Very few destinations offer up diverse landscapes like the ones found in New Zealand with its surreal beauty and staggering natural wonders packed into such a small area.
Snow-capped peaks, sparkling coves, coastal glaciers, rain forests, fjords, and fish-filled rivers are just some activities and locations that travelers can explore when visiting this Magellan Odyssey World Tour Destination. In Rotorua, one of the world’s largest geothermal areas, visitors can witness the powerful forces that birthed these landscapes in the bubbling mud ponds and hissing springs.
New Zealand is not only littered with fun-filled activities and dramatic landscapes, but traveling within the country is also a breeze as the country is filled with some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, which are all closely located to the best attractions.
Join Art in Voyage as we do a deep dive into New Zealand’s best attractions, its most delicious delicacies and its most stunning luxury accommodations.
Things To Do in New Zealand
Bay of Islands, North Island
Situated three-hours outside of Auckland, this captivating bay of islands is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country.
The area is made up of over 144 islands that dot the glittering bay, making it a haven for sailing and yachting.
Home to penguins, dolphins, whales, and marlin, the location is also a popular location for sport-fishing. Visitors can sea kayak along the coast, hike the numerous island trails, bask in the waters of the secluded coves, explore Cape Brett and the popular rock formation called Hole in the Rock, and explore subtropical forests where plenty of Kauai trees grow.
The quaint towns in the area such as Russell, Opua, Paihia, and Kerikeri are great bases for exploring this absolutely picturesque scenic bay.
Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, South Island
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fiordland National Park is home to some of the most unbelievable scenery in the country. The landscape has been sculpted by the dramatic glaciers, carving the famous fjords of Milford, Dusky, and Doubt Sounds.
While exploring the national park you can find gushing cascades, offshore islands, virgin rainforests, massive lakes, and jagged mountain peaks.
The park is a paradise for any nature enthusiast/hiker with some of the country’s best hiking trails, including the famous Milford Track.
Not only that, but the National Park is also famous for sea kayaking, and some of the most picturesque flights over the park for a bird’s eye-view of the staggering landscape.
Queenstown, South Island
Located between the shores of sparkling Lake Wakatipu and the snow-covered peaks of the Remarkables, Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital and one of the country’s top destinations for international visitors.
Bungee jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and downhill skiing are just some of the adrenaline-fueled things to do here, while also getting to explore the stunning alpine scenery on the excellent network of hiking trails.
In addition to the adventure sports, Queenstown offers all the creature comforts, with first-class hotels, spas, restaurants, galleries, and shops. It’s also a great base for sightseeing trips to the Central Otago region, where visitors can explore gold-mining towns and the Middle Earth scenery from the popular Lord of the Rings franchise.
Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island
In the center of North Island and just a few miles from the glittering Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, travelers will find Tongariro National Park.
Known to be a dual UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its spectacular volcanic features and its importance to the Maori culture, the volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and part of Ruapehu were in fact gifted by Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV in 1887 to the people of New Zealand in order to preserve this sacred land.
One of the oldest national parks in the world, Tongariro is a land of dramatic beauty, with towering volcanoes, turquoise lakes, arid plateaus, alpine meadows, and hot springs.
One of the best activities to take part in is exploring the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most popular day walks in the country. Fun things to do here include camping, enjoying the park’s many walks and hiking trails, and spending time in its interesting visitor center.
Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, South Island
Among the most accessible glaciers in the world, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are the main tourist attractions in the spectacular Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Both of these rivers of ice flow from some of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps to near sea level, where the gentle coastal climate makes it easy for visitors to explore them on foot.
Guided hikes lead to the contorted frozen landscape of ice caves and pinnacles at the foot of the glaciers, plus a series of fascinating hot pools. For an aerial view, seaplanes and helicopters fly visitors to the top of these vast plains in order to fully take in the breathtaking landscape.
Loving New Zealand? Why not take a look at one of our other 9 Magellan Destinations.
Popular foods to try when visiting New Zealand
Hangi is a tradition used in New Zealand by locals to cook their food. Hangi is a Maori cooking method that uses steam to cook chicken, beef, pork, potatoes, and other root vegetables.
These food items are usually wrapped in leaves and placed in a basket, which is then laid on top of heated stones inside a deep hole. Some call hangi an “earth oven.” Whatever you call it, this method of cooking gives the food a uniquely smoky taste.
The whole process can be laborious, taking as long as seven hours. Today, hangi food remains an important part of traditional celebrations in New Zealand. Several specialty restaurants offer hangi food in their menu, like Kiwi Kai in Rotorua and The Hangi Shop in Auckland.
Green-lipped mussels is a delicacy native to New Zealand, and is a kind of shellfish with coral-colored meat filled with nutrients like calcium and vitamin B-12. These days, it is easily found in other parts of the world, however, there is no better place to try this seafood treat than its home country – freshly caught and cooked right away.
Green-lipped mussels are low in fat and calories, and are popular in restaurants where it is served as a chowder. Although the medicinal benefits of green-lipped mussels are not yet proven, many locals believe that it has many beneficial qualities for those suffering from asthma and arthritis.
New Zealand, along with its neighboring country Australia, have claimed to be the creators of the Pavlova, a meringue dessert with a crispy outer layer and a soft delicious center.
Made from egg whites and caster sugar, this dessert is usually served with fruits like kiwi, passion fruit and strawberries, as well as whipped cream.
Pavlovas are popular during the Chrstimas season as well as summer celebrations, however, the dessert can be enjoyed all year round!
Where to Stay in New Zealand
Acacia Cliffs Lodge
Nestled in the forested hills above Lake Taupō, Cliffs Lodge stands apart for its stunning architecture. Spacious and comfortable, it can be hired exclusively, or shared by up to eight guests in four cozy bedrooms with dreamy super-king beds.
An on-site chef delivers breakfasts with additional hospitality packages available. However the most prominent reason that travelers choose to stay at the Acacia Cliffs is for the breathtaking views.
Taupō is the small center of a region packed with some of North Island’s top attractions. This makes for a great hub for travelers looking to explore the Tongariro National Park, which has become world-famous for its alpine hiking expeditions through the area’s cinematic terrain, scenic cruises to the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Māori rock carvings, and geothermal hot springs in which to wind down at the end of the day.
Ahuriri Valley luxury resort
Venture out to the middle of the pristine Ahuriri Valley in New Zealand’s South Island, and enjoy one of the most bespoke luxury stays in one of the outdoor pods at The Lindi’s in Canterbury.
The pods are a stone’s throw from the main lodge, beautifully designed to blend into the landscape. Each 18-square-meter pod immerses guests in a panoramic view of the valley from behind mirrored-glass walls.
Although you might find it difficult to leave this incredible accommodation, stays can include once-in-a-lifetime experiences like heli-touring over Fiordland and the Southern Alps, fly-fishing rarely-fished rivers, and horseback-riding through streams and fields in the valley.
Hapuku Lodge in Kaikōura
On South Island in the vicinity of whale-watching hub Kaikōura, Hapuku Lodge has five boutique “tree houses” dotted among the branches of its Kanuka grove.
Tree houses may sound rustic, but at Hapuku Lodge the treehouses come with luxurious deep baths, fireplaces to stay cozy in winter, and epic views of Kaikōura’s dramatic mountains. They are an excellent option for families, as the rooms come with a separate bedroom that gives parents private space, and families time together away from the main lodge.
Food is also one of the major draws at Hapuku Lodge. Naturally, the seasonal three-course menu includes local crayfish (tenderly-grilled with chili, Horseradish & lime…) but venison is also a speciality (Hapuku Lodge is set on a deer farm.) Produce from the kitchen garden is complemented by regional suppliers, local farmers and fishermen.
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