Kiwis are experiencing more of their own country due to travel restrictions and, thanks to various overseas surveys, we have a list of Aotearoa’s top scenic spots.
New Zealand often ranks #1 in United Kingdom travel awards as the place to visit, and now Canada’s PlanetWare.com has gone further and named its top 12 Kiwi must-sees:
Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound
Bay of Islands
Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park
Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
Abel Tasman National Park and the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Napier, Hawke’s Bay
Unforgettable Travel’s most searched Oceania bucket list travel experiences are:
1. Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
2. Watching a show at the Sydney Opera House
3. Seeing New Zealand’s Hobbiton
4. Visiting the monolith of Uluru, or Ayers Rock
5. Staying in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora
6. Touring New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
If you’re looking for a sign to treat yourself to a luxurious weekend or holiday, consider it this. While the world may not currently be your oyster, there are a plethora of enticing escapes throughout the South Island just waiting to be explored and enjoyed.
From Nelson to Bluff, every season brings with it a different showcase from each region. Currently, it is Jack Frost’s time to shine and for many eager travellers the likes of hot pools, saunas and nights by a flickering fire jump to the top of desirable things to do.
But just because beyond trans-Tasman travel is still grounded, that does not mean that you cannot dream of life abroad. We are already halfway through 2021, meaning that 2022 will be on your doorstep before you know it.
So, if you are starting to see symptoms of a travel bug… check in with your local travel agent.
Metropol has the some of the latest in all things luxury below.
Near and far, from travelling to your destination in style to indulging in some extravagant amenities, you are not going to want to flick past this feature.
You might even spot a getaway treat especially for our readers.
Call of the wild
The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble has given optimistic Kiwis a case of the travel bug.
And all good travel planning must start somewhere; enter Neville Jones of Experiential Travel.
“We curate amazing travel experiences in some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world,” he says.
Experience the stunning landscapes of Africa through safaris, anthropology tours, gorilla trekking, diving, hiking and mountain climbing.
And reside in unique luxury accommodation with front row seats to the everchanging colours and wildlife of the plains.
It is never too early to plan an intrepid escape to this continent. Visit the website to find a catalogue of planned itineraries with something for everybody. Go on… answer the call!
Taking the worry out of driving is a real luxury, and that’s where Prime Travel and its offshoot Prime Chauffeurs take prime position.
This Ōtautahi-based company is known as one of the finest chauffeur companies in Australasia.
It started in 2018 with just a few clients, three luxury vehicles and the determination to provide the finest premium ground transport solution for private and corporate clients in Canterbury.
Now it is the preferred premium transport provider for numerous national and international personal and corporate clients, embassies, airlines, hotels and tour operators.
You can sit back and relax in comfort and style, safe in the hands of professional, handpicked drivers at the wheels of premium vehicles.
www.primetravel.co.nz (03) 925 9219
A winter wonderland
Welcome to winter in the alps at the Hermitage. The adventures that Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park offer are truly spectacular in the winter months, with snow-capped mountains and star-filled skies.
For those wanting something more relaxing, the lower temperatures are a perfect excuse to rug up and keep warm next to the fire with a hot drink or glass of wine.
Enjoy delicious cuisine and extensive wine lists while surrounded by New Zealand’s highest peaks. There’s no other view quite
Discover Hermitage Aoraki/Mount Cook this winter. Dinner, Bed and Breakfast packages now available.
www.hermitage.co.nz 0800 68 68 00
Luxury on high
Nothing says luxury better than Falcon Brae Villa, perched high above Tasman’s Motueka River.
The exclusive-use villa caters for up to 10 guests, with three individual suites and a bunk bedroom.
With spectacular 360-degree views, the villa is set in 14 hectares of private forest and spectacular native bush walks.
The architectural residence features a private chef, a helipad, large central lounge area, sunken bar, grand piano, media theatre, commercial kitchen, three dining areas and a stunning collection of art. Guests can relax in the “Games Den” or soak in the outdoor heated spa.
Special domestic prices are available, so book the chopper!
Relaxed luxury accommodation just three hours from Christchurch, the Maruia River Retreat is set in a 200-hectare nature estate.
Home to seven beautifully appointed private villas, a main lodge with restaurant, and a spa, it also has its own yoga Shala, running group and individual sessions.
