Seeking Adventure & Connection in New Zealand 

If you’re craving a trip packed with thrilling contrasts from top to bottom, New Zealand is probably already on your list. Whether you’re drawn to the vivid culture and welcoming hospitality of the Māori, fell in love with the real-world magic of its landscapes watching The Lord of the Rings, want to come face to fin with beautiful ocean life, or sip your way through some of the world’s best wines, there are countless paths to a love affair with New Zealand. But what happens when you’re ready to commit?

Seeking comfort… in any class. 

New Zealand is a long flight from… just about anywhere that isn’t Australia. With that in mind, Air New Zealand has always pushed the envelope in terms of service, comfort, safety, unpretentious sophistication, and fun. There’s plenty to love about its Economy Class, but on such a long-haul flight, consider treating yourself to Premium Economy or even Business. Check the shoulder seasons of spring and fall for the best deals. Alternatively, opt for the Skycouch, an affordable Economy Class upgrade unique to Air New Zealand. Seating up to three, you pay for ‘the couch’ rather than per person, so it can be ideal for families travelling together. Air New Zealand’s inflight service is rated consistently high with both travellers and industry critics, and its cabin crew is renowned for being one of the sky’s friendliest. 

Seeking wine, sun, and wonder on Auckland’s doorstep. 

people at a dining table at a distillery

Auckland offers a big city welcome to New Zealand, perfectly blending indoor culture with outdoor adventure. Nowhere is this better embodied than on Waiheke Island, just a short ferry ride across the bay. Bringing olive groves, vineyards, and beaches to the city’s doorstep, Waiheke Island invites you to seek the sun on your New Zealand vacation. Enjoy it with a glass of boutique red and a charcuterie platter of locally sourced products. Most of the wineries here operate from small cellar doors, so a local tour is the best way to go. 

Seeking cultures, real and imaginary. 

If you’re on the road from Auckland to Rotorua, you’ve almost got to stop in Hobbiton. It’s the last standing set from the Rings saga and a fun day out whether you’re a fan or not. Then, immerse yourself in the real culture that has watched over New Zealand since the 1400s, with a Māori buffet feast and traditional entertainment, including the famous haka. You can experience it in Rotorua, along with a hangi feast cooked in an earth oven, which takes on special meaning in this living geothermically laboratory. How often do you get to sip hot chocolate sitting on naturally heated rocks overlooking a geyser? 

Seeking retro charm in a triumphant Art Deco rebuild. 

Architecture fans won’t want to miss Napier. A disastrous earthquake in 1931 forced the city to rebuild, and Art Deco creators rose to the challenge, creating what is today one of New Zealand’s most beautiful cities. For our money, it’s best seen from the passenger’s seat of a 1930’s vintage car, just to get into the spirit of things. A glass of local Hawke’s Bay white wine won’t hurt either! 

Seeking a cool day/night out in Wellington. 

If you judge a city by its cafes, bars, working artists, and a terrific food and wine scene, Wellington might just become your new favourite. Smaller than both Auckland and Christchurch, it offers arguably New Zealand’s best museum, Te Papa Tongerewa, a gorgeous waterfront walk, the scenic cable car ride up to stunning views over Wellington Harbour, and awesome day trips to see the seal colonies that dot this part of New Zealand’s coast. The nearby Martinborough wine region is famous for its Pinot Noirs, with a terroir and climate so suited to the delicate grape, even French critics have sung its praises. 

Seeking flavour across Cook Strait. 

Those same critics were also stunned when New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc hit the scene, forcing sommeliers to pay attention to this little industry that could. Much of the exported product comes from the Marlborough (not to be confused with Martinborough) region outside Nelson. Our tip? Don’t waste your time visiting big exporters you can buy back home. Take a tour of local boutique wineries, or embark on a cruise through the Marlborough sounds, where you can feast on fresh seafood best accompanied by local whites. Don’t limit yourself to the Sauvignon Blanc either. Every star needs a good supporting cast, and over 25 varieties share the stage in Marlborough. 

Seeking unique encounters on the South Island’s east coast. 

On your way down the coast to Kaikōura for some of the world’s best whale-watching, stop off at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to see the Knights of the Sky. It’s an ‘only in New Zealand’ experience owned and curated by Sir Peter Jackson (and you thought you were done with all things hobbit-related). For WWI, history, and aviation buffs, it’s a must see. As for Kaikōura, it’s synonymous with whale-watching with good reason. Sperm whales enjoy the waters year-round, with orcas joining them in the summer (Dec to Mar) and Humpbacks in the winter (Jun and Jul). Order up of the town’s famous fresh crayfish when you’re back on dry land. 

Seeking revival… and finding it in Christchurch. 

Christchurch has recovered and rebuilt from tragedy with a renewed sense of creativity, innovation and determination. What does that mean for visitors? Fun art projects dot the city. Top notch exhibits fill the Canterbury Museum and Art Gallery (let Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House blow your mind with Kiwi kitsch), while Quake City invites you to step inside the city’s most infamous event, giving you an all-new appreciation for its recovery. Ride the Christchurch Tram, go punting in true English style along the Avon River, see the colourful Transitional Cathedral, or immerse yourself in the seventh continent at the International Antarctic Centre. Did we mention a thriving food and wine scene? It’s all happening in Christchurch. 

There’s so much more to explore in New Zealand, including the Bay of Islands in the North, Abel Tasman National Park at its centre, and the Fiordlands and Milford Sound to name a few. New Zealand Odyssey is an ideal small group journey with premium accommodations and unique tours that showcase many of the country’s most popular sites. Ten days is a good minimum for your first visit, but you’ll probably want longer to explore New Zealand at your own pace, enjoy its warm tradition of manaakitanga (hospitality, reciprocal understanding, and connection), and experience the connection between nature and people that makes people want to take that long flight again and again.

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Christian Baines
Christian Baines

Globetrotting Contributing Editor -
Christian’s first globetrotting adventure saw him get lost exploring the streets of Saigon. Following his nose to Asia’s best coffee, two lifelong addictions were born. A freelance writer and novelist, Christian’s travels have since taken him around his native Australia, Asia, Europe, and much of North America. His favourite trips have been through Japan, Spain, and Brazil, though with a love of off-beat, artsy cities, he’ll seize any opportunity to return to Paris, New York, or Berlin.

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