New Zealand Is Opening: Where You Should Go To First

Kia ora! The rumours have finally been confirmed — New Zealand is opening its borders. So the big question is: where should you travel first? We’ve narrowed it down to some wonderful spots with something to offer for every kind of traveller!

📸📸 For the Instagrammer: Explore Central Otago

Is your Instafeed looking a bit bare? What about infinite skies spanning across huge vistas speckled with awe inspiring mountain ranges? Central Otago is IT. Known as a place for gold in the 1860s, take the chance to soak up some gold rush history while enjoying the scenery! Pan for some amongst the miners' old trails, uncover old mine machinery relics and cuddle up in cosy, rustic stone cottages. Nowadays though, Central Otago’s gold is wine. Pinot Noir stands out in these southernmost vineyards so you will certainly have your pick of wineries and tastings. So relax, take a selfie (or ten), have a sip and drink it all in.

🏝️ For the Beach Bum: Absorb the Bay of Islands

An absolute treat for those that love beaches and water activities! Drive 3 hours or take a 35-minute flight north of Auckland to find the Bay of Islands: it encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula, including the boutique towns of Opua, Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri. Be spoilt for choice with activities galore: paddleboarding, scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, dolphin viewing and more. Take a scenic flight, cruise to the Hole in the Rock, try parasailing to 1200 feet, sail off to the sunset through all 144 islands or do an overnight cruise (phew!). Don’t forget to experience Maori cultural shows as well to dive deeper into the historical past of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

🍜 🍷 For the Foodie: Sip on Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough

As New Zealand’s largest wine-growing region (most of which are under the care of local wine producers), Marlborough placed NZ on the world wine stage with its distinct Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s. Also well known for its fresh seafood, great local restaurants and diverse landscapes, from valleys of vines to sheltered waterways. Join wine tours from over 30 cellar doors, hire a bike for a self-guided exploration, or even take a stroll - most spots are about a ten-minute drive from each other. Maori also referred to the Wairau Valley as ‘Kei puta te Wairau’ – ‘The place with the hole in the cloud’.

🚴 For the Adrenaline Junkie: Go Mountain Biking in Rotorua

Put your helmets on! In 2019, The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) renewed Rotorua’s four-year status as one of the world’s best mountain biking destinations (it was awarded with the prestigious gold-level Ride Centre™ status no less!). Expertly built trails in Whakarewarewa Forest bring you through expansive, towering redwood trees and lush native bush, so prepare to immerse yourself in the diverse flora & fauna unique to New Zealand. About 200km of continually evolving trails has something for all levels of rider- from beginners and families through to pros up for a challenge.

🖼️ For the Culture Vulture: Discover Dunedin's Art Scene

Dunedin has an incredibly rich arts history - plus, there’s often some freely available for all to enjoy! With an increasing number of blank walls being transformed by local and international artists, follow the self-guided Dunedin street art trail to find vibrant artwork all along your path. Currently, this spans over about 50 walls across the city, mostly concentrated around the Warehouse Precinct and CBD with lots of tasty cafes for delectable pit stops. Not to be missed is the award-winning Otago Museum - one of New Zealand’s finest featuring a collection of treasures from all over the world. It also boasts a uniquely curated calendar of year-round events and international exhibitions.

🛶 For the Adventurer: Kayak Abel Tasman National Park

You’ll talk about kayaking through Abel Tasman for years to come! Famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters and amazing scenery (Split Apple Rock is a sight to behold!) - New Zealand’s smallest national park is located in the South Island and is an unmissable place to uncover (with fantastic walking trails and seal watching too!). The most common starting point for the Abel Tasman coast track and kayaking is the Southern end in Marahau about 1.5 hour’s drive from Nelson (the closest city with an airport). A hidden gem? Te Pukatea bay - one of the most pristine beaches you’ll ever find. Best of all, the region generally gets the annual most sunshine hours in NZ so mark this as an all-season wonder to explore.

🗻For the Nature Lover: Walk the coastal tracks near Kaikoura

Do some stretches because trekking the Kaikoura Coast Track is worth it. A breathtaking 2-day walk with incredible 360 views (2 hours from Christchurch airport), uncover a coast abundant with dolphins and seals, beaches, tussock-covered tops and lush farmlands. Along the way, relax at lunch shelters with great scenery while enjoying a drink. Walk through bush filled gullies to views of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains rising from the Pacific Ocean. Experience true Kiwi hospitality when you meet the families who have been maintaining the track for years. So evidently, if you're after a place that ticks all your travel fixes, heading to New Zealand could well be it. We can’t wait to see all your stories and photos!

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