New Zealand is a destination to explore at your own pace. Internal flights are very convenient, but the best is to get lost in its incredible landscapes behind the wheel, by car. This allows you to travel at your own rhythm, stopping wherever you want to admire the incredible views that you find along the way, and combine it with different kind of activities.
Although New Zealand is on the other side of the world, in fact it’s only a couple of flights away – long flights, certainly , but with a single stop -.
Our journey began in the northern part of North Island. We rented a car in Auckland and drove for a few hours to reach the northernmost region of the country. Although it’s a coastal area, New Zealand doesn’t stand out for its beaches. It’s better to enjoy the wide range of activities that the country has to offer. Our first activity was so much fun! We drove a quad on a 90 miles-long beach, enjoying the scenery with a little adrenaline.
We continued to the geothermal area of Rotorua, in the center of North Island, where we admired some of the most amazing landscapes of the island: a sulphurous zone with boiling mud pools, geysers and fantastic colours. In addition to admiring this fantastic landscape, we also bathed in hot springs, enjoyed a trekking to the waterfalls and sailed on a catamaran in Lake Rotoiti.
We stayed at Huka Lodge, near Rotorua, a classic and elegant accommodation that stands out for its gastronomy, wines and of course, the surrounding landscapes. Although I must admit that the cuisine is incredible throughout the country.
In the area surrounding Huka Lodge we had a lot of fun fishing with our insider in the area: an expert naturalist guide who led us into the forest and taught us the catch and release technique (you catch the fish and then release it again in the river). Moreover, the hotel is within walking distance of the Huka Falls, a beautiful waterfall.
Our next stop was Cape Kidnappers, a traditional farmhouse set in vast private grounds. It’s a beautiful area to discover on foot, bike or 4×4, completely by yourself. Also, the food is excellent, and the place is ideal to enjoy a private picnic prepared especially for the occasion. After the walk, you will be grateful to relax in the outdoor jacuzzi.
Our last stop in North Island was Wharekauhau, in Cape Palliser, definitely the most remote place we visited. Located on the southern tip of North Island, it’s a completely isolated farm that allows you to experience total disconnection.
After crossing North Island north to south, we flew from Wellington to Queenstown, in South Island. The first thing that surprised us were its stunning landscapes; there are very few people living on this island, and it’s easy to drive for hours without seeing anyone at all.
Nature is so spectacular that a simple urban park looks like a National Park. There, you feel as if you were miles and miles from civilisation.
From Queenstown we flew over the Milford Sound fjord by helicopter and landed on a glacier. Walking on the ice, next to the fjord and with views over the sea is one of the best experiences we lived on the island. We also visited the fjord in a cruise to admire it from a different point of view.
But New Zealand isn’t only about the landscapes. In fact, we had a great time touring Arrowtown, a mining town that looks like a Western film town. To get there, we drove on a road that is said to be the most beautiful road in the world. It was definitely a trip to the past!
Although it may look like a lot of activities, the truth is that we did many more things! Horseback riding, trekking through the locations where The Lord of the Rings was recorded, full speed excursions crossing a river aboard a dart jet…
New Zealand is certainly a country to explore.