Special sessions coming up are a transformative writing and yoga retreat from July 2 to 5 with Australian writer Kerry Sunderland, and its popular Eat. Yoga. Love. from July 29 to August 1.
Join the daily group or private yoga classes, then unwind further with a soak in the stoked hot tub, a massage or bespoke facial, before dining on some of the private chef’s showcase creations. Nurture your body, mind and soul. Relax and recharge!
Hot tubs, saunas, and a botanical wonderland; what more could you ask for in a Te Anau getaway? Why not let previous guests tell you?
“I look for three essentials: an outdoor bath, an unbeatable view, and a location suited for adventure. The aptly named Getaway Te Anau checked all three boxes, and more.
“… an outdoor tub is the pinnacle of the getaway experience. There’s nothing quite like soaking under the stars, surrounded by nature. The fresh-water hot tubs at Getaway Te Anau were the answer to my glamping prayers,” says Hannah McKennett (Digital Nomad Diaries).
• Book before November 1, 2021, mention Metropol Magazine and receive a free hot tub and sauna session for up to four people.
Crack the bubbles because our bubble just grew bigger. Add this scenic selection to your travel itinerary.
One of Tasmania’s most visited natural attractions, you will not be short of scenic views to take in. Don’t forget your hiking shoes to explore all of the walking tracks.
Freycinet National Park
Abundant with wildlife, this national park has developed a ‘bucket list’ of creatures to spot for visitors. A notable mention, the Tasmanian Pademelon (pictured).
The Neck (pictured) is an isthmus that connects the north and south of Bruny Island and makes for a great photo opportunity. Spot seal colonies and venture on cliff-top trails on the island as well.
Far from rotten, this little island just west of Perth is a traveller’s dream. Fishing, bike paths, surfing, snorkelling, walking trails and more. It’s also home to the happiest animal on Earth – the Quokka (pictured).
Watch out North Canterbury because there is another world- class wine growing area, producing 21 percent of Australia’s wine, just across the ditch. Wine tour anybody?
Make a trip of it and check off the Kangaroo Island natural wonders bucket list featuring Remarkable Rocks (pictured), Admirals Arch, Emu Bay, Vivonne Bay, Little Sahara Desert, Stokes Bay and the enchanted fig tree.
New research has revealed that the Great Ocean Road in Australia is the most beautiful road trip route in the world according to Instagram data. Others at the top of people’s bucket lists include Big Sur in California, and the United Arab Emirates’ Jebel Hafeet.
Many people are still wary of international travel and staycations are continuing to rise, however travellers can tick off their bucket lists without leaving the comfort of their car.
Researchers anaylsed more than seven million Instagram hashtags associated with the world’s most popular road trip destinations, calculating how many Instagram pictures are shared per kilometre of the journey; the country with the most Instagram posts per mile being crowned the most picturesque in the world.
The results reveal that Australia’s Great Ocean Road (pictured) is considered the most beautiful road trip route in the world; covering 253km of road in the ‘land down under,’ with an impressive 1,321,570 hashtagged images of it on Instagram. That equates to nearly 5224 photographs per kilometre.
Stretching alongside the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford, the beautiful route was constructed in 1932 and has continued to be one of the most popular tourist excursions in Australia.
Glistening ski slopes, temperate hot pools, wining and dining by an open fire are all hallmarks of an awesome autumn or winter holiday in our own glorious country. You don’t even need to stray far from home with a bounty of activities and attractions within easy reach of Christchurch. The following pages list some of Metropol’s top picks for your next South Island staycation.
Christchurch is such a central South Island location that like the tentacles of an octopus, many roads lead out of it to exciting destinations within a short driving span. Half a day’s drive will take you to Nelson Tasman, Marlborough, the West Coast, Central Otago and Southland. A few less and you can be in Akaroa, Hanmer Springs or Kaikoura in time for morning tea if you depart early enough.
As a region, Canterbury has so much to offer all ages and budgets. For skiers there are 24 ski fields within easy reach. For hikers and bikers there are plenty of trails to head out on, foodies and wine buffs are spoilt for choice and so too are couples looking for a romantic get-away. Canterbury and its surrounding environs are indeed your oyster!
