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A Tale of Two Islands: Part 1

A Beginner's Destination Guide to New Zealand

new zealand destination guide

Located in the South Pacific, New Zealand is very much a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Don't let it fool you though! There is much more "depth" to this dual island nation. Finding a well-rounded experience for all travelers of varying interests is not difficult to do. With a little thought and pre-planning, the perfect itinerary will turn into an experience of a lifetime.

How to Get There

This is one of the biggest questions for North Americans, or at least how long does it take? Many flights from the US arrive in Auckland. The flying time from LA is 13 hours. From Houston 15 hours. And from Chicago 16.5 hours. With connections from many US cities, it is easy to travel any day of the week.

How Long to Stay

This is a very common question and the answer depends on several factors. First, given the travel time, I do not recommend staying for less than 7 nights. The fully experience most of New Zealand 14 nights is ideal. However, each traveler is unique and may not want to explore a long list of regions, or may not have the time or budget to do so. A perfectly planned, custom itinerary focused on your must-do activities, is the best way to ensure you maximize your time and investment and create the perfect vacation.

new zealand destination guide

Who is it best for?

With so many options to see and do, New Zealand is really for anyone!

  • Energetic Adventurist and Active Traveler

  • History and Culture Buff

  • The Romantic at Heart

  • Leisurely Explorer

  • Food and Wine Enthusiast

Those who want a little of everything will enjoy a vacation here. From city stays to coastal lodges and everything in between. Whether celebrating a honeymoon, anniversary, birthday, or any other major milestone in life, New Zealand may be just the right vacation for you.

Best Time to Visit

There really is no "bad" time. New Zealand, in general, has a mild climate.  Summer starts in December and runs through February, while winter is in the middle of the year, starting in June. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite of ours in North America.  My favorite to visit is during spring and fall. In the end, though, it will depend on what activities you plan to do. Some are not operated year-round.

new zealand destination guide

Top Activities and Experiences

  • Explore Abel Tasman National Park on foot and by kayak - Oh the sights you will see!

  • Hike one of the Great Walks (multi-day hikes running from October – April) or opt for a Day Walk and enjoy part of the trail.

  • Embark on a whale watching cruise in Kaikoura.  And if you are even more adventures, swim with Dusky Dolphin in the wild (an unforgettable experience of a lifetime!)

  • Cruise through Marlborough Sounds as pods of bottle-nose dolphin swim along with you. Another WOW moment at the dolphin frolic around the boat, looking up at you as if they are communicating.

  • Visit vineyards in the famous Marlborough wine region.  Home of the best Sauvignon Blanc. A great way to visit is a biking tour, vineyard to vineyard.

  • Take a ride on the world-famous Shotover Jet in Queenstown, a pure adrenaline rush!

  • Ski or Snowboard the Southern Alps. Where are my avid skiers?

  • Take a scenic flight over Milford Sound and Mt Cook. There is nothing better than seeing the vast landscape from above!

  • For movie buffs, a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must! Also, any Lord of the Rings fans? There are many locations in New Zealand where the movie was filmed.

  • Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and be instantly mesmerized by the sights from within the cave.

  • The breathtakingly stunning scenery, both daytime and night.  This is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. It’s far better in person and will literally take your breath away.

  • The people!  Kiwis are renowned for their friendliness and laidback nature.  They are very warm-hearted and patient! Interacting with the locals is such a highlight.

  • The abundance and variety of activities, historical sites, food, and wine!

New Zealand is bound to capture your heart and awaken all of your senses. Whether you visit the North Island, the South Island, or both, there is something to be enjoyed by all.

Sample Itinerary can be viewed here!


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