Just a hop, skip and a jump across the Pacific sits the beautiful country of New Zealand, known for its rich landscapes, and diverse culture and history. Whether you are ready for an adventure-filled vacation or just want a leisurely trip through the countryside, there is something for everyone in New Zealand. Here are our must-see stops:
Christchurch. Located on the east coast on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is known as the garden city with an English heritage. It has recovered nicely from the two devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, and offers a refreshing welcome to the area. Make sure you visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens which have been there since 1863, and boast flowering gardens, plant conservatories, native trees and more. As a testament to the city’s resilience, stop by the Cardboard Cathedral that was designed as a temporary home for the Christ Church Cathedral that was damaged during the earthquakes and is made entirely of 24-inch diameter cardboard tubes, a polycarbon roof, shipping container walls, and triangular stained glass windows. To see the countryside around Christchurch, take a ride on the TranzAlpine Train which will take you through the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps on its way to the west coast.
Marlborough. For wine enthusiasts, Marlborough should sound familiar as the region is world renowned for its sauvignon blanc wines. Book a tour and wine tasting at one of the 150 vineyards in the area. Or soak up the beautiful sights of the Marlborough Sounds, where land and sea meet. The most accessible is Queen Charlotte Sound, which you can explore by car or boat, or if you are adventurous, walking the Queen Charlotte Track through the forests and along the coastline. For Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans, you can take various tours of the areas filming locations, including a kayak ride down the Pelorus River where the great barrel escape of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was filmed.
Matamata. Speaking of Lord of the Rings, a visit to Matamata is a must. Here, you can explore the movie sets that made up the Shire. Take the Evening Banquet Tour to enjoy a meal fit for a Hobbit at the Green Dragon Inn, or if you’d prefer to have “second breakfast”, book the first tour in the morning.
Waitomo. For the nature lover, Waitomo will be a feast for the eyes. From glow worms to black-water rafting and hiking through the lush forests, adventure abounds. Take a cruise through the Glowworm Grotto to see New Zealand’s unique Arachnocampa luminosa glow-worms light up the limestone walls of the areas caves. Or if you are more adventurous, take a black-water rafting tour through the caves on rubber tubes. If you want to learn more about the history and science behind these luminescent caves, visit the nearby Museum of Caves. If rafting isn’t up your alley, you can take a tour of the Ruakuri Cave, which is the longest underground cave tour in New Zealand, accessible by easy-to-navigate spiralling pathway that wanders past the fascinating limestone formations that make up the cave structure.
Tongariro National Park. Tongariro National Park is one of the many parks and reserves throughout New Zealand. What makes it special is it is a UNESCO Dual World Heritage site because of its Māori cultural associations and three active volcanoes. Whether you want to ski, hike, cycle or fly over the volcanoes, there is something for everyone to see and do.
Wellington. No trip to New Zealand would be complete without a visit to the capital city of Wellington. For a spectacular view of the entire city, head up to Mount Victoria Lookout. Explore Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum, where you’ll discover unique, interactive exhibits around the history, science and culture of the country. The city is full of fun things to do, including museums, the unique cafes and markets on Cuba Street, beautiful beaches to relax, botanical gardens to stroll and more.
Ready to start planning your trip to New Zealand? Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your dream vacation today.
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