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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.