Canterbury’s Waimakariri and Hurunui districts are located between Christchurch and Kaikoura and across to Hanmer Springs. This North Canterbury region serves up the full menu of New Zealand attractions. Meet the people putting the region on New Zealand’s wine and food map, take in the panoramic views, cycle or walk the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, let your hair loose on a jetboat, cast your rod and catch your dinner, carve up the wild surf if you dare, or schuss down a pristine piste. It’s all there for the doing!
Home to rare Hector’s dolphins, Akaroa is southeast of Christchurch. The area boasts its own beach on the eastern shore of Akaroa Harbour, a museum where visitors and locals can read about the town’s development, especially its 19th-Century British and French colonial history, and many exciting excursion opportunities.
Take the car, head out on a cycle trail, hop on a sightseeing boat or a sea kayak or even opt for a scenic helicopter flight around Akaroa; it’s all ready and waiting for you. Some tour operators even leave from Christchurch, making it much easier to explore this seaside town.
Top of the south
North of Kaikoura lie Marlborough and Nelson Tasman. Home to vineyard eateries and cellar doors, boutique brewers and gourmet restaurants, the Top of the South is a cornucopia for foodies. Activities abound including cycling the wine trails, hiring a boat and heading out into the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, taking a charter cruise, a ride in an historic airplane or visiting the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Other activities include exploring Abel Tasman National Park and scenic Golden Bay, skydiving over two islands, experiencing a white-water rush or taking a trip down memory lane at Nelson’s Classic Car Museum.
Cruising north on a road trip, or just looking for something to do out of the city? Why not visit North Canterbury, home to artisan food and wine producers and spectacular natural attractions – there is everything you desire for a South Island adventure. Here are Metropol’s picks for adventure activities in the titillating landscapes.
LIKE TO BIKE?
If biking is your jam – or something you’ve been wanting to try – North Canterbury is the place for you! From the Airpark Canterbury BMX Track to the Hurunui Trail, St James Cycle Trail, Hanmer Trails and multi-day Rainbow Trail Heartland Ride, there is biking for beginners and those more experienced, too.
If you like to holiday under canvas (or are prepared to give it a shot, for a night or two), then Hurunui is the district for you. Pitch a tent in one the affordable privately-owned campgrounds like Alpine Adventure Holiday Park. Or, park up at a DoC site like those at Lake Taylor, Loch Katrine, or Deer Valley.
Home to the Waiau Gorge, Hurunui also boasts a “raft” (get it?) of river-centric activities to get the adrenaline pumping and test your comfort zone. Jet boating, white water rafting and canoeing promise some on-water action, while quad biking, 4WD and horse trekking deliver some excitement on shore.
When a warming winter break is on the agenda, head to Hanmer Springs, located a mere 90 minutes by road from Christchurch. The beauty of a holiday in Hanmer is that you can don your activewear and roll up the sleeves, or simply fold out a deck chair and open that book you have been itching to get stuck into.
The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, with soothing mineral waters, different levels of thrills on the waterslides, and a selection of hot pools, is a must. Check out the spa treatments too. The area is also an adventure playground for the more active. Its surrounding mountains are home to trails and seasonal ski slopes, while the nearby Conical Hill and Heritage Forest has a trail winding to a lookout point.
Adventure in the Hurunui might mean heading out jetboating on the river, up a mountain, along the beach, into native bush, ambling through forest or hitting one of the region’s many bike tracks. The region caters for all types of cycling enthusiasts, including mountain bikers, cruisers, speedsters and the younger set. A raft of mountain biking tracks offer the ultimate in air and speed, while the iconic St James Cycle Trail is worth the effort.
…AND MUCH MORE!
Within easy reach of the Hanmer township are two family-friendly ski fields, Mt Lyford and Hanmer Springs Ski Area. The region has already experienced its first snow dumps so don’t hesitate to pack your ski gear. To the south, the rugged Waiau Gorge is known for its whitewater rapids and if you are a keen fisherman, also for its abundant salmon and trout.
Giving gifts will never go out of vogue and wedding presents even more so. Traditionally, this came with horror clichés such as three-too-many toasters or a dubious art piece to look at every day until it “broke”!
