Waiheke is home to countless local and internationally renowned artists
New Zealand is a huge place. So we understand if you only have time to visit one island. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you work out which island is the right one for you to visit on this trip.
GO NORTH… IF YOU WANT CULTURE
Te Papa Museum in Wellington, has not just one floor, but six to explore. Look out for the Maori meeting house, artist Simon Denny’s Venice Biennale exhibition and a Gallipoli exhibition done in collaboration with the Weta Workshop.
Waiheke is known for wine, wealth and art. The former hippy island, which Time Out says is home to billionaires rather than beatniks nowadays, has numerous galleries and art studios for you to discover. It is also home to Cornells Bay Sculpture Park, which can challenge the public art attempts of most big cities.
While in Central North Island, the heart of the Maori culture, you can spend a day with the indigenous people and delve deeper into the ways of the Maori. Your guide can take you to see how the Maori language and culture are being taught at school, and how the needs of modern Maori for their ancestral identity are being met by local initiatives.
Michelin-star chef Adam Newell and his wife Nicola run the award-winning Zibibbo restaurant.Expect citrus cured King salmon, homebaked bread and roasted olives. Mini platters are available for those who want to taste everything, and master classes are available for those who want to know how it’s done.
Masu, an award-winning Japanese eatery in Auckland more than lives up to its hype. The flavours from the grill are unique combinations that are evocative and imaginative and the sashimi freshness is almost unparalleled.
Completely tucked away from the rest of Hawke’s Bay, pick one of the hilltop suites at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Go on long rambles in the extensive grounds; sip sundowners from the infinity pool looking out to the coast or pamper yourself at the spa.
Where better to relax than a cottage on a country estate? Offering farm-to-fork dining, the Wharekauhau Country Estate is a must visit for people who like the finer things in life.
Looking for the dreamiest views over Lake Taupo? You’ll find that at Acacia Cliffs, a funky boutique lodge, which offers astounding mountain views from its sundrenched decks. It’s the perfect base to head out and explore Taupo’s walks, take a gourmet picnic on a hike or enjoy a cruise on the lake.
GO SOUTH IF… YOU WANT ADVENTURE
The South Island can keep any adrenalin seeking addict occupied
Contemplating conquering a glacier? Then pull on your hiking boots and get ready to master Franz Josef Glacier. Covering 12km, the glacier is a formidable and fun challenge for the adventurous. As you will arrive by helicopter, you’ll have the chance to admire this impressive block of ice with its crevasses and ice pinnacles from the air before descending and exploring by foot.
Heli-biking is the ultimate form of mountain biking. Fly over some of the most scenic parts of the Southern Lakes region and prepare for thrills as you bike down the trails towards the lake below.
Sail along Abel Tasman National Park’s coastline to admire the beauty of Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, Adele and Fishermans Islands and Tonga Island seal colony. You will have the chance to go for a swim, kayak or go ashore as the crew make your lunch.
Marlborough is a wine region to be reckoned with.Take a tour of the famed vineyards then join a seafood cruise during where you will have the chance to taste Regal Salmon, fresh Tio Point Oysters matched with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, of course.
For adventurous dishes, there are two restaurants in New Zealand are hard to beat. Take a seat at RATA, run by Michelin-starred chef Josh Emett, or visit the legendary Hans Herzog Wine Estate where they serve up the famed Herzog’s Degustation Menu. Each one of its gourmet courses is perfectly paired with wines from its Marlborough estate.
Why pack the car up for a picnic, when you can arrive by helicopter? Whare Kea lodge will whisk guests up to a deserted mountain top where they can enjoy a gourmet picnic.
Fun-loving families should take their luggage to Matakauri Lodge, just by Lake Wakatipu. Try the funyak safari (starting off with jet boating then paddling on your ‘funyak’, an inflatable canoe), quad biking tours or horse-back riding. And if you have younger kids and are not ready for big adventures, you can go on a farm tour.
In this spectacular 19th-century homestead, you will be able to experience rural New Zealand like nowhere else. You can stay in the main building of Annandale or one of the unique cottages scattered around the grounds. The food is make from fresh local produce, which makes it that much more exceptional. You are guaranteed a memorable getaway.
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a tree house? Tucked within a native Manuka grove you’ll find the Hapuka Lodge & Tree Houses.These high-rise dwelling that are hidden within the canopy overlook the Pacific coastline. It provides the perfect base for whale watching.
Obviously this is an overview of the islands and you are sure to find culture in South Island and adventure in North Island, but this guide should help you track down some of the highlights on the islands when you’re short on time.