New Zealand is famed as an adventure capital of the world and packed with natural treasures. From open landscapes, dusted peaks, and lakes with water that defies Instagram filters – New Zealand will take your breath away with its diverse terrain, breathtaking peaks and sparkling lakes that rival any filter you could apply on Instagram.
Explore traditional Maori culture and visit vibrant cities on the North Island, or venture off-grid to Kapiti Island where endangered birds such as kiwis reside in their natural environments.
This beautiful little island lies only a short ferry ride from Auckland City. Once home to hippies, artists, and alternative lifestylers, now it has evolved into a bustling wine region and gourmet retreat with over 8,000 permanent residents who all share an appreciation of food, wine and the great outdoors – creating an idyllic place where time slows down and people smile more freely than elsewhere.
Oneroa and Palm Beach beaches offer beautiful white sand beaches for sunbathing or lounging around, while walkers will love exploring trails along cliff edges, down to the shoreline, or through cool enclaves of forest. There are also boutique wineries and olive oil producers worth visiting and numerous beautiful views to take in!
Waiheke Island stands out as an island that excels at boutique accommodation, featuring unique options like Korora Estate, Fossil Cove (where Lady Gaga stayed), Waiheke Unlimited and Waiheke Unlimited Holiday Homes with panoramic ocean views such as Korora Estate Stay Waiheke or Delamore Lodge Holiday Homes.
One of the best ways to explore Waiheke Island is on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, such as Waiheke Island Hop-On-Hop-Off tour which starts from Matiatia and has several itineraries that cover top wineries, beaches and restaurants on the island as well as sights such as lava caves and World War II gun emplacements. Each person on this tour costs $69 NZD with each participant receiving a complimentary bottle of wine at its conclusion.
New Zealand’s islands boast blue waters, uninhabited beaches, and abundant wildlife. While most people know about its two main islands – North and South – there are actually numerous smaller isles dotted throughout its borders with their own special histories to tell.
From tranquil bird sanctuaries to exceptional diving locations, here are a few of our favorites.
Tiritiri Matangi Island Wildlife Sanctuary near Auckland is an amazing wildlife sanctuary that has been expertly restored back to its pre-colonial state by an exceptional team of dedicated volunteers. As one of the premier spots in the world to observe endangered native birds, you won’t want to miss it. Just hop aboard a ferry from the city and you’ll soon be walking through lush native pohutukawa forests with singing bellbirds korimako singing away close by; take time out from your summit track walk for breathtaking views over Hauraki Gulf while taking time out to discover hidden caves!
Kapiti Island Nature Reserve lies off of the lower North Island and remains free from invasive pests, making it an oasis for native birds such as kiwis or flightless takahe that have once become extinct. You might even spot dolphins playing around Kapiti’s bay or snorkel among coral reefs for an unforgettable experience!
Take an adventurous trip by ferry or plane from Auckland to Great Barrier Island for an utterly Kiwi experience – its tropical paradise of secluded beaches, tranquil hot springs, as well as luxurious beach houses or “baches” provide the ideal setting for an unforgettable Kiwi holiday experience.
Rangitoto Island stands out with its distinctive, symmetrical cone from Auckland city centre as the youngest volcanic island dotting the Hauraki Gulf. Accessible via ferry ride from the city, Rangitoto is an idyllic day-trippers’ destination offering bushwalking and beach-hopping as well as historical sites including old gun emplacements and Maori pa (fortified areas).
The 374-step Summit Track is one of the island’s most beloved walks, providing visitors with stunning views of Auckland from its steep hillsides and lava caves on its north-eastern side. Additionally, you’ll visit an award-winning visitor centre and museum before exploring craters, old gun emplacements, beaches, ‘weta hotels” (small manufactured enclosures for weta, an insect native to New Zealand) or “weta hotels”. The tour should only take around 2 to 3 hours from start-finish.
Gooseberry Flat Beach and Awana Beach offer excellent birding opportunities. Or for something a bit less strenuous, pack a backpack and trek the three-day Aotea Track staying in Department of Conservation huts; alternatively bring along your picnic and enjoy relaxing along sandy beaches.
New Zealand tours wouldn’t be complete without making time to stop on Auckland Islands, also known as Tamaki Makaurau by Maori people. Here you’ll find world-class dining, shopping and nightlife – but just beyond its limits you’ll discover forested hills giving way to black sand beaches lapped by surf.
Rangitoto stands out among the city’s islands as an easily visible volcanic island that’s less than 600 years old, yet offers plenty of lava formations and craters to explore. Flora has begun taking hold on this rugged landscape; Rangitoto also hosts one of the world’s largest populations of pohutukawa trees – known for their vibrant red flowers that bloom each summer.
Waiheke Island, known for its wine production and vineyard tours, can also be reached easily by ferry from Auckland CBD within 40 minutes. There, visitors will experience everything from stunning beaches and seaside villages to vineyard tours.