There’s more to New Zealand than sheep & hobbits! (Take 2)

Well…. It appears some spammers got the better of this post, so i’ve had to delete it and re-post! If anyone has any advice for avoiding the SPAM that comes through on here, please let me know…..

Otherwise, here is my post on all things New Zealand…. Take 2!

For this week’s blog I posted the task to my Facebook audience to suggest a travel related subject for me to inspire them about, and the chosen subject is ‘New Zealand, Must do’s’.

There was just 1 response to my call out for suggestions, so Megan… this one’s for you! 😉

New Zealand…. The ‘Land of the long white could’, ‘fush & chups’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and our neighbour with whom we share a form of sibling rivalry, manages to remain one of our favourite holiday destinations, with over 1.3million Aussies crossing the Tasman every year!

Have you ever thought of New Zealand as a holiday destination, or have you always gone further afield?

The list of things to do, places to visit and sites to see is HUGE and believe it or not there is more to New Zealand than sheep, hobbits and big blokes who paly rugby, so here are a few of my PERSONAL must do’s for New Zealand that may just entice you to take a closer look.

N O R T  H     I S L A N D

Coromandel Peninsula!

The Coromandel Peninsula. (Photo credit: Flickr)

The tag line is that the Coromandel Peninsula is ‘Good for your soul’, and I’d have to agree. Arguably one of New Zealand’s MOST stunning landscapes, it’s made up of 8 regions, that offer a host of activities like pristine beaches, fishing, diving, hiking, wineries and world class dining. There are luxury lodges and basic backpackers hostels, so there is truly something for everyone.

Black water rafting – Waitomo!

Waitomo Caves (Photo credit: www.guestnewzealand.com)

Queenstown isn’t New Zealand’s only adventure destination, as there are plenty of adventure based activities on the North Island too. Black water rafting at Waitomo has to be one of the best! Imagine floating through the glow-worm studded, subterranean wonderland of Waitomo caves, or if you are a little more daring you can abseil, weave, jump and climb through it on fully guided tours. These trips can help you step outside your comfort zone and can have you leaving with a huge sense of achievement.

Rotorua!

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Rotorua!

Another region known for it’s spectacular scenery, blue and green lakes and an abundance of hydrothermal activity, it dates back to the late 19th century when bathing in the thermal pools was considered essential for optimum health. These days it’s a hive of activity with SO much to do, but while you’re here why not discover some of the traditions of the Maori culture. A visit to the Whakarewarewa, Living Maori village will allow you an opportunity to experience a real traditional Maori Village. They host cultural performances, invite you to enjoy a Hangi meal and the village enables you to view the beauty of the pristine mineral pools & bubbling geothermal mud.

Rotorua isn’t too far from Auckland and somewhere that a couple of days would be well spent.

La Cigalle, the French-inspired farmers’ market in Parnell!

La Cigalle Farmers Market, Auckland.

If you happen to find yourself in Auckland on a Saturday or Sunday, make your way to La Cigalle. A French inspired farmers market, where the emphasis is on seasonal fruit, veggies, bread, cheese & other French delicacies. You can buy all the
supplies you want for a delicious picnic, and make your way to Parnell Rose Gardens. One of Auckland’s most romantic parks, and just a 10 minute stroll away. Otherwise, if the weather isn’t crash hot, dine at the La Cigalle café where you can pick up some mouth watering French pastries!

My other must see’s & must do’s on the North Island!

* Visit the Bay of Islands! New Zealand’s premier holiday spot, located at the top of the North Island, you can enjoy plenty of stunning beaches, water activities, nature walks, swim with dolphins, go fishing or explore one (or more) of the 144 islands located in the area.

* Photograph the most photogenic waterfall in all of New Zealand, Whangarei Falls. It’s apparently THE most visited and photographed falls due to the fact that it flows 365 days a year, it’s ease of access & picturesque bush setting.

* If wineries are your thing, then grab a bike and go for a cruise around the Hawkes Bay (Napier) areas where there are over 180km of mostly flat cycle trails, that will take you on a relaxed ride to the wine-growing areas of Gimblett Gravels,  Bridge Pa and the Ngatarawa Triangle. The trail is lined with numerous award-winning wineries that allow plenty of places to stop and rest along the way, and again bike riding is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the landscape and take it all in.

S O U T  H     I S L A N D

Queenstown!

Queenstown, New Zealand.

Yeah yeah, you’ve heard it before! Home of New Zealand’s Ski fields & adrenalin activities like Bungy Jumping, Jet boating and White water rafting etc. and YES, these activities are a must do if you are into launching yourself off bridges or holding on for dear life through narrow rock formations in a Jet Boat, BUT seriously, Queenstown is AMAZING, even if you’re not an adrenalin junkie. (But, you guessed it, I’m one of those adrenalin junkie types, much to my mother’s dismay!)

Just 20mins from Queenstown is the stunning Arrowtown, a Gold Rush village that is as quirky as it is stylish. There are award winning wineries, a world class luxury resort (Millbrook resort), fine dining, day spas, mountain biking and stunning walks that could easily fill a day’s activities during your next visit to New Zealand.

F E R G B E R G E R! What the? I hear you ask. Well, no visit to Queenstown is complete without a visit to the one and only FERGBURGER. The famous burger joint, that is open 21 hours of the day to serve you brunch, lunch or that irresistible meat craving at 2am, on your wobbly stroll home. (By the way, Queenstown also does nightlife brilliantly!). I don’t know what it is that makes these burgers THAT much better than anywhere else I’ve been, but the menu is EPIC, with unique burger recipes & tasty delights (for both meat eaters and non-meat-eaters), and there is nothing quite like that feeling of Hamburger sauce running down your hand, as you try and get your lips around it. Trust me… Just do it!

Grab a bike & hit the trails. From leisurely tandem bicycle rides around Lake Wakatipu (queue that ‘tune ‘Ridin` along on my pushbike, honey’), to the more hard core downhill trails around the Skyline gondola or up in the ski fields, seeing Queenstown and the surrounding mountains by bike allows you to breathe it all in and enjoy the spectacular views that makes this place feel like you’re in the middle of the swiss Alps.

Milford Sound!

Milford Sound (Photo credit: Travel Destination Info)

An obvious must see, but oh so spectacular. You can do the standard day cruise, but If you’ve got the time and you’re there at the right time of year, get your permit and walk the ‘Milford Track’. A stunning 4 day hike through the Fiordland National Park, which will take you through rainforests and across alpine passes, with views of glaciers and post card moments around every corner. You might even hear the calls of the Kiwi from your hut as you drift off to sleep.

If a 4 day hike isn’t your thing, there are also some gorgeous day hikes you can do, or if you’re pressed for time a return day trip from Queenstown is also possible.

Glacier Country from above! (Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers)

Visit the Glaciers in style!

Again, not something unknown about NZ but you have to check out the Glaciers, and if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it properly … by Air! It’s a pretty special moment when you land on a glacier & look out to the awe-inspiring view, at the top of the world (well, the top of NZ anyway!). There are helicopters or planes, that can whisk you away to experience these world famous glaciers, or if that rattles your nerves a bit, then there are guided walks, hikes and climbs too.

Stay at Blanket Bay!

Stunning Blanket Bay (Photo credit: http://blanketbay.com/accommodation)

Now this one is a little indulgent, but one for the bucket list!
 
Acclaimed as New Zealand’s best luxury lodge, it’s surrounded by the stunning alps, and set on Lake Wakatipu. Rustic alpine charm combines with your choice of pure relaxation or the enjoyment of the many activities in the area, this place is like something out of a fairy tale. Nightly rates are for two people with free use of sports equipment and facilities, as well as breakfast, pre-dinner cocktails and dinner. The self-service bar in the games room is open at any time at no extra charge (winning!)

Perfect for a special occasion, honeymoon or just a little treat whilst on your travels around New Zealand! (I’ve got some fab contacts for this property too, so don’t book it anywhere else!)

My other must see’s & must do’s on the South Island!

* The Tranz Alpine Rail journey is a great way to link the West & East coast, with a scenic journey to take you through forests, farmland and the stunning Southern Alps. From Greymouth to Christchurch, you can sit back and enjoy the view.

* If Thermal pools are your thing, then Hanmer Springs, a small town in the Canterbury region is a must. The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa has seven open air thermal pools, three sulphur pools and four private thermal pools for you to enjoy some pampering and chill time amongst beautiful alpine vistas, however there is so much more to the area. Hanmer Springs Village is also a haven of adventure and activity! (If you didn’t get enough in Queenstown)

* Whale watching in Kaikoura (depending on the time you are visiting) is a must and one of the most popular activities in New Zealand. If you go, look for the local Maori tribes who run whale watching trips with a focus on marine conservation and eco tourism. It’s nice to know that while you’re experiencing such an incredible moment, that you are doing your part to help this precious eco system.

* Can’t get enough of the wildlife? Then the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin must be on your list! New Zealand’s wildlife capital, will give you the chance to see the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin, and it’s the home of an abundance of other world famous wildlife. A stay in Larnach Castle while you’re there will add to your journey, as it’s your only opportunity to stay in a castle in Australasia!

So, there you have some of my favourite spots in New Zealand! Like I said it’s hard to get it all into one post, but hopefully it’s given you some new ideas, fresh inspiration or just a taste of what’s waiting for you across the Tasman. With most airlines operating direct flights in just on 3hrs, think about it for your next trip!

Looking for other resources? Well, I’ve been planning NZ trips for the last 13yrs and would love to help you plan yours. Otherwise check out the NZ Tourism page for even more to see & do! http://www.newzealand.com/

Thanks for reading, and please SHARE with me your fave places to visit in New Zealand!!

Kate xx

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