A bridal or wedding registry is an easy-peasy, fabulously fun, win-win for everyone. It is still in line with excitement and sentiment, compared to asking for cash – which doesn’t vibe with many. This also helps out our local companies – by sending a little love their way.
This is the opportune time for lovebirds to explore dreamy Aotearoa while we momentarily have it to ourselves.
And setting up a wedding registry with the couple’s favourite local travel agent makes for domestic-travel bliss.
If hearts are however set upon faraway sandy shores, overseas travel can be booked for well after the wedding and there is no time limit to use the funds.
Honeymoons can often sit on the back burner after the expenses of a wedding.
So giving the gift of travel is a marriage made in heaven and one that everyone can pitch in for, no matter their budget.
Couples can opt to pre-book the honeymoon, or decide after the wedding once they have a budget to play with. Their guests can opt for their token to be anonymous or not.
The travel fund doesn’t have to be just for travelling either. The travel agent can organise the perfect inclusive romantic hotel wedding night, or two, without having to leave town.
Many a favourite local little suburban gift shop or larger department store will be happy to do up a wedding register, and they often have a convenient online system in place.
The couple can select any number of items they love, to suit all budgets for their guests and loved ones who are unable to be there.
Some independent and specialised on-line registries have also popped up too.
LOTS OF CHOICE
Offer guests a range of registry variety. Perhaps select a large online store and a smaller local giftshop, for example and ensure there is plenty of choice for not-too-pricy items.
It is nice too for the gift giver to buy a present they could easily have chosen anyway.
Any gift relating to coupledom can be set up as a registry, such as a cosy new log or gas fire for home renovators.
A sporty couple, for example, would treasure a gift for their common love of the outdoors, like a romantic luxury tent.
Just as it’s impolite to ask for birthday present, most choose not to include the registry on the wedding invitation, instead including a separate note, or mentioning it personally.
This makes it less mandatory and more of a suggestion. And there will be guests that prefer tradition, want to give money, or a special surprise.
With travel overseas being postponed or cancelled, it’s important to remember what we have in our own backyard. Just a few short hours away, Queenstown has always been an international tourism hub for New Zealand, but it might be high time we put on our tourist hats and explore what this southern spot has to offer. We’ve pulled together some year-round attractions that are worth checking out.
TAKE A HIKE! Queenstown offers a range of walking tracks and trails for all levels of fitness. Whether you prefer a short local, day long or even a multi-day walking adventure, a guided hike or an independent walking trip, there is a Queenstown walking or hiking option for you.
DON’T BE A LUGER: The benefits of Queenstown being a tourist-centric location is that you’ll often find more than one attraction together. The Skyline Queenstown luge is conveniently placed at the top of the gondola. So, you can get gondola and luge packages!
ALL THE EATS: With more than 150 bars and restaurants, the food scene is always buzzing in Queenstown. Whether it be new craft beer bars, cafes or restaurants popping up, food tours, or inventive new dishes, there’s always something new, creative and exciting to try.
ICE, ICE BABY: Something that was worth highlighting was the fact that Queenstown has not one, but two ice bars. Yes.. that is bars entirely made from ice – from the seats right down to the glasses.
BOTTOMS UP! Queenstown is brimming with craft beer bars and breweries. Why not jump on a local craft beer tour? If wine is your thing, the wineries in Queenstown and nearby Gibbston, the ‘Valley of Vines’, have a reputation for producing some of the world’s best pinot noir and you can find your favourite vintage taking in local cellar doors and restaurants. Even cocktail lovers can get their fill, with inventive and unique cocktails available at most restaurants and bars.
GET ON YOUR BIKE: Cycling tours and mountain biking trails in Queenstown are a great way to explore and discover remote parts of this beautiful region! The Queenstown Trail has more than 130kms of off-road trails taking you from Queenstown to Gibbston via historic Arrowtown. Cross-country, trail riding, heli, downhill… whatever your cycling or mountain biking style, Queenstown’s got the terrain, rental and guides to suit everyone’s kind of ride.
GET UP THE GONDOLA: Providing panoramic views of Queenstown, there’s only one way to really see the infamous resort town – from above!
We talk travel with House of Travel Ferrymead owners Mel Hubber and Kim Beswick, in the first of an ongoing column.
You are both working mums, tell us more about your families? Kim: My partner Tony & I have a gorