New Zealand has carved itself quite a reputation as a top destination for adventure enthusiasts. The country offers countless activities for adrenaline junkies including the craziest of the crazy in bungee jumping, rope swings and ziplines. Thrill seekers have more to choose from than they can probably fit into their holiday – and then there’s all the ‘Lord of the Rings’ stuff too. But don’t overlook New Zealand as being only for goblin geeks, backpackers and youngsters who seemingly don’t want to become oldsters.
These two islands in the southwestern Pacific are also ideal for the Grown-up Traveller. Regardless of whether you are visiting alone, with your partner or with the whole family, New Zealand delivers on luxury travel experiences.
Here are a few ideas for making the most of what the country has to offer in fine style:
Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands consists of some 144 islands surrounded by calm waters perfect for sailing, fishing and of course swimming. If you need a break from lazing on sandy beaches there are native forests and historical attractions waiting to be explored.
The best way to enjoy the Bay of Islands is on a boat cruise with a guide to tell you all about the area and its Maori and maritime history.
Kerikeri is a town famous for producing both art and fruit – make sure you sample both but don’t miss the oldest house in New Zealand either – the Kerikeri Mission House. Take a break for lunch with a gourmet meal and a glass of matched wine at Marsden Estate Winery.
Another highlight here is a guided hike through the Puketi Rainforest where you can gaze in wonder at the giant Kauri Trees. Puketi is one of the most amazing natural environments in this part of New Zealand.
Taupo is famous for its natural hot springs and the incredible Huka Falls. It is also home to one of the best lodges in Australasia where the Queen of England likes to stay when visiting New Zealand. With a wonderful location and excellent service, it’s easy to see why. A short walk from Huka Lodge brings you to the mighty Falls where over 220 000 litres of water a second cascades over the cliff.
During your stay at Huka Lodge you just have to book a helicopter safari. Fly to White Island to stand on and walk around the island’s active crater floor; on the way back stop off on the summit of Mt Tarawera to take in the spectacular landscape.
Step off the chopper and onto a boat, for a private cruise on Lake Rotoiti. The lake and surrounding area hold important cultural significance to the Maori and you can learn of the legends and history from your guide. Bring your swimming gear so you can have a dip in the thermal pools which are only reachable by boat.
Offering an eclectic mix of attractions, the Hawke’s Bay region is New Zealand’s leading producer of wines and has the greatest concentration of Art Deco architecture.
The wonderfully-named Cape Kidnappers is the place to stay – a luxury resort set on a 5,000-acre sheep and cattle farm. Golf enthusiasts will love the unique course here featuring holes positioned on the cliff edge, dropping away to the waves far below in Hawke’s Bay.
Guests can also enjoy a unique activity with Kiwi expert Dr. John McLennan and his team: a guided evening walk on the property searching for the iconic Kiwi bird. Using radio tracking and monitoring devices to locate these nocturnal birds you will get the chance to get close to one of the country’s most endangered and rare animals.
Other ways to pass your time here include watching a live farming show at the historic Clifton Station Woolshed and a bicycle winery tour with the opportunity to enjoy tasting some of Hawkes Bay’s finest foods and wines while burning some of it off and taking in the scenery of the Ngatarawa Triangle. Don’t worry, it’s flat here and the pace is slow 🙂
On the very sands of a glorious Hawke’s Bay wilderness beach resides an extraordinary Maori elder (kuia), Orine, who lives an inspired life in the rhythms and age old customs of the Maori culture. On her land experience a formalwelcome(powhiri).
Delve into Maori life by meeting Orine, an extraordinary elder who lives on a wild beach and enjoys sharing her fascinating culture and outlook with visitors.
We recommend a little lunch at Clearwater Winery before continuing the Maori theme with a visit to artist Ema Scott in her studio. Ema will take you on a spiritual journey into her creative and resourceful world.
Napier is the Art Deco capital of the world with the most extensive collection of buildings in such a concentrated area. Many of them are open to the public but none come close to the Tobacco Company building as far a we’re concerned – it gives extravagance in architecture a whole new meaning.
This is just a small sample of the wealth of attractions New Zealand has to offer the Grown-up Traveller – as you can see it’s not just a destination for the thrill-seeking backpacker.