New Zealand is a beautiful place to visit and I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to visit the country in December last year. Looking back at the thousands of photos taken over the 8 days kiwi adventure with Air New Zealand, I’m already mentally plotting plans for another trip with my family if we do get a chance to travel there together. With better air, better food (lots of seafood!), friendly communities and the awesome New Zealand hospitality everywhere you go, it sure is an ideal place for families and travel nomads to explore.
With my personal experience from my short but very fruitful trip to New Zealand, I’m sharing 10 must-do things when traveling to New Zealand. And may I declare that this is a super long and image intensive posts that will make you want to fly to New Zealand for your next vacation!
10 Things You Need To Try When In New Zealand
1. Experience True Māori Culture and Prepare Your Own Hāngi
Visit Awataha Marae for a cultural food experience. See the fire, feel the heat and engage with the locals as you help to prepare the traditional Māori meal, ground cooked hāngi. A hāngi is a traditional Māori style of cooking which is still commonly practiced throughout New Zealand today. It is a process where steam is used as a medium of cooking the food while it is beneath the ground. Though you won’t be helping to start the fire underground, but you’ll be involved with the preparation of the food which may include chicken and stuffing, beef, pork, potatoes, pumpkins, kumara (sweet potatoes) carrots, and cabbage.
While waiting for the food to be cooked, you can head over to Waitematā Harbour to experience a traditional Māori voyaging waka.
2. Sail in a Māori Voyaging Waka
A waka is a canoe used by the Māori traditionally for fishing and river crossing. In the modern days, they sail the sea discovering their history and ancestors in a Voyaging Waka. Your experience starts with a gathering in the Polynesian atrium at Maritime Museum where the story begins followed by a traditional welcome and karakia on the Waka by the crew.
Leaving the viaduct berth you “buddy-up” with crew members to man the “Hoe” and hoist the sails. Sit with the Navigator who will tell you about the recent journeys of seven voyaging canoes, speak about the ancient art of wayfinding and show you how it is possible to sail 20,000 kms navigating by the celestial pathways first discovered thousands of years ago by the navigators.
Find out more about this unique experience at http://www.wakaquest.com/.
3. Must try Giapo Ice-cream in Auckland!!!!!
Giapo’s has gained a reputation for making the world’s best ice-cream, right in New Zealand! These ice creams are a work of art and taste as good as they look. You pick your flavor and the ice-cream artists do their magic and present to you your very own artisan ice-cream. The process and details for every single serving is amazing!
Pretty to look at and yummilicious to your tastebud.
4. Check out their Farmers’ Markets
Every Sunday, rain or shine, all year round, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market, which showcases some of the region’s finest products all straight from the producer, takes place. Meet the grower, producer or maker and talk with them about their products. See, touch, smell and taste the goods, then buy knowing that they are fresh. There is hot freshly roasted coffee and a choice of breakfast fare to feed the body whilst the senses take in the live music and cooking aromas. Taking place every Sunday from 8.30am to 12.30pm.
More details on www.foodhawkesbay.co.nz.
5. Head up to Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers is the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. Visitors will see these amazing birds nesting, preening, flying and performing the famous recognition ritual “dance of the gannets”. You can head up to the top with Gannet Safaris Overland Tour, they provide round trip tour with their driver/guides, who have very good knowledge of the gannets and the farm. The experience takes about three hours.
For more information visit www.gannetsafaris.co.nz.
6. Go Cycling around Hawke’s Bay
With a passion for the outdoors and the increasing popularity of cycling as a fun and healthy holiday option Jenny established Tākaro Trails to provide quality cycle tours for visitors to Hawke’s Bay. There are different routes and trails for every cyclists, even for a rare cyclists like myself, I found and got back my confidence in riding after the Water Trail North and Bay View route with Jenny. It was an awesome scenic route to discover Hawke’s Bay.
Check out http://www.takarotrails.co.nz/ for more information.
7. Visit Vine Yards (As many as you can!)
In the heart of Auckland’s sparkling Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island is a picturesque blend of farmland, forest, beaches, vineyards and olive groves. Waiheke is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, and has an international reputation for food and arts. There’s a great range of activities on Waiheke – from mountain biking to wine tasting, you’re sure to find plenty to do!
While you are there, book a tour with Ananda Tours where their expert guides will bring you around Matiatia. During our tour, we visited their weekly Saturday marketplace, checked out a studio, and visited vineyards for wine tasting.
Waiheke’s famous-on-the-island Saturday event, where you can find everything from organic vegetables to pre-loved bric-a-brac, delicious locally-made food, art, craft. It’s also a great chance to experience island life! Mingle with the locals and meet some old-time Waiheke characters.
Te Motu Vineyard
Te Motu – meaning ‘The Island’, was one of the pioneers of Waiheke wine growing, with the Dunleavy family planting their first vines in 1989 to produce the first ‘Te Motu’ blend in 1993. Here you can taste a range of different varieties that they produce, including the opportunity to taste their flagship Te Motu.
The highest vineyard on Waiheke Island with north facing sun-soaked hillsides of vines including terraces of traditional and elegant Alsace-style vines close to the winery. There are spectacular 360 degree views over the island and beyond to the gulf islands. Taste as range of their wine, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and Flora plus Batch Winery’s sparkling wine Blanc de Blancs. Here you will also enjoy a kiwi style high tea lunch.
8. Go on a Food Tour
Discover Wellington’s vibrant food scene with Zest Food Tours. Experienced guides will introduce you personally to their favourite Wellington gourmet food stores, coffee roasters, cafés and restaurants. Perfect for people with an appetite for culinary adventure and discovering new places through food and wine, Zest will connect you with like-minded local food lovers and top Wellington restaurant and food professionals.
Not just discovering about local food, but you get to see many local street art too during the walk-about tour. Wear comfortable walking shoes!
9. Experience Twilight Odyssey
Take a scenic drive through the vineayards as you learn about the region and it’s wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal Estate. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sealevel (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).
Then proceed to Craggy Range (The Old Church or Peak House on Sundays) for the main course accompanied by a glass of wine.
Finish the evening at the country’s oldest and grandest winery the Mission Estate for dessert, dessert wine, and your choice of tea or coffee.
Check out http://www.odysseynz.co.nz/a-twilight-odyssey/ for booking and more information.
10. Go on an Art Deco Tour
Take a guided walk through the Art Deco Streets of Napier to discover the architectural gems of the city. Napier’s Art Deco Walks and Tours are operated by the Art Deco Trust, which was formed in 1985 to work for the preservation, enhancement and promotion of the unique 1930’s architecture which arose after Napier’s fire and earthquake of February 1931.
After your walk, you will step back in time with some old world charm with your tour in a luxury Vintage Car where you will discover the Art Deco delights within Napier and the outskirts of the city and hear about the stories that shaped the region’s history and heritage.
If you are planning a trip soon, don’t miss your chance to experience their largest festival at Napier, the Art Deco Festival! Happening from 17 to 21 Feb 2016. Find out more here.
Other information for this beautiful experience at www.artdeconapier.com.
Want to visit New Zealand soon?
Book your flight to New Zealand with Air New Zealand and Fly Happy always!
Read about our experience onboard Air New Zealand for this trip here.