New Zealand has often been overlooked as a honeymoon destination in favor of Australia, but this beautiful island nation’s natural beauty (including both beaches and mountains), excellent wine region, and a plethora of sports, recreation, and sightseeing options are helping New Zealand to come into its own as a paradise for the newly married. The country is made up of two main islands – the North and the South – and is roughly the size of Great Britain, but with far fewer residents. Thus, New Zealand has a particularly uncrowded feeling, which is very popular with honeymooners.
New Zealand honeymoon tips:
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and is famous for its busy harbor, where you can take a harbor cruise or scuba dive at Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World to see sharks, stingrays, and other marine life. While here, visit the Auckland Museum, the historic volcanoes and Parnell Village, which is a shopping area made up of historical buildings converted into boutiques and specialty shops.
In Queenstown, take in the Queenstown Winter Festival in late June, a 10-day extravaganza that includes snow sports, concerts, fireworks, and a Mardi Gras-style parade. Queensland also has a rich assortment of museums, galleries, and gardens.
Many people will tell you that the best way to see New Zealand is to rent a motor home and spend a week or two driving around. This may not seem too romantic, but it will give you access to most parts of the country while providing basic accommodations. Keep your eyes open for the various i-SITE visitor information centers, which dispense brochures and advice, and will handle local bookings for you.
If being on the road for your whole New Zealand honeymoon doesn’t sound intriguing, and you want to have complete privacy and be pampered, consider the Eagles Nest, a luxury resort in the North Island’s Bay of Islands. This stunning property features four world-class villas with private lap pools, Jacuzzis, a home theater, gourmet kitchen, and beautiful works of art, as well as access to spa services, fishing, diving, whale watching, mountain biking, hiking, picnicking on a private island, and gourmet food and wine. Be sure to ask about the honeymoon package.
Rail travel is very popular in New Zealand, with scenic trips throughout much of the country (the route between Christchurch and Greymouth is said to be one of the top train journeys in the world). Of special interest are the historic boutique steam trains, which can be booked for up to two weeks. One popular route takes you from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, with frequent stops along the way for you to explore and sightsee.
New Zealand honeymoon tibdit!
You may know New Zealand as the land where the “Lord of the Rings” movies were filmed, and if you’re a fan, be sure to make time for a guided tour of the movie set, and explore Middle Earth on foot, by car, by helicopter, or by mountain bike. (Some of the sights used for the movie are accessible to everyone; others require that you sign up for a tour to gain access.)
Wine connoisseurs will find much to love in New Zealand, and both islands offer many choices for wine tours and tasting. Plan to visit the Marlborough Region, Queenstown or the Central Otago Region for an opportunity to enjoy both food and wine. You can set out on a tour on your own or take a guided tour, but don’t miss a chance to taste the country’s Pacific Rim cuisine and pair it with local vintages.
Daredevils will love the Shotover Canyon Swing above the Shotover Gorge near Queenstown. Sit in a swing and freefall nearly 200 feet off the cliff, then blast across the river. The Southern Alps are perfect for rock-climbing and mountaineering, and you can also heli-hike, ski, horseback ride or go caving on various parts of the islands. Water sports abound: jet boating, diving, kayaking, rafting, fishing, and seaplane safaris. Golf is also extremely popular, and some of the most dramatic courses include Carrington on the North Island, Kauri Cliffs and Gulf Harbour near Auckland, and the beautiful Jack’s Point course on Lake Wakatipu.
Finally, plan to spend some time in New Zealand’s 14 national parks and preserves, including the marine reserves such as Poor Knights, which is a dive site of world renown. Also take time to investigate the heritage of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The Maori weaving is especially beautiful, and can be seen at local galleries and shops. In February, visit the Matatini Maori Performing Arts Festival in Auckland, where there is a tribal marketplace.