Get your passports ready. From Rotorua Hot Springs to the iconic Milford Sound, here are six Instagram-worthy spots in New Zealand to head to once travel resumes.
While international travel isn’t set to return to normal until 2021, Australia and New Zealand have already committed to a “trans-Tasman bubble”. It means our first ticket away is likely to be New Zealand.
New Zealand is famed for its rugged natural beauty, picturesque landscapes and action-packed experiences that turn a simple holiday into a grand adventure.
And being just a stone throw’s away from Australia means short getaways are more achievable than ever.
Here are some of the top Instagram-Worthy, can’t be missed sights on both the South and North Islands of New Zealand.
New Zealand’s South Island is famous for its snow-capped mountains, massive glaciers and fiords and winter adventures.
The South Island is the bigger of the two, but it only has a third of the population. If you’re looking for unprecedented nature, often without another soul in sight, the South Island could be the ultimate destination.
A perfect way to unwind after a long day skiing or hiking, the Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown are Japanese luxury with a Kiwi twist.
Situated on the cliffs overlooking the Shotover River, high up in the mountains, a number of both indoor and outdoor hot tubs are available for soaking and relaxing.
This is as Instagram-worthy as it gets: holding a glass of wine, gazing out onto mountainous landscapes, while enjoying 38.5 degree water in a luxurious cedar tub.
Both the indoor and outdoor tubs are a wonder. The indoor features a retractable roof, while the outdoor tubs exclusively use Mineral pools, rich in magnesium to help detoxify the mind and body.
Tubs can be booked privately for two people, or you can attend in groups of up to four.
Massage therapists, aromatherapy and boutique spa packages are also on offer; and their quality is proven. Onsen has been awarded the World Luxury Spa Awards Winner for both 2018 and 2019.
The Onsen Hot Pools are located just a 10 minute drive from Queenstown. Prices start at $126 for two adults for an hour soak in a daytime pool, either inside or outside.
The Ultimate Relaxation Experience offers a 45-minute soak in one of the hot tubs, following a one hour spa package, with treatments for either the face or body. Prices start at $220 twinshare, per person.
Over 1 million people every year head to the west coast of the South Island, where Milford Sound lies.
This is one of the most picturesque ocean inlets in the world; framed by rugged, towering fiords that extend some 1000 metres above the water, as well as beautiful waterfalls that cascade down the side of the cliffs.
Don’t be put off coming here if rainy weather plagues your trip; Milford Sound is one of the rainiest places in New Zealand. But the rain makes for something even more magical; intensifying the current waterfalls while also making new ones that roar down the fiords in a beautiful natural beauty.
A boat tour is a quintessential way to explore the inky blue waters of the Fiord, or more adventurous options include sea kayaking, diving or even flightseeing. The underwater observatory at Harrison Cove will delight any nature lovers; from black coral, to 11-legged star fish.
Milford Sound is an approx. 5 hour drive from Queenstown, or a 2 hour drive from Te Anau.
For iconic, bright turquoise water, surrounded by picturesque forests, head to Hokitika Gorge, just a three hour drive from Christchurch.
Just a short hike from the car park lies many Instagram-worthy opportunities, with views of the bright water and granite rocks shrouded in forestry.
Head a little further down the track to the suspension bridge for an overhead look down into the gorge.
The whole hike is only an easy 1.2km return, and the first section is wheelchair accessible, making this an inclusive attraction.
Located just a 30 minute flight from Wellington is the spectacular Marlborough wine region, famed for its Sauvignon Blanc which has put New Zealand on the international wine map since 1980.
Over 30 cellar doors and 20,000 hectares of vineyards await in New Zealand’s largest winegrowing area, which makes 75 per cent of NZ’s wine supply.
The area is also supported by fine culinary dining from world class chefs, picturesque landscapes and a high-sunshine climate, making it an ideal getaway.
Opt for a ‘sip and cycle’ adventure and peddle through the vineyards on bicycles. Both self-guided and guided tours are available, with dozes of wineries located within a 3km, flat distance from your starting point.
Indulge in wine tastings, glorious food and amazing countryside as you take in all of what Marlborough has to offer.
In contrast to the South, NZ’s North Island is known for glorious white sand beaches, active volcanoes, and natural hot springs.
It’s often called the “Winterless North” for its mild climate and warmer temperatures compared its Southern counterpart.
Whether or not one is a Lord of the Rings fan, a visit to Hobbiton, the real movie set featured in both the trilogy and The Hobbit films, cannot be missed.
It’s a magical place; set into the lush hills is the iconic village of Bag’s End, covering 12 acres. There’s even the option to dine in the Green Dragon Inn, the real set which used in the movies.
From real vegetable gardens, smoking chimneys, music and exceptional detail, Hobbiton feels like a real town, the ambience something that will delight both young and old.
Book an Evening Banquet Tour for the ultimate hobbit experience. Beginning with a dusk tour of the set, hear the unique anecdotes and film secrets from a trusty tour guide, with illuminated paths and hand held lanterns offering a special kind of magic.
The tour concludes with a visit to the Green Dragon Inn for a delicious banquet feast of food inspired by the books and movies. No detail has been spared in the set; truly an experience to remember.
Prices start at $199 per adult, with tours resuming in December 2020.
Rotorua is a must-see destination, famed for the smell of sulphur, bubbling mud pools, volcanic activity, and clouds of steam.
The Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia is just five minute’s drive from the centre of Rotorua, and as the southern hemisphere’s largest active geyser, it is a sight not to be missed.
Up to 20 times per day, the geyser erupts, sending water 30 metres into the sky. These eruptions can last for a few minutes, or even multiple days – between 2000 and 2001, the geyser erupted for a record 150 days straight.
Visiting here is also a significant introduction to Maori culture, with Te Puia home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute. Here, see Maori cultural performances, wood carving and weaving, as well as stunning Maori architecture and villages.
Learn how the Maori people actively use and live around the geothermal activity, cooking, cleaning and warming their homes using the bubbling, boiling water.
Swimming is also possible in many of the natural hot rivers and pools.
For a quintessential mud bath experience, head to Hell’s Gate, where you’ll find New Zealand’s only mud volcano. It erupts every six weeks, coating the nearby landscapes in thick, grey mud.
For over 800 years, the local Maori population have been using thermal mud as a healing mechanism, coating their bodies in the substance and receiving extraordinary skin benefits.
Swimming in the mud pools is limited to 20-minute time slots; because the mud retains heat, it cause the body’s pores to open up 100%, so any longer periods can be dangerous for blood pressure.
The Soothe Experience starts at $79 NZD per adult, which includes bathing in the mud pools, then soaking in the sulphur spas, before returning the body to it’s natural temperature with a cooling plunge pool.