With news that the NZ-Australia travel bubble is on the near horizon (finallllllly!!!!) It’s time to pack your Tasman suitcase, and get ready to hit up some international borders.
On the other side of the ditch, wonder awaits. What we lack in snow and fantasy worlds, New Zealand makes up for in spades. Like Frodo took to the hills of Middle Earth, wandering the length of NZ is no two-week trip. It won’t take three movies, but a journey to explore New Zealand’s picturesque scapes does take a decent amount of time. That begs the question, which island is for you when travel restrictions ease?
In a perfect world we could roam endlessly, without having to worry about leave or responsibilities. If you’re limited for time, picking an island, North or South is your best bet to immerse yourself. What’s the difference? Think of this as a choose your own adventure.
The likely first stop for any traveller’s first journey to the Kiwi nation. Population wise it’s bustling, with three times the people of it’s southern neighbour. With Auckland and Wellington, it’s the modern hub for a city traveller. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a vein of traditional culture.
Rotorua is a must for any visitor, overflowing with adventures and opportunities to acquaint yourself with the Maori culture. The weather is slightly warmer, but you’ll feel the difference. Summer or Spring travellers can enjoy the coastal gems and deep dive into local reefs. We’ve rounded up the very best to do if you’re ready to experience the cosmopolitan life and Maori culture all in one.
Immerse yourself in Maori culture
How ever long you spend in Rotorua, the experience will be like one long haka. Incredibly moving, powerful and oddly welcoming. Try the Polynesian cuisine, see how the traditional live and you’ll see how an indigenous culture has survived through the ages, up close.
See how the hobbits live
Whether you’re a Baggins fan or a general explore, the whimsy of Hobbiton will overwhelm you. The picturesque little village is a movie set come to life, take the tour and snap away the itty bitty home of Frodo.
Take in the kaleidoscope of colour
Beaming gemstone lakes, active volcanoes and 80,000 hectares of sublime scenery. You may recognise this rocky plain from Lord of The Rings, nerds will rejoice in venturing to the base of Mount Doom.
See geothermal activity up close
The largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere sounds like a must because of it’s mystery. Wander the geothermal valley near Rotorua and wait patiently for the twice hourly eruption. Steamy.
Make a stop in Wellington
It’s been tipped by Travel and Leisure as the next Austin, Texas, a vibrant hub of culture and tastes. Make your way to Flight Coffee Hangar in between gallery stops and street art viewing.
If you prefer the road less worn and a great glass of wine at the end of a long day exploring, South is the direction for you. It’s the natural beauty of the South Island that will win you over. It’s home to glacial plains in Winter, frosty adventures along the hills in Queenstown and a landscape worth exploring on foot.
Meet the locals, dolphins, penguins and seals brush the coast on the daily. Or take the plunge, bungee jumping, rafting and all things exhilarating are best experience down south. Pack your hiking shoes and your stash of Katmandu merch, set off on a trip laden with adrenaline and incredible Insta shots. Here’s the must do experiences for the adrenaline junkie or eager hiker.
Sip the local brew in Picton
The grapes are better in New Zealand and Picton is the starting point for a whole region of fine brewing. Marlborough Region is home to winning wines and expert craftsman, learn a thing or two about your favourite drink. Wander the vineyards and come back with a new found knowledge beyond whatever’s on special at Dan Murphy’s. Get set for serious wine-derlust.
Snap the scenery at Milford Sound
A day trip worth every dollar, Milford sound is a reflective wonder. Cruise the glassy water and take in the vast, steep mountain ways all around you.
Jump, glide or plunge in Queenstown
The adventure capital of New Zealand and quite likely the world, doesn’t disappoint. Sure we’ve all seen the cord strapped adventurers bungeeing their way into the great abyss but there’s more. Luge your way down the windy road, paraglide over the city or if your heart isn’t racing enough take your jumping airborne and skydive. Taking in the scenery while adventuring makes it all the more electric.
Go with the flow
New Zealand is known for it’s wintery scapes and ridgeways, but the coastal views are up there too. Kayaking from Nelson is the perfect way to weave your way through the scenery and explore those hard to reach pockets. Pick up your paddle and off you go.
Image source: Karate and Caviar, 100% Pure New Zealand, Lucky Rentals, Vivaster, Hobbiton Tours.