One of Australia’s closest holiday destinations. Home of so many adventure sports, spectacular hikes and splendid views!
I’ve been lucky enough to make 4 visits to NZ in the last few years, each one in a different season and each have been brilliant. My favourite time of year to visit however is winter. There is something magical about snowcapped peaks, icy lakes and snowboarding trips. Here is a an overview of my Top 5 Destinations once you are there.
In each coming week I’ll go into details of each top location and why.
No.1 Milford Sound
Milford is my all time favourite destination in the whole of New Zealand for so many reasons! Located in the bottom of the South Island it can be one of the harder places to reach. However it contains in my opinion one of the best drives in the world to get there.
From Te Anau the closest town there is a fantastic road through the fjordland forests and mountain pass. The forest is filled with moss covered trees and looks almost mystical. Afterwards the drive through the pass is filled with fog covered mountains, a plethora of rivers and waterfalls and an assured encounter with the local cheeky Kea Birds. Reaching the bottom is reward enough with the amazing view of Mitre peak and the Fjord lying in front of you; but from there a myriad of activities is available to fill your days. I recommend staying at least one night; but however book well ahead as there is only one accommodation venue.
Top Activities: Ferry Ride (a must do), Flights, Hike, Underwater Observatory and Kayak adventures.
No. 2 Mt. Cook (Arokai) National Park
Mt Cook National Park is stunning for its views again and only approx 3 hours drive from Queenstown or Christchurch on the South Island. As a photographer and nature enthusiast I can’t recommend this spot enough for fellow minded people.
Several Hikes once again make this a place to stay for a couple of days. Once again choice of accommodation is limited from a choice of a couple. A backpackers style lodge and apartments and a hotel “the Hermitage”. The best thing I’ve done here apart from the two close glacial lake walks is a flight. In winter with the right numbers you can book ahead and get a sunrise flight from mount cook airstrip landing on a glacier which makes everything look better. Otherwise the flight is still worth the trip. If the glacial landing is too costly there is an option for a cheaper approx. $160 NZ for a loop around the mountains and glaciers about 40 mins in length.
Top activities: Scenic flight, heli skiing, glacial walks, local hikes and for the brave and well prepared climbing mount Cook.
No. 3 Hobbiton (North Island)
Hobbiton was one of my highlights mainly because I am a huge Lord of the Rings Fan!
Set in the centre of the North Island it is one of the many destinations to visit for movie fan. Just promise me when you arrive you'll shout “We’re off on an adventure”. There are several options of tours which are on their website and I’ll go into later for my Hobbiton Review. The best time I found is sunset turning into night, there is the magical view of dusk and then the lights turn on to illuminate the cute setting. Nearby is the town of Rotorua which boasts a huge number of activities and attractions to visit with your hobbit tour.
Top Activities: Hobbiton Tour, Food at the Prancing Pony, White water rafting, Red Wood Forest and tree walk and Wai O Tapu thermal springs.
No. 4 Wanaka
Lake Wanaka, a sleepy stunning town with so much to offer.
If you are wanting somewhere to stay for a few days, this is probably it. With some great up and coming breakfast locations, bars and proximity to my favourite Ski Field Cardrona. It’s become quite popular with good reason. With only 90 min - 2 hr drive to Queenstown you are also nice and close to other activities.
A couple of things to do I’d recommend are Roy’s Peak Hike (6hr return) and maybe just see that Wanaka Tree? I haven't been but quite a few people have recommended puzzling world as well.
Top Activities: Roy’s Peak Hike, Wanaka Tree, Waterskiing in Summer, Skiing and Snowboarding at Cardrona in Winter, Puzzling World, Jet Boating and Sky Diving.
No. 5 Queenstown
Are you ready for Skills, Spills and thrills.
Welcome to Queenstown. A town which is stunningly set between mountains and centred between 3 ski/bike fields.
I would describe Queenstown as the place to spend $100 anywhere and get some kind of an adrenaline kick. It can be quite expensive to stay here, especially if you don't book ahead, as backpackers are the life of this town. If you just stop by for a day I can’t say enough how good the Ferg Burger is… You’ll find it where the big line is! (There’s a secret to skipping the line though, so comment and ask or I’ll let you know when I go into depth of Queenstown Later) Close locations worth visiting like Moke Lake and Glenorchy are within an hour driving so add them to your list as well!
Top Activities: Jetboating, skydiving, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, rope swing, luge, you name it, its here.
Thats my top 5 NZ destinations for your next trip. A top tips on Queenstown will come soon followed by all the others finishing with Milford.
If there is anywhere or anything else you'd like to hear about in NZ or in the World that I can help with comment below or on my Instagram/Facebook and I’ll reply ASAP.
Thanks for Reading and Happy Travels.