Read our pocket guide to New Zealand
New Zealand: A pocket guide
“Land of the long white cloud” is the translation of the Maori word for New Zealand, Aotearoa, accurately depicting a land and its people intertwined with wild and natural landscapes. Here your trip will be inspired by a spectacular topography of simmering volcanoes, statuesque mountains, and awe inspiring glaciers. From the South Island where the immense Southern Alps reach the length of the island, woven through by crystal-clear streams and lakes, to the temperate climate, lush landscapes and mile long beaches of the North Island, there is an endless variety of active or tranquil experiences for everyone.
Your exploration is likely to begin in one of New Zealand’s urban centers where an adventure is never far away. Alpine Queenstown, surrounded by mountains on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, is the perfect base with its many luxury villas, chic storefronts, and trendy restaurants. If you prefer to lose yourself in New Zealand’s unique landscapes, you are easily connected to more remote areas. Picture yourself touching down in isolated Fiordland, for a meal of fresh-caught crayfish and chilled champagne, or atop a glacier with your skis. Alternatively, if you are one to get off the beaten track by foot, the mesmerising mountainscapes are laced with backcountry hiking trails and huts.
Nearby, in the quaint settlement of Arrowtown, New Zealand’s gold-mining history meets modern cafes and exquisite dining, right on the doorstep of internationally ranked golf courses and famous vineyards. If immersing yourself in the local culture, while being on-trend and off the radar is your idea of the perfect holiday, then don’t miss this hidden gem.
Immerse yourself in native bush and gorgeous coastal views at the top of the South Island, in the utterly unique Queen Charlotte Sound. Here the recipe is a combination of the best of New Zealand’s walking and biking, bound together by a seamless network of cruise and pack transfers, to be enjoyed at a luxurious resort or lodge with great food and wine.
Over on the North Island there are more once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had. Taupo, in the centre of this island, is located beside the vast waters of Lake Taupo, a volcanic caldera, which drains into the Huka Falls – dramatic, crystal-blue cascades reachable by hiking and biking trails. Surrounding Taupo are hot springs like those filling the Craters of the Moon reserve. Here you may also wish to visit one of New Zealand’s most popular golfing destinations: Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary. This ecological restoration sees golf and the natural habitat working in harmony.
Conservation of both natures’ gifts and historic sites is certainly a theme throughout New Zealand. Shifting even further north you will find the Waipoua Forest sanctuary where you can stand before the ancient Kauri trees that were mature before any human came to these shores. Preservation of the endangered Kiwi can also be seen in action at one of several sanctuaries throughout Northland.
While in the North Island be sure to visit the Bay of Islands, an enclave encompassing more than 140 subtropical islands. It’s known for its undeveloped beaches, big-game fishing and Maori cultural artefacts. It’s also home to the 19th-century whaling port of Russell, where the waterfront promenade is lined with remnants from its days as the country’s first colonial capital. To discover some of New Zealand’s history, visit the country’s most important historic site: the Waitangi Treaty Grounds which are rich in history and of the momentous events which shaped this nation.
Though New Zealand stands out as a capital of adventure sports such as bungee-jumping and heli-surfing, it also offers plenty of sedate pleasures. At the end of the day, whether your villa is in the mountains or by the sea, there’s no better way to enjoy the vista than by sipping a glass of local pinot noir on the balcony of your chic home-away-from-home.