With a population of just FOUR million people and over a third of the country set aside for national parks and reserves, a tailor-made holiday to New Zealand is all about the great outdoors.
Dynamic, rugged and uncompromisingly beautiful, New Zealand is made up of two islands - the North and the South. Comparable in size to the UK, but with a population of just four million, New Zealand is one of the world's least crowded countries, but one of the most rewarding and diverse for holidays. The South Island is both the adventure playground and scenic wonderland of the country where you can drift through mystical fjords at Milford Sound, ice pick or fly over the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, admire the looming peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park, or head into the mountains for some hair-raising heli-skiing from Wanaka.
The North Island complements the South perfectly, with a unique cultural mix of Maori, European and Asian influences. Explore the geysers, steaming lakes and streams of the thermal region of Rotura, hike through ancient rainforests, enjoy some of the world's best trout fishing in Taupo, and admire the epic Ninety Mile Beach before setting sail around the Bay of Islands. Visitors to New Zealand are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, which ranges from from luxurious ‘super lodges’ to stylish wilderness retreats, boutique city hotels to remote rural farm-stays. Our favourites are full of character and Kiwi charm.
THE S&A TO DO LIST
Take a heli trip to Fiordland - if you ask nicely your pilot will get into a wetsuit and catch you some crayfish for lunch
Go fly fishing with our favourite guide in Taupo (we promise even beginners will catch something!)
Take an exhilarating jet boat or more sedate 'funyak' trip down Dart River
The Taupo region is a major volcanic area that is famous for its thermal features and New Zealand's biggest lake and home to Huka Lodge, one of New Zealand's longest standing luxury lodges. The level of service and attention to detail at Huka Lodge is immaculate, and the lodge's position alongside the emerald green Waikato River is as peaceful as it is beautiful. Further north, set on 6,000 acres near Matauri Bay, Kauri Cliffs is home to one of the world's most picturesque championship golf courses, set along the cliff top and winding through marsh, forest and farmland. Each of the private villas dotted alongside the course enjoy spectacular 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without staying on a sheep farm and one of our favourites is Wharekauhau Country Estate. Situated in Palliser Bay on a 5,500 acre working farm - an area known for the wild sea coastline rich in Maori and early European history - the main lodge has amazing views of the bay and is surrounded by native forest, spectacular beaches, bountiful rivers and tranquil lakes. There are many activities available on-site such as a farm tour, horse riding, hiking, jet boating, visiting the Martinborough wine region or simply relaxing in the Wharekauhau Spa. New Zealand is famous for its food and wine and Hawke’s Bay is not only one of New Zealand's most important and loveliest wine districts but is also full of world class chefs serving some of the best food you will find in New Zealand – this area really is a gastronome's dream. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is set on a 5,000-acre sheep and cattle farm which rolls along cliffs that plunge dramatically to the sea so if the wine tasting and fabulous food has taken its toll, relax by the pool or play a round of golf to make room for the next meal.
Queenstown is the home of adventure in New Zealand, and the 'Adventure Capital of the World' is a reputation well earned. Matakauri Lodge is a luxury hideaway set just outside Queenstown on a hillside sloping down to Lake Wakatipu, offering stunningly designed accommodation, fine dining, superb service and incredible panoramic views of the lake and mountains. The lodge has a number of walking trails on site but can also arrange fishing, white water rafting, jet boating, hiking, glacier tours and many more adventures for the active guest. Amongst the mountains of New Zealand's spectacular Southern Alps and on the shore of glacial Lake Wanaka lies a private alpine haven perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, Minaret Station. Only accessible by chopper, offers just four luxury tented suites and owners, the maverick Wallis brothers, are on hand to help you explore their 65,000 acres of private land by helicopter, skis, foot and mountain bikes. A few kms north of Maori culture hotspot Kaikoura, Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is the perfect base from which to have a marine adventure, sandwiched between the Kaikoura mountains on one side and the surf beach at Mangamaunu Bay on the other. Kaikoura itself is known as the 'Maritime Serengeti' of New Zealand, for the rich abundance of marine life that lives on the shore or in the 1000-metre ocean trench just off the coast. Whale watching for Sperm Whales is a popular activity, in which you are also likely see colonies of sea lion, pods of dusky dolphin, seabirds and other fauna.
In North Island's stunning Bay of Islands region, Eagle’s Nest is perhaps New Zealand’s ultimate offering in luxury beach accommodation. Each villa has vast outdoor and indoor space, including state of the art kitchens (complete with your own personal chef if you wish) and a private walkway leading to a private beach. Enjoy the exclusive use of one of the four properties at Annandale, a 4,000 acre coastal estate on the Banks Peninsula a short 10-minute helicopter flight from Christchurch Airport, and just over the hill from Akaroa. The Annandale Homestead was built in the 1880s and has been lovingly restored to create a luxurious five-bedroom home in a private and tranquil setting, Scrubby Bay- is a magical and completely private setting on a bay perfectly for gatherings of up to 14 guests, Seascape is an ultra-modern one bedroom retreat providing a truly romantic experience a couple and finally Shepherds Cottage set high on the hill with an uninterrupted view of the Pacific Ocean and Kaikoura Ranges in the distance.
Looking to extend your trip?
New Zealand alone is worth the journey but there are a number of stopovers that combine well...