Travel plans took a huge hit in 2020, with everything from long awaited and meticulously planned world trips to equally anticipated holidays to catch up with distant family swiftly cancelled. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed globetrotting indefinitely, and a silver lining of this was that many of us found some great new spots on our doorstep (in fact, we still think our winter staycation recommendations are pretty spectacular). But for those of us itching to board a plane destined for an overseas port, the time has come to dust off the passport and explore a little further afield as we welcome our Kiwi neighbours into our bubble. If you’re not sure where to start when hopping the Tasman, we’ve got you covered with the 10 best things to do over in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Hit the slopes.
The timing of the trans-Tasman bubble couldn’t be better for planning a snowy getaway to Aotearoa – New Zealand. With the ski season running from June through to October, head on down to the South Island and take in some epic skiing (or snowboarding) and breathtaking scenery. Queenstown provides the perfect base (and is serviced with plenty of direct flights from across Aussie), or head to nearby Wanaka for a more chilled, luxe experience. Queenstown is worthy of a visit for snowbunny’s and non-snowbunny’s alike, and our favourite ski resorts The Remarkables, Cardrona and Coronet Peak are all easily accessible from here. All three resorts are family friendly and cater for all skill levels – so pack the kids and head on down!
Satisfy your inner adventure junkie.
Often known as the home of adventure tourism, New Zealand is the place to get your adrenaline pumping. From bungee jumping to jet boating, canyoning, white water rafting, and skydiving, there really is something for every thrill seeker. The Queenstown-based Shotover Jet is one tourist attraction worthy of your dollars – you’ll speed through canyons at up to 90 kilometres, getting what feels like mere centimetres from the jaw-dropping scenery. To check out the top ten Kiwi adventure experiences, head over here.
Take a scenic soak.
With its chilly weather and breathtaking views, New Zealand’s South Island creates the perfect atmosphere to escape reality and unwind. The Onsen Hot Pools perched riverside in Queenstown are the luxe answer to your R&R prayers! Onsen features private, cedar-lined hot tubs that open out to panoramic views over Shotover River canyon, providing you with the ultimate spa experience. It’s a truly idyllic spot for some much-needed self-care after a stressful and busy year!
Indulge your foodie side.
One of the highlights of travelling is consuming the weird and wonderful foods and beverages a location has to offer. While Kiwi fare isn’t vastly different to ours, there are a few local dishes and iconic haunts worthy of your tastebud’s attention. Fergburger in Queenstown is one of them. A favourite with tourists and locals alike, even Ed Sheeran has declared these epic burgers as “by far the best burger in the world”. On the other hand, if your palette and budget allow, visit one of Auckland’s three Michelin star restaurants. That’s right, forget about that trip to Gordon Ramsay in London and take your pick of The Grove, Sidart or Sid at The French Cafe. Just be sure to book well in advance!
Explore Waitomo Caves.
Located in the North Island and under the rolling green hills of Waitomo is an enchanting labyrinth of caves and underground rivers. Best experienced as part of a walking or boat tour, you’ll take in stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations, an abundance of glow worms and some of mother nature’s most spectacular architecture.
Voyage to Middle Earth.
For film buffs and avid Lord of the Rings fans, a trip to the mythical world of Middle-earth is a must! Just two hours south of Auckland and accessible only by guided tour, Hobbiton tours allow you to explore the lush pastures of the Shire, take in a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit, or simply hike across the mountain ranges to Mordor. Check out the full range of experiences here and prepare to be transported into a world of mythical beings.
Get immersed in the scenery.
With its luscious rolling green hills and rugged coasts, there are plenty of road trips to be had whilst travelling the North Island. For a dose of spectacular Kiwi scenery and history, take the scenic route and head to Cape Reinga (or Te Rerenga Wairua as it’s known in Māori) in the far north. Cape Reinga is a sacred spot where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide, and serves as the home to an ancient pōhutukawa tree (which is thought to be over 800 years old). This tree is said to be the place where spirits of deceased Māori leap into the ocean for their final journey. For more scenic stops on your Northland roadie, check out this itinerary.
Take a swing at one of the MANY golf courses.
With close to 400 golf courses dotted across the country, New Zealand’s golf game is strong. From small town clubs surrounded by green pastures to dramatic cliff top greens and stunning lakeside settings, the offerings are vast and the scenery diverse. So, whether you fancy teeing off with a snowy backdrop or one of glistening ocean, pack your clubs and concentration and explore what golfing in New Zealand has on offer.
Fine wine and dine.
For wine aficionados and casual connoisseurs alike, exploring the boutique and award-winning wineries of New Zealand is guaranteed to please. While vineyards are dotted throughout both the North and South Island, we think Waiheke Island (which has become known as New Zealand’s ‘Island of Wine’) is the pick of the bunch. Just a short hop (via ferry) from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is an idyllic destination for an overnight stay. Sip your way through wine tastings at Mudbrick, dine on tapas at Casita Miro or simply grab a beanbag and perch on the lawn with your favourite drop at Stonyridge or Man O’War Vineyard.
Take a culture trip with a side of bubbling mud.
The city of Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire and offers visitors an up-close look at bubbling mud pools, natural hot springs, volcanic craters and hissing geysers. Geothermal wonderland aside, Rotorua is one of the best places in Aotearoa to experience Māori culture. There are several authentic and immersive villages available to visit where you can take in a dose of traditional Māori life. Check out the options here.
With so much to see and do in New Zealand, the lure of an extended stay could just be calling your name. If you’re tempted to investigate local property, find a First National New Zealand office here. First National New Zealand is proud to be rated number one for customer satisfaction amongst Real Estate Agents by CANSTAR, so you’re sure to experience first-hand, how we put you first!
Due to COVID-19 restrictions changing regularly in each State and Territory, please remember to stay safe and check with your Local Health Authorities before planning any travel.