Are you thinking of going on an NZ holiday?
I have been to New Zealand many times and done some serious exploring. It’s one of my favourite countries – it’s friendly, safe and jaw-droppingly beautiful. What’s not to love?!
Outside of Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, there is so much to see. Hire a car or a camper and make sure you get off the beaten track.
Here’s my quick guide to the lesser known highlights of the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Otherwise known as Northland or Bay of Islands, Paihia is the warmest part of New Zealand and is located 3.5 hours north of Auckland. This is a great place to hit the beach during the warmer months, and in winter? Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s chequered (but fascinating) colonial history at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Here is a detailed guide I wrote about Paihia’s many wonders.
Home of Hobbiton, Hamilton is a land of rolling green hills and one of the best gardens I have ever seen. Hamilton Gardens has won a swag of awards for good reason – it’s compact and yet incredibly diverse in what it has to offer. From the elegant Chinese garden, to the sunken Indian parterre and the hedged Tuscan room, it is a must for garden lovers. You can cruise down the Waikato River from a jetty right next to the gardens, and nearby, you will find the Waitomo glow worm tunnels.
Nelson is an arty village on the northern fringe of Marlborough wine country. If you prefer craft beer to wine, Nelson can deliver on that front as it’s the craft beer capital of New Zealand. I have written about it before here. If you only visit one place in Nelson, it has to be The Freehouse. It’s still the coolest bar I’ve ever been to.
No trip to New Zealand’s capital of Auckland would be complete without a ferry ride over to Waiheke Island. Dotted with wineries, art galleries and ‘batches’ (the kiwi term for a holiday rental), this is where the citizens of Auckland come to get loose for the weekend. It’s fairytale pretty and my all-time favourite NZ winery has got to be Mudbrick House.
If you like fishing, golf, fancy lodges, or all three, Lake Taupo (pronounced ‘toe-paw’) is where you need to go. Jump on one of the lake charters and go fishing, trundle up to Kinloch Lodge for lunch or a round of golf, go jet boating at Huka Falls or just hang out down in the village and enjoy the serenity of this stunning lakeside retreat.
New Zealand’s capital city is surprising cool, mostly because filmmaking extraordinaire Peter Jackson has established a foothold here. Head out to Weta Workshop in Miramar to learn about props and special effects, or head to the Te Papa museum, home to a huge range of Polynesian artefacts.
A NZ holiday will breathe life into your spirit. With the mysticism of ancient Maori culture, the staggering natural beauty of the landscape, the craic of exceptionally good local wine and craft beer, and a weird colonial history that includes the French, English and Scottish, there is no better place to free your soul.
Have you been on an NZ holiday recently? Where would you recommend?