Ever since news of the Travel Bubble opening broke, we’ve been dreaming of open skies, stunning landscapes and snow-capped peaks across the Tasman.
Although it was halted, the New Zealand government has announced that fully vaccinated foreign tourists can enter from April 30, without having to self-isolate for seven days.
1. Bay of Islands
Encompassing over 140 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula, the Bay of Islands is famous for its pristine beaches, rich Maori culture and outdoor activities. If you’re planning a visit to the Bay of Islands, Paihia, Kerikeri, and Russell are some cities you absolutely must visit. The Rainbow Falls are gorgeous too and a great place to unwind for kids and grown ups alike.
2. Milford Sound
Hands down one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Milford Sound is a haven for outdoor activity enthusiasts, photographers and hikers. Rudyard Kipling famously described Milford Sound as the ‘eight wonder of the world’ and rightly so. Among must-see attractions are the Mirror Lakes- reflecting surreal views of the Earl mountain range, Stirling Falls- which are triple the height of Niagara Falls (151 m) and Lake Marian – a superb location both as a walking trail and as a destination to take in all the magnificent views.
NZ is popular for its association with Lord of The Rings and people from all over the world have come down to visit the beloved movie sets of the Hobbiton. The best way to experience the picturesque location used to film the Shire scenes in the movies is to book a guided tour. There are heaps to choose from.
4. Waitomo Glow-worm Caves
Who doesn’t love a glow-worm cave? Its an absolute delight for both young and old alike and rightly considered one of New Zealand’s finest natural attractions. The caves are located just 2 hours from Auckland and the name Waitomo comes from the Maori words ‘Wai’ meaning water and ‘Tomo’ meaning sinkhole. You can choose to take a boat and glide along the caves as you take in the stunning bioluminescent formations around or walk in the caves for a more thrilling experience. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
A town famous for its landscapes, snow capped mountains and overall incredible views, Wanaka is just an hour away from the city of Queenstown. If you’re looking for a relaxing time and winding down from the events of last year, Wanaka is perfect. Make sure to add the Roy’s Peak hike on your itinerary for the Instagram-famous view of Otago. The Diamond Lake Track is another mirrored lake definitely worth a stop. Wanaka is especially lovely in the winters but if you have an inclination for outdoorsy activities, now would be the perfect time to visit.
The small fishing town of Moeraki is a charming little getaway from the bustle and rush of city life. Famous for its sea food, sea life and sea views in general, the village is a must-visit if you’re after some rest and relaxation. Make sure to visit the famous Fleurs Place for a taste of the idyllic and rustic countryside lifestyle.
7. Franz Josef Glacier
A bustling tourism spot on the West Coast of New Zealand, Franz Josef is a scenic town with a stunning glacier valley which leads up to Franz Josef Glacier. There’s plenty of fun activities to indulge in at the location. You can kayak along Lake Mapourika or relax in the Glacier hot pools. If you want to see the glacier up close, booking a guided walk in the wisest way to do that.
8. Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park is situated in the north of New Zealand’s South Island. Surrounded by enchanting glacial lakes and rich green forests, the Park has something for everyone. The Rotoiti and Rotoroa alpine lakes are a dreamy experience, and the water clarity is unmatched.
9. Lake Tekapo
A three hours’ drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo is a small town with some of the most brilliant turquoise water this side of the world. Its also popular for being one of the best places in the world for a bit of stargazing thanks to its open and clear skies. Don’t forget to take a picture in the purple and pink fields of lupin scattered across the area.
10. Fiordland National Park
We saved the best for last. The Fiordland National Park is home to 14 fiords spanning 215km of coastline, as far as the eyes can see. After Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound are incredible places to visit. Take a walk or a road trip around the area for a holistic experience that promises to be one for the books.