4 Great Ways to Spend Your New Zealand Holiday
From sandy beaches with clear blue water to the rugged valleys and mountains made familiar by The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand offers visitors an infinite variety of things to do and adventures to take.
Best time to plan your NZ trip
The best times to visit New Zealand are from mid-December to the end of January, June, July, September and October, as well as around Easter. You’ll generally find the best deals on airfare, accommodation and adventures are found in November, February and May, just on either side of the peak travel times. The lovely late spring and summer months of November through February are ideal for outdoor activities such as winery tours, bungy jumping and kayaking; skiing and other snowsports are best during the winter months of June through August and into early October.
Wining, dining and cultural exploration
New Zealand’s cities, the largest of which is Auckland, are home to wonderful art galleries and museums. Both the Canterbury Museum and the Otago Museum in Dunedin are free for general admission. The Auckland Museum charges admission, but visitors can find better rates by getting packages of multiple tours and attractions; details are available on the Museum’s website. Many art galleries, including the Auckland Art Gallery, allow visitors to wander and enjoy the art at no cost.
Walking tours of various cities, including the Auckland City Sights tour and “hop on, hop off” tours in Wellington, are available. Art Deco lovers should check out the town of Napier, which was rebuilt in the 1930s after an earthquake and is one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world.
Gourmet dining options abound in New Zealand, many of which centre around the fine local seafood fished from around the islands. Restaurants make the most of local and seasonal ingredients including asparagus, scallops, oysters, lamb and rhubarb. Many menus feature an Asian influence, including the world-renowned Blue Breeze Inn in Auckland. New Zealand wines are extraordinary, notably their sauvignon blancs from Marlborough. Wine lovers will enjoy the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, which stretches through three regions of the country; plenty of smaller trails and vineyards are open for visitors to explore near Auckland. Festivals staged around beer, seafood, wine, chocolate and more occur throughout the year and all over the country, and are enough of a reason to plan a visit.
Adrenaline junkies’s dream destination
Bungy jumping. Skydiving. Parasailing. Hang-gliding. Skiing. Snowboarding. Spelunking. White water rafting. Zip lining. New Zealand is an adrenaline junkie’s dream! Bungy jumping opportunities are found on both the North and South islands, including at the famous Kawaru Bridge outside Queenstown. Skydiving is popular throughout the country, and there are experiences and excursions available that appeal to everyone from beginner to expert.
Tramping, camping and more in the great outdoors
You don’t have to want an adrenaline rush to enjoy New Zealand’s great outdoors. Take a walking tour, or a more rugged hiking tour, through cities, wetlands, a volcano, rainforest, beaches, canyons or fiords. Canoeing and kayaking are gentler ways to explore the beautiful rivers. Tours range from a two-hour excursion on the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, to five-day adventures in Whanganui National Park.
If you choose to book your adventures through tour companies, ask if they will bundle tours for a discount. Some will cut the total price if you book multiple excursions through the same service. And if you book using your 28 Degrees card you’ll only pay for the cost of the tour, avoiding international transaction fees that some other credit cards impose.
While New Zealand is a close neighbour, many Australians were first exposed to the beauty of New Zealand courtesy of film producer Peter Jackson’s dazzling Lord of the Rings trilogy or the subsequent Hobbit Trilogy. Based on novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, the movies are set in Middle Earth, and native New Zealander Jackson chose the rugged mountains and lush valleys of New Zealand as the perfect Middle Earth on Earth.
Since the 2001 release of the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, the more than 150 film locations have become tourist attractions in their own right, with massive growths in tourism around them, including Mt. Olympus in Kahurangi National Park on the South Island. Known as “Tolkien Tourism,” the phenomenon is responsible for more than 6% of all international visits to New Zealand in the last 15 years!