Kaikoura’s unique submarine landscapes are home to resident Sperm Whales and dolphins. At other times, you can spot Orcas and Humpback Whales. The Hauraki Gulf near Auckland is home to rare marine-life, such as the endangered Bryde’s Whale. Watch them whoosh out of the water – a spectacular sight to see. Other creatures include the flightless Kiwi Bird, sea lions, Fur Seals and three kinds of penguins: the Korora (Little Blue Penguin), the hoiho (Yellow-eyed Penguin) and the Fiordland Crested Penguin, an extremely rare bird that builds nests in lush rainforest. Top wildlife-spotting locations include Marlborough Sounds, Stewart Island and the Otago Peninsula.
Compared with many other destinations, New Zealand has a delightfully remote feel and its eye-popping scenery makes a dramatic natural backdrop for non-stop outdoor fun. Take the area around Queenstown on South Island, best known as the ‘Adventure Capital’, where heart-racing thrills range from jet-boating to bungy-jumping and other dare-devil pursuits include sky diving, off-road driving, caving, zip-lining, rafting, canyoning, heli-skiing and zorbing.
Walking & Hiking
One of the best ways to really get to know this beautiful country is on foot, so if hiking is your thing (or ‘tramping’, as the locals call it), don’t forget to pack a pair of sturdy boots. There are heaps of routes to choose from, whether you fancy a leisurely amble along the meandering coastline or tackling one of the nine ‘Great Walks’. Regions picked for their staggeringly beautiful settings include Northland and Bay of Islands, Tongario National Park, Abel Tasman National Park, Canterbury, Wanaka and Queenstown.
Over 400 courses carpet New Zealand’s shores, fourteen of which have been graded with the exclusive ‘Marquee’ category. These emerald-green beauties offer challenging play amid some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring landscapes, their fairways carved in the valleys of cloud-topped peaks and alongside breath-taking coastline. Big names include North Island’s Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers and Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, as well as South Island’s Jack’s Point, The Hills and Millbrook Resort.
New Zealand is criss-crossed with cycling paths and some seriously testing mountain-bike trails, promising outdoor fun in ever-changing scenery. Another hugely popular pursuit is fly-fishing – in fact, the country is possibly the best wild trout fishery on the planet, with anglers flocking from near and far to hook trophy fish. Our tip is to book a private fly-fishing trip by helicopter and find that dream isolated spot to fish in trout-laden waters.
Imagine skiing on an active volcano! It’s possible on Mt. Ruapehu, North Island’s biggest ski area. On South Island, meanwhile, there are three main regions to choose from – Christchurch and Canterbury, Queenstown and Wanaka or Mount Cook Mackenzie, all offering terrific ski schools and stunning Alpine scenery.
Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, cruising, diving, snorkelling, surfing and windsurfing – New Zealand’s North Island and South Island are ringed with thousands of miles of coastline, making it a paradise for water-based activities. There are lakes and rivers, too, which means there’s even more opportunities for watersports fun. For a true taste of luxury, a sail around the Bay of Islands aboard a sleek yacht is hard to beat.
The Māori landed on New Zealand’s shores over 1,000 years ago and today makes up 14% of the local population. As you travel across New Zealand, particularly on North Island, you’ll witness the language and intriguing traditions and culture of this unique race. Look out for organised tours to their tribal meeting grounds (or ‘Marae’) in and around Northland, Auckland, Rotorua and Canterbury, where you’ll enjoy ‘hangi’ feasts and feet-stamping, plus tongue-wagging performances of the ‘haka’ war dance, internationally made famous by rugby champions, the All Blacks.
Food & Drink
New Zealand’s cool climate vineyards produce premium-quality pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs. Tour the wineries of North Island’s Hawke’s Bay or South Island’s Marlborough region, both famous for award-winning vineyards and restaurants. Following in their tracks are craft breweries and coffee shops, so you can pair your favourite tipple with new-world culinary classics. Expect sensational seafood, sweet, melt-in-the-mouth, lamb and fabulous seasonal fare at farmers’ markets. Follow our gourmet trail from top to toe and let your tastebuds drool over New Zealand’s rich pickings, including the areas of Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington on North Island; Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury, Kaikoura and Central Otago on South Island.
Thanks to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit Trilogy’, New Zealand is often called the ‘Home of Middle Earth’. Over 150 locations across the country were used during filming and fans can trace the steps of elves, wizards and other mythical characters. Enjoy a whimsical tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set and peak through the big round doors of the Hobbit-holes. Just for a while, you’re right there in Middle Earth, having your own fantasy adventure with Frodo and Bilbo. A must for J.R.R. Tolkien fans of all ages!
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.
British Airways and Qantas from London Heathrow to Auckland and Christchurch (via Singapore or Dubai and Sydney or Melbourne); Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow and Manchester (via Singapore); Air New Zealand from London Heathrow (via Hong Kong or Los Angeles). Flights with Emirates (via Dubai) from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle
From London Heathrow to Christchurch: 25 hours, 40 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance.
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.