjoy the festival and it also lets you communicate with people from various backgrounds, making it a huge socio-cultural event. 

Rhythm and Alps:

Following the footsteps of Rhythm and Vines is another summer festival of music and light – Rhythm and Alps. Set amidst the naturally beautiful town of Wanaka, it is a festival that you should definitely not miss because of the fact that there’s so much on offer. Here, you not only celebrate the New Year by witnessing the amazing performances of top artists, but also celebrate it by indulging in any of the exciting outdoor activities on offer. The huge expanse of Wanaka has multiple forest and mountain trails for you to hike and trek through. 

World Buskers Festival:

World Buskers Festival is a unique festival in many ways because of the concept behind it. You get to witness some of the best busking pitches from around the world perform here at Christchurch. Musicians, visual artists, magicians, dancers, contortionists, comedians and various other artists perform here. This makes it a festival where you can enjoy multiple genres of performances on a single stage. It is generally held between January 10 and February 3.

Victorian Fete:

New Zealand, being a former colony of Great Britain, has come out of that legacy to celebrate over 180 years of independence. However, they do still have some buildings from that era, particularly at the Oumaru’s Victoria Precinct. Every year in November, the locals dress up in the Victorian style and remember those days. For tourists, it is an excellent occasion to explore some delicious food and drinks that owe their origins to both, Britain and New Zealand. Wine, beer and whiskey are the most popular drinks glugged during this festival. You can shop for antique craft pieces as to take a leaf out of the past. Don’t forget to try your hand at Penny Farthing. 

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival:

Well, here is an opportunity for you to bring out your wild side! The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is an interesting one where you get to try different wild food delicacies from the West coast. Insects, wild meat, pork, sausages and various other foods are available for you to eat. That’s not all, you can try some marinated tuna, smoked salmon, and traditional Māori food items too. Additionally, you also get to enjoy various cultural performances at the main stage of the event. 

With such a rich cultural heritage, New Zealand certainly has its fair share of unique experiences to offer travellers! If any of these festivals piqued your interest, check out our travel packages to find out how you can get there! 

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Top 10 Road Trips

Road Trip Junkies Alert! 10 New Zealand Road trips that will help you discover yourself

Road trips in general are popular among travellers because the feel of the wind in your hair, the music cranked up, the spirit of adventure is something that can only be experienced when you’re on the road. What’s also interesting is that most of the time, a road trip often gives enough space for one to become a little more insightful, to understand new aspects of themselves and sometimes, it becomes a journey of self-discovery.

There are few countries in the world that are so wonderfully suited to a road trip than New Zealand. Winding roads, beautiful highways, gorgeous visions of fragrant blossoms, volcanoes, beaches and picture perfect villages are just some of the heart stopping sights that you will come across here. Scenic vistas are often lined up one after the other and sometimes, just the sight of the fluffy clouds hanging low is enough to give you a thrill like no other. What’s more, whether you’re having an adventurous time or simply lounging by a turquoise blue lake enjoying a picnic, you’ll certainly be having the time of your life. New Zealand road trips might just spoil you for good and you will want to come back, again and again to explore different facets of this gorgeous country. Preferably on road. 

Here are ten New Zealand road trips that you must go on to discover yourself:

1. Auckland to Hokianga

Number of days: 6

Distance: 263 km

Get ready for some picturesque beaches, delightful cycle and walking trails and enjoy the native locations as you go on this road trip. From Auckland to Waipoua Forest where you can come across the largest Kauri tree in the world, you can also visit Hokianga Harbour, home to the first Māori settlers in New Zealand. Fishing villages, breath taking beaches, fruit orchards, Shipwreck Bay, Doubtless Bay are some of the fascinating places you will come across. After visiting the treaty house in Waitangi, see stunning views of the Ocean Beach and finally, return to Auckland via the coastal road. 

2. Middle Earth Discovery

Number of days: 7

Distance: 643km

Whether or not you’re a big fan of Tolkien’s, you’ll enjoy this road trip immensely. Head off to Coromandel Town and the extremely picturesque Cathedral Cove and finally come to Matamata where you can spend some time at the original Hobbiton Movie set that is simply too enchanting for words. Rotorua’s geysers and pools are fascinating, and there are more filming locations that are all very Instagram worthy. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a very challenging one-day hike that offers some stunning views. Lastly, the trip ends in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.

3. Rotorua to Gisborne

Number of days: 4

Distance: 273 km

Not many people explore east Rotorua but it actually has some really stunning views. On the East Coast, you’ll find plenty of campers and moving on from there, there’s the town of Whakatane and later on, Gisborne, which is considered to be among the best places for surfing and catching the sunrise. At Tokomaru Bay, enjoy the rugged coastline and go on to Te Kaha, with its charming ocean front buildings.

4. Alpine Lakes Itinerary

Number of days: 7

Distance: 484 km

This amazing road trip begins in Christchurch where you can spend the day enjoying numerous adventure activities such as punting in Avon River or biking in the Port Hills or even going on a hot air balloon early in the morning. The trip moves on to Lake Tekapo which is known for its brilliant turquoise waters and do try to stay here in the night. It’s one of the best places to view the Southern Lights. Mount Cook Village is next on the itinerary and if you love mountain climbing, you’ll simply love this part of the trip. Move on to Wanaka where there are numerous outdoor activities and then come to Queenstown which is gorgeous no matter what the weather.

5. Auckland City to Auckland’s West Coast

Number of days: 3

Distance: 14.1km

If you’re not up for a strenuous road trip, then why not try this smaller trip which will take you to Waiheke Island which is also known as the Island of Wine. Indulge in some wine tours or enjoy some of the fun outdoor activities such as zip lining, sea kayaking and horse riding. The other places you can visit from here include the West Coast where you can ride the waves on the beach at Piha. You can explore the beach, look at the birds swooping in, or even head on to the slightly secluded O’Neill Bay.

6. Auckland to Napier

Number of days: 4

Distance: 415km

There’s something quite magical about this road trip. As you travel deep into the heart of the North Island, you will go along the Thermal Explorer Highway. The journey begins from Auckland and goes on to Waikato, which is renowned for the enchanting glow worm caves in Waitomo here. From here, you can visit Hamilton, and then move on to Rotorua which is on the Pacific Ring of Fire which makes it a hotspot for geothermal activity. You can explore the Whakarewarewa Forest and soak in a Polynesian spa to refresh your mind and body. Next up, there’s Taupo with its fabulous Orakei Korako Caves or even just the Lake Taupo where you can enjoy some wonderful adventure activities. The trip winds up in Napier, where you will come across Hawke’s Bay which has numerous wineries. 

7. Christchurch to Dunedin

Number of days: 4

Distance: 362km

An amazing road trip that you can enjoy is one that begins in Christchurch, where you can enjoy the many sights the city has to offer such as the botanic gardens or a ride on the historic tram. But it gets even more wonderful from here onwards when you visit the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony which is simply delightful and one of the must-see attractions here. From Oamaru, head on to Dunedin and you’ll realise that the journey can be as beautiful as the destination especially if you are on a road trip in New Zealand. Beautiful beaches line your path as you head on to the city of Dunedin with its heritage buildings and museums.

8. Queenstown to Milford Sound

Number of days: 2 to 3

Distance: 287km

The drive from Queenstown to Milford has often been referred to as one of the best road trips in New Zealand and maybe even the world. You’ll pass by awe-inspiring mirrored lakes, snowy mountains, dense forests and end at Milford Sound with its waterfalls and soaring cliffs. Although the trip takes just 8 hours, it’s recommended to break it up over 2 to 3 days so you can enjoy some of the wondrous sights along the way. Those who loving hiking should think of stopping by at Fiordlands National Park and enjoy some quality time with nature. 

9. Auckland to East Cape

Number of days: 9

Distance: 518.3km

If you are in the mood for an extensive road trip, then you should certainly try this one. It begins in Auckland from where you head on to Whitianga with its glorious white sand beaches. From here, head on to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. The volcanic tours in White Island and historical Māori sites are added attractions as you move on to Whakatane which has often been referred to as New Zealand’s sunniest town. This exciting road trip then covers places like Tolaga Bay, Gisborne, Waikaremoana and Wairoa. Other places to hit up on this itinerary include Taupo, Rotorua, Hobbiton and Hamilton. 

10. Queenstown to Dunedin

Number of days: 3 to 5

Distance: 280km

A short but fun road trip is one from Queensland which takes you Invercargill and then to Caitlins. Now Caitlins is a national park that has much to offer – beaches, forests, coastline paths and even rare animals. It’s commonly believed that the Caitlins is what New Zealand was like in the prehistoric times. From here, you can head on to Nugget Point which is a viewing point from where you can see fur seals, sea lions and the fascinating yellow bearded penguin. As you reach Dunedin, you can explore this city as well which is famed for having the world’s steepest street – Baldwin Street or you can check out the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. 


Tips to Remember

  • New Zealand roads are hilly and windy and it’s best to drive slowly.
  • Do make it a point to make sure your driving skills are on par and undergo a driver’s test before going on a road trip. 
  • Hire a campervan so that you can enjoy a 3 to 5 day road trip with ease. 
  • If you’re doing a road trip during winter, do make sure you add snow chains or there are chances you can get stranded.
  • New Zealand allows for free camping in many public places but only if your camper van comes with facilities such as toilets. Some places don’t allow for camping, so be careful you don’t park your van there or you can attract a hefty fine.

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How Much Time is Needed to Experience

There are some holidays, locations and itineraries that you won’t even consider because of one factor – time. Either you can’t imagine how you’ll stuff in all that you want to do in the short time you have to spare, or you wonder if you’ll go out of your mind with boredom and too much time to spare. This is true of all holidays, but especially international holidays. All that effort, and will the location of your choice meet your expectations? If it’s New Zealand, the answer is a resounding yes. New Zealand is the kind of land that is blessed with beauty, graced with warm and welcoming smiles and gifted with incredible diversity. Be it the local Māori culture, the stunning national parks, the brightest of cities and the sweetest of small towns. From the vast and sprawling mainland to the tiny, scattered islands off the coast, New Zealand has much to offer. So, how much time can you surrender to New Zealand? A week or a few? Let’s find out. 

It’s understandable if you don’t have too much time to spend – work, family and other commitments gobble up a lot of your free time. Can you really fit New Zealand into the time you can spare?  Yes, if you’re smart about your plan and choose your activities accordingly. It’s going to be impossible to fit every part of New Zealand into one vacation, but you can always come back for more. For now, we’ve listed some of the places you cannot miss on your first trip to New Zealand.

Auckland

Auckland:
If you’re looking for a city with both character and charm, Auckland is it. The largest international airport is located in Auckland, so chances are you’ll land here before moving to your next location. So, what can Auckland offer? If you’re looking to take a leap of faith, Auckland has some incredible bungee jumping spots, namely Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge. Make sure you visit its spectacular beaches, like Piha, Bethells and Karekare. Go from fine dining, to the casual chomp at the city’s lively food scene. Weekly markets, art galleries and a sailing trip at the glorious harbour will make this trip a special one.

Hobbiton Matamata

Hobbiton Movie Set:
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you cannot miss the Hobbiton Movie Set. Guided tours, fantastic banquets and incredible movie trivia – this is your chance to immerse yourself in the wonder of the Shire.

Te Puia Rotorua

Rotorua:
If you’re fascinated by Māori culture, then Rotorua should be a part of your itinerary! Attracting over 3.3 million visitors every year, Rotorua gives you a glimpse into the traditional life of New Zealand, with traditional shows and a Māori hangi feast. Furthermore, this is a stunning place of geothermal activity, lakes and is the home of the famous Zorbing adventure activity. Wrap up the entire experience with a soak at one of the cities world-famous Polynesian spa.

Waitamo

Waitomo Glowing Caves:
Think you’ve seen everything you need to? Think again! Waitomo’s caves come alive with the blue-green twinkle of thousands and thousands of glow worms. Sail into the massive caverns of the Waitomo cave network where the dark is lit up, just like a starry sky at night. 

Queenstown

Queenstown:
Calling all adrenaline junkies! Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. Skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, ziplining, paragliding, canyoning, skydiving, Heli Skiing, River surfing, jet boating – you name it, Queensland has it. 

Arrowtown

Arrowtown:
If you’re visiting Queensland, you may as well stop at its equally famous cousin – Arrowtown. Where Queenstown teems with excitement, Arrowtown is all about history and heritage. The historic parts of the town have been well-preserved, and give you glimpses into a fascinating past – especially the discovery of Gold in the Arrow River. Step back into the present for a meal at one of the many cafes or restaurants or a live music concert at the local pubs. This is a chance to catch your breath after the rush of Queenstown, and to appreciate the older stories of the land. 

Milford Sound

Milford Sound:
New Zealand isn’t shy about its beauty and Milford Sound is a prime example of that. Thundering waterfalls, majestic mountains, lush rainforests, rare wildlife and birds (including the only alpine parrot in the world), the view of the fiord from the water – everything here is designed to make your jaw drop. This is a worthy addition to your trip itinerary and will definitely be time well spent. 

Franz Joseph Glacier Valley: New Zealand has served travellers with a variety of landscapes – beaches, mountains, fiords, wide plains, lush and tangled jungles. Now its time to add glaciers to that list. Take a glacier walk over the pristine white ribbon that is the glacier, explore the surrounding rainforest of Westland and even explore the lovely coastline in the area. Forests, glaciers and the coastline in one visit – how’s that for efficient?

Lake Tekapo

Christchurch:
Charm takes form in Christchurch. The iconic street art, the massive botanic gardens, the quiet Avon river, the eclectic collection of art at the Christchurch art gallery, the bustle of New Regent Street and the historic Isaac Theatre Royal are just some of the reasons to stop at Christchurch. The surrounding Arthur’s Pass National Park and the glimmering turquoise Lake Tekapo will make it so much harder to leave this part of New Zealand.

There are multiple must-see spots in New Zealand – the country is a treasure chest of incredible experiences. Whether you’re here for a week or more, New Zealand will keep offering you experience after experience to draw you in. That being said, narrowing down what to do can be difficult. That’s where we come in!

We understand that time on a holiday is like currency – it needs to be well spent. Your ideal stay in New Zealand can range from 9 nights / 10 days to 19 nights / 20 days. So, you can plan a quick getaway for a shorter winter vacation or a longer one for the summer – it’s entirely your choice. If you want to include more in your trips, curate your itinerary to suit your tastes, after all, this is your holiday!

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Heli Hikes

When you have a country with a diverse terrain like New Zealand, sightseeing comes in many different flavours. From spectacular glaciers to magnificent mountains and golden beaches to active volcanoes, there’s so much to see around New Zealand. If you don’t plan your trip in advance, you will be spending most of your time on the road. If you’d rather spend your time sightseeing than on the road, take a Heli-hike to some of the most spectacular locations around New Zealand. Rather than considering it an expense, think of it as an investment towards making the most of your vacation.

Heli-hikes are the best way to explore New Zealand’s glaciers and far-flung natural wonders. Just imagine zooming over the landscape at breathtaking speeds that reduce the scenery to a blur. Your helicopter ride is the sightseeing before the sightseeing, a preamble of sorts to what is in store for you at the end of the ride. Your Heli-hikes in New Zealand, beautiful as they are, will be incomplete without experienced guides who add flavour to simple sightseeing with their expert insights. As your destination nears, the sightseeing begins while you’re still in the air. After you’re set down you can get your fill of wanderlust before heading back in the same helicopter.

Some pricey Heli-hikes include multiple stops along the tour. If you’re excited to take to the skies to explore beautiful New Zealand, read on to find out some of the best Heli-hikes that will take you to truly glorious corners of the country.

Witness the glory of the White Island Volcano

The White Island volcano is New Zealand’s most active marine volcano. The tour starts from Rotorua and takes about 30 minutes to reach White Island. On the way, you might even catch a glimpse of a pod of whales in the ocean. As the smoking island comes into view, it will take your breath away with its stark beauty. After you land and start exploring, you’ll find the landscape a sharp contrast to the rest of New Zealand. This island, which is barely a kilometer across is the closest you can get to the moon’s surface. The landscape is studded with black rocks, grey mineral deposits, hissing steam and acrid, yellow sulphur, but no vegetation.

Upon landing you will be handed hard hats and breathing masks. A guided walking tour will take you close to the steaming and highly toxic crater lake or caldera. The next stop on the tour is an active area with belching blow holes and huge deposits of yellow sulphur material. This is definitely one of the best Heli-hikes in New Zealand.

Explore Middle Earth at the Tasman Region

Darran Mountain
As soon as Mt Owen or Mt Olympus come into the view, you might recognise them from the movie ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Your helicopter ride will take you around the movie’s filming locations and let you experience the otherworldly beauty of the region. You can follow the trail of the Fellowship as they escaped the horrors of Moria and hid from Saruman’s Orcs before escaping into the Chetwood Forest. Of course, the names will be different, but that doesn’t affect the magic one bit. Located at the southern end of the Kahurangi National Park, the Mt Owen tour is 90 minutes long with 50 minutes of flying time, while the tour to Mt Olympus takes 2 hours with a flight time of 60 minutes.

But you’ll get the best experience when you combine the two tours into a 3+ hours tour. You’ll have one landing at each of the locations. Feel the magic flow around you as you walk around the rocky landscape. But it is the views around the mountains that will captivate you with their ethereal beauty.

Experience the magic of Tasman Glacier

Clarke Glacier
Smack dab in the middle of New Zealand’s Southern Alps sits Mt Cook, perhaps its most iconic mountain. The 25-kilometre-long Tasman Glacier starts from the eastern face of the mountain and runs towards Christchurch and Mount Cook Village. It is one of the longest and the largest glaciers of New Zealand. The Tasman Glacier Heli-hike does not need hiking expertise and offers a pretty safe experience. Once on the glacier you have a stunning 360-degree panorama with Mt Cook on one side and Lake Tasman on the other. You’ll find the Tasman Lake often filled with calving icebergs off the Tasman Glacier.

Fun fact: the Tasman Lake did not exist in the 70s and was formed by the retreating glacier in the 90s. A stint on the Tasman Glacier will make you appreciate the massive scale of the Alps and let you experience the joy of exploring a new world. This one is highly recommended for its magnificent views.

Gaze upon the beauty of Alpine lakes

This is one unforgettable Heli-hike that takes you through the heart of New Zealand’s stunningly beautiful World Heritage Conservation area. Deep within the Southern Alps, bordering the Mt Aspiring National Park, the 4-hour tour will introduce you to New Zealand’s alpine outdoors at its best. The helicopter ride starts from the picturesque Matukituki River Valley with a soaring bird’s eye view of the valley’s surroundings. It will take you past the majestic peaks inside the national park and climb up 1400 metres to show you three sparkling and untouched alpine lakes nestled amidst the impressive backdrop of Mt Aspiring.

But the highlight of the tour is the 2-hour hike that passes over stunning ridges, around the crystal-clear lakes and through alpine herb fields. It offers plenty of photo opportunities along the way. As the hike ends, you will be flown to a highly secret mountain-top location to shoot photos, before taking you back to the base. This Heli-hike is recommended for the bird’s-eye view of the pristine lakes and the invigorating hike.

Walk the fantastic Fiordland

The Fiordland Heli-hike is one spectacular show put on by mother nature, especially the Kepler Track guided Heli-hike. A part of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this is an exclusive tour on one of the country’s conservation tracks. You can reach your hiking base in a helicopter from Te Anau or Queensland. The ride begins from the foothills of Te Anau and flies over the beautiful Lake Te Anau and its gorgeous surroundings before dropping you off at the top of Mt Luxmore. From Queensland, your helicopter ride will start from the Glenorchy-Queenstown highway and drop you off at the top of Mt Luxmore.

From the summit, it is a 3-hour descent to Lake Te Anau. The trail further leads into an ancient lichen-covered beech forest before reaching Brod Bay, the end of the trail. This is recommended for the weeping natural beauty of Fiordland.

Heli-hikes are an integral part of the outdoor adventures in New Zealand. They open up the avenues to new adventures and showcase the varied landscape of the country from a different perspective. They make your hikes adventurous and add an element of thrill and excitement to your nature walks. A Heli-hike also opens up the gateway to difficult-to-access areas such as glaciers and volcanoes.

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Tranzalpine Train Adventure

In a country such as New Zealand, that's blessed with immense natural beauty, a train trip is sure to be one festooned with incredible sights and experiences. The TranzAlpine service covers the South Island from the east coast to the west coast and operates daily between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth. Considered to be the most scenic train ride in New Zealand, it easily figures among the most beautiful train journeys in the world.

As it chugs across the Canterbury Plains it slowly makes its way uphill, climbing through the gorges and the magnificent river valleys of the Waimakariri River towards the Southern Alps. After a brief stopover at Arthur’s Pass, it continues onwards towards the west coast. It also passes through the Otira Tunnel before finally reaching the west coast at Greymouth. But the real crux of the journey is the sightseeing that you can do along the way.

The Train - Designed for comfort and sightseeing

The train is built for sightseeing, as is evident from the way the carriages are designed. They have un-tinted and non-reflective panoramic windows that continue into the ceiling allowing you to take in the sights in an unrestricted manner. The train is fitted with an advanced air suspension system that makes the journey quite comfortable. You can listen to the GPS-triggered commentary in five languages as you marvel at the sights passing by. The commentary is complemented by informative displays and HD videos.

Each centrally air-conditioned carriage has its own washroom facilities. The seats, equipped with a headrest and a footrest, face towards the direction of travel and recline for extra comfort. You can buy light meals and refreshments in the train. The entire train is wheelchair-friendly and hoists provide access from the track level.

Schedule and Stops - Better to know all of them

The most beautiful train journey of New Zealand is 223 kilometres long and takes around 5 hours to complete. It leaves Christchurch at 8:15 am to reach Greymouth by 1:05 pm. The return journey starts at around 2:05 pm from Greymouth and the train reaches Christchurch by around 6:30 pm. Other than Christchurch and Greymouth, these are the stations that you will encounter along the way:

  • Rolleston
  • Darfield
  • Springfield
  • Arthur’s Pass
  • Otira
  • Moana

The train journey is perfect for a day-long excursion of fun and sightseeing. Once you reach Greymouth, you have a range of other options to get back to Christchurch including regular buses and a range of ‘Hop on/Hop off’ buses. This is a daily train service that runs every day of the year except Christmas.

The Journey - More beautiful than the destination

Starting from Christchurch, the train heads out across the sprawling Canterbury Plains making a few stops before the Southern Alps begins looming over the horizon. If it’s winter, you will see snow-capped peaks contrasting the blue sky beautifully. In every other season, you will see the rugged countenance of the peaks framing the lush, emerald green of the plains.

One of the most thrilling parts of the journey is crossing the seemingly rickety bridges spanning gorges over the meandering Waimakariri River. The gorgeous scenery plays hide and seek as the train passes through a series of tunnels on its way ahead. From the plains to the mountains, the scenery changes tracks suddenly. And before you know it, the train is ascending towards Arthur’s pass. With the beautiful scenery, you will pass many farmlands and small towns that add their own allure to your train journey.

The untouched scenery and small towns make for perfect picture postcards of an idyllic life in the lap of nature. The wide river valleys are spanned by a series of low-slung bridges that take you within touching distance of your destination. As you inch closer to your destination, the scenery takes on dramatic accents such as the fluffy clouds that start forming on the other side of the Alps. Arthur’s Pass serves as a sort of a midway point to the line that separates the east coast from the west coast.

After Arthur’s Pass, the scenery remains hidden for quite some time as the train enters the 8.5-kilometre-long Otira Tunnel. As soon as the tunnel ends, you will have entered the west coast of New Zealand. You will soon reach Greymouth, your ultimate destination, where the train halts for an hour before heading back and reversing its journey. The TranzAlpine is the most scenic way to cross the Alps.

Tickets and booking information

The TranzAlpine train journey is quite a popular one on the Kiwi Railway and needs you to book your tickets in advance.

  • With very limited seating, there are no cancellations allowed and no refunds issued.
  • You can change your journey’s date and timings up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.
  • Children under 2 years of age travel free and children between 2 to 14 years of age get to travel at reduced fares.
  • You will find the latest fares on the TranzAlpine website.
  • If you’re booking your tickets from a computer located outside New Zealand, you won’t be able to avail the cheaper starter fares.

Train journeys have an inherent romance associated with them. The TranzAlpine is one of those train journeys that is perhaps more beautiful than its destination. Passing through a variety of terrain, it takes you on a journey of discovery and exploration. It is a journey that has to be experienced to be believed. Mere words don’t do justice to its beauty. The very allure of this train ride is magnified manifold by the expectations and the aura of serenity surrounding it.

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Waitomo Caves

Think of caves and the words, ‘dark’, ‘damp’ and ‘musty’ come to mind. Not in New Zealand though! The caves at Waitomo however, are a fairytale written in light and wonder. Gently illuminated by glow worms that put the stars to shame, you do not want to miss this beautiful attraction. So today, why not plan a trip into one of the prettiest pockets of New Zealand? 


Location:

The caves are located in North Island, in the southern Waikato region. The closest town to the caves is Te Kuiti – about 12 kilometres northwest of the caves. From Auckland, the cave is around 2 hours away and is 1 hour south of Hamilton. If you’re in Rotorua, it’s a 2-hour drive.

Address : 39, Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga, 3943, New Zealand

Timings : 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. (According to Google)

Tours run every 30 minutes.

Black water rifting
Highlights:


In the cave:

  • Walking or a boat tour of the glowing caves.
  • Try the amazing experience of Black Water Rafting – crawling, swimming and floating through the caves on a rubber tube (you will need to book this in advance, as spots fill up quickly during peak season).
  • Abseil or zipline through the caves.

In the Waitomo region:

  • Visit the gorgeous Marokopa falls and the limestone Mangapohue bridge.
  • Take in a local farm show.
  • Go on a guided horse trek.
  • Visit Otorohanga Kiwi House to see the national bird of New Zealand.
  • Take a trek or hike through the nearby Pureora Forest.


Prices:

There are multiple tour companies that offer guided tours of the Waitomo Glow worm Caves. Prices will vary as per their packages. Make sure you book tickets well in advance during the December-March season or during school holidays. 

How to get to the Waitomo Caves:

If you’re in the North Island of New Zealand, the caves are accessible from different cities:

By Car:

Driving Distance:

Auckland to Waitomo: 220 kilometres (136 miles)

Wellington to Waitomo: 435 kilometres (270 miles)

Rotorua to Waitomo: 160 kilometres (100 miles)

By Bus:

Catch a daily InterCity bus from Rotorua or Auckland to Waitomo Caves. Get a Flexipass, which offers access to nationwide bus travel. The pass is valid for 12 months. You can also catch buses from the Grey Line and Great Sights companies from Auckland or Rotorua.


About Waitomo Caves:

Waitamo
The Waitomo Caves are some of nature’s most delightful surprises. This cave system was first explored in 1887. A local Māori chieftain stumbled across the caves, even though the Māoris had been aware of the caves for quite some time. These caves are bathed in the neon glow emitted by Arachnocampa Luminosa – glow worms that are indigenous to New Zealand. These glow worms radiate a heavenly blue green light to attract food or mates, covering the caves in soft spots of light. The light is created by the unique biochemistry of the glow worms and the oxygen in the air. 

The guided tours explore three levels of the cave. After the top level, the second level is where early explorers used to eat (today, it is known as the Banquet Chamber). The third and final level goes down to the Cathedral, the demonstration platform and the jetty. Many famous singers and choirs have performed at the Cathedral, due to the amazing acoustics of the chamber. The tour finally concludes with a boat ride through the Glow worm Grotto on the underground river Waitomo, where you’ll witness the lights of the glow worms illuminating the dark cavern. 

Although there are other caves in New Zealand lit by glow worms, Waitomo is the most popular among them. Thousands of tourists visit the caves to take a boat ride under the fairy-like lights of the glow worms. 

If you are planning to visit the caves, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The caves are cold and rather damp (around 12-14 degrees, across the year). Wearing warm layers is essential.
  • If you’re planning to walk or take a short trek around Waitomo, make sure you wear comfortable shoes with a good grip.
  • Check in advance if the cave, or tour, is camera-friendly. Typically, the main Waitomo Cave does not allow cameras as the flash can disturb the glow worms. Your tour guide will take pictures for you, which you’ll receive at the end of the tour.
  • Do not reach out and touch the limestone formations in the cave – the formations are delicate and are damaged by repeated contact.


Interesting facts about Waitomo Caves:

  • Although they’re known as glow worms, the Arachnocampa Luminosa (during their glowing phase) are identified as maggots.
  • These caves began forming about 30 million years ago.
  • The Waitomo cave network is home to hundreds of caves. However, only 10 of these caves are used by tour companies.
  • The name Waitomo comes from two Māori words – “wai” means water and “tomo” means hole or opening.
  • Glow worms live short but illuminated lives – Once they reach adulthood their lives continue for only a few days.
  • Adult glow worms are around the size of a mosquito.

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Travel Guide

A trip to beautiful New Zealand is no less than a trip to nature’s fantasy land. The natural beauty is underlined by a streak of fantastic adventures that enhance its unique experiences. The untamed nature markedly heightens the sense of adventure that is seldom experienced elsewhere in the world. From its gleaming cities to its stark glaciers, the canvas of a New Zealand trip is adorned with a rich palette of adventure and excitement.

The country offers a range of options to uncover its hidden delights and bathe in the warm glow of its dazzling beauty. The whales at the Bay of Plenty and the world’s fastest moving glacier are but a couple of treats that await you. But a trip to New Zealand is not a day in the park. It requires meticulous planning and a finely coordinated execution, which cannot be possible without an experienced guide. While an experienced guide may be hard to come by, we offer you the next best thing in the form of a comprehensive travel guide.

This travel guide is full of handy tips and a wealth of information to make your trip to New Zealand a memorable one.

The basics:

The culture of New Zealand is a beautiful marriage of European and Māori influences. It is an inclusive culture that has even adopted traditions and practices from Asia as well as the Pacific Islands. While it does have its share of art galleries and museums, the real essence of New Zealand thoroughly seeps its outdoors. Here is some more information that will make it easier for you to travel to and get around New Zealand.

  • The travel time from Mumbai or Delhi to New Zealand’s North Island is about 15 hours.
  • You can visit New Zealand at any time of the year.
  • You will need an approved visa before you can set foot in New Zealand.
  • The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the official currency of New Zealand which can be easily obtained before travelling to the country.
  • Though New Zealand boasts of a well-developed public transport system, driving yourself around is the best way to explore the country.
  • Biking is yet another popular way to experience New Zealand. Bike rentals are easy and biking trails criss-cross all over the country.
  • Sightseeing in New Zealand is made easier with themed tours that are grouped geographically to minimise travel time.
  • Distance is measured in travel time rather than kilometres. With the excellent network of roads all over New Zealand, great distances can be covered in shorter time.

With your basics now set, you can explore the various means of travel available in New Zealand.


Transportation in New Zealand:

New Zealand has an evolved public transportation system that seamlessly transitions between road, rail and water. 

  • Buses are the main form of public transport to travel between towns and cities.
  • InterCity and Skip are the two main operators that offer bus services all over New Zealand.
  • Hop-on hop-off buses are another poplar means to get around if you do not have a fixed itinerary.
  • Bus fares start from NZ$10 per person, making buses the cheapest mode of transport to get around.
  • Trains are not as common and easily available as the buses and do not cover New Zealand as comprehensively.
  • KiwiRail operates the three main railway lines of New Zealand:

1. Auckland to Wellington (Northern Explorer)

2. Picton to Christchurch (Coastal Pacific)

3. Christchurch to the West Coast (TranzAlpine)

  • The TranzAlpine Line is considered to be one of the most scenic train routes in the world.
  • Train tickets start at NZ$49 per person.
  • Two ferry services connect New Zealand’s North Island and South Island; InterIslander and Bluebridge.
  • Ferries also connect New Zealand’s mainland to its smaller outlaying islands.
  • Ferry fares start at NZ$55 for passengers without vehicles.
  • Water taxis are smaller vessels that will take you to those islands that the regular ferries cannot reach.


Where to stay in New Zealand

Cavalli Beach House
From luxury hotels to youth hostels, you certainly won’t face a dearth of choices when it comes to staying in New Zealand. Here are some popular alternatives to regular hotel stays in New Zealand.

Youth Hostels

Rotorua
Youth hostels offer an affordable, safe and social accommodation to travellers on a budget. If you’re roughing it out, then a youth hostel will save you a considerable amount of money. Many of the tourist destinations like Rotorua, Taupo and Queenstown have good youth hostels. YHA, HostelWorld and Jucy Snooze are some of the chains that are pocket-friendly and are present all over the country.

AirBnB

Though not among the cheapest ones available, AirBnB in New Zealand has some interesting accommodation options. While most of AirBnB seems dominated by luxurious lakeside cottages, you can still find one that suits your budget.

Book a Bach

‘Bach’ in the Kiwi language means ‘small house’. This homegrown alternative to AirBnB offer more affordable alternatives to a hotel stay. You can get a number of seaside rentals through this service.

Couch Surfing

Where AirBnB and Book a Bach allow you to stay in somebody’s home in their absence, Couch Surfing allows you to stay with the homeowner for free. Save money on your accommodation and get personalised cultural insights to enrich your understanding of the Kiwi culture.


Activities in New Zealand

New Zealand offers a wealth of outdoor activities that will get your adrenaline pumping and set your heart racing. It is mostly these outdoor activities that bring travellers to New Zealand’s doorstep. Here’s a list of outdoor activities that will keep you entertained on your Kiwi holiday.

Hiking

Chapple Motutapu
Hiking is perhaps the national pastime of New Zealand. From dense virgin forests to lofty mountains and even active volcanoes, New Zealand has a hiking option for everything. While most treks are free, some may need you to pay a fee to the Department of Conservation.

Skiing

treble Cone
If flying down mountains at breath-taking speeds gives you a rush, skiing is a wonderful way to channel your excitement. The Remarkables and Coronet Peak are two of the most well-known skiing spots in New Zealand.

Cycling

This is a healthy way to soak in the essence of New Zealand. There are many cycling trails that take you through some of the most stunning locales around the country. Many of these tracks connect you directly with history as they pass through historic locations.

Bungee Jumping

Shotover
Bungee Jumping gives you a great surge of adrenaline in a split second. And to experience it at the birthplace of this sport is one of life’s little joys. You will find bungee jumping all over the country, even at the tallest building, bang in the middle of Auckland’s business district.

Your trip to New Zealand will be much more enjoyable with this handy little travel guide. Now, you can spend lesser in deciding what to do and doing it instead. 

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Things to Avoid

We come across thousand and one suggestions each day on what to do when visiting a popular destination. What is usually ignored, and wrongly so, is what one must avoid while planning that particular trip. Keeping in mind what not to do isn’t about becoming pessimistic; it is about planning wise, and hence, planning better. 

New Zealand, or the Land of the Long White Cloud, has been a tourist magnet for quite some time now. 

It is blessed by nature with the absolute best. From exhilarating hikes to a volcanic island and a volcanic cone, to sailing through tranquil beaches and tasting the most exquisite of wines, New Zealand is an explorer’s delight. To make the trip even more remarkable, there are a few things one can and must avoid. Let us delve into them one by one, shall we?

Here is a list of things to avoid when planning a trip to New Zealand: 

• Over-planning 

• The peak season

• Jetlag

• Misjudging the weather 

• Missing out on an insect repellent 

• Trying to include everything 

• Familiar trails 

• Body oil

• Ordering wine at a restaurant

• Losing out on freebies

• Bargaining 

• Tipping 

• Getting robbed

• Open roads 

• Disrespecting the culture

• Relying on hotspots

• Littering

• Sticking to one particular cuisine 

• Taking speed limits lightly 

1. Over-planning

The one thing to avoid when planning a trip to New Zealand is over-planning. Since the place is gorgeous and has lots to offer, you might want to make changes to your initial plans once you set foot there. Registering for everything in advance will hinder your instincts, thus leaving you with major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

2. The peak season 

The summer months (December to February) are the most sought after for traveling to New Zealand. However, there are downsides to this, such as expensive flights, overbooked hotels, and thronged touristy spots, which you might want to avoid. 


3. Jetlag 

Traveling to New Zealand means traveling to a different hemisphere. Such long flights tend to tire you out and cause jet lag. While you cannot avoid it altogether, you can minimize its effects. Some ways to do so include keeping yourself hydrated, getting good rest while flying, steering clear of alcohol, and regulating your exposure to bright light. 


4. Misjudging the weather 

Wanaka

One of the trickiest things about New Zealand is its weather. The sun here loves playing peak-a-boo, tanning one moment, comforting the next. Spring too is mischievous for hiding rainclouds that might pour on you at any given time. The best thing to do hence, is to be prepared for every occasion. You need not over-pack, but don’t miss out on a few layers, a sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, and a raincoat.  


5. Missing out on an insect repellent 

One regret common among travellers is forgetting an insect repellent while trekking. Since there are so many hiking spots in New Zealand, and we are sure you will be exploring a few, it is recommended that you carry a repellent with you to keep mosquitoes and sand flies from ruining your New Zealand trip. 


6. Trying to include everything 

New Zealand is made up of two parts – the North Island and the South Island. Though it is suggested that you visit both, for those hard pressed for time and/or money, it is best to choose between the two and explore it well.


7. Familiar trails 

Why go the tried-and-tested way when you could do things differently? While planning your New Zealand trip, avoid roads taken in order to allow new adventures to unfold. Google Maps is always there to bring you ashore in case you are lost.


8. Body oil 

While people who love tanning their skin suggest dabbing some oil for the process to be quicker, we would recommend you swap your oil for sunscreen. The sun in New Zealand can be really cruel, and can cause blisters if you don’t take good care. 


9. Ordering wine at a restaurant 

Church

In New Zealand, like in some other countries, you can bring your own wine to a restaurant. This way, you don’t have to depend on the eatery’s limited collection. It also saves you from spending exorbitantly on wine which are often priced high at restaurants.  


10. Being suspicious of locals 

New Zealanders are shy but very friendly people. You can expect them to respond to hellos and friendly smiles, and help you with directions. Open yourself up a little and you might make a friend for life. 


11. Losing out on freebies

Everyone enjoys freebies once in a while, right? These are especially attractive while traveling. When planning your trip to New Zealand, make a list of places that you can enter without a fee. Some of these include Cape Reinga, Kerosene Creek, Hot Water Beach, and the International Dark Sky Reserve. 


12. Bargaining 

Though it is a natural tendency among people to negotiate prices when traveling to make sure they are not taken for a ride, in New Zealand this trend is not welcomed. Asking for a better price is okay, but haggling is absolutely not. 


13. Tipping 

Unless the service is extraordinary, tipping isn’t the norm in New Zealand. If you are exceptionally impressed and want to tip someone, then you can present it as a courtesy. 


14. Getting robbed 

Though New Zealand is among the safe countries to travel in, it is best to be cautious. Each time you leave your car or hotel room, either keep your documents and valuables under lock and key, or carry them with you. 


15. Open roads 

Queenstown

This tip is for those who are planning to cycle around New Zealand. Biking on motor roads is an offence in New Zealand. Therefore, it is both a matter of safety as well as following the law. Avoid busy roads, but do not avoid wearing your helmet.  


16. Disrespecting the culture 

If you are visiting a marae to interact or watch the Māori tribe (indigenous people of New Zealand), then make sure you are well-versed in their dos and don’ts. You definitely don’t want to dishonour them, that too unknowingly.   


17. Relying on hotspots 

Access to the internet can be an issue in New Zealand though most hostels and hotels have free Wi-Fi. However, this isn’t a bad thing since it allows you to actually disconnect from your devices and connect with the magic of nature. 


18. Littering 

New Zealand prides itself on its cleanliness as it should. When visiting the place, avoid cluttering the parks and/or littering the beaches. Follow the age-old wisdom of leaving the place better than you found it. 


19. Sticking to one particular cuisine 

New Zealand offers a plethora of dishes to its tourists. If you are planning to visit, then make sure you don’t limit yourself. Try different cuisines, both native Māori as well as food from around the world.   


20. Taking speed limits lightly
 

Pihai

Make sure you don’t take speed limits lightly because the police won’t. The best way to make sure you don’t get a ticket, is to familiarize yourself with the traffic rules of the place while planning to visit. 

That’s a pretty long list, but not exhaustive at all! In case the list intimidated you and left you wondering if you can in fact plan your trip well, you have nothing to fret about. We, are at your service. Send us your queries, and we will help you plan the best trip to New Zealand. 

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Best Fireworks Display

New Zealand can best be described as the land of jagged mountains, rustic virgin scenic beauty, untouched picturesque landscapes, sunrises that have evoked poetry and sunsets that look like magnificent artworks painted by God’s own brush. The perfect place if you are looking to unwind in quiet bliss surrounded by nature’s bounty, New Zealand has plenty to offer should you find yourself there for the New Year 2020. Known just as well for its vibrant nightlife as its scenic beauty, here are the 10 best places to bring 2020 in with a bang and view the stunning spectacle that New Zealand has to offer!

1. Auckland Sky Tower, Auckland

2. Auckland Harbour, Auckland

3. Frank Kitts Park, Wellington

4. North Hagley Park, Christchurch

5. Lake Wanaka, Queenstown (Otago Region)

6. GLO festival, Rotorua

7. Napier Soundshell, Marine Parade, Napier, Hawke's Bay / Gisborne

8. Tauranga Waterfront

9. Nelson

10. Palmerston North 

1. Auckland Sky Tower, Auckland: 

Auckland

One of the most stunning sights at midnight on 31st December is that of the Auckland Sky Tower erupting into a myriad of glitter and colours as the clock strikes 12. Visible from almost every elevated point across Auckland, hundreds gather in and around parks, restaurants, parties and balconies to watch this colourful display light up the sky.


2. Auckland Harbour, Auckland: 

Auckland Harbour

Another Auckland landmark that will light your first few minutes into the New Year is the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Designed to supplement the 5-minute fireworks display of the sky tower, the Auckland Harbour Bridge will display vector lights in sync with the fireworks to start 2020 with the most fantastic skyscape you’ll ever see! This extraordinary synergy of light and sound is best witnessed from Bastion Point, the Auckland waterfront, Herne Bay's Sentinel Beach, or Mount Eden as per the Auckland City Council. 


3. Whairepo Lagoon, Wellington: 

Boogie your way into the New Year at the most happening celebrations in Wellington. A family friendly affair at Frank Kitts Park Lagoon, the evening kicks off with a popular band performance which belts out chart topping hits, tap worthy numbers, and some children’s favourites before finally leading into the new year with kiwi songs. Parents, don’t worry about your young ones missing the midnight cheer as there is a special countdown for kids at 9pm. Sizzling goodies from the food trucks parked at venue keep your hunger pangs at bay as you wait for the clock to strike 12 and watch the sky fill with merry sparkles from the midnight fireworks. 

4. North Hagley Park, Christchurch: 

Christchurch

If you find yourself in Christchurch on 31st December, then you cannot give this epic event a miss. To attend Christchurch’s biggest and grandest free-for-all New Year’s Eve party, head to North Hagley Park’s vast grounds for some electrifying music by home grown bands and other well-loved musicians who will groove the vibe for the countdown up to midnight.  The North Hagley Park celebrations have something to offer to all with jesters entertaining your young ones with interactive games and their own countdown at 8pm, and food stalls to whet your appetite till the fireworks that erupt at midnight. As is the case with most community events in New Zealand, this event is smoke-free and alcohol-free. 


5. Lake Wanaka, Queenstown: 

Imagine a stunning emerald green lake set amid the breathtaking mountains of New Zealand’s south islands - the perfect place for new beginnings.  Wanaka enjoys the privilege of being a year-round destination owing to its distinct 4 seasons, which makes it a popular destination amongst the locals and international guests alike, as they can leverage the many outdoor activities the area has to offer. Think a picturesque New Year’s party - a joyful regalia of song, dance and scrumptious food in abundance which ends in fireworks at the stroke of midnight. Can the New Year get any better?


6. GLO festival, Rotorua: 

Rotorua’s favourite family New Year celebration, the Glo Festival is a warm community-oriented celebration to usher the New Year in with family and friends. The celebrations start early in the evening with the food trucks setting up stalls as the DJ starts dropping the beats to set the night in motion. There are many interactive events for the families and children like science fairs and games. Visitors even get to vote to screen a popular movie on a big projection screen. Like other events, the children’s fireworks take place early and the local bands strum out popular melodies till the fireworks and laser show signal the start of the New Year. Planning a trip to Rotorua this holiday season? Grab your blanket and picnic basket and soak in the goodness of the year gone by at the GLO festival.


7. Napier Soundshell: 

Grab your friends and family and head to Napier’s Marine Parade for a musically rejuvenating New Year celebration. This event has previously seen performances from New Zealand’s best and most successful bands and this year too promises some of the most popular names in the NZ music scene. Food trucks and two delightful firework displays are the highlight of this event which attracts large crowds every year. If you are headed to Napier Soundshell, please note that this is a liquor ban zone and doesn’t permit fires to be lit on the beach. 

8. Tauranga: 

Visit Tauranga this December 31st to see what an inclusive community celebration looks like. Tauranga city council organises 3 different family celebration events, all of which feature fireworks at an earlier hour for the children and laser light displays at midnight. The Mayor is known to serve barbecue himself as live bands entertain the visitors. Batman himself is known to make an appearance at Tauranga’s New Year Eve celebrations, now that’s saying something! Looking for your favourite superhero? You might just find him Tauranga riding his Batmobile through the celebrations. Now that’s a great way to start the New Year!


9. Nelson: 

Nelson

Nelson’s celebrations are popular as they keep evolving every year. From child- friendly celebrations to entertainment and performances on the steps of the cathedral, these celebrations introduce a new aspect every year. This year is said to feature a countdown concert with a band that’ll keep you on your toes by belting out popular dance numbers, right up to the golden midnight hour that ushers in a new decade and out with the old. So, go ahead and get your dancing shoes out for a long groovy night ahead! The fireworks start at midnight but the public streets are alcohol-free and have a zero tolerance for underage drinking.


10. Palmerston North: 

Palmerston North is a vibrant city situated in the North Islands that’s bustling with culture. So naturally, the New Year celebrations at Palmerston North are abuzz with the arts, the best of music and the finest of cuisine. The most spectacular New Year’s event is held at the city square where artists of international repute have performed previously. The show has something to offer to people of all ages, from interactive entertainment for children to music, food and drink for everyone. The event culminates with the New Year countdown led by the DJ and the grand fireworks display at midnight.

Clearly, New Zealand has quite the happening holiday season, and if you find yourself in New Zealand this December, you have a lot on your plate to choose from to ring in the New Year. We hope this listing helped you make a choice and we urge you to be cautious and respectful of each city’s laws as most public celebrations are alcohol and smoke free zones. Have a great holiday season and Happy New Year!

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Self Driving

For many of us, New Zealand’s first introduction was as the magnificent Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings. Mostly eclipsed by its gargantuan neighbour, New Zealand is now making a place for itself in the world of exotic international holidays. It will stun you with its spectacular natural beauty that seems to have jumped straight out of Middle Earth’s realm of fantasy. From golden beaches and dense green forests to looming volcanoes and lofty snow-capped peaks, New Zealand has something for everyone, even for the most well-travelled.

New Zealand does not let you sit still. It is a veritable hive of adventure activities that will get your adrenaline pumping. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, though a relatively easy hike, will set your heart aflutter with the scenery along the way. The alien-looking landscape will transport you into another dimension as you expect hobbits and elves to pop out from behind the rocks at any moment. If hiking doesn’t get you excited, New Zealand has world-class mountain-biking trails. In winter you can chase your thrills downhill while flying down powdered slopes at breakneck speeds.

Let’s take a look at some of the best road trips that you can take around New Zealand. But first, you must know what it takes to go gallivanting around our planet’s very own ‘Middle Earth’.

Before you start

Piha Auckland

Self-driving around your holiday destination gives you the freedom to proceed at your own pace. It also allows you the flexibility to alter your itinerary, if the situation calls for it. But like everywhere else, you need to know and follow the local rules to enjoy your road trip safely. Here’s what you should know about driving in New Zealand.

  • You do not need an international driving license if you’re carrying a valid license from your country printed in English language.
  • New Zealand drives on the left side like we do in India, so it should take you very little time to adapt.
  • Traffic rules are strictly enforced here and even parking your car facing the wrong direction will invite a fine.
  • Overtaking on yellow lines is illegal and could cause a serious accident as the oncoming traffic does not expect it.
  • In New Zealand everybody, including the backseat passengers have to wear a seat belt.

Here’s a list of essentials that you must carry on your road trip. Remember, while you many not use all of them, it pays to prepared.

  • A road survival kit, with tools and medical aids.
  • Sunscreen and long-sleeved shirts, to protect against the strong New Zealand sun.
  • Large bottles of water, to sustain you over the long distances.
  • Canned food and a can opener, for those unscheduled stops.
  • Accurate printed maps, as cell phone coverage can be unreliable in some areas.

Now, if you’re all set, here are our top 3 picks for picturesque road trips around New Zealand.


1. Auckland to Wellington: Follow the Hobbits

Waitakere Range

This North Island road trip will take you on an epic adventure and pass through cafes, museums, volcanoes, geysers and gardens along the way. Starting south from Auckland take a refreshment break at Paeroa, New Zealand’s un-proclaimed antique capital. It has one more claim to fame as the birthplace of Lemon and Paeroa, New Zealand’s favourite soft drink. Proceeding further, take in the dramatic views from Karangahake Gorge, which was an active mine in the 1800s.

You could easily spend a day at your next stop, Hamilton. New Zealand’s fourth-largest city is home to the country’s only tea plantation and the well-manicured Hamilton Gardens. Take a tour of Hobbiton of the Middle Earth at Matamata. Walk amidst lush green pastures and take a peek into Hobbit homes. Tirau will amaze you with its collection of huge sculptures created out of corrugated iron. Marvel at the wonder that is Blue Spring which supplies over 70% of the 9 million litres of water that New Zealand exports every year.

Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland where you can enjoy a host of outdoor activities and discover Māori culture. After a quick stop at Lake Taupo head over to Waiouru to explore the national Army Museum. Before you can step into Wellington, make one last stop at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoko for a beer tasting tour before reaching Wellington and the end of your road trip.

2. Auckland to Christchurch: The Essence of New Zealand

Auckland is the starting point of yet another fascinating road trip which will start from the north island and take you cross the ocean to the south island. Once you leave Auckland, a detour from Pokeno will take you to Coromandel Peninsula where you should spend a day at the New Chums Beach. This hidden gem is a pristine slice of nature and is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

En route to Taupo, make a quick stop at the Polynesian Spa at Rotorua to get a pampering massage followed by a soothing dip in the natural hot water pools. Go skydiving over Lake Taupo and enjoy a drive on the Desert Road with it unusual views. Before your next big stop at Wellington, make a pitstop at Whanganui which has quite a selection of sightseeing for you. Wander around the Cook Gardens and soak in the history at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

After passing Wellington, stop for a quick wine tasting at Marlborough. Spare some time at your next stop, Kaikoura, which is a whale-watching haven. Here, you can also swim with the dolphins at the right time of the year. Hanmer Springs will be your last stop before Christchurch. Wash away the tiredness at the natural thermal pools amidst the crisp alpine air. You can also relax with some soothing retail therapy. Christchurch is just a 2-hour-drive away from Hanmer Springs.

3. Christchurch to Queenstown: The South Unveiled

waitakere Range

A road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown will take you through most of the South Island. Take in the incredible views at Port Hills and Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch before heading out for Lake Tekapo. With its low levels of light pollution, Lake Tekapo is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. A visit to the Mt John Observatory is a must for a farther glimpse into the universe.

Mt Cook, that icon of New Zealand, will be your next stop after Tekapo. Take some time out to explore the national park at its base. The area has excellent hiking trails in summer and some amazing skiing slopes in winter. The Hooker Valley Track is especially renowned for its beautiful views of the park. After the lofty height of Mt Cook, Wanaka offers a change of scenery with its small-town vibes. But it is equally stunning, especially the area around Lake Wanaka.

The views at the lake open up to stunning vistas framed beautifully by the mountains looming in the distance. If you’re visiting during winter, Cardrona offers some of the best skiing in New Zealand. After Wanaka it is just an hour’s drive to your final destination, Queenstown.

Driving yourself around a new country can be a very fulfilling experience. Not only can you stray off the path whenever you want to, but you can also stumble across some unexpected treasures. If you cannot wait to drive yourself across New Zealand, book your holiday online today!

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Helicopter Tour

New Zealand is all about stunning landscapes and wide-open spaces that open up to panoramic vistas. The majestic mountains, simmering volcanoes, dramatic lakes, dense teeming forests and a pristine coastline, all come together to proffer some of the most spectacular sightseeing in the world. Blessed with an exquisite other-worldly beauty, New Zealand is a holiday haven that offers so much more than just sightseeing. Apart from a serene holiday, you can set your pulse racing and get your heart pumping with a wide selection of adventures sports.

From sky diving to scuba diving, you can choose to enjoy a holiday that is a blur of adrenaline-fuelled activity. But there is one activity that combines the excitement of an adventure and the allure of sightseeing. A helicopter tour of New Zealand is a wonderful way to get your sightseeing done with just the right hint of drama and adventure. It is an unforgettable experience that showcases the best of New Zealand in all senses. The sights take on a different appeal from the bird’s eye view. The change in perspective offers new insights into New Zealand’s alluring beauty.

There is no dearth of choices when it comes to helicopter tours in New Zealand. Here are some of the best helicopter tours you can take to enjoy New Zealand from a different perspective.

Milford Sound Helicopter Tour

Milford Sounds

Milford Sound is a bewitching diorama of dramatic natural beauty that will surprise you at every turn. Carved by the glaciers during the ice ages, it is Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. From lofty mountain peaks to the fjord’s vertical cliffs, everything at Milford Sound feels larger than life. A helicopter ride is the best way to explore the wild appeal of this UNESCO World Heritage Area. You have a plethora of options for a helicopter ride over Milford Sound which range from 1.5 hours to half a day.

Most of the tours start from Queenstown, and let you explore the Fiordland National Park and get the Ariel view of the Tasman Sea and Mitre Peak. You can even land near the coast and go for a nature walk. But the highlight of the tour has to be the glacier landing on Mt Tutoko. It sets you down atop the vast glacier amidst a rugged landscape surrounded by mountains. Ask around Queenstown for a reliable tour operator.

Franz Josef Twin Glacier Helicopter Tour

The two glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef, are humbling in their humongous scale. The fox glacier is especially impressive as it flows 13 km over a descent of around 2,600 metres. The ice is over 300 metres thick in some places! With a combination of a steep valley floor and heavy snowfall, both the glaciers mover over 10 times faster than regular glaciers. The river valley at the foot of the Franz Josef Glacier has been carved out in a dramatic fashion over millennia of advancing and retreating glaciers.

Helicopter rides over these glaciers range from 30 minutes to an hour. It includes vast panoramas of the glaciers themselves, accompanied by a live commentary from the pilots. You can choose between the two glaciers to land. Explore the stark ice-scape strewn with glowing blue ice fields, frozen icefalls and plunging crevices. You can book your tour from the Franz Josef Helicopter Base.

Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound Helicopter Ride

Queenstown

It seems all good things in New Zealand come in a pair, like Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound, which are two of the most spectacular fjords in New Zealand. In fact, Dusky Sound is the largest one of them all. It is 40 km long and is dotted with 350 islands! It possesses that rare beauty which is highly reminiscent of Tolkein’s Middle Earth. Doubtful Sound has earned the sobriquet of ‘Sound of Silence’ with its blanket of serenity that cocoons you in a warm tranquillity. There are several spectacular waterfalls along this fjord that simply add to its magic.

A helicopter ride over these twin fjords includes sweeping aerial views of the Kepler Mountains and Lake Manapouri. The views are backed by an insightful commentary. Some tours also include two landings that let you explore both the fjords at your leisure. Most tours operate from Te Anau Airport.

Jura Glacier Southern Experience

Queenstown

The Jura Glacier is located amidst New Zealand’s Southern Alps and like any self-respecting glacier has dramatically influenced the landscape. Even the impressive peaks around it fail to subdue the majesty of this rugged river of ice as it effortlessly dominates the surrounding area. Take in the splendour of the Southern Alps even as you hike around the glacier in search of photo opportunities. 

Your helicopter tour will start from the Helicopter Line heli-base at the Lucas Place Queenstown Airport. You can enjoy the aerial views of Mt Aspiring as your helicopter follows the meandering Rees and Dart River Valleys. Your tour will include a snow landing on the Jura Glacier to enjoy the serene behemoth from up-close.

Mt Cook Alpine Panoramas Helicopter Tour

Mt Burke

Perhaps the most majestic mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook is also the tallest one in the entire country. Its climbing list includes the who’s who from the sport of mountain climbing. After all, this is where Sir Edmund Hillary honed his climbing skills while preparing for his Everest ascent. While the State Highway 80 is the lone road that takes you to the mountain, the best way to experience Mt Cook is in a helicopter. Surrounded by the Mt Cook National Park, your aerial approach will be one filled with picturesque locales within the park.

Your helicopter ride around Mt Cook will take you through the rugged topography of the Ben Ohau Mountain Range before setting you down in a snowfield high amidst the mountains. It will take your over Lake Pukaki which will wow you with its stark beauty. You can find helicopter tours operating from Glentanner Holiday Park located within the Mt Cook National Park.

Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Helicopter Tour

Queenstown

The Bay of Islands is a tiny world within itself. A subtropical micro-region, it will lure you with its stunning beauty studded with golden beaches and plenty of water sports. It is a collection of 144 islands that come together to offer you a memorable experience even amidst the exceedingly spectacular beauty of New Zealand itself. The Hole in the Rock is a natural archway carved out patiently by the ocean over the millennia. It is an iconic landmark in a country that is blessed with an unbelievable natural allure.

Your helicopter will give you a bird’s eye view of this natural phenomenon and even set you down at the location if you so wish. Zoom over the historic townships of Waitangi, Paihia and Russell and admire Cape Brett from the best vantage point. You can book your tour from the mainland or find one at the Paihia helipad.

A helicopter tour of New Zealand is like flying through the fantastical world of Middle Earth. With an astonishing variety in landscapes, no two helicopter tours will be the same. Fly alongside New Zealand’s soaring spirit as you explore the fjords, the mountains, the islands and the ocean. 

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Glow Worm Cave

Ever been to an underground Glow Worm Cave? New Zealand is Your Cave Haven

Step outside at night and you’ll see a sky full of stars. Simple, right? Well, what if we challenged that, though? What if you went to the innermost corners of the earth, right under ground, where sky isn’t permitted, to see the stars? In New Zealand, it is possible. All thanks to something called: Arachnocampa Luminosa. Commonly known as the glow worm.

These shimmering insects live inside the caves of New Zealand, emitting a soft blue-green light. A million of them living in a cave, rivals the sight of any galaxy or star-crusted sky. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a paddle boat, wear comfy shoes, take a deep breath and prepare to descend into the bioluminescent beauty of New Zealand’s caves. 

First, let us illuminate you on what makes glow worms glow…

As we’ve mentioned earlier, these glow worms emit light through their bodies. Contrary to popular belief, these insects aren’t worms, but larvae or maggots. They’re usually found in shaded, protected areas with a high humidity level (making caves the perfect homes for these illuminating insects.) Glow worms spin silky snares coated with mucous. Each snare consists of tubes, where glow worms can hang. Glow worms will then exude a soft glow, attracting insects to the sticky silk fibres. The blue-green light is a product of a chemical reaction between enzymes and the oxygen in the air. One of earth’s greatest lightshows, produced by one of its most basic needs – hunger. 
How incredible is nature? 


What caves should you visit to find these glow worms?


Te Anau

Located on the Western shore of Lake Te Anau, this fascinating network of caves boasts of stunning rock formations before you glide into the gleam of glow worms. Geologically, the Te Anau caves are quite young – a mere 12,000 years old. The caves are still being formed and shaped by the waters that flow into them. Spend a wonderful time observing the beauty of the lake outside, before slipping into the dark cave to discover this natural wonder.

McLaren Lake

A quick 10-minute drive from Tauranga will bring you to the shores of McLaren lake. This outing will be a more hands-on process, as it combines two great adventure activities into one – kayaking and glow worm watching. At least an hour and a half of your three-hour guide will be taken up by kayaking. All equipment is provided but do ensure to dress in warm layers. The tours usually depart before sunset, so that the cave is perfectly dark for that quintessential glow worm experience. During the day, the surrounding areas offer a plethora of activities such as bush walks, bird watching and great spots to have a picnic. Make a day out of it!

Waitomo Caves

Say glow worms, and the first name that pops up is Waitomo. Easily the most accessible of all caves, Waitomo is a short drive from cities like Auckland and Hamilton. The caves are a glow worm paradise. You can go on a guided glow worm tour, take a smooth underground cruise or take part in adrenaline spiking activities like abseiling or blackwater rafting.

Paparoa National Park

Glow worms seem to exist in a galaxy of their own, and no place exemplifies that like the Paparoa National Park. To reach the caves, you’ll need to catch the Rainforest Train, travelling through the ancient rainforest and massive limestone cliffs in the Nile River Canyon. From there, take a short walk to the entrance of the Nile River Glow Worm Cave. This ancient, serene wonderland features natural limestone sculptures and calcifications before treating your eyes to the streams and streams of lights emitted by millions of glow worms. These tours typically depart from Charleston (in the West Coast of the South Island).

Kawiti Caves

Every corner of earth has a story to tell, and at Kawiti you’ll hear that story. These caves are owned and operated by the Kawiti family, who have guided the steps of thousands of travellers over the last 50 years. Take a walk down the wooden boardwalk through the 200-metre limestone cave network, while the glow worms’ shimmer above you. This experience also gives you a chance to get closer to the glow worms, to see the actual bodies of these insects and the light emitted from their tales. Guided tours may also include the Māori legends about these caves. 

Waipu Caves

Looking to veer off the beaten track? Then Waipu caves are perfect for you. Getting to the caves is a mission in itself. You’ll need to bypass the gravel roads and hills in the Northland region, but the effort is worth it. These caves are uncrowded and untouched, exposing you to nature’s pure beauty. Grab a torch and comfortable shoes (you’ll need to do some paddling in shallow water). Once you reach the areas with glow worms, make sure you turn off your torch and stay completely silent. Glow worms can be shy, so try not to antagonise them.  

The Hokitika Glow worm Dell

If you’re on a budget, this is a perfect option for you. A short two-minute walk from the road, will lead you straight to the glow worm dell. The best part? The experience is absolutely free. Though you may not have the expertise of a guide, the path features boards with information on these incandescent insects. The path is unlit, but you can use the handrails to guide you (bring a torch to help light the way). The perfect time to visit is around dusk, when its dark enough to see the glow worms. 

You can also visit Clifden Caves, Okupata Caves, the Oparara Basin and Lake Karapiro to catch a glimpse of these incredible glow worms. Believe us, New Zealand gives you plenty of chances to catch this gorgeous lightshow. 

So, now that you know where you can spot glow worms in New Zealand, there are a few things to keep in mind –

  • Make sure you dress in warm layers as the temperatures drop in the caves. 
  • Check if the tour you’re on, or the cave you’re exploring permits cameras and photography.
  • If you are bringing a camera, make sure it can handle extremely low light conditions.
  • Photos with flash do nothing, except for irritate your fellow travellers and the glow worms, so turn it off. 
  • Caves like Waitomo are extremely popular, so make sure your bookings are done in advance.

If you’re itching to see the glow worms of New Zealand, why not follow your instincts and book a trip to New Zealand with Thomas Cook? We’ll help you book your flight, accommodation and even plan your itinerary and arrange for your forex. Check out our New Zealand Holiday packages, and book a front seat at one of New Zealand’s iconic glow worm

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Skyline Adventures

There are many ways to see the sights on a vacation to New Zealand. You could take the bus and enjoy the sights from your window. You could rent a car and have total freedom over where you want to go. You could even walk and enjoy the scenery at your own pace. However, there is another option you should consider – the Skyline Luge.

Strap yourself into a small 1-person (or even 2-person) sled and slide down a sloping track, with the wind whistling in your ears and whipping through your hair. The ride is in your control. You can use your calf muscles and your shoulders to accelerate or slow down. Take the turns and twists of the track at incredible speeds and even if you do tumble, get back up, dust yourself off and hop on again for the ride of your life. 

This is the new way to see New Zealand, and we’re going to show you how and where you can participate in this incredible activity!


How does it work?:

The activity starts with a Gondola ride. In Rotorua, for instance, you’ll ride up 900m to the Skyline Complex. There you can pause for a few moments to enjoy the spectacular view of Rotorua City Centre, the rippling Rotorua lake and the steam spirals rising from the Geothermal Valley. Once you can tear your eyes away from the view, grab a luge, gear up and choose your track. You can then start your grand slide down the skyline.

 

Where is this activity available?:

Currently in New Zealand, the two cities that offer luging are in Rotorua (North Island) and Queenstown (South Island). We’re going to break down what you can do at each location.


Rotorua:

Rotorua is the birthplace of luging in New Zealand. It all began here in 1985 and continues to thrive to this day. You’ll start the experience by taking (as we’ve mentioned) a ride on the eight-seater Gondola to the Skyline Complex. Once you’ve reached the top, you have the choice of three different luge trails (based on the level of difficulty). The trails in Rotorua twist and turn through a gorgeous redwood forest. As you glide across the trail, you’ll be treated to visuals of some spectacular landscapes. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you can catch the Gondola back to the top of the trail.

Other activities: Once you’re done with the ride downhill, you can always ride back up to experience some incredible activities at the Skyline complex. Sky swings, zoom ziplines, the Jelly Belly Store, star gazing, trekking and walking tracks and mountain biking are all up for grabs. If the ride worked up an appetite, you could dine at the Stratosfare Restaurant or the Market Kitchen and enjoy stunning mountaintop views as you eat. Couples can enjoy handcrafted rose, sauvignon blanc and other varieties of local wine at the luxury wine tasting rooms at the Volcanic Hills Winery. If your day is packed with New Zealand tour activities, you can always book a Night Luge and enjoy the city lights as you zoom down the trail. 


Queenstown:

At Queenstown, you can catch the Gondola and ride 450-metres high on the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest cable car to the top of Bob’s peak. Watch from the sky as Queenstown unfolds underneath you and the waves of Lake Wakatipu glimmer in the sunlight.  At the top you can drink in the spectacular view of Coronet Peak, Walter and Cecil Peak and The Remarkables Mountain Range and ski field. You can then hop on to the luge and let gravity pull you forward into an adrenaline pulsing ride. You’ll be in complete control during this 800m trail, filled with turns, twists, banked corners, tunnels and dippers. Once you reach the bottom, just grab the chairlift and head back up to do it all over again.

Other Activities: You’re in the adventure capital of New Zealand, so you’re going to have plenty of opportunities to thrill you. Go stargazing at Bob’s Peak, explore the biking trails of Queenstown Bike Park, dine at the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar while gazing at the mountain top views, buy gifts and souvenirs from the Skyline Gift Shop, grab a quick bite or a hot cup of coffee at the Market Kitchen Café and let your inner child out at the Jelly Belly candy store.


How Safe is the Luge?:

There’s no denying that this activity is exciting. However, there are rules in place so that you get all the adrenaline rush without the risk. If you’re signing up for the activity, you will need to comply with the safety procedures in place. You’ll receive a thorough safety briefing from trained instructors before the first Luge ride. Your first ride will also be on the Blue Track to see how confident and in control you are of the luge. If you’re confident enough, you can then proceed to the Red Track. 


Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The helmet is mandatory. There’s no riding the luge without it.
  • It will be your responsibility to keep the luge cart under control. Stay alert and avoid colliding with other rides.
  • Pull the handlebars back stop
  • Keep your feet in the luge at all times
  • Obey all signs and warnings on the track
  • Alcohol and drug use before the ride are prohibited
  • Do not wear loose jackets, scarves or carry any bags on the ride. Long hair should be tied and out of the way
  • No group racing, bumping other riders or skidding
  • Make sure you’re in good health before you take this ride. Pregnant women are advised against taking this ride
  • Children must be at least 6 years old and 110 cm (or taller) to ride the Blue Track unaccompanied
  • Children need to be at least 6 years and 135cm (or taller) to ride the Red Track unaccompanied  

With all these safety guidelines in place, and the rush, zest and sheer fun of gliding, sliding and slicing your way down the hill, luging should be on your list of activities to do in Rotorua or Queenstown. So, once you start planning your trip, why not make things easier? You can visit the Thomas Cook website to check out the varied range of New Zealand Holiday Packages we offer. So, grab your helmet, the luge, take a deep breath and fling yourself into the ride of your life. 

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Water Rafting

New Zealand is famous among all kinds of travellers for its surreal natural beauty. Among avid and frequent travelers and adventure enthusiasts, though, the reason is slightly different. The kiwi country is famous for the ample adventure activities it hosts. If you were to look up adventure sports, you’d find that most of them have roots in New Zealand. In fact, bungee jumping was invented right here in New Zealand! 

While there isn’t any specific activity that tourists enjoy more than others, we’d like to point out that white-water rafting has gained popularity lately. It is thrilling, fun and safe! What’s makes it even more perfect is that these places are spread throughout the country, so a white-water rafting trip is the perfect way to explore New Zealand.

Here is a list that we have curated for you:


1. Kaituna Cascades, Rotorua:

Besides rafting, Rotorua is famous for many reasons, whether it's geothermal pools, cultural experiences or natural scenery. Add white water rafting to this list and you’ve got a cracker of a destination! The Kaituna Cascades on the Kaituna River have been a hotspot for rafting since 1991. The Grade 5 rapids here take participants along the Kaituna River and straight down Tutea Falls. The Tutea Falls are the highest commercially rafted falls in the country at a height of 7m. 

What makes this particular rafting experience stand out is its 14 challenging rapids. But so much thrill also requires great level of security and safety measures. For this, a full and comprehensive training is given on the rafting day by experienced rafters.


2. Vector Wero Whitewater Park, Auckland:

Vector Wero Whitewater park is a manmade facility created to share New Zealand’s excellent rafting experiences with the rest of the world. This world-class facility offers not just rafting, but also paddle boarding and kayaking. 

At Vector Wero Park, you can choose to raft along the Tamariki River, which is suitable for amateurs looking for a simple recreational break. Or, the other alternative, more suitable for advanced rafters, is rafting along the River Rush, with Grade 3-4 river rapids. The River Rush rafting experience also offers an adrenaline-inducing drop down the world’s largest artificial waterfall, The Pump Waterfall!


3. Tongariro White Water Rafting, Taupo:

The Tongariro White Water Rafting in Taupo is an experience that is thrilling yet serene. Yes, we know this is an oxymoron, but you need to see it to believe it. At Tongariro White Water Rafting, try rafting along a rushing river while you’re surrounded by the natural landscape of New Zealand (read: a volcanic gorge!). If weather conditions (and your luck) are favourable, you may also be able to feel the thrill of a waterfall jump. This is not just good for the soul and spirit, but it’ll add another point to your courage meter.

This white-water rafting facility in New Zealand also offers several kiosks that serve hot chocolate, snacks, hot dogs, beer and soda. What’s more, there are also convenient changing rooms and solar-powered showers. A bonus point is that a percentage of every ticket sold goes to a fund aimed at preserving the Tongariro region!


4. Landsborough River, Queenstown:

There is a 100% chance that your New Zealand tour package will include a visit to Queensland. To make your trip extra memorable, you must go rafting at Queenstown Rafting on the Landsborough River. Unlike the other rafting options discussed so far, this one is actually a 3-day experience that includes rafting along Grade 3-4 rapids amidst hanging glaciers, wildlife and dense rainforests! We can already imagine the wide-eyed, awed expression on most of your faces. 

The package also includes the comfort of three-course meals, complete with complimentary beverages. Add to this premium camping equipment, rafting gear, full wetsuits and safety equipment! But there’s more, the 0cherry on top is a helicopter transfer to and from the location.


5. The Mohaka River Gorge, Hawke’s Bay:

You will find the Mohaka River in the east central region of Hawke’s Bay. The word Mohaka is borrowed from the from Maori language, and loosely translates into ‘place of dancing’. Interestingly, rafting in this region is just as fun as letting loose and dancing your heart out. 

The Mohaka River Gorge offers various rafting experiences, based on how much time you can spare for this absolutely unparalleled experience. You can choose from a 5-day trip or various multi-day expeditions lasting upto a week.

While we’re on this, let us also tell you about ‘The Big One’, a collection of Grade 4/5 rapids that take you down mesmerizing canyons and gorges in the North Island. 


6. Rangitata Gorge, Christchurch:

What are some things that you look for when looking to spend a pleasant, adventurous day? Well, we understand that your list may be long, but essentially, it all comes down to four things- Fun, thrill, laughter and security. And, Rangitata Gorge offers that and more. 

The best thing about white water rafting at Rangitata Gorge is that it offers rafting for amateurs as well as experienced rafters. There is a mix of Grade 1-5 rapids that offer casual experiences as well as more adventurous ones that are sure to give you an adrenaline rush. 

New Zealand is known for many things, and white-water rafting tops them all. An exhilarating experience awaits!

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Novel and Thoughtful Souvenirs

New Zealand can be soothing and action-packed with its alluring landscapes, grasslands, fascinating coastline, sprawling forests, lip-smacking savouries and most importantly, numerous shopping options. Whether you are taking back souvenirs from this treasured land or looking for a gift for a loved one, New Zealand will meet all your gifting requirements. From local markets steeped in culture to high-end shopping malls, New Zealand is heaven for shopaholics.

There is an extensive list of products that one can shop for in this country, but since you probably can’t shop for everything, let’s take a look at some exclusive products that beautifully depict the culture and traditions of New Zealand.


1. Manuka Honey:

Want to taste the most unadulterated and luscious honey? Well, Manuka honey is what you are looking for. Native to the country of New Zealand, this wholesome product is filled with the goodness of antibacterial, antiviral and anti- inflammatory traits. It is also a natural replacement for sugar. Manuka Honey has various skin care properties which makes it an essential part of most cosmetic products. A vial of this healing honey is one of the most beneficial products you can bring back home. 


2. Pounamu:

Pounamu, as the Maoris call it, is a green stone found solely in New Zealand. It is of great importance to Maori culture and history. In ancient times, it was used to embellish weapons and was also an emblem of ascendancy. It is known for its elegance and toughness and yet, it can also be moulded into different designs, shapes and sizes that signify, love, happiness, relationships and other emotions. The stone is gaining popularity for both, its historical significance as well as its aesthetic value, and Pounamu necklace, pendants and sculptures are one of the most sought after souvenirs of New Zealand.


3. New Zealand Wine:

New Zealand has been producing a range of world-class wines for a while now. The country’s chilly and oceanic climate makes it an ideal location for producing wine. The extensive variety of wine depicts the lively spirit of New Zealanders. The best wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and popular favourites of reds and whites.   


4. Paua Shell Gifts:

Paua is a dazzling shell which is a blend of vibrant shades of green, blue and purple on the upper surface and shimmering pearl on the inside. The highly polished form of this shell can be reformed and fit into various necklaces, earrings, rings, beautiful ashtrays and different kinds of jewellery, which you can buy as souvenirs or as gifts.


5. Whittaker’s Chocolate:

If you call yourself a chocolate lover, then this is one thing you won't want to miss in New Zealand. Whittaker offers an extensive variety of choices, each unique in flavour and texture.  The palette includes dark, milk, white chocolate and many others. As it is New Zealand’s most famous brand of chocolate, it is available in almost every local store and supermarket. 


6. Merino Wool:

Sheared from the Merino Sheep, Merino wool is a material that is well-known for its extraordinary softness, gleam and breathability. Which is why, these are used to make scarves, gloves, pullovers, sweaters and other garments. Its ultimate furring provides warmth in a chilly climate and the lightweight variants can keep you cool on a sweltering day. One can also procure exquisite sheepskin rugs of different sizes and shapes from local markets. With a wide range of merino wool products and rugs available in New Zealand, the selection can become overwhelming. But this is one thing tourists should not leave New Zealand without.


7. New Zealand Sweets:

Let’s be honest, each and every one of us likes a sweet treat, don’t we? Apart from the Whittaker chocolate, New Zealand offers heavenly, bite-sized sweets that are unique in their own way. Your sweet box can include Pineapple Lumps, Jet Planes and Jaffas. Apart from these, other bonbons like Chocolate Fish, Minties and delightful milkshakes are also there to pamper your sweet tooth. Take home a few as gifts. Your family and friends won’t stop thanking you for it.

New Zealand offers an exciting range of exclusive products. However, it becomes easy for tourists if they know where exactly to find them. Here’s a helpful list:

  • Paua World - Paua Shell Gifts
  • Puriti- Manuka Honey Products
  • The Sheepskin Factory - Sheepskin Rugs
  • Wine Direct - Wine
  • Puawai Jade - Pounamu gifts
  • Morris & James – Ceramics and glassware
  • The Polynesian Spa – Cosmetics
  • The Remarkable Sweet Shop – Sweets 
  • Auckland Museum Gift Store – Pendants and Souvenirs

Leave some place in your suitcase so that you can stack it up with memories you can treasure for a lifetime.

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Hiking Trails

Love to Walk and Hike? New Zealand has These perfect paths for you

Don’t you just love it when you can breathe in crisp fresh air as you walk, leaves crunching underfoot, your eyes treated to marvellous sights of mountains and forests and trees? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a casual walker or enjoy going on long hikes, New Zealand is one of those places you must certainly take your walking shoes with you. The delightful sights don’t cease and the landscapes unfolding before you are breathtakingly beautiful. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about your fitness levels and whether you’ll be able to do it because there are several options to suit all levels. 

Some of the short walks are from 30 minutes to 3 hours and you can fit in a walk as part of a longer itinerary. You won’t regret doing this as you walk along coastal walkways, or even past ancient glaciers and forest trails. There are also single day and multi-day hikes which are certainly better suited for those who have a little more endurance and for whom hiking is a way of life. Then of course, there are the Great Walks, the iconic 9 walks where you can discover stunning aspects of New Zealand, its diverse wildlife and awe-inspiring wilderness. Here’s a look at some of the different walks you can enjoy while in New Zealand. 


Lake Waikaremoana Track

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go hiking in a prehistoric forest? A lush green world that seems enchanted and almost too beautiful to be true? The Lake Waikaremoana Track which is an hour and a half from Gisborne and around 40 minutes from Wairoa, leads you on a magical journey across the shores of this lake. The entire walk lasts three to four days and also takes you through the ancestral home of the Ngai, a Māori tribe. Rivers, waterfalls and misty valleys await you as you trudge towards the Panekire Bluff. This is a popular walk although it can be a little challenging if you’re not used to extensive walking. It takes around 3 to 4 days to complete it and it is around 46km long. It includes walking over a heart stopping suspension bridge near a waterfall, making it an unforgettable experience. 

Tongariro Northern Circuit

If you’ve ever felt like getting near a volcano, New Zealand is the best place to do it, and this walk in particular which is around 40 minutes away from Turangi takes you around Mount Ngauruhoe, which is an active volcano in Tongariro National Park. This is certainly a memorable hike, more so if you decide to climb to the summit. There are lava flows and craters around you which will leave you feeling awed. There are also emerald and blue lakes, awash with brilliant colour that is the result of volcanic minerals that have washed down from thermal areas. The entire walk takes around 4 days but there’s also an option to do just the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is an excellent single day hike. 

Abel Tasman Coast Track

This South Island trek is 5 days long and brings some daring rock formations and the chance to explore the Abel Tasman National Park at length. It’s around 40 minutes from Nelson. Beautiful beaches await you and since there are boats available here, you also have the option to try the kayak tour if you don’t want to walk it entirely. Each day, there are new delights – from beech forests to estuaries, a 47m long suspension bridge over an inlet, Tonga Island with its marine reserve and the options to go snorkelling and a number of gorgeous birds in the forested section of the hike will keep you enraptured. Since this is not a circuitous track, you have to ensure some form of transport at either end.

Heaphy Track

If you want to be stunned by a constantly shifting landscape, then you should certainly consider the Heaphy Track which is an ancient Māori trail that is on the West Coast, at an hour’s journey from Takaka. Lasting nearly 6 days, this gorgeous trail will leave you spellbound as you come across a number of contrasts in just one journey. All of nature’s wonders such as lush rainforests, grasslands, rugged mountains, and beaches – all of this encapsulated in one walk! The beauty is sure to leave you speechless. It’s a whopping 82km of walking but one that you won’t notice as you take in the valleys and rivers. The track is within Kahurangi National Park which is where you will find a number of Great Spotted Kiwi birds. Kahurangi is a delight in many ways, offering some interesting rock formations along with caves, bluffs and several natural arches. 

Routeburn Track

Prepare to feast your eyes on some mind-boggling scenery as you go on the Routeburn Track, which is just 45 minutes from Queensland. There are mountain peaks, valleys, waterfalls and shimmering lakes along the track, and you’ll want to spend more time at each such place. This track has been shaped by glaciers which makes it all the more interesting. The track begins with a swing bridge and gets even more exciting along the way. Beech forests, valleys, rivers and mountains accompany you on your walk and panoramic views will leave you wanting more. 

Milford Track

This is usually considered to be New Zealand’s most famous walk. Milford Track is indeed very enthralling and offers some spectacular views. At 53kms long, the track takes around 4 days to cover and begins at Lake Te Anau. The nearest city from here is Queenstown which is a little more than 2 hours away. You’ll have to balance yourself as you walk across daring suspension bridges but the sights more than make up for whatever difficulties you might come across. Expansive valleys, towering mountains, vivid lakes and of course, the sight of Sutherland Falls which is considered to be the tallest waterfall in New Zealand are some of the wonderful things you’ll get to see while on this track. 

Kepler Track

This one’s a 60km walk that shows you all the best features of Fiordland, from its mountains, waterfalls and forests to its valleys that have been shaped by glaciers. This is a relatively new walk and brings you all the natural sights that your heart longs to see. Hear the twittering of birds as you walk into the beech forest, and if you’re lucky, you might even come across the kea, which are New Zealand’s large alpine parrots. Prepare to have your breath taken away as you look at the valleys, the craggy mountains and the shimmering lakes in the distance. 

Short Walks

Devils Punchbowl

 

If a multi-day hike does not sound like something you want to do, there are several short walks that you can go on. An hour’s journey from Christchurch will bring you to the rather easy Kura Tawhiti Access Track which is renowned the world over for its limestone rock formations. This is just a 20 minutes walk which will leave you enthralled by the sights. If waterfalls are more your scene, then two hours from Christchurch will bring you to the Devil’s Punchbowl Walking Track which showcases a stunning 131m waterfall or the Wainui Falls Track which has a swing bridge and takes you through lush forests. 

There are also day hikes which last from 4 to 8 hours and span volcanic landscapes to coastal forests and of course the amazing glaciers in South Island. New Zealand is indeed a walker’s dream come true as there are so many different places to visit and see, all on foot. 

Some things to note

  • Just because you’re on a multi-day hike doesn’t mean you have to sleep in the wild with no access to proper functioning toilets. New Zealand has a wide network of huts which can be booked in advance. These huts give you a dry place to sleep and offers some creature comforts to make it easier for you to continue on your journey. The Great Walk huts are considerably more expensive per night than the Backcountry huts.
  • If you are planning to go on one of the Great Walks, you will have to book them in advance as thousands of people want to go on them throughout the year. Some popular tracks get booked months in advance. 
  • Be prepared to brave uphill and downhill terrains and ensure you’re fit enough to go on these tracks. 
  • There will be rain and you will get wet, so be prepared with jackets and a cover for your backpack. 
  • Ensure to carry enough energy giving snacks such as almonds, dried fruit, trail mix, apples and candy bars to give you an instant lift when hiking. 
  • Make sure you’re carrying all the necessities in your backpack. 

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10 Great Water Activities

10 great New Zealand Underwater experiences you definitely shouldn't miss

New Zealand is known for a number of things, from lush green landscapes to incredible glaciers, from picturesque cities to rare wildlife. In all of the varied experiences that the country has to offer, the one thing that alone draws waves of people every year is the range of water sports and activities that the ‘land of the long white cloud’ offers. Whether it is at the sea and the gorgeous beaches of the country, or in one of the many amazing lakes and rivers, New Zealand offers a thrilling water activity in almost every part of the country. 

A number of experiences like kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving and a lot more are available for you to enjoy. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 great water experiences that you should not miss out on during your trip to New Zealand.

1. Scuba Diving:

One of the most popular and enthralling water activities in New Zealand is scuba diving. Explore the vivid colours, the magnificent aquatic wildlife and beautiful plants deep inside the water. Some of the most famous spots for scuba diving in the country include - Poor Knights Island, known for offering a wonderfully unique experience of swimming with the rare maomao; White Island, the site of the country’s most active volcano where you encounter gorgeous tropical species of marine life and also spot the underwater vents of the volcanic site; and Fiordland National Park, where the waters are inhabited by fiords and red and black coral, offering an opportunity to witness some exquisite aquatic species that you normally would find only deep in the sea, to name a few. 

2. Black Water Rafting:

If you are looking for a truly one of a kind experience, a black water rafting trip in Waitomo Caves is it! Visitors get to choose from two kinds of experiences - Labyrinth and Black Abyss. In the Labyrinth experience, you float through the caves on a tube, and get to experience the thrill of a jump from a waterfall. This absolutely splendid tour of the gorgeous caves lets you float along on the rapid waters, in total darkness! While you may be thinking that at this point, you would need to switch your torches on, another stunning surprise awaits you. The ceilings of these caves are illuminated by thousands of glow worms, making for a heavenly experience for anyone rafting through these underground waters. In the Black Abyss experience, along with the rafting, you also get to rappel down the limestone walls of the caves, with glow worms all around you. 

3. White Shark Cage Diving:

A visit to Stewart Island offers the chance to experience a thrilling and frankly, even scary activity – cage diving with the great white shark. About 120 of these majestic creatures can be found in the waters between the months of December and July. You get to experience the sharks up close, while being underwater in a cage suspended off a boat, with the sharks swimming all around you, and maybe even bumping into your cage. 

4. Kayaking: 

The one activity that perfectly combines the lush green landscapes and the beauty of the waters of New Zealand is kayaking in Milford Sound. Located in the Fiordland National Park, this area is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world because of its stunning natural beauty. You can rent a kayak and navigate through the waters, explore the grand fiords at your own pace, witness the fur seals inhabiting the area, and maybe even get to play with them. 

5. Stand Up Paddle Boarding:

Poor Nights Northland

From sitting and rowing to standing and rowing! Stand up paddle boarding is an extremely popular water sport in New Zealand, with the growing popularity even seeing an increase in competitive stand up paddle boarding races. If you are up for a relaxing experience in the form of paddling through beautiful locations, you can head to Coromandel, Raglan, Bay of Islands, Leigh or any of the other stand up paddle boarding hotspots in New Zealand. 

6. Swim with Dolphins:

Kaikoura Canterbury

One of nature’s most playful and gorgeous creatures, dolphins can make anyone’s day with just a few simple jumps. When in New Zealand, one of the water activities that you just can’t miss is swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat in Kaikoura or Akaroa. Both these towns are located on the south island’s east coast, with the former being home to the fast and playful dusky dolphins and the latter known for being the natural habitat of world’s rarest and smallest dolphin species, Hector’s Dolphins.  If you find yourself on the North Island on your trip to New Zealand, you can still experience swimming with dolphins in Paihia, where one can witness the bottle-nose dolphins, one of the most common species of dolphins found across the world. 

7. Highest Rafting Waterfall in the World:

Tutea Falls

For rafting enthusiasts, one of the best adventures in the world is rafting in the highest rafting waterfall in the world. Standing at 7 metres high, the Tutea Falls offers an unbelievable experience not just because of the height but also the beautiful surroundings. The lead up to the waterfall takes you through native forests that are steeped in Māori history, before you come to the sharp drop through a narrow gorge. There are a number of other white-water rafting experiences in New Zealand that you can opt for if you want a less high and thrilling a ride. 

8. Surfing:

From one thrilling and wonderfully draining experience to another, no trip to New Zealand is complete without trying your hand at surfing at least once. Beaches on both North and South Islands offer a number of great surfing venues, where you can catch a variety of waves, from the beginner level to downright monstrous waves that are perfect for experts. If you are a seasoned pro in surfing, North Island areas like the Waitakere Ranges of Auckland and the Taranaki Surf Highway 45 are the places to be.

9. Jet Boating:

Marlborough Sounds

Jet Boating is a water sport invented in New Zealand, which makes it an absolute must-try! High speed boats take visitors zooming down the river, going through all the steep gorges and canyons on the way for an absolutely hair-raising experience. If you are in an agile boat, you might even find yourself in some very well timed 360-degree spins. Shotover River, Waiaurahiri River, Huka Falls and Whanganui River are some of the places you can experience jet

10. Sailing:

We end the list with an absolutely leisurely experience. One of the best ways to sit back and enjoy the splendid sites of New Zealand is to a take a sailing tour in one of the national parks in the country, or just take sail boat out to the sea. Abel Tasman, Akaroa, Auckland and Bay of Islands are some of the most popular sailing destinations in the country. 

Any trip to New Zealand is incomplete without experiencing some of the amazing water activities the country has to offer. Visit our website today to explore all the activities and the packages for each!

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Wine Tours

Wine lover? Make sure you don't miss these Wine Tours in New Zealand 

New Zealand is known to offer some of the best wines to the world today. The sheer number of high-quality wineries and vineyards spread throughout the country stand testimony to that. The most distinctive feature of a New Zealand wine is its balance, something that the wines are most famous for. Pure, vibrant and intense, this is a result of the cooler temperatures that encourage a longer ripening period.

If you are a wine connoisseur and have been thinking about a holiday to New Zealand, you’re on the right track. You can turn this wine tasting sojourn into a splendid vacation since most vineyards in New Zealand are in stunning locations, either near a gorgeous shore or perched high up in alpine peaks.

There are wineries all across New Zealand, from its Northern islands to its Southern ones. New Zealand’s viticulture and winemaking began in Northland, where the vine plantation was set up nearly 200 years ago. Over time, this has simply been perfected and the whole country today offers some of its best wines to the world.

Most wineries are within driving distances from the state highways, and even the smallest ones are highly reputed, with wine connoisseurs traveling from far just to sample some of the distinctive flavours of New Zealand.

Shall we begin the tour?

If this has whetted your appetite for more, we strongly recommend that you drink your way through three significant wine regions on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. This will turn your wining holiday into something far more spectacular. You can expect stunning scenery for company all along the way as you move from vineyard to vineyard, from Hawke's Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island - with halts at Wairarapa and Wellington along the way. Add to that a happening nightlife and delicious food to boot, and your wine journey is complete.

Are you ready to join us on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail?


1: Napier and Hastings

Vineyard

This day is only about wineries, wildlife and Art Deco designs.

Highlights:

  • Head off on some brilliant Hawke's Bay cycle trails
  • Spend time browsing through spectacular designs in the Art Deco capital of the world
  • Tee off at the Cape Kidnapper's Golf Course

All the vineyards in Hawke’s Bay are in close proximity to each other. You can drive around in your car, opt for a guided tour or cycle around to get the proper experience. Pick up a winery map from the local i-SITE Visitor Information Centre and make your way through them all, one glass at a time. There are several fine winery restaurants where you can enjoy a sumptuous lunch. Many of them specialise in international cuisine and you shouldn’t be too surprised to eat some fabulous Indian food too.

What else besides wining? Napier and Hastings are both home to some of the finest Art Deco architecture in the world. Then there is the Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata, an exhibition to commemorate Māori history on the East Coast, at the museum. Fancy a round of golf? Head over to the golf course at Cape Kidnappers.

Getting There:

  • If you’re driving, you’ll take approx. 25 min to from SH1.
  • You’ll take 20 min if you travel by the Intercity.
  • Should you choose the Hawkes Bay Cycle Trail, you’ll reach in 1h 15min 


2: Napier to Martinborough

Nothing beats the joy of sipping a glass of wine while overlooking a beautiful coastline.

Highlights:

  • Spend a leisurely day at several boutique wineries
  • Browse to your heart’s content at the many antique and craft stores
  • Take some time off to visit the Wool Shed Museum

You can spend several delicious hours at Martinborough, hopping across the over 20 wineries that the place is home to. Most are within cycling and walking distance from the village square, so getting around is a breeze. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir originates from the town’s boutique vineyards; no wonder it’s so popular among wine lovers.

Make your time here more exciting by heading to the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. This is the only place in the world with a white kiwi in captivity. Plus, there is lots of other native New Zealand wildlife to view as well.

Wairarapa is a fascinating mix of other interesting towns as well. Carterton is home to Stonehenge Aotearoa, a working replica of the famous Stonehenge in England. Greytown is a quaint Victorian village that is a delight to those interested in antique stores. 

Getting There

  • Martinborough is 250 kms from SH2 and you will take about 3h 10min to reach by car.
  • The journey is longer by the Intercity, clocking 5h to Featherston.


3: Martinborough to Wellington

Get ready for history, culture, nature and cuisine.

Highlights:

  • Delight your taste buds at the numerous cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Don’t forget to visit the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa
  • Drive along the Rimutaka Ranges for fabulous views of the valley

Wellington is a city that you discover on foot. It is compact and full of character. You will find yourself spoiled for choice with the sheer number of cafes, bars and restaurants the place boasts of. A few of them even specialise in international cuisine, and you will certainly find a New Zealand take on classic Indian dishes. Pair off the meal with delicious wine that is now a given at every meal on your New Zealand vacation.

Wellington has a strong culture circuit and you can immerse yourself in the museums, as well as the various dance, theatre and musical performances here.

On your way to Wellington don’t forget to make a halt at Featherston, home to the world’s only remaining Fell Engine. Also swing by C’est Cheese, an artisan cheese shop that is bursting with cheese from all over New Zealand – an absolute delight for those who love their cheese.

Getting There:

  • You can drive down from SH2 as well as SH53, both of which will bring you to Wellington in 1h 10min
  • The Metlink will take about the same time 
  • Those looking for adventure can cycle down the Rimutaka Cycle Trail, which should take 6h 10min

4: Wellington to Picton

Your fourth day will bring you to a land of valleys and sheltered waterways.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy the serene waters of Marlborough Sounds and soak in the surrounding scenery
  • Sail back into time on the Floating Maritime Museum
  • Dig into delicious seafood, fresh from the harbour

Take the ferry across Cook Strait, through the Marlborough Sounds, and tell us if you’ve ever enjoyed such a scenic boat ride. You get three hours to soak in the surrounding landscape that just gets better with each passing minute. The luxurious cruise-style ferry links New Zealand's North and South islands, and takes you past natural attractions such as the Red Rocks Seal Colony, Cook’s Lookout, Tory Channel and the beautiful coves of the Sounds.

Once on land, you can enjoy all that the quaint seaside town of Picton has to offer. From here, you can head over to the marine, forest and island sights of the Marlborough Sounds. Put aside some time for the museums and stroll the streets to see the culture from up close. The famous Queen Charlotte Track is quite worth your time too, whether you wish to walk or cycle.

Getting There:

  • The ferry to Picton via Cook Strait ferry by Interislander or Bluebridge will take 3h 30min

5: Picton to Blenheim

Take in the scenic sounds and native wildlife, and enjoy some brilliant cycling and walking tracks

Highlights:

  • Wind up your wine trail with amazing winery tours
  • Leave the world behind on these walking and cycling trails
  • Pamper yourself on luxurious boat cruises

There are more than 20 wineries for you to stop and select on your short drive to Blenheim. As you drive past the Wairau Plains, you will spot vineyards and wineries on both sides. Plan beforehand or simply allow your senses to guide you. Don’t forget to try the Marlborough region's famous Sauvignon Blanc.

In between journeying further on your wine appreciation, you can take a break and slip away to a café or restaurant for a delicious meal. Seafood lovers can travel a little further to Havelock, quite famous for its Greenshell Mussels. Then there are shops and stores where you can pick up souvenirs or gifts for people back home. And if you wish to test your handicap, simply head over to any of the numerous golf courses where you can tee off.

Staying at Blenheim is an absolute delight. Depending on your budget and preference, you can choose from a comfortable homestay to even stunning boutique hotels.

Getting There:

  • You are about 24 min away from SH1 when you drive down
  • The intercity will get you there in about 30 min

Wine discovery in New Zealand is a fantastic way to see the country and also treat yourself to delectable tastes and flavours. At Thomas Cook, allow us to plan a memorable vacation for you and your loved ones. With us, you can enjoy it all – the countryside, the world’s best wines and vivid experiences.

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Wildlife

Wildlife in New Zealand: It's definitely not what you thought!

When talking about wildlife in New Zealand, the first thought that a lot of people might have is Kiwis or even sheep. While these two might be the most popular species of animals found in New Zealand, wildlife in the country has a lot more to offer. Experts suggest that New Zealand pretty much evolved cut-off from the rest of the world, which led to the country being a site for numerous unique and rare species of reptiles, insects, birds and aquatic animals. One incredible statistic that stands out is that this island nation is home to as many as 85 native species of land birds. To put this into perspective, the next best is the British Isles, which is home to just one.

A trip to New Zealand is incomplete without exploring the rich diversity in wildlife that the country has to offer. Here are the best wildlife experiences that you just can’t miss when in New Zealand. 

Whale Watching : One of the most popular and possibly one of the most spectacular experiences of wildlife in New Zealand is whale watching. Kaikoura, situated on the east coast of the South Island, is one of the best places in the world if you want to spot whales. The area is home to about one third of the world’s southern hemisphere based marine mammals, with 25 out of 37 species being found in the surroundings. 

One of these species is the sperm whale, with Kaikoura being the only place in the world where you can spot them easily. These whales can be witnessed throughout the year with other popular species like Orcas and humpback whales, and these are easy to spot during December to March and June to July, respectively.  


Where: Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

pengiune

How to reach: 2-hour drive from Christchurch, well connected by rail and bus service, and also has a small airport. 

Best time to visit: December to March; June and July

Spot Rare Penguins : A visit to Dunedin is a must if you want to witness some of the rarest and most beautiful species of penguins in the world. With firm conservation policies set in place, the area is home to the world’s smallest penguin, called Korora or the Little Blue Penguin. This species is a native of New Zealand and can be found ashore other areas as well including Stewart Island, Oamaru, Akaroa Harbour and more. A widely famous attraction in Dunedin is the rare yellow eyed penguin, or Hoiho. This bird is easily distinguishable by the bright yellow band around its eyes. 

Another extremely rare penguin species that you can spot in New Zealand is Tawaki, or Fiordland Crested Penguin. This bird can be found in the areas of Stewart Island, Lake Moeraki and Fiordland.


Where: Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand

How to reach: It is well connected to all the major cities in New Zealand by road, rail and air. You can also reach Dunedin via the sea, with several cruises going there. 

Best time to visit: December to March 

Kayaking with Seals : Visiting the Abel Tasman National Park offers a heavenly experience, not just because of the opportunity to kayak with seals, but also because of the jaw-dropping landscapes and serenity in the air that surrounds you. The New Zealand fur seals are among the most common seals in the country. The species was once considered to be at risk of becoming extinct, but thanks to the conservation efforts, its population has been growing in the recent years. You should definitely set a day aside for interacting with these flipper clad animals, taking a kayaking tour around the gorgeous beaches and bays of Abel Tasman, and searching for the seals. They are not very hard to find, and you are sure to encounter some in a playful mood in the crystal-clear waters, performing their own brand of acrobatics, or just taking lazy naps on the rocks of Tonga Island. If you are fortunate enough, some of the more curious seals may just come up to your kayak to say hi!


Where: Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman District, New Zealand

How to reach: Nelson is the closest airport to the park, with just 60 kms or a one-hour drive separating the two. You can travel to Abel Tasman by road or even take a car ferry from Wellington. 

Best time to visit: Mid December to March

Swim with Dolphins : Dolphins are amongst the happiest and friendliest creatures in the world and getting a chance to swim with dolphins is pure bliss. This is exactly what you get when you visit Akaroa Harbour. You can take a cruise from the township of Akaroa, and get a chance to experience the chuckle of these wonderful creatures first-hand. Among the other dolphins in the area, the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin species, Hector’s Dolphin, can be found in its native habitat at the Akaroa Harbour. Most of these cruise tours offer a guarantee on spotting dolphins, and taking into account the dolphins’ own playful and fun-loving nature, there is a very high chance that you will get to swim and play with the dolphins here. If you are lucky, one of them may even plant a slobbery kiss on you!


Where: Akaroa Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, New Zealand

How to reach: Akaroa town is roughly 85 kms from Christchurch, and you can drive down or take a bus to reach your destination. You can also sail on a cruise to reach the harbour. 

Best time to visit: February and March; June and July

Bird Watching : One extremely popular wildlife experience in New Zealand is bird watching. The country is home to some of the most beautiful and rarest species of birds, with the kiwi being the national pride and a cultural symbol. To get the best chance to spot this endangered bird, a visit to the Zealandia Ecosanctuary should be on the cards. This eco-sanctuary is located in the middle of Wellington and is known to house some of the most beautiful species of kiwis and a number of other birds. For visiting the sanctuary, you might have to take into consideration the fact that kiwis are nocturnal birds and sleeping inside their burrows takes up most of their days. In order to have a chance to spot a kiwi, you should plan a tour to the sanctuary at night. However, if you are a bird enthusiast, a tour to Zealandia during the day should also be on your list, to spot birds from more than 40 native species that are found in this sanctuary. 


Where: Zealandia Ecosanctuary, Wellington, New Zealand

How to reach: Zealandia is located just 10 minutes away from the centre of Wellington, with free shuttle service available for visitors. 

Best time to visit: The sanctuary is open throughout the year except on Christmas day. The summer months between December and March are considered better times for spotting the greatest number of birds. 

If you are looking to explore all of these wildlife wonders and a lot more in New Zealand, visit our website to find the perfect package and plan your trip right away!

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First Trip

Aotearoa, “The Land of the Long White Cloud”, is a fascinating place to visit. Even though it is blessed with awe-inspiring natural beauty and an adventurous streak, New Zealand is an utterly underrated holiday destination. While every trip to New Zealand is an exciting adventure, the first trip is extra special. Your first sight of New Zealand’s stunning natural grandeur will stay with you forever. With its panoramic vistas, the soaring peaks and the dense forests, it all seems unreal! But the fact is that you will be spending most of your time here outdoors. Hiking around New Zealand is the best way to experience its untamed soul.

New Zealand does have its share of museums, amusement parks and theatres. But the real action happens outside. The spectacular beaches of New Zealand are major hubs for adventure sports while the forests and the mountains are great oases of tranquility that bring you closer to nature like you’ve never been before. There’s something about camping under a starry sky that calms the mind and soothes the soul. The celestial night show played out on the clear night sky is a photographer’s delight and a magical experience. Go ‘tramping’ and spend a night at one of the many mountain huts that are spread all over New Zealand. So, if you’re ready to sample the smorgasbord of delights that New Zealand sets offers, get your backpack ready.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the places you should not miss on your first visit to New Zealand. 

1. Auckland - The City of Sails

2. Rotorua - Spa Country

3. Wellington - The Cultural Capital

4. Christchurch - The Garden City

5. Queenstown - The Adventure Capital

6. Dunedin - Underrated Beauty

But first, let us quickly look at some tips and travel hacks for new visitors.

When it’s your first time in New Zealand:

Preparedness is the key to a hassle-free travel. Before you follow the Hobbits’ trail deeper into the Middle Earth, here are some things you should know.

  • Start your journey in the North and make your way down to the South Island for a dramatic finale to your vacation.
  • Hiking is a great way to get around New Zealand. So, bring along a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
  • Be ready for a sudden change in weather as New Zealand’s climate is a temperamental beast.
  • Stay in hostels as much as you can, and you will save substantially on accommodation.
  • While hiking, carry a paper map along as cell phone coverage is unreliable in the wilderness.
  • New Zealand sun is pretty severe, so carry a good sunscreen while venturing outdoors.

 

Auckland - The City of Sails:

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and is considered the country’s only true metropolis. The erstwhile capital is the economic heart of New Zealand that beats to the rhythm of the ocean. The “City of Sails” boasts of a large harbour that drives a thriving sailing culture. Explore the Quay Street and catch a ferry to the Hauraki Gulf islands from the Princess Wharf. Jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge for a 43-metre-high rush of adrenaline. If bungee jumping is not your cup of tea, simply admire the views from the top.

Delve into history at the imposing Auckland War Memorial Museum that displays an amazing collection of artefacts dating back to the time of the country’s first Polynesian settlers. Peer into the cosmos at the Stardome Observatory and explore the life underwater at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. The New Zealand Maritime Museum showcases the country’s mystic bond that it shares with the ocean.

Rotorua - Spa Country:

Rotorua is the place to be for an up-close look at the Maori culture. Wai-O-Tapu is a multi-hued hotbed of geo-thermal activity. The bright orange “Champagne Pool” and vibrant green "Devil’s Bath” will fascinate you with their colours. The crystal clear Hamurana Springs are a stunning contrast to multi-coloured thermal pools. But the real fun begins at the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools where you can soak away your tiredness in the naturally formed free pools. Lake Tarawera makes for an exciting day trip with its collection of rugged scenery, natural hot pools and magnificent waterfalls, not to mention the lakes itself.

The Skyline Rotorua is a hub of adventure where giant swings and fun-filled downhill luge rides will set your pulse racing. Velocity Valley is an extreme funfair takes the thrill factor several notches higher. It offers bungee jumping, free falling, jet boating and really giant swings. All-in-all Rotorua seems to be a complete adventure package.

Wellington - The Cultural Capital:

Wellington is New Zealand’s cultural as well as political capital. This vibrant harbour city is a microcosm of the country’s cultural and natural abundance. Spend an afternoon at the Te Papa Museum which is a treasure trove of New Zealand’s history. Take a tour of “The Beehive”, the Parliament, which is the country’s seat of power. Wellington is a city of varied experiences. Head to Courtenay Palace for a taste of the city’s lively nightlife or take a peaceful evening stroll along the waterfront. The Cuba Street will satiate your hunger pangs with heart-warming delicacies.

Mount Victoria affords some of the most stunning views of the city’s harbour nestled against the peaceful ocean. You can easily spend a day at Oriental bay, which is Wellington’s most popular beach. Be sure to check out Zealandia, which is a first-of-its-kind enclosed urban eco-sanctuary. Wellington Cable Car is the country’s last functioning funicular railway system. It is your gateway to the Botanic Garden, Cable Car Museum and the Carter Observatory.

Christchurch - The Garden City:

Christchurch lives up to its moniker “The Garden City” with an abundance of greenery that overflows from its gardens and landscape. It is South Island’s largest city and offers you a multitude of experiences with its churches and cathedrals, gondola rides and trolley tours. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is a painstakingly curated collection of native trees and plant conservatories. Go River Punting on the Avon River for a leisurely tour of the city’s outdoors. Take a picnic at Hagley Park which is the largest open space in the city. It is also the venue for many of the city’s outdoor cultural events.

Pay your respects at the Bridge of Remembrance, which is one of the city’s two main war memorials. It commemorates the valour of those who fought in the first world war. The Port Hills are a collection of trekking and bicycle trails that pass through undulating hills amidst some of the most beautiful sights in Christchurch. Travel to Greymouth on the TranzAlpine railway line and take in the stunning sights along the way.

Queenstown - The Adventure Capital:

When a city sits at the base of a mountain called Remarkables, you can expect it to be a thrill-ride full of fun and adventure. Queenstown is known as “The Adventure Capital” of New Zealand for good reasons. It offers you skiing at the Remarkables, jet boating on the Shotover River, bungee jumping at the Skippers Canyon and an assortment of Heli-hikes to the nearby Milford Sound. If you’re really looking for adventure, head out to Nevis Valley. The 134-metre-high Nevis Bungee platform is the third highest in the world and features the world’s biggest rope swing.

But Queenstown does have its share of tranquil pursuits. The Stunning Lake Wakatipu is a stunning sanctuary of peace that is also a thriving picnic ground and a hub of outdoor activities. Take the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak for some of the best views of Queenstown. You can also trek to the top through the Tiki Trail if you’re up for it. The Gibbston Valley Winery lends a touch of class to wine-tastings with its signature Pinot Noir.

Dunedin - Underrated Beauty:

Dunedin is perhaps one of the most unknown cities of New Zealand. It is the country’s very own piece of Scotland. The town was founded by Presbyterian Scottish immigrants and wears its legacy proudly. It is home to Baldwin Street, which is the steepest residential street in the world. It also houses the Larnach Castle, which is the only castle in the whole of New Zealand. The Otago Museum is the showcase for New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage. The butterflies in the Discovery World is the undisputed highlight of this museum.

The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum  concentrates on the region’s first settlers and chronicles the 19th-century gold rush of Otago. Even Dunedin’s railway station is a work of art flaunting the Edwardian Baroque style of architecture. But one of the most popular attractions here is the Tunnel Beach. Reaching the beach requires you to climb down 72 steps, go through a tunnel and then climb back up again. The sights that awaits you at the other end makes it all worth the effort.

So, there you have it! Our selection of places you should visit on your first trip to New Zealand. While you shouldn’t miss these places, do not restrict yourself to these. New Zealand is all about going off the beaten path and carving out your own towards an epic adventure. We offer a wide range of holiday packages that show you New Zealand like no others. Book your holiday online or drop into your nearest branch for a customised holiday.

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Adventure Activities

How would you describe your ideal adventure holiday? Does extreme water sports count as an adventure or does skydiving sound more thrilling? What if you can enjoy both, and lots more, in a single holiday? Well then, simply head to New Zealand where you can have an adventure-filled holiday unlike anywhere else. This is after all the place where Bungy Jumping was born! Apart from its spectacular natural beauty, New Zealand is famous for its adventurous holidays. From the longest treks to the highest Bungy jump in the world, New Zealand has it all and then some more. So, if you’re looking for a holiday that will set your heart racing and get your adrenaline pumping, pack your bags for New Zealand.

Here are our picks of 10 adventure activities that you shouldn’t miss in New Zealand.

1. Skydiving

2. Bungy Jumping

3. Heli-Skiing

4. Jet Boating

5. River Rafting

6. Spelunking (Cave Explorations)

7. Zip Lining

8. Canyoning

9. Off-Roading

10. Zorbing

 

1. Skydiving

Skydiving is possibly the ultimate, heart-stopping thrill in the world of adventure sports. Nothing gets your adrenaline going faster than jumping out of a plane with only a backpack strapped to your back. Once you overcome the initial rush, the views that greet you will leave you awestruck. For most people it will be their first skydive. But no matter however many times you do it, the excitement never fades. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before. You’ll do a tandem jump where you will be strapped to an experienced partner. There are many places around New Zealand where you can enjoy skydiving; Lake Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Wanaka, Queenstown and Auckland. And it is as exciting everywhere.

 

2. Bungy Jumping 

Bungy Jumping and New Zealand share an unbreakable bond. This is where Bungy jumping, as we know it today, first began! The exhilaration of a free-fall followed by an abrupt stop has to be experienced to be believed. When in New Zealand, you can experience a whole range of Bungy jumps. The Kawarau Bungy Site is where it all began, and it is still open. The Nevis Bungy is the highest Bungy jump in all of New Zealand. You can experience both these icons in Queenstown . The Taupo Bungy and the Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy offer a slight variation on the rest. Here your jump ends with a refreshing dunk in the water below. This is one thrill you just cannot miss in New Zealand.

 

3. Heli-Skiing

The rugged landscapes of New Zealand are blessed with a variety of terrain that adds to the excitement of your explorations. From the sandiest of beaches to the snowiest of mountain tops, you get it all in New Zealand. Heli-skiing combines the joy of a helicopter ride with the pure thrill of downhill skiing. But to fly down the slopes, you first need to go up. The slow journey to the top is perhaps the most unglamorous part of skiing. But heli-skiing livens it up by flying you up in record time. For those of you who seek their thrills on a freshly powdered slope, heli-skiing adds a posh touch to your adventure. You can enjoy this incredible experience at Queenstown, Wanaka and Christchurch.

 

4. River Rafting

The rivers of New Zealand seem to have been made for rafting. The rivers ease you in with gentle grade 1 rapids where you just sort of hurry along with the flow. And just as you’re getting used to the idea of navigating a river over undulating waters, you’re surging ahead on a grade 3 flow. This is where the adventure starts and sweeps you along on the ride of your life until you’re flying along grade 5 rapids that set your pulse racing. There is no time to be afraid as you pit your wits against the river. As you emerge at the other end of the rapids, you’re left with a sense of achievement that stays with you for a really long time.

 

5. Jet Boating

Jet boating is the sport for the folks who think river rafting is too slow and relaxing. You don’t need rapids to enjoy jet boating. All you need is a shallow river and a ridiculously overpowered boat that all but flies over the water’s surface. What you get is a sensation of flying as the boat barely skims the water on its way to adventure land. The jet boat zigzags along the river bends almost kissing the sheer rock faces as you leave your sanity behind and begin to enjoy the ride. Though it was developed in the 1950s, the sport is still fresh as the day it was born and is as adventurous. Queenstown  and Canterbury have some of the best jet boating experiences. But you can also find the sport in Buller and Makarora regions.

 

6. Spelunking (Cave Explorations)

The caves are an integral part of New Zealand’s varied landscape and the country has turned them into a playground for thrill seekers. Spelunking is as popular as bungy  jumping in New Zealand. And why not? In keeping with the rest of its natural beauty, New Zealand has some of the most spectacular cave systems in the world. Join a guided spelunking tour and enter a subterranean world of mystery where time stands still but adventure spurs you on. For the shutterbugs, this unexplored world yields a treasure trove of photographic gems. If you head to Nelson, you can gaze upon the deepest sinkhole in the Southern hemisphere! So, whenever you are in New Zealand, do not miss a chance to go cave exploring.

 

7. Zip Lining

How fast can you travel without a motor vehicle? If you’re riding a zip line, the answer would be “up to 80 km/h”. At such incredible speeds, a zip line is one of the most daredevil experiences in New Zealand. Zip lining is as simple as it gets. You’re harnessed to a steel cable that stretches over hundreds of metres. Christchurch Adventure Park has the longest zipline in New Zealand which stretches over 1.1 km and also the highest in the country at 150 metres. Rotorua, Nelson, Queenstown, Christchurch, Auckland and Waitomo have some of the best zippiness around New Zealand. But Waitomo has one of the best experiences where you can zipline in the through the gallery of glow worms. That is one experience that you should not miss.

 

8. Canyoning

Canyoning is one of the best ways to get really close to New Zealand’s incredible landscapes. It combines a number of disciplines such as rock climbing, jumping and abseiling to create a bouquet of adventures. The remote mountains of New Zealand are the perfect staging areas for this fun activity. It is a seasonal activity. So, make advance enquiries before planning your vacation to New Zealand and make sure you embark on this adventure only with reputed professionals. Canyoning contains an element of danger that adds an extra zing to the activity. The Haast Pass Canyon in Wanaka, Routeburn and Earnslaw Canyons in Queenstown, Piha and Blue Canyons in Auckland and the Sleeping Gods Canyon in the Coromandel are some of the best canyoning locations of the country.

 

9. Off Roading

Off roading can be done anywhere in the world really. But then what’s so special about off roading in New Zealand? It is the sights that make it so special. Combine that with New Zealand’s love for the outdoors and it all begins to make sense. Camping is a favourite activity here and a big part of the country’s outdoor culture. New Zealand has plenty of backroads and country trails to qualify almost every journey into the wild as an off-roading adventure. But there are companies that have made this inevitable part of camping into a full-fledged adventure activity. From the impressive dunes of the Ninety Mile Beach to the back-country roads of Rotorua, you have a plethora of choices to indulge in a bit of 4X4 fun.

 

10. Zorbing

What if someone told you that you could get inside a giant ball and steamroll your way downhill, crushing everything on your way down? If you’re in New Zealand you’re probably at a Zorbing arena. This is yet another exciting activity that was invented right here in New Zealand. The inventors of this sport operate the world’s largest rolling ball park in Rotorua. It has a total of four different tracks and can be enjoyed in two styles. If you can handle being tossed around inside a giant ball as it speeds downhill, this is one of the most fun activities to do. This is definitely a must try on your New Zealand adventure holiday.

With so many adventures awaiting you in New Zealand, it promises to be a rollercoaster ride! What are you waiting for? Book your holidays online today! If you’d rather customise your adventures in New Zealand, just drop into your nearest Thomas Cook India branch. We will help you design the best adventure holiday in New Zealand.

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Backpacking Travel Guide

Backpacking is a culture that has swept the tourism industry in the past decade. What does it entail? What is its appeal? A backpack, an open, curious, mind and your own two feet. It’s an eye-opening, low-maintenance endeavor to truly understand another’s culture, with the potential to transform mindsets in such magnitudes. Especially in a country like New Zealand, where there lies magnitude in the landscape, in the culture, in the opportunities, and within people’s hearts.  A generous warm, culture, magnetizing mountains, and alluring waters make for a backpacker’s paradise. 

A backpacker’s first necessity – a backpack. 
Let us review the absolutely requisite characteristics of a good backpack: 

  • An internal frame – making the backpack, lighter to carry, slimmer to traverse in, and aesthetically pleasing to look at 
  • Padding along the shoulder straps, hip belt, and the back is crucial! – This feature evenly distributes the weight along your spine, shoulders, and hips, such that the straps don’t dig into your skin 
  • A Front + Top loading backpack with various compartments – So you can access your backpack from the top, the sides, and the front, which is extremely helpful whilst hiking up a mountain, or burrowing in a shared hostel room. 
  • Water-resistant –A semi-waterproof or water-resistant backpack is a must to prevent damage from incoming drizzles and showers. Nylon fiber is generally decent material for this. Your prime priority is to keep your belongings dry at all times. 

Luggage, check. 

When should I go?

Next, decide when to pack your backpack and book your plane ticket based on New Zealand’s climate and tourist influx 

Lying in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand enjoys glorious summer warmth while Asia and North America endure the winter. 

November through February is summertime and the country's peak travel season, magnetizing tourists from far and wide. June through August mark the frigid winters. While the North Island offers a relatively cool and pleasant climate, the South Island’s peaks are blanketed in snow and swarming in down jackets. 

Despite the cold, the winter season brings in hot, the winter sport enthusiasts, waiting to get their hands on a pair of skis! 

If you wish to dodge the tourist herds, visit New Zealand in the Shoulder season, from February/March to May. The transition between summer and winter is a blissful, inviting climate, favoring a plethora of land and water activities, up on the mountains, or deep within the Pacific Ocean. 

 

Where should I go?

Follow along for some undeniable, yet affordable experiences, deeming your modest New Zealand adventure, your favourite one! 

Strap on your hiking boots

Gear up and hike among the vert canopies and turquoise waters in the South Island’s Abel Tasman National Park or the North Island’s Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Climb the Franz and Fox Glaciers

New Zealand’s gems, these glaciers are some of the only mountable glaciers in the world. The usual Franz and Fox glacier experience involves a heli-hike – a helicopter ride to peaks, followed by a hike through the valleys and ice caves. A more backpacker friendly option is to drive to the site and peruse through the glacier valleys. 

Queeeeeenstown!

Escape the busy, tourist laden streets of Queenstown; Embark upon various hiking trails on the Remarkables, rent a bike and pedal off the beaten track on a mountain biking adventure to Arrowtown - a historical mining town on the outskirts of Queenstown. A short ride away from Arrowtown is the Kawarau Bridge – New Zealand’s iconic bungee jumping destination! 

Dissolve your worries by the Wanaka Lake 

Wanaka is commonly known as Queenstown’s modest, underrated, yet equally ravishing sister. Kayak in the Wanaka Lake’s cyan waters, hike Roys peak or Mt Isthmus, or simply sip a piping cup of coffee by the Lake post sunset, gazing at the dark, glimmering skies 

Lose yourself in Mount Cook National Park

Speaking of glimmering skies, the desolate Tekapo/Mount Cook region boasts one of eight International Dark Sky Reserves in the entire world! After a long day’s hike to Hooker Valley, Sealy Tarns, or Kea Point – the only activity that attracts its visitors - take a walk underneath the night skies or book a unique stargazing tour! 

The city life

Peruse through the street art filled alleys of Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, explore multinational cuisines, and taste New Zealand’s finest and strongest coffees. New Zealand’s cities, although cosmopolitan, still preserve the Maori essence in their values, lifestyles, and morals. 

Immerse yourself in Rotorua

Enter Rotorua and the smell of Sulphur permeates the air (although it’s not nearly as unpleasant as people claim!). Rotorua in the North Island is New Zealand’s geothermal hub with hot pools and springs are scattered all over the city. Indulge in nature’s free, very own cure for that post-hike soreness 

Escape the Island for more islands! 

Board a ferry from Auckland in the North Island to the Bay of Islands. Pick from 144 islands in the Bay of Islands, and rejuvenate along aqua emerald bays and soothing sands, participate in a variety of water sports, or explore the area by foot. 

The little gems 

Escape to Waiheke, near Auckland, in the North or Kaikoura, near Christchurch, in the South. While Waiheke is an immersion into New Zealand’s most sensational food and wines, Kaikoura is New Zealand’s marine paradise, offering opportunities to whale watch, snorkel, dive, and migrate alongside dolphins and whales.


How should I travel?

Nestled in a fairly remote part of the Pacific Ocean, air travel from most places in the world lasts 12-16 hours. The journey, however taxing, is incredibly rewarding. Once you and your backpack arrive in New Zealand, pick from the following: 

Campervan – The ultimate road trip! A campervan experience is practically a mini house on wheels. Aboard a campervan and wake up to sunrises that paint mountains crimson and sleep to the sounds of colliding waves; cook on the go and massively save on accommodation costs. However, you must make your peace with potentially uncomfortable spaces, driving long hours, unprecedented vehicle maintenance and lots of DIY! 

Car – Also enabling a fair bit of freedom, with a car you are unencumbered by rigid public transport routes. It’s the best way to touch those off beat, unexplored corners of the country. Keep in mind the accommodation and fuel cost that gradually but substantially will eat away at your wallet. 

Bus – Bus travel is by far the most convenient and hands off, affordable yet flexible way to explore New Zealand. There exist a few prominent bus companies, such as InterCity, with extensive routes, frequent trips, and affordable passes. Bus travel also imparts the opportunity for social interaction, and potentially discover a travel buddy! 

Air travel – As a cohort of travelers that live by the “it’s about the journey, not the destination” philosophy, backpackers shy away from air travel. However, budget airlines in New Zealand permit inexpensive commuting between the two islands or between prominent cities. 


Where should I stay?

Unless you’re in a campervan, you haven’t accounted for a place to sleep yet. New Zealand, being a backpacker friendly country, provides a multitude of options for a cheap night’s rest! 

Hostels – Hostels, a backpacker’s eternal dwelling, are abundant in New Zealand! Ranging from $20 - $60 NZD for a night’s stay in a shared hostel room, hostels encourage social gatherings, meeting fellow travelers, and engaging in events (tours, pub crawls, game nights etc). These multicultural melting pots are adorned with community kitchens, lounge rooms, and dining spaces; it is hard to leave a hostel without having made a few new friends or even travel companions! 

Airbnb – linking homeowners to travelers, Airbnb is also a relatively affordable and culturally enriching way to maneuver your travels. 

CouchSurf – If your specialty is spontaneity, perch yourself on a stranger’s couch or bedroom free of cost through couch surf. Although you mustn’t take your safety for granted, New Zealand is considered a trusting and amiable country, where innovative ideas such as Couch Surf truly thrive. 

WWOOFING – An abbreviation for “Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms”, WWOOFING is a globally escalating travel trend. If your visa allows for it, WWOOFING is a barter system of sorts, providing food and accommodation for a few hours of daily work on an organic farm. Agriculture being a prominent industry in New Zealand, WWOOFING is a popular option utilized by many backpackers. 

 

Since food is an expensive affair in most New Zealand destinations; on average, a balanced satisfying meal is $15 NZD. It is most advisable to familiarize yourself with the art of cooking, and to sleep where you can cook, having agency over your own meals. Weekly grocery shopping and meal prepping are a backpacker’s best friend. Subsequently, hostels and Airbnbs are your best bet! 

And lastly, 
No matter what the location, the accommodation, the commute, walk walk everywhere, as much as possible! Absorb the pure air and grasp a mental picture of the scenery. You’re in New Zealand once, you’re in a country where every single sight, tree or mountain, ocean or grassland, is a sight for the soul!

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5 Exciting Campervan Trips

Glamp or Camp, Cottage or hotels - Choice is all yours! Flow towards the roads untravelled and paths untouched. Delving into places where the road takes you by campervanning is one of the best ways to explore New Zealand. Campervanning helps you traverse the wilderness in luxury with a sense of being immersed outdoors. Here’s a list of 5 places you must explore in a campervan.

1. Orewa and Mangawhai Heads

Go for a spin to the unexplored coastal road, to the north of Auckland. The roads take you to golden-hued sands and a vibrant display of Pohutukawa trees, which add up to the picturesque view of this little town. The blues in this setting are something you would want, despite it being a Monday.  With a driving distance of half an hour from Auckland, this beach backdrop has a lot of things to offer. Other than taking a stroll along the Millennium Walkway to soak up in some amazing coastal views, you can also take a dip in the crystal-clear waters to discover what lies within the sea. An amazing experience comes along with this beach town, from wind sailing, kite sailing and surfing at the beach to thermal hot pools, wine tasting and indoor skiing beyond the beach ambience. You can spend the night laying your head on the soft sand and glazing towards the glistening sky as the sun sets into the horizon. Night brings in stars not only in the sky, but also in front of your eyes. Pretty glow worms light up the bushes, a feast for the eyes and a delight for the soul. Waking up to the beautiful dawn, you can start the engine and head farther north to the beautiful town of Mangawhai Heads. Elegantly placed between the Pacific coast and undulating farmlands, this locality will offer a list of seaside experiences. Right from swimming with the exotic fishes to trying your hand at surfing. On the far side of the harbour, there is a large sand dune area, housing the cute fairy terns, Caspian terns and New Zealand dotterels. 

 

2. Russell

Driving for three and a half hours on the smooth and excellent roads to approach the historical town of Russell, beautifully nestled to the north of Auckland, is a pleasant journey with a destination even more breathtaking. Whether you wish to lay your head in the wild or colonisation is what you believe in, Russell allows you to do both. Historic buildings and a seaside setting full of adventure activities, quirky cafes, fancy restaurants and beautiful art galleries, make this little town lively and vibrant. There is a plethora of water activities that one can indulge in Russell. Whether you wish to enjoy swimming, surfing, kayaking, fishing or you want to just relax at the beachside, soaking up in the sun, all your fascinations will be met. If you prefer more land activities, there are some trails through the lush forests where you can encounter the wildlife by hiking or trekking. Once in Russell, a visit to the Christ Church is a must. The beautiful old structure tells stories about the history of this place, all the way back from 1836. The neat wooden houses which sit beautifully with English cottage-style gardens and oldest surviving Roman Catholic building add up to the aura of this town.

3. Tongariro National Park

Beautifully set in the central North Island, Tongariro National Park is a 5-hour drive from Auckland. Reaching the destination, you will encounter the most mesmerising view of the sacred land, Tongariro, and his brothers, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe, which rise majestically from the central volcanic plateau. They create a horseshoe-shaped setting, from which they have got the name of Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’. Tongariro out of the three is of a great cultural significance to the natives, Maori, being a key part of their history, ancestors and idols. Blessed with outstanding natural features is just an add on to its importance. Sanctified with beryl lakes, scalding craters, beautiful silica platforms and unique green gardens, this National Park offers some mind-blowing sights that you will not want to miss. Tongariro covers about 80,000-hectares of land, which means lots of camping opportunities! What an amazing place to indulge in some campfire stories, roasting marshmallows and setting up a barbeque amidst the fascinating and diverse flora and fauna. Get up close to Mt Ruapehu, which is covered in white snow, for some adventure activities like skiing and boarding. Tobogganing, tubing, constructing a snowman, snow angels or simply playing around in snow are some more fun activities that will always stay with you in the form of beautiful memories. For hikers and nature lovers, there are a series of short trails you can go exploring. Don’t be too surprised if you come across some breathtaking waterfalls like Taranaki falls, Waitonga falls, Silica Rapids and Tawhai falls. Each location paints a beautiful picture, like an artist’s masterpiece has come to life. And when in Tongariro, how can you forget about Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy that features this awe-inspiring scenery.

 

4. Wanaka

A feast for the eyes, this lakeside town beautifully rests in the alps of the South Island. Adorned with scenic mountains, emerald lake and a vast green landscape, it is a perfect spot for a beautiful camping experience. A scenic one-hour drive from Queenstown brings you to this peaceful locality. Colourful streets and galleries, fancy shops, craft breweries, pretty cafes, world-renowned wineries and local spirits, these alluring hamlets has it all. Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with the adventure activities that this place has to offer. Various summer friendly sports like watersports, hiking and cycling; winter comes in with opportunities like skiing and snowboarding; spring and autumn will make you want to explore the mesmerising flora and fauna and click a perfect instagrammable shot. The perfect ending to an outstanding day is when you get to sit on the grassy land by the lake and witness the sun melt into the horizon, which fills up the lake with beautiful hues of reds and oranges. Setting up the campfire and gazing at the mesmerising night sky, listening to the history and stories about this land is what an evening well spent looks like. The cherry on the top is when you are right on time for the world class events like international music and arts festivals, Festival of Colour, Rhythm & Alps, and the Audi Quattro Winter Games, just to name a few.

 

5. The World-famous Wineries

For the vintage wine connoisseurs or the ones with a slightly more modern palate, Winery hopping is the best bet. Especially when you get the opportunity to drive all around the beautiful setting or if you just had a grape moment at a winery, you could also spend your night in that vineyard. From North to South, Coromandel Peninsula to Central Otago, you can set up your camp right among the delicately tended vines. The aroma of the grapes that fill up the air and the beautiful sky full of stars while you have a delicious meal and sip on some fine spiced wine will leave you feeling tranquil.

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Offbeat Locations to Visit with Family

New Zealand is certainly one of the most unique holiday destinations in the world. With its lunar landscapes, it is a wonderland of thrilling experiences and exciting possibilities. The land of lofty mountains and stunning landscapes has a number of hidden treasures that do not feature on the regular tourist beat. New Zealand seems to have it all; magnificent waterfalls, spectacular fjords, steaming hot water springs and untamed outdoors. Even then New Zealand can surprise you with the aces hidden up its sleeve. These offbeat destinations are fascinating places to visit for a unique experience that can seldom be had elsewhere in New Zealand, or indeed the world.

 

Let us take a look at these offbeat places to visit in New Zealand that will thrill you and leave you awe-struck in equal measure.

  1. Waitomo Caves - Glowing Wonder
  2. Tongariro Crossing - Mount Doom
  3. Wai-O-Tapu - Geothermal Wonderland
  4. Blackhead Beach - The Best Swimming Pool
  5. Abel Tasman National Park - The Perfect Escape
  6. Kaikoura - A Forgotten Heaven
  7. Hawke's Bay - Old Wine
  8. Lake Quill - A Peaceful Retreat
  9. Earnslaw Burn - Spectacular and Somehow Familiar
  10. Karamea - Hiker’s Paradise
  11. Curio Bay - Preserved Beauty
  12. Cathedral Cove - Beauty of The Coromandel
  13. Whangamomona - Rich Frontier History
  14. Whangarei - Artistic Brilliance
  15. Te Wairoa Buried Village - The Village Out of Time

 

1. Waitomo Caves - Glowing Wonder

Time stands still when you enter the Waitomo Caves. It is a magical place of psychedelic wonder that looks like an alien world. It’s a labyrinthine complex of underground cave systems that has been carved out by mother nature in the limestone bedrock. The stalactites and stalagmites are festooned with glow worms giving the caves their otherworldly appearance. There are a number of activities you can enjoy here. A guided walking tour will get you up close to the walls. Blackwater rafting offers a fascinating perspective, and if you’re feeling adventurous you should zipline through a gallery of glowworms.

 

2. Tongariro National Park - Mount Doom

The forbidding Mount Doom from the Middle Earth is actually one of the most stunning places to visit in New Zealand. With a melodramatic combination of looming mountains, hot springs, baked plateaus and turquoise lakes Tongariro National Park makes for a stunning day trek. Imagine walking through this stark landscape surrounded by a deep blue sky! It is a land which seems far removed from the earth but is in fact a tranquil sanctuary from trappings of modern life. The turquoise and blue lakes framed against the dusty landscape are a shutterbug’s delight.

 

3. Wai-O-Tapu - Geothermal Wonderland

Even in a country filled with an abundance of natural wonders Wai-O-Tapu stands out from the rest with its surreal natural beauty. It is a hotbed of geothermal activity which makes for some riveting attractions such as the Lady Knox Geyser, Devil’s Bath and Champagne Pool. The brilliant pinks and the dazzling greens stunningly contrast the blues and the green of the surrounding landscape. The steaming ground and the bubbling muddles are a dramatic accompaniment to your hike through the region. Do not miss this one as there are very few places like these, if any.

 

4. Blackhead Beach - The Best Swimming Pool

One of the major tourist attractions near Dunedin, the Blackhead Beach is a popular summer destination. During the summer it is full of swimmers, divers and surfers looking to catch ‘that one wave’. But for the rest of the year, it is a great place to lounge about and soak up some sun. The Blackhead Beach is also known for its fishing. If you do not want to venture into the water, there are scores of rock pools to explore which hold a fascinating selection of local marine life.

 

5. Abel Tasman National Park - The Perfect Escape

This is New Zealand’s smallest National Park. But Abel Tasman National Park proves that great things come in small packages. It is the perfect place to take a load off and enjoy a relaxed vacation. The landscape is a mix of marble and granite formations surrounded by large swathes of native forest. Spend your days walking along the pristine beaches or explore the ocean on your diving and kayaking expeditions. Spend your nights at luxurious lodges or sleep under the stars to enjoy the ultimate light show of nature.

 

6. Kaikoura - A Forgotten Heaven

Sitting on the eastern coast of New Zealand, only a couple of hours from Christchurch, Kaikoura is the most underrated tourist destination. After all this is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. You’ll be treated to a cross-species spectacles that includes sperm whales, orcas, humpback whales and even dolphins. The beauty of Kaikoura continues outside of the ocean as the Kaikoura Ranges form a spectacular backdrop for its long pebble beach. Take a lavender farm tour and spend the night in a rustic cottage surrounded by breathtaking fields.

 

7. Hawke’s Bay - Old Wine

Hawke’s Bay is the wine cask of New Zealand and is known for its acclaimed wines the world over. It is also home to New Zealand’s oldest functioning winery. A guided wine tour, which includes tastings and al fresco meals, is a highly recommended activity in Hawke’s Bay. Hire a mountain bike and take in the sights as you move from one winery to the next. Scour the farmer’s market for the freshest produce and buy some souvenirs to take back home. You can catch the annual Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic festival.

 

8. Lake Quill - A Peaceful Retreat

Surrounded by the misty alpine peaks, Lake Quill sits at the centre of a tranquil retreat. A helicopter ride is the best way to reach Lake Quill. Pack a lunch basket and make a picnic of it. Get jaw-dropping views of the majestic Sutherland Falls as it cascades over great heights. Once you land you can also explore the countryside at one of the most beautiful fjords in Fiordland. Take a cruise to get a closer look at the lake and enjoy the lofty views of the surrounding mountains.

 

9. Earnslaw Burn - Spectacular and Somehow Familiar

One of the most spectacular glaciers of New Zealand would seem like an oddly familiar place for movie buffs. That’s because it was featured as one of the magical Middle Earth locations in The Hobbit. As the glacier forges ahead, it feeds numerous waterfalls along the way. Hike through this untamed wilderness as you follow Bilbo’s trail and drink in the sights. Another recommended activity is a heli-picnic where you can enjoy a scrumptious meal after gorging on equally scrumptious sights.

 

10. Karamea - Hiker’s Paradise

Karamea’s isolation is a part of its inherent appeal. Sandwiched between the Tasman Sea and forested hills, Karamea offers an escape into nature. It is the gateway to Kahurangi National Park which preserves a slice of the Kiwi wilderness. The region is home to stunning limestone arches that have formed over millions of years. The Oparara Arch is one such marvel that spans the Oparara River. The Heapy Trekking Track will lead you through a variety of landscapes ranging from the rugged coastline to alpine tussock fields. Truly a spectacle of nature.

 

11. Curio Bay - Preserved Beauty

Curio Bay is home to a fascinating geological phenomenon, a petrified forest. A forest once stood here, millions of years ago, which was lost to the ravages of time only to emerge as a preserved artefact. The ancient tree trunks and stumps are revealed when the tide goes low making for a dramatic landscape. Keep a lookout for yellow-eyed Penguins and pods of Hector Dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world.

 

12. Cathedral Cove - Beauty of The Coromandel

One of the most picturesque spots in all of New Zealand, Cathedral Cove is awe-inspiring at first sight. Sculpted by the elements over millennia, the humongous arched cavern has a grand aura. It opens up to a beautiful beach which is a perfectly hidden spot for swimming and relaxing. The area around Cathedral Cove is full of trekking trails that are busy throughout the year. Visit the Cathedral Cave to appreciate its grandeur and ancient mystic in person.

 

13. Whangamomona - Rich Frontier History

The Republic of Whangamomona is the highlight of the famous Forgotten World Highway. Just 45 minutes east of Stratford is a quiet little town which has declared itself as a republic. This frontier town of old is now a burgeoning tourist attraction where visitors throng in to enjoy its quirky frontier history. You would need a Whangamomona passport to be able to enter the town, which are easily available at the iconic Whangamomona Hotel. If you’re lucky you can catch its biennial Republic Day celebrations.

 

14. Whangarei - Artistic Brilliance

‘The City by the Sea’ is a vibrant city that houses a thriving arts community. With its picturesque sights and splendid natural beauty, the city itself is an inspiration for artists. The town’s Quayside is the arts hub where artists and patrons come together to celebrate art. Head up the Mount Parihaka to gaze upon the remains of the largest Maori Pa (fortified village) in New Zealand. Have fun at the Whangarei Falls which are known as the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand.

 

15. Te Wairoa Buried Village - The Village Out of Time

Destroyed by Mount Tarawera’s eruption in 1889, Te Wairoa Village was buried under debris. It was settled in 1848 by Christian missionaries as a model village. Only the prayer house survived the eruption which was dismantled and transported to England to be displayed at Clandon Park. The village site was finally purchased and excavated by a family almost 60 years after the eruption. You can now explore the excavated village and visit the museum which chronicles the history of the unfortunate village.

 

You’ll surely enjoy these offbeat destinations in New Zealand for their quirks and astounding beauty. Book your holidays online from the comfort of your home. Or simply drop into your nearest Thomas Cook branch for a tailor-made New Zealand holiday package.

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Water activities to do in Kaikoura

When it comes to New Zealand, the opportunities are overwhelming. Blessed with natural as well as man-made wonders, it is a top priority destination for adventurers, travel enthusiasts, artists and even filmmakers who are often inspired to capture the beautiful backdrops in their famous movies. Soft sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, mesmerising waterfalls, world-renowned wineries, lush green meadows, waters in hues of blue and its Maori culture are a few of the things that make this Island country so special. New Zealand is also very famous for its exotic wildlife and water adventure activities. And if you want to make a splash, New Zealand presents you with the perfect place to do this Kaikoura. This charming coastal town has lots of hidden gems you can discover, be it in blue waters, grassy lands or misty mountains. An easy drive of about 2 hours north of Christchurch will bring you to a hamlet sandwiched between rugged mountains and playful waters. And if the sight of the blue waters urges you to straight away jump in them, wait to find out some water activities which are equally or more adrenaline pumping:

 

1. Seal Kayaking 

Well, what an amazing sight it is to see these furry animals flapping their flippers, wriggling on their tummies while moving on land or simply sunbathing on the rocks? Get close to these creatures by kayaking. Depending on your level of expertise, you can either hire a kayak to explore the coastline on your own or take a guided tour. It is much more peaceful than taking a cruise and you could also witness these furry creatures playfully swimming around your boat. If you are lucky enough, you might also be able to catch a sight of them hunting or munching on a fish or an octopus. Whether they are taking a nap or a dip or flaunting their cute quotient, every sight is worth soaking in by kayaking. You might also get a chance to take an amazing selfie with these cute creatures. For a truly unique experience, you can also swim with these exotic creatures in the shallow waters of the Kaikoura Peninsula. 

 

2. Whale-watching

Spot this giant creature, gliding through the deep blue sea with its shining body by hopping on a cruise ship. If you wish to get even closer, you can get on a sailboat for an even amazing view of this enormous creature. Thrilled is what you might feel when you realise it may be passing right under your boat! And if spotting only one or two whales does not suffice, hit the sea during the annual migration process to witness a large number of these beautiful behemoths. If you are lucky enough, you might get to spot some gigantic sperm whales, playful dusky dolphins, beautiful orcas and humpback whales jumping in the blue waters. An experience of a lifetime, you cannot miss this amazing opportunity during your visit to this alluring hamlet of Kaikoura.

 

3. Swim with the dolphins

Play, splash or simply just adore these mischievous acrobats of the sea. How about making some new friends on your trip to Kaikoura? You might not get to connect with them over a call but maybe you can pay a visit to them again. Home to wild dusky dolphins, Kaikoura will not fail to amaze you with its residents. You can swim with these beautiful creatures or simply awe at their playful nature by snorkelling. If you wish to stay dry, take out your camera to capture moments of these alluring mammals playing hide and seek. If you are lucky enough, you may even get to see them flaunting their entire body, trying to impress the audience. Whether you are in the water with them or watching from the deck of a cruise ship, both the experiences are equally precious and breathtaking. 

 

4. Catch your own food

Have you ever tried fishing? Or has it just been an unfulfilled wish? Kaikoura will make your dreams of angling a tasty tidbit from the sea come true. And when a place has fish in its name (Kai means food and koura means fish in Maori); you know the fishing’s great! If you are lucky enough, your fishing hook might fetch you a Crayfish which you can season and cook with your own two hands. The clear waters also house fish like Blue Cod, Sea Perch, Blue Nose, Grouper and Tarakihi. Victory is when you are able to catch more than one fish and fun is when you get to flaunt your fishing skills. Even if fishing is not your cup of tea, the pleasure of catching and cooking your own fish on a holiday is an experience that is deeply satisfying. 

 

5. Surf like a pro

Playing with the waves, balancing precariously on the surfboard is everyone’s tropical dream. What could be better than living this dream? Kaikoura comes with great opportunities and beautiful beaches which witness some powerful waves, which means a perfect surfing occasion. Maybe you are not well-versed when it comes to surfing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn. Take a class or two to learn the basics about this thrilling sport. And if you are a quick learner, you may be able to hit the waves like the pros. If you are afraid of standing on a surfboard, you can simply lay on it and paddle through the waves. Float on the blue waters or catch a wave like the surfers do, the choice is yours to pick. Whatever you decide to do, the experience is truly exciting and thrilling. 

 

When it comes to Kaikoura, you can simply not let these wonderful opportunities slip through your hands. Kaikoura water sports are fun and immensely exciting. Adorned with scenic backdrops, this hamlet is a delight for all adventure enthusiasts. So, next time when you wish to plan a vacation to New Zealand keep this list handy so you don’t miss a thing.

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Scenic journey of Milford Sound Cruises

Enjoy the beauty of New Zealand in the heart of Fiordland National Park. With breathtaking backdrops this small piece of ecstasy, seems too good to be true. Misty mountain tops, milky waterfalls gushing to meet the blue waters, beautiful sea creatures flaunting their swimming skills, fresh breeze blowing right at your face… Milford Sound is nature at its best. Lush green forests that house exotic animals and pretty birds are a sight that will leave you spellbound.. And what could be a better way to witness this paradise right in front of your eyes? Sail through this emerald sea for the experience of a lifetime. Explore the hidden natural wonders and make some new friends from the underwater world. Once on the cruise, you will wish for it to never end.

Departure

Queenstown Visitor Centre, 110 Beach Street, St Omers Wharf, Queenstown

 

Timings

The first cruise departs at 8.45 am. However, cruises leave the shore at an interval of 30 minutes, but it also depends on which cruise you are planning to take. There are day cruises as well as midnight cruises, depending on your preferences.

 

Duration

It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours to reach Milford Sound from Queenstown.

 

Cruises 

Some major cruises that depart from Queenstown include: -

  • Jucy Cruise - Milford Sound Cruise
  • Eco Tours Fiordland - Milford Sound Cruise
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise
  • Milford Sound Coach
  • Milford Sound Scenic Cruise
  • Milford Sound Encounter Nature Cruise

 

There are kayaks and other cruises available. It is advisable to book a ticket prior so as to grab the best deals and discounts. 

 

Highlights 

  • Get a chance to soak in the beauty of nature sailing on a catamaran
  • Get plenty of photo opportunities
  • Spot some beautiful, furry seals lazing on boulders
  • Sailing towards Milford Sound, you may get a chance to witness the giant creature of the sea world, whales. 
  • Spot the acrobats of the sea world, dusky and bottlenose dolphins, flaunting their skills to the human audience
  • Witness the panoramic scenic views of Milford Sound 
  • So that you do not miss anything, there is a live commentary available that signifies important places and sights. These commentaries are available in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese
  • A written booklet is also available in Chinese, German, French, Thai, Spanish, Korean and Japanese
  • Rejuvenate in luxury lounges that feature full-height glass windows
  • Enjoy a scrumptious meal with a vast menu to choose from while you can sip on some drinks
  • Get free tea and coffee during your cruise journey
  • Get a chance to trail nature’s best with an experienced crew and hospitality

 

Price

The cost of the cruise varies depending on what all you want to include in your package i.e. meals, hotel pickups, underwater observatory, luxury coaches, etc. and which cruise you plan to get on. However, the standard cost of sailing to Milford Sound cruise is: -

Adult: - $81.00 to $117.00

Child: - $30.00 (14 years and under)

 

Recommended for

It is a rare opportunity that you may get a chance to experience the beauty of nature up close.  Sailing deep into the heart of Fiordland National park is an overwhelming experience. The sight of beautiful mountains blessed with a green carpet, shining blue waters and the smell of the sea is enchanting and will fill you with tranquility.

 

About Milford Sound Cruises

Milford Sound Cruises are spacious and modern vessels that offer wonderful viewing opportunities. Taking a cruise gives you a chance to enjoy the spectacular journey and admire the towering mountains, majestic waterfalls, steep cliffs and hanging valleys. Get a chance to be up close with beautiful creatures of the water world like furry seals and dolphins that come to pay a visit to its admirers. 

 

The cruises come with spacious indoor viewing decks as well as top floor decks that provide panoramic 360-degree views. If you feel like a little treat, head to the eatery to eat some delicious international cuisines or simply just treat yourself with some warm chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream. If you feel like calming your nerves a bit from all the excitement, you can head to the bar to sample some brews or a tall glass of wine. Getting closer and closer to Milford Sound, the scenery gets better and better. New sights come along the way that will leave you spellbound. And as said, you will be urged to take out your camera and would want to capture plenty of memories, in the form of nature, wildlife and selfies.  

 

Admire the melody of cascading waterfalls that gushes and meets the blue waters. Feel the ‘Happy Feet’ vibe once you get an opportunity to spot the rare Fiordland crested penguins, playing and flapping their flippers. Before you get too lost into this serene beauty, pay attention when the guide tells you about the fascinating history and cultures of New Zealand, stories of Maori legends and the interesting facts about the flora, fauna and the playful creatures.

 

Things to keep in mind

  • Make sure you wear trekking shoes with a good grip. Carry a waterproof jacket and a warm sweater
  • It is advisable to carry sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses and a camera
  • All the water vessels are licensed to serve a range of beverages and meals
  • No vessel permits smoking 
  • There are wheel-chairs available on the cruise
  • People from all age groups can enjoy a cruise to Milford Sound
  • Special guides provide English commentaries so that you do not miss out on anything
  • Make sure you visit the Milford Sound Discovery Center (underground observatory). It costs extra but is worth every penny
  • You can witness incredible views from indoor as well as outdoor decks
  • Most cruises serve complimentary tea and coffee
  • You can purchase snacks directly when onboard
  • The cruises are family-friendly
  • The cruises have largely covered seating areas on its each deck

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What to Buy

New Zealand can be soothing and action-packed with its alluring landscapes, grasslands, fascinating coastline, sprawling forests, lip-smacking savouries and most importantly, numerous shopping options. Whether you are taking back souvenirs from this treasured land or looking for a gift for a loved one, New Zealand will meet all your gifting requirements. From local markets steeped in culture to high-end shopping malls, New Zealand is heaven for shopaholics.

There is an extensive list of products that one can shop for in this country, but since you probably can’t shop for everything, let’s take a look at some exclusive products that beautifully depict the culture and traditions of New Zealand.

Manuka Honey 

Want to taste the most unadulterated and luscious honey? Well, Manuka honey is what you are looking for. Native to the country of New Zealand, this wholesome product is filled with the goodness of antibacterial, antiviral and anti- inflammatory traits. It is also a natural replacement for sugar. Manuka Honey has various skin care properties which makes it an essential part of most cosmetic products. A vial of this healing honey is one of the most beneficial products you can bring back home. 

 

Pounamu

Pounamu, as the Maoris call it, is a green stone found solely in New Zealand. It is of great importance to Maori culture and history. In ancient times, it was used to embellish weapons and was also an emblem of ascendancy. It is known for its elegance and toughness and yet, it can also be moulded into different designs, shapes and sizes that signify, love, happiness, relationships and other emotions. The stone is gaining popularity for both, its historical significance as well as its aesthetic value, and Pounamu necklace, pendants and sculptures are one of the most sought after souvenirs of New Zealand.

 

New Zealand Wine 

New Zealand has been producing a range of world-class wines for a while now. The country’s chilly and oceanic climate makes it an ideal location for producing wine. The extensive variety of wine depicts the lively spirit of New Zealanders. The best wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and popular favourites of reds and whites.   

 

Paua Shell Gifts

Paua is a dazzling shell which is a blend of vibrant shades of green, blue and purple on the upper surface and shimmering pearl on the inside. The highly polished form of this shell can be reformed and fit into various necklaces, earrings, rings, beautiful ashtrays and different kinds of jewellery, which you can buy as souvenirs or as gifts.

 

Whittaker’s Chocolate 

If you call yourself a chocolate lover, then this is one thing you won't want to miss in New Zealand. Whittaker offers an extensive variety of choices, each unique in flavour and texture.  The palette includes dark, milk, white chocolate and many others. As it is New Zealand’s most famous brand of chocolate, it is available in almost every local store and supermarket. 

 

Merino Wool

Sheared from the Merino Sheep, Merino wool is a material that is well-known for its extraordinary softness, gleam and breathability. Which is why, these are used to make scarves, gloves, pullovers, sweaters and other garments. Its ultimate furring provides warmth in a chilly climate and the lightweight variants can keep you cool on a sweltering day. One can also procure exquisite sheepskin rugs of different sizes and shapes from local markets. With a wide range of merino wool products and rugs available in New Zealand, the selection can become overwhelming. But this is one thing tourists should not leave New Zealand without.

 

New Zealand Sweets

Let’s be honest, each and every one of us likes a sweet treat, don’t we? Apart from the Whittaker chocolate, New Zealand offers heavenly, bite-sized sweets that are unique in their own way. Your sweet box can include Pineapple Lumps, Jet Planes and Jaffas. Apart from these, other bonbons like Chocolate Fish, Minties and delightful milkshakes are also there to pamper your sweet tooth. Take home a few as gifts. Your family and friends won’t stop thanking you for it.

 

New Zealand offers an exciting range of exclusive products. However, it becomes easy for tourists if they know where exactly to find them. Here’s a helpful list:

  • Paua World - Paua Shell Gifts
  • Puriti- Manuka Honey Products
  • The Sheepskin Factory - Sheepskin Rugs
  • Wine Direct - Wine
  • Puawai Jade - Pounamu gifts
  • Morris & James – Ceramics and glassware
  • The Polynesian Spa – Cosmetics
  • The Remarkable Sweet Shop – Sweets 
  • Auckland Museum Gift Store – Pendants and Souvenirs 

Leave some place in your suitcase so that you can stack it up with memories you can treasure for a lifetime. Contact your nearest Thomas Cook branch or visit our online New Zealand Holiday Packages, and choose the trip that best suits you.

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Shopaholics

Shopaholics Can Say Yay! New Zealand has a Lot for You

We agree, exactly like we ought to, that no vacation is complete without some shopping. And when one is in a country as exotic as New Zealand, shopping becomes an even more exciting experience! However, as exciting and pleasurable as the entire process may sound, it is also equally confusing because there are just so many things to choose from and so many markets to visit.

Here’s our guide for you to have the perfect shopping spree in New Zealand!

Take a little Kiwi with you with Kiwiana things

Gumboots, buzzy bee toys, and ashtrays may be seemingly normal objects for us. But, for the people of New Zealand, these are objects that symbolise their country for them. Like all countries, New Zealand also has some quirky things that are absolutely typical of the Kiwi land. For children, the 'buzzy bee' toy is a souvenir like no other! In bright colours like red and yellow, this toy was and has remained the most famous toy.

Since New Zealand is well-known for its natural beauty, especially the kind that one can witness in beaches, shells are one of the most popular objects that tourists like to collect. Paua is one such beautiful shell. Primarily used for carving, this shell is also used to make ashtrays, jewellery, butterflies and coasters.

Of course, one must not come back from New Zealand without getting a little something for the taste buds. Edmonds Cookbook is just what one would need to keep a little of New Zealand in their hearts (and kitchens) always! This also happens to be the most sold book in New Zealand. One other kitchen thing that we're sure you'd miss and would want to bring back with you is the L&P, which could quite possibly be declared as New Zealand's national soft drink because it's just that famous! The Lemon and Paeroa drink was invented in 1904. To make this, mineral water is mixed with lemon. 

And now, we'll let you in in a tiny secret. Kiwis are fond of the Number 8 wire. We're serious- while we may only be able to use this wire for fencing, Kiwis can create absolutely amazing things from this! You may want to consider getting this, too to try your hand at some impromptu creativity. 


A little of art and craft

New Zealand believes in all things beautiful, whether it is their landscape, their people or their art and craft. The country is famous for its traditional Māori crafts that include weaving, carving and tattooing, which is called Tā moko. If interested, one can also watch these highly skilled Māori carvers and weavers at work in Rotorua. The unique artifacts can be purchased directly from the craftsman or can be looked at and purchased from the many galleries that the cities house.

In certain areas like Nelson, Waiheke Island and Coromandel, craftsmanship finds abode in people’s residences. Creativity, literally then, is in the kiwi blood. The creative Kiwiians then display and exhibit their work for sale at art shops and weekend markets. 

Many art shops also organize hands-on workshops for locals and tourists to give them a glimpse into arts like bone carving, oil-paining or ceramic pottery.

Some of the major public galleries will be found in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. These galleries are known for their diverse collection across centuries. While some collections date back to the 1800s, the others are more modern in nature and in their features. These public galleries also undertake the responsibility for shipping overseas purchases safely within a stipulated time.

When looking to purchase art or unique items for interior decoration, make sure to visit the galleries in Whanganui. Whanganui has birthed many glass artists, several of whom have been internationally recognized for their artsy glasswork. 

New Zealand Glassworks is one of the many places all art connoisseurs must visit to view the impressive works of local artists. In fact, here, one can also see glass blowing in process, and hot kilns in operation. When talking of glass artwork, we must also tell you that one of the many things that one could get for themselves from New Zealand is traditional handmade jewellery- found easily in many galleries and studios across town. 


As they say… do it like the locals do!

Ponsonby Central - Auckland

There is absolutely no feel like the feel of being among the locals in their local setting. Being with them and feeling like one of them has its charm. Wouldn’t you agree? 

For this reason, we recommend visiting and shopping from local markets. As fancy as the feel of those modern outlets are, there’s something brilliant about the good ol’ farmers’ markets. An insight into the Kiwi way of life, these markets are the perfect places to get delicious treats, souvenirs, gifts and local crafts.

We recommend the farmers’ market because we believe in learning about a new cuisine straight from the source. Also, another bonus of attending the farmers’ market is that not only will you find some fresh produce that you will cherish- be it summer or winter- but you will also find many handcrafted goodies that’ll make memorable souvenirs and meaningful gifts for your family back home. One of the best things about the local markets of New Zealand is that no one market is the same as the other. Every market is influenced by the area’s cultural specifications and climatic conditions.

Most areas host mixed local markets, which have a few stalls of handicrafts and the remaining food items and raw materials. There are some other markets, however, that are entirely dedicated to local art and craft products- a tradition that runs into some Kiwiian families for generations. Most of these stalls are manned by crafts persons who are directly involved in the creation. So, there is also a personal touch involved.

Some of the routine local markets one can visit are Riccarton Market (Christchurch), Otara Market, Titirangi Market, Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market, Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Market, The Nelson Market, Wellington Market and the Wanaka region’s Farmers’ Market.


Up for some chic?

We’ve said it so many times, but we’ll say it again- New Zealand has something for everyone. You can have an amazing time just shopping around locally, and you can have a fantastic time browsing through the boutiques in up-town markets. We think of New Zealand as just the land of beaches and adventures. But, there is much more to New Zealand that has given to the world designers like Karen Walker and Margi Robertson. Of course, how can we forget the iconic label Zambesi? 

World is another New Zealand (Auckland)-based fashion house known for its colourful, imaginative clothes. 

Other than these indigenous designers, many streets and markets around the country can give tourists and visitors the chance to browse through and shop from labels famous worldwide.

The Queen Street (Auckland) is one such central city street that attracts locals and tourists through its luxury brands like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. 

Another market, Parnell, in Auckland, features several upmarket boutiques and impressive jewellery stores. Adjoining to these central markets are various gift stores, jewellery stores, galleries and other stores that are sure to please the hearts of several people.

In Wellington, the Cuba Street is a must-visit as it hosts several New Zealand designers as well as international labels. This street resembles a perfect balance between what’s traditional and modern, and between what’s indigenous and global.

Queenstown is home to various local fashion boutiques and souvenir shops. It is famous for sheepskin products, greenstone jewellery, and wool clothing.

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Indian Restaurants

Home food is the foundation of happiness. There’s no sincerer love than a plate of steaming dal chawal or chicken masala. The meal touches your soul before it touches your taste buds. There’s warmth and familiarity in every bite. Spices are blended with care, while the herbs conjure up cures for all woes. The fragrance transports you to a familiar place - your mother’s kitchen. And, although it’s wonderful to try cuisines from across the globe, our hearts always gravitate back to the dearest dishes of our homeland.

New Zealand is famed for its fresh produce and local delicacies, but occasionally, the lentils and condiments from back home, come calling. For those moments, Thomas Cook has got you covered. You need not fret, because it’s easy to find good Indian food in Kiwi land. You just need to know where to look.

Here's a list of the best restaurants to satiate your hunger pangs!

India Gate: 

For those times when only rajma-roti will do, head to this heartwarming eatery in Auckland. India Gate promises a true north Indian experience with whiffs of nostalgia and dollops of friendly service guaranteed. Led by the highly acclaimed executive chef, Shivani Arora, the restaurant indulges the palate with the most wholesome and flavourful dishes. Within minutes of being seated, one will be welcomed by a menu that reeks of gooey cheese nans and simmering butter chicken. But along with those classic cravings that include succulent kebabs and creamy vegetable curries, why not try something new? We recommend the sinful chilli fritter, a hand rolled pastry stuffed with mashed potatoes, green peas and raisins, ground with spices and drizzled with thick yogurt. Wash this down with some dreamy lassi and you’re in for a good night’s rest. 


Zaika Indian Bistro & Bar:

Zaika Indian Bistro & Bar reflects the values of an average Indian today, traditional with a modern appeal. Great food coupled with elegant décor ensures that one is ready to tuck in, forks out and aprons on! So, head over for a hefty portion of masala, whether it’s in your food or in your tea! Once you lose yourself to the hara bhara kebab and chicken kadai, you’re in for a real treat. Lather your senses with the goodness of rich lamb vindaloo and the magic of a perfectly made paratha. For a little oriental spice, eat your way through a plate of sweet-spicy vegetarian manchurian. The world of curry waits for you, at Wellington’s very own mini India. 


The Spice Room: 

When age-old traditions are handled with care and replicated with a little more zest, isn’t that all you could ask for, as a lover of ghar ka khanna? This delightful eating house in the city of Wanaka is packed with good flavour and texture. A cozy, charming restaurant braising with sumptuous Indian fare, The Spice Room comes highly recommended by us! Definitely try the crunchy squid salad where the seafood is marinated with mint, coriander and a dash of lemon juice, cooked to perfection and then placed atop a bed of lettuce with an accompanying seasonal fruit. Also feast on the mango chicken, mildly spiced and cooked in cashew nuts, nutmeg and silky mango pulp. Trust us, it’s worth it.


Taj Mahal:

For a hearty helping of all things toasty, roasted and oozing with good old makhan, visit this north Indian restaurant named after our very own wonder of the world. If the name is any inkling, you’ll know right away that this eatery serves up a smorgasbord of lip-smacking Indian plates. You must try some of the scrumptious best-selling items such as butter prawns, chicken korma, lamb samosa, papad and dips! When in Dunedin, do not miss the opportunity of savouring your favourite dishes amidst a tasteful ambience and stellar rates. This eatery plates up homely experiences for everyone to enjoy, over oodles of easy conversation.


Bombay Palace: 

Queenstown’s Bombay Palace is the place to be if you’re a quintessential Mumbaikar. If your belly desires familiar Lucky’s biryani, why not try the specialty lamb biryani here? Relish every bite of soft, hot meat and spiced rice. Don’t forget to cool your palate with spoons full of dahi. And when that’s done, pig out with some divine deserts, because what’s a meal without a little sugary wonder? A melting pot of Indian cuisines, you will discover full-bodied gravies, flat breads and melt-your-mouth kebabs. Your very own gateway to India, located in New Zealand, place this eating house high on your list of soul food!


Hamilton’s Little India:

It is said that every Indian who has visited Hamilton, must have dined at Little India. It’s no surprise, considering this proud little joint, carries a legacy of being a lovely family restaurant for over two decades. With a generous variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, travellers appease their foodie yearnings here. Family recipes passed down generations are carefully prepared by expert chefs, who have sought training from the owner’s very own grandmother (Premjit Kaur Gill). If that isn’t a personalized offering, we don’t know what it is. Make sure you try the malai kofta and Amritsari chhole.

Are you dreaming about these delectable, mouthwatering and tasty delights? If that’s a yes, consider embarking on food trail across New Zealand’s Indian restaurants. Discover the beauty of your native cuisine, while exploring a far-off land.

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Top 20 Dining Experiences

As an island nation with a primarily agricultural economy, New Zealand yields produce from the land as well as the sea, treating it with precision, care, craft and a whole lot of Kiwi love. Gourmands, wine sommeliers and food experts will discover a whole new world in New Zealand’s restaurants, the hallmark of sensational fare. And it’s not just the food, it’s the overarching dining experience that’s so instrumental in this foodie culture. They say you’ve got to taste a culture to truly understand it. We couldn’t agree more. What better way to taste this culture than by frequenting its most glorious restaurants? This year, explore New Zealand’s finest eateries and invest in looser pants, of course.

Here’s a summary of what you can expect from each:

• The French Café, Auckland – NZ/French Accents

• Cassia, Auckland – NZ/Indian Accents

• Antoine’s, Auckland - NZ/French Accents

• Clooney, Auckland – NZ Cuisine 

• Palate, Hamilton – NZ Cuisine 

• Mister D, Hawkes Bay - NZ/Italian Accents

• Te Awa Winery and Restaurant, Hawke’s Bay

• Pacifica, Napier NZ/Mediterranean Accents

• The Larder, Wellington – NZ Cuisine 

• Logan Brown, Wellington – NZ Cuisine 

• Ortega Fish Shack, Wellington – NZ Cuisine 

• Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery, Nelson – NZ Cuisine 

• Black Estate, Canterbury – NZ Cuisine/Organic Accents

• Pegasus, Canterbury – NZ Cuisine 

• Pescatore, Christchurch NZ/Italian Accents

• Amisfield, Queenstown – NZ Cuisine 

• Botswana Butchery, Queenstown – NZ Cuisine 

• Fishbone Bar & Grill, Queenstown – NZ Cuisine 

• Rata, Queenstown – NZ Cuisine 

• Bistro Gentil, Wanaka - NZ/French Accents


1. The French Cafe, Auckland:

Hauraki Rail

A 20-year-old legacy of French cooking continues to chassé forward. The French Café serves up an elegant menu of delectable dishes, true to France’s gastronomical genius. Diners have the luxury of selecting from items that are raw and cured, fresh from the garden, farmed as well as foraged. Call for the aged duck with carrot, macadamia and radicchio. It’s simply exquis! The salted hazelnut, accompanied with lovage and macerated berries is equally sinful and romantic.

2. Cassia, Auckland:

Old-world recipes from India meet local ingredients from New Zealand to form a melange of traditionality and culinary skills. Cassia is known for its innovative take on classic spice, but also for an eclectic cocktail menu that includes the likes of Tropical Storm and Black Rose, a concoction of Saffron gin, elderflower, charcoal, lemon and egg whites. Opt for the diverse tasting menu and eat your way through tender tandoori fish, Goan lamb chops and Kerala style beef. 


3. Antoine’s, Auckland:

Antoine’s looks more like an enchanting woodland cottage than a restaurant. Luckily, its nostalgia menu fits right in with the lovely theme. The establishment has been whipping up gorgeous plates of food for over 40 years now. Delicate flavours and smooth textures complement the regional produce perfectly. Try the deliciously flaky onion tart, on a salad of tomato and mozzarella. We’d also vouch for the carpaccio of beef and steak tartare with a kumara and wasabi jelly. 


4. Clooney, Auckland:

Welcome to a world of knowledge and storytelling through the medium of food that has journeyed from the rainforests of the North to the expansive coastal wilderness of Fiordland. Clooney fashions innovative dishes through techniques and influences from the world over, with an ethos of purpose and progression. The alpine salmon with green apple and grapefruit will change the way you look at food, while the classic crispy fish and chips will embrace you warmly.


5. Palate, Hamilton:

Lake Taupo

There’s nothing like great food coupled with even better wine over delightful company, the epitome of a dining experience.  Palate provides just this. Over the last decade, it has transformed into a multi-dimensional restaurant, crafting seasonal menus and drawing inspiration from quality ingredients grown in the region. You ought to try some scrumptious cheeses like waikato aged gouda, little river brie and Mount Eliza blue monkey. The local pork belly with creamed savoy cabbage and pancetta is also one of our favourites!


6. Mister D, Hawkes Bay:

Hawkes

Now this is an experience like no other. Mister D combines a little bit of country with a little bit of rock n roll to create an atmosphere of zero fuss and oodles of fun. You will be ecstatic to hear that the breads, pastries and pasta are made daily. So, break bread literally, with their famous Parmesan short bread. And don’t forget to lose yourself to a bowl of Bone marrow ravioli with beef juices and salsa verde!


7. Te Awa Winery and Restaurant, Hawkes Bay:

Hawkes Bay

Set amidst a lush vineyard backdrop, nestled fondly in the Gimblett Gravels wine growing region, awaits a must-visit dining destination. Te Awa’s executive chef is famed for creating dishes with that wow factor, right from the ingredients to the condiments and the artistic presentation. Here’s something to swoon over… Rewena potato honey bread with rosemary butter! Or perhaps, the pan-fried market fish with radishes, sea foliage and lemon. Which one will you choose?

8. Pacifica, Napier:

Set in a distressed blue beach bungalow is a pacific style restaurant that plates up Michelin worthy food. Chef, Jeremey Rameka, focuses on freshness, excitement and passion, so much so that his menu changes on a daily basis. How thrilling to know that you could be served something that no one else has tried before. But some things will always remain multi-sensorial and divine, like the white wine braised rabbit with creamy oyster mousse! 


9. The Larder, Wellington:

An honest to good eatery that treats its produce with the utmost admiration and love, The Larder follows the philosophy of ‘nose to tail’ eating. A trip to this homely joint will be incomplete without a generous helping of the spiced calamari with chorizo, witlof, baby beetroot, pea tendrils and parsley sauce. End on a supremely sweet note with the wondrous buttermilk crepes with poached peach, citrus yogurt and rhubarb. 


10. Logan Brown, Wellington:

For a quintessential experience into the proud culture of New Zealand, head over to Logan Brown. Welcoming, inspiring and ever-so refined, the restaurant is a charming place to indulge you taste buds in. There’s a menu for every occasion and we can’t help but gush over this fact! Let your senses celebrate with a plate of honey roasted duck Breast with parsnip, grilled leek, mandarin dust, pear and sour cherry gel. 


11. Ortega Fish Shack, Wellington:

Ortega Fish Shack is rooted in a simple philosophy, a life-long love of all things good – good food, good wine and especially good times! And boy does it live up to this wonderful mission. When in Wellington, you must give this eatery a chance. Feast on the yellowtail kingfish ceviche with avocado, Vietnamese mint, lemongrass and crayfish oil. Give in to the temptation of the smoked brisket with cheesy cauliflower and pickled walnut dressing!

12. Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery, Nelson:

Hauraki Rail Trail

This haven of sumptuous bites only asks of one thing, for diners to enter with a curious spirit and a hearty appetite. Urban Eatery cultivates a relaxed atmosphere, one that encourages freedom and fun along with the plates of food. So, rest your elbows on the table and dig into a plate of vinegary good oysters that have been freshly shucked for you. What contributes to the authentic experience is the chilled, quenching craft beer sourced from a local brewery.


13. Black Estate, Canterbury:

Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned, organic family run vineyard? Black Estate aims to use simple wine making techniques to produce premium bottles of vino that run smooth of the tongue. With a strong love for nature and all that it holds, the eating house produces exquisite dishes with floral flavours and earthy aromas. Indulge in the barbeque lamb with confit garlic and anchovy marinade. The lemon verbena with créme caramel and rhubarb will not disappoint either.


14. Pegasus Bay, Canterbury:

Touted as the finest winery in the Waipara region, Pegasus Bay is pure magic just like its name suggests. Home to a marvellous restaurant that aims to provide diners with a holistic food and wine experience, is it any wonder that we’ve placed this on our list? True to New Zealand’s food story, the dishes reflect simplicity and locally grown ingredients. Treat your belly to the grilled organic shitake with duck eggs, spring herbs, walnut and winter truffle butter, it’s a real game changer.


15. Pescatore, Christchurch:

Christchurch

Pescatore, translates to ‘fisherman’ and is a poised and contemporary space with sprawling views over Hagley Park and the River Avon. In recognition of the establishment’s name and legacy, the menu is predominately seafood. Choose from godly oysters, lobsters, crabs and scallops for a mystical journey under the sea. You will be treated to a creative degustation along with some exciting wines. Currently, the restaurant is developing a new concept which will be unveiled in 2020. 


16. Amisfield, Queenstown:

We are in absolute awe of Amisfield’s philosophy of “we don’t just live on the land; we live from it.” This ethereal restaurant has built a kitchen for all seasons, surprising and delighting customers with something fresh and innovative. A dedicated forager and expert charcutier help carry out this vision. For a rendezvous with paradise, try the smoked eel, paua salami and harakeke chocolate!

17. Botswana Butchery, Queenstown:

White bait wellington

Take a deep breath, and savour the culinary setting of Botswana Butchery. You’re in for a gastronomical roller coaster ride, amidst the finest flavours, textures and aromas. So, be prepared for happy, hearty eating. Sink into the dreamy French onion soup, relish every sip of the thick, hot broth. When you’re done, the South Island whitebait fritter, nelson scallops and tempura soft shell crab awaits. 

18. Fishbone Bar and Grill, Queenstown:

Walk into an eternal summer at Fishbone Bar and Grill, where the décor blooms and one can even sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. The food is a representation of this airy, fairy freshness. The fish comes sailing, fresh off the boats, while the vegetables fly right out of the restaurant’s kitchen garden, lovingly known as Fishborne Farm. Make merry with Southland fisherman’s stew, a decadent curry that is well worth the dripping chin!

19. Rata, Queenstown:

An urban chic eatery tucked away in the heart of a bustling city; Rata welcomes food connoisseurs by the galore. Enshrouded by an emerald forest and charming heritage buildings, the restaurant serves up equal amounts of adventure and art. A team of experts go about preserving, fermenting and dehydrating, in an attempt to pack as much flavour into the dishes as possible. Make sure you have your fill of the goat cheese profiteroles and seaweed butter clams.

20. Bistro Gentil, Wanaka:

Voila, we’re back to French cuisine! It’s a rather perfect ending to an extensive list, don’t you think? Bistro Gentil carries the delights of French gastronomy to the stunning shores of Lake Wanaka, throwing in some amazing Gallic wines to the mix as well. Bon appetite, a plate of Wagyu hanger steak with parsnips, confit shallots, pine nuts and brown butter is calling out to you!

Whether you visit these restaurants for their food, wine, presentation, atmosphere or views, we hope they become a special part of your life.

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Five Organic Food Destinations

The outlook of travelers, especially millennial travelers has changed over time. Earlier, vacations were about letting loose, binging on local food, and just seizing the day. But now, as people become increasingly conscious of their diet, they do not want to compromise on healthy eating even for a few days on vacation. For all of you planning your next vacation to New Zealand, here’s a list of all places that offer healthy, nutritious and organic food, so your vacation doesn’t leave you with a bad case of post vacation weight gains-


1. Riverside Café, Nelson:

This café’s lunch and dinner menu will surprise and impress you. Their offerings include a good variety of wild meat, local specialties, and organic vegetables and produce from their own garden. Not only is their menu organic, but so is the ambience of the café. Be prepared to be seated in a peaceful garden environment and to be greeted with fresh air. Or, if you’re a fan/AC person, you can always sit inside and enjoy the lush green surroundings through the windows. 

Once there, don’t forget to try their much-recommended coffee, home-baked cakes and brioche!


2. The Raw Kitchen, Auckland CBD:

Located in the prime location in The City Works Depot, The Raw Kitchen is just the place to go for a small treat of coffee, juice or desserts. For most locals, it’s also their go-to place for a quick lunch parcel. The reason why this place is so famous among locals and is now gaining popularity among tourists also is its plant-based menu based on seasonal plants. The menu changes with the season, depending on what best produce is available at a given time. Of course, this ensures that only safe, healthy and chemical-free food is offered to the customers. Everything in this café is hand-prepared and requires minimum artificial or machine processing. This place is an absolute paradise, especially for those looking for food that is free gluten-free, dairy-free, free from animal products and free from refined sugar. Their wholesome, healthy offerings make their patrons go back every day for more. And when they do go back, they’re greeted with the pleasant surprise of a newer, fresher salad, or different varieties of food bowls and wraps to choose from!


3. Sidart Restaurant, Auckland:

How often would you find an Indian restaurant in an overseas country offering innovative Indian cuisine made from seasonal produce? 

As an Indian tourist, your New Zealand experience will be rendered incomplete if you do not visit Sidart Restaurant in the city of Auckland. This restaurant, offering Indian dishes with an innovative twist, is run by Sid Sahrawat, one of New Zealand’s most talented and innovative chefs.  The restaurant’s Discovery Menu is, literally, a booklet of marvel with a lot of things to taste. This menu consists of only dishes made with the season’s fresh produce. 

The Chef’s Table offer will let you get a closer look at Sidart’s kitchen- for you to gawk at, and fawn over the chef’s flawless techniques of cooking (we can already sense some FOMO, guys!).

In 2018, the restaurant’s menu was revamped, and trust us when we say this- it got even better, surpassing its earlier (high) standards! A dining experience at Sidart Restaurant most definitely means an elaborate presentation of flawlessly flavoured delicious Indian dishes made with New Zealand’s fresh produce. 


4. The Refinery, Paeroa:

The Refinery is located in the centre of Paeroa- a very convenient, very prominent location of Auckland. It is one of those hidden gems that you may come across during one of your (many) shopping, cycling or walking trips. 

The Refinery uses many ingredients, but their most important ingredient is love. And, this love of the restaurant owners and restaurant staff is evident in each bite of their absolutely fresh and delicious preparation! Their menu is simple and ordinary, but their preparation is extraordinary. Whether you go there for breakfast or lunch, make sure you try their Mt Atkinson coffee because that is the REAL treat. 

All the dishes at The Refinery are made with local produce. To add to this place’s Genuity, all of their pastries, muffins and other baked goods do not include any preservatives, premixes or substitutes. 

This is one of those places that will make you feel (and eat) like home!


5. Pacifica Restaurant, Napier:

This restaurant is cosy in not just how it looks, but in also how it will make you feel. The restaurant is built in a weathered bungalow where one would just want to sit in a corner and enjoy a hot cup of tea or hot cocoa. But, Pacifica, located on Marine Parade in Napier, offers a more homely feeling with food that is fresh, and is cooked with perfection and passion. The chef, Jeremy Rameka, describes the food offered as something that is a constant work in progress, and that which is made more with emotion than with convention.

Just like you would do at home, the chefs do in Pacifica. They change the menu every day, depending on what fresh produce is available on that day (and depending on how they’re feeling that day)! Their aim is to be simple: to please guests while making them try something new and different each day. 

This place is also so famous among locals because of its unparalleled hospitality. Here, you can literally catch a break from the stuffy formal environment of waiters in black bows. Instead, get prepared to experience true kiwi hospitality of the friendly and welcoming staff of Pacifica.

These were just some of our recommendations. This list is nowhere near exhaustive and is just a small sample of all the delicious goodness that awaits you in New Zealand!

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20 Foods and Delicacies

20 Foods and Delicacies to Taste in New Zealand

If you’re someone who dreams of food day and night and attaches a lot of your travel goals to the dishes you’ll get to try in different countries, then it’s time to find out why New Zealand needs to be on your radar. 

Much can be said about how stunning the country’s landscape is, but when it boils down to it, the quality of your trip largely depends on the meals you eat. Think about the last bad restaurant experience you had – didn’t it ruin an entire evening? Exactly. So, with that in mind, here are the 20 foods and delicacies that you absolutely must try when exploring this country!

Hangi : A traditional Māori meal, Hangi redefines everything you think you need to cook up a storm. This meat and vegetable dish is made by wrapping all the ingredients in leaves, placing them in a basket, and then lowering the whole thing into a hole in the ground filled with hot stones. The hole produces an oven-like effect, with the meat and vegetables imbibing a unique earthy and smoky flavour that no real oven can even hope to produce! 

Green Lipped Mussels : Green lipped mussels are a local delicacy, with their coral-coloured juicy meat often used in chowder. Now, as is the case with most ingredients, you’ll find that green lipped mussels can be cooked in a variety of ways. However, while experimenting, we’d advice you to stick to mild recipes that include butter and garlic so that you can taste the flesh of the mussels, instead of a smatter of flavours that overpower it entirely. 

Crayfish : If you think that New Orleans is the only place in the world that does justice to crayfish, think again! Crayfish, also called Crawfish in some parts of the world, is a lobster’s spiny cousin. Its succulent flesh makes it an absolute delight to the senses and you must try as many regional variants of this dish as possible. When in New Zealand, Kaikoura is a fantastic place to try some freshly caught crayfish cooked with local ingredients!

Lamb  : While lamb sounds like a low-key generic ingredient that you may be exposed to time and time again, keep in mind that no one makes lamb like the Kiwis! One of the most popular recipes is a humble one, with rosemary and garlic, and salt and pepper. 

Kina or sea urchin : If you’re a fan of cooking shows, you’ve probably come across sea urchins and are dying to try them. If not, don’t be alarmed by the spiky exterior! Chefs crack open this hard body to reveal a gorgeous yellow, almost yolk-like flesh that is a treat to the senses. While some people eat this raw (especially when it is served on a sushi boat), others prefer cooked varieties. No matter which side you lean towards, this is a dish that you cannot leave New Zealand without trying. 

Kiwi Burgers : No, we’re not talking about burgers with slices of kiwi in them! Kiwi burgers are just what burgers in New Zealand are called thanks to the regional twist on this all-American dish. Apart from including a standard burger patty and other ingredients, New Zealanders love to add a fried egg and beetroot to their burger. 

Whitebait fritters : Whitebait is a type of tiny, immature fish that is quite popular amongst the locals. This dish is akin to a fish omelet, with the flaky flesh combined with eggs, butter, lemons, vegetable oils, and salt and pepper. One of the best places to try whitebait fritters is on the west coast of the South Island. 

Marmite : Although not technically a dish in itself, marmite is a black, tar-like spread made of fermented yeast. Now, before you scroll down thinking that this is way too gross, let us tell you that though it’s an acquired taste, it is simply delicious. Spread it on toast, crack a runny egg yolk over it, and chomp away. Pro tip: do not, under any circumstances, tell a proud New Zealander that vegemite is better! 

Paua : Move aside, escargot! New Zealand’s Paua is here to steal the top spot as one of the best snail dishes in the world. Fleshy and succulent, these snails can be eaten raw or cooked in curries and fritters. You simply must try them once. 

Pies : With flaky, crispy crusts and warm gooey insides, pies are easily one of the best comfort foods that you can try in New Zealand. The fillings can range from meats and vegetables to melted cheeses, so pick a different one each day. 

Fish and Chips : New Zealand was once colonised by the British and though they’ve bid adieu to the country, they did leave behind a crucial part of their food culture – fish and chips! All you need to go with this is some tartar sauce and perhaps a light beer!

Manuka Honey : Manuka Honey is a variant of honey that’s only available in New Zealand and Australia. Though it’s greatly lauded for its health benefits, we think you should focus more on what you can pair it with. Get a stack of warm, fluffy pancakes and pour away!

Sausage Sizzle : A sausage sizzle is very popular snack in New Zealand. So popular, in fact, that it’s often sold at fundraisers, and the events themselves are typically referred to as ‘Sausage Sizzles’. What is it, you ask? It is fried sausages laid on white bread, splattered with ketchup or mustard and topped with caremelised onions. 

Tuatua : Tuatua is yet another traditional Māori dish that everyone in this country loves. You’ll find a ton of Tuatua dishes at various restaurants in the form of chowders and fritters. 

Afghans : Afghans are cookies that are exclusive to New Zealand. Made with cornflakes, butter, flour, sugar, and cocoa powder, and then topped with walnuts, these cookies have a very dense and rich texture. You’ll find Afghans at almost every bakery you walk into, and we recommend you pair them with hot chocolate or tea!

Lolly cakes : Ask any child in New Zealand about their favourite food, they’ll tell you it’s lolly cakes. This dessert is made with marshmallows, candies, butter, condensed milk, sugar, and malt biscuits and is a quintessential New Zealand dish.

Hokey Pokey : When you’re in the mood for some delicious ice cream, don’t order the flavours you’re accustomed to. Order a Hokey Pokey, an ice cream with a vanilla base mixed with caramelised sugar, baking soda, cream, egg, caster sugar and golden syrup. 

Kumara wedges : A type of sweet potato that’s native to New Zealand, Kumara is an immensely popular ingredient found in almost every type of dish available in the country, especially Hangi. However, the Kiwi love for this doesn’t stop there. Try some Kumara wedges, chips and croquettes when you’re in the mood for your next snack. 

Feijoa : Feijoa is a native fruit that’s also called guavasteen or pineapple guava. It has a highly aromatic flavour along with a juice flesh, making it a great fruit to try with your breakfast. While this is typically eaten raw, if you’re traveling to New Zealand in the winter months, you’ll find that many people stew it in sugar before eating it. 

Māori fried bread : If you’re looking for a much healthier alternative to doughnuts, get acquainted with Māori fried bread. This dish is locally called Paraoa Parai and you should get it with a steaming bowl of soup or stew if you are in New Zealand in the autumn or winter months. 

Now that we’ve got you covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s no way you won’t think of New Zealand the next time to ponder over travel spots that offer great food!

Already salivating at the thought of eating these? Plan your trip to New Zealand by taking a look at our packages.

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Stargazing

New Zealand’s natural appeal is known to all, as the country lays out its charm in plenty. But raise your eyes a little and you will be blown away by a whole new splendorous thing. This beautiful nation, glorious as it is on the ground, is just as spectacular up in the sky. Could we interest you in a spot of stargazing?

New Zealand enjoys clear skies and has very little urban light pollution, making it a haven for stargazers. And the best part, you can sit back and enjoy this celestial display from pretty much anywhere in the country. However, if you really want to take stargazing to a different level, you should head over to these amazing destinations.

1. Wellington – Zealandia At Night Tour

Castlepoint

If you’re staying in Wellington then the closest spot for you is the amazing Zealandia Ecosanctuary. The place is pretty fascinating by itself, and it takes on a whole different appeal at night, which is when you must visit. The night tour begins about 30 minutes before sunset. For the next two and a half hours you will be able to get up close and witness nocturnal animals living in their natural habitats. If you are lucky, you might also spot the endangered native kiwi. But that’s not the main plan. The night is when you get a splendid opportunity to stargaze. The path is lit up with torches but they all have a red filter so as to not disturb the wildlife. This also generates minimal light pollution, creating the perfect conditions for spotting beautiful star constellations along the way.

2. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

Aoraki mt

If your bucket list does include stargazing, then we highly recommend making a visit to the Aoraki National Park. This natural reserve has a 4,300 sq. km chunk of land that holds the distinction of being the world’s first ‘gold’ status International Dark Sky Reserve. What this means is that there is no light pollution around it, making it possibly the best place in New Zealand to see the night sky in all its beauty. This is also the world’s largest IDSR and you can easily find yourself a corner to settle down for the night and spend hours, contemplating the never-ending expanse of the night sky. If your plans include visiting Aoraki Mt Cook and staying overnight, then step out for a post-dinner walk to enjoy a truly stunning shimmering canvas above.


3. Stewart Island – Rakiura National Park Night Tour

New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island, is a great place to take in the beauty of the night sky, over the country. The island is home to the Rakiura National Park, and many people opt for the night tour which brings out a whole lot of nocturnal creatures, including the now-endangered local flightless bird, the kiwi. While the night safari is a big hit, an even bigger draw is the chance to view the Aurora Australis – the Southern Lights – in person. Everyone knows about the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights, but not much has been said or written about the southern counterpart. This is a sight to behold, and with extremely low levels of light pollution, the view is indeed spectacular. The dark night sky and the bright dancing colours of the Aurora Australis make the night memorable for a long time to come.


4. Lake Tekapo – Mt John Observatory

Tekapo

When in the Aoraki Mackenzie region, make the time to visit Lake Tekapo. Famed for being one of the best places in New Zealand to stargaze, you really have to experience the night sky above Tekapo to understand what we’re so excited about. Take the stargazing a level above and make a trip to the top of Mt John. Here you can join the night tour at the observatory up there and also make use of the country’s most powerful telescope to spot up to 50 million stars. Nothing else can compare to that, believe us. No other stargazing experience can come close.


5. Queenstown – Night Skiing

Stoneridge
The best time to enjoy a spot of serious stargazing in Queenstown is in winter. Not the months of December-January, but think mid-year. New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and winter starts in early July. Head to the Coronet Peak ski resort and spend a few hours night skiing on the slopes. Unfortunately, the floodlights are strong, and you might not get the best views on the slopes. However when you are driving back to Queenstown, pull into one of the many viewing stops along the highway. Turn off your car lights and get mesmerised by the amazing skies above Queenstown. This is a sight that you will never forget, and trust us, the night skies will not look this pretty from anywhere else. Do add this to your bucket list when in New Zealand.


6. Auckland – Shakespear Regional Park Night Hike

New Zealand is a nature lover’s paradise, and the sheer number of natural parks and sanctuaries is amazing. If your holiday has brought you to Auckland, may we recommend driving down to Shakespear Regional Park? This is New Zealand’s most visited and most accessible open sanctuary. It combines conservation, recreation and farming, all within one massive area. You will spot some of New Zealand’s most threatened native wildlife here. There are no guided tours in the park and you are welcome to roam around here 24 hours a day. If watching animals in their natural habitat is on your agenda, we recommend a night trip to the top of the lookout. From this vantage point you will be able to get an uninterrupted view of the amazing night sky above you. This opportunity to stargaze is unbeatable, and when coupled with the possibility of spotting wildlife, it gets even better. Stay the night and complete the experience with an amazing sunrise.

7. Tongariro Crossing – Night Hike

New Zealand boasts of one of the world’s best one-day hikes. The Tongariro Crossing offers you a stunning landscape that is full of sulphurous lakes and sits in the midst of the towering mountains of Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom), Tongariro and Ruapehu. Unfortunately, all this makes the Tongariro Crossing one of New Zealand’s busiest walking tracks. However, night crossings are less frequented. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you will also manage to do some serious stargazing. The tour starts at around 2am. Ably helped by your headlamp and your hiking guide, you will pass between the dark shadows of the mountains with the stunning night sky as your watchful guardian. End the night tour with a spectacular sunrise from the top of red crater.

These are the top 7 places in New Zealand for ardent stargazers. Which one of them will you head to first? Simply decide on your itinerary, and leave the rest to us. 

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Nightlife Bars Clubs and more

New Zealand is a foodie’s paradise. The sheer range of bars, restaurants and cafes that abound here will leave you mesmerised. The country might not have a typical larger-than-life night life as most places are wont to have, but the options placed in front of you are incredible.

The country isn’t densely populated and its few big cities and small towns are all that you need to check when you step out for the night. The bigger cocktail bars and nightclubs are naturally found in the larger cities of Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin. Smaller clubs and cosy bars are spread all across the country, and you can be sure that wherever in New Zealand you go, you will definitely find some place to sit down for a glass of wine or beer.

Let’s embark upon a food and wine journey that is original, fresh and absolutely world-class. Are you ready?

Auckland Night

Bars :
New Zealand knows its wines and beers. And the country takes this stuff seriously. Fancy cocktail bars, micro-brew bars, student bars, and of course, the backpacker hangouts; you will find bars of all kinds all throughout New Zealand. You will have greater choice in larger cities and larger towns, but smaller towns are not far behind. Those are great places to visit for a taste of the local beer or a house wine.

Here’s a list of the more popular bars that are scattered around New Zealand's main centres:

  • Auckland: Hit Queen Street and the Viaduct Basin area to look for a spot of nightlife. Craft beer aficionados should head to Dr Rudi's Rooftop Brewing Co. in Viaduct Basin for amazing views. For cocktails, the Housebar at Hotel DeBrett with its Art Deco setting is perfect. 
  • Wellington: Cuba Street Mall and its surrounding areas are densely populated with restaurants and bars. Step back in time when you step inside Hawthorn Lounge, a 1930s-style speakeasy cocktail bar. The Library might be an unusual name for a bar but it totally lives up to it with its book-lined walls. And it has amazing tapas, cheese, and desserts as well as drinks. 
  • Christchurch: Go straight to the Central Business District to get lucky. O.G.B. sits in a heritage building and its outdoor courtyard and frequent live music make it the perfect destination for a lazy summer evening.
  • Dunedin: This area caters more to the students around the University of Otago. Inch Bar, as you would expect, is tiny! But it makes up by serving amazing beer in a cosy, youthful setting. Scout around the Octagon, and on George Street and Princes Street for other bars that catch your fancy.


Clubs : If you’d like to spend your evening dancing, then a club with pulsating music is highly recommended. However, as we mentioned earlier, New Zealanders aren’t that big on clubbing, so chances of finding them outside the bigger cities in towns are scant. Popular tourist destinations, and towns and cities with a large student population will be a good bet.

Champagne Pool

Late-Night Restaurants :
Fancy a late night meal? Most people in New Zealand have early dinners so dinner service in most places usually end by 9 p.m. The busiest meal time is between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. However, New Zealand’s liquor licencing law requires that all places that serve alcohol must serve food too. This blurs the line between restaurant and bar somewhat, with some restaurants turning into bars late into the night. And if there’s music and space to dance, well, what’s to stop you from grooving also just a little bit?

New Zealand is a popular destination among Indians. And not just because of the possibility of a fantastic holiday. As a country, New Zealand has taken pains to offer its guests an authentic Indian experience even when miles away from their country. There are numerous restaurants that serve Indian vegetarian and vegan options that make Indian tourists feel right at home. If you want something with a bit of a twist, head over to the award-winning Cassia in Auckland, a modern Indian bistro that is quite the rage among locals too.

Live Music : People in New Zealand like their live music shows. On weekends, you will find a cover band playing somewhere or the other in small cities and large towns. In larger cities, you might get lucky to be able to purchase tickets to an original band too. Check your travel dates and try and coincide it with any shows that you would like to see live.

Festivals : New Zealand is a wine and beer drinker’s paradise. And the people here take their drinks seriously. Which is perhaps why the country regularly organises wine and beer festivals to celebrate the excellent wine and craft beers produced here. We’ve clubbed the festivals into nightlife even though they aren’t usually held at night as you can start any time in the afternoon and carry on well into the evening after the sun has gone down.

Here’s a list of some of New Zealand's most popular wine and beer festivals:

  • Rhythm and Vines (Gisborne): Music and wine create a heady combination in this premier wine-producing region.
  • Beervana (Wellington): It’s a celebration of craft beer in New Zealand’s capital.
  • Gabs Festival (Auckland): This Australian festival is a gala of good beer, cider, and food.
  • Toast (Martinborough): When in wine country, focus on wine in this sunny late spring festival.
  • Marlborough Wine and Food Festival (Marlborough region): One of New Zealand's longest-running festivals.


Tips for going out in New Zealand

New Zealand is quite a laidback country, but there are a few ground rules that you must know before you head out for a night out in this beautiful country.

  • New Zealand is very strict about its drinking age. On paper it is 18 but anyone who looks under 25 will be asked to show some ID. If you’re a tourist, a passport or driver's license are the only forms of ID that are acceptable. You will be required to show this before entering a pub. If you're in a restaurant and you order a drink, the chances of you being asked for ID proof are miniscule, unless, of course, you look very young.
  • Your choice of clothing will depend upon where you are heading out for the night, a big city or a small town. In the bigger cities and larger towns, the dress code is more formal and is usually applicable to men. You will be required to wear closed-toe dress shoes only. Please avoid flip-flops or sports shoes. Certain places could also specify a collared shirt and may prohibit men in singlets (sleeveless vests) or shorts from entering their establishment. Smaller towns are more relaxed and there is rarely a dress code. One thing that nearly every reputable bar, restaurant or club will disallow is gang insignia or gang colours. Of course, as a tourist, this needn’t worry you. Whether you’re in a large city or a smaller town, stick to smart casuals in most places, and you should be just fine.
  • You will not be expected to tip in New Zealand. In fact, it could even be considered odd if you leave behind any tip. Labour laws and its implementation are very fair in New Zealand, and bar and restaurant workers (as well as everyone else in the country) are certainly paid the minimum national wage, if not more. Hence tipping is considered to be unnecessary.
  • Transport is easier in the big cities, where taxis or rideshare apps are available at night once public transit has shut down. In smaller towns, you might face a bit of a difficulty since there isn’t much public transport nor are there taxis available at night. You need to make sure you are within walking distance of the nightlife, or you will need to designate a sober driver to get you home if you decide to drink.
  • Drinking in the street is illegal in most cities and towns at any time of the day. You will come across signs that clearly state it to be a ‘liquor ban area’. You might be able to have a quiet lunchtime picnic in a park with food and a few discreet drinks. However, be aware that this might be illegal and you could get into trouble depending on which city or town you are in. Drinking in the streets at night is illegal.
  • You cannot smoke in bars, clubs, restaurants, or any public indoor areas in New Zealand.
  • Popular clubs in larger cities could have a cover charge, especially on weekend nights or if there's a live band playing. These can range anywhere from a few dollars to up to $20 per person.
  • Closing hours will vary depending upon location and type of establishment. The law states that bars and clubs must close no later than 4 a.m. Some venues, especially those in smaller towns, could close earlier.

New Zealand is a tourist paradise in more ways than one, from mind-blowing natural attractions to stunning culinary experiences. At Thomas Cook, we would love to help you plan a holiday of a lifetime to New Zealand. Allow us to present the many special New Zealand packages and deals, and you could choose the one that suits you the most.

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Best Domestic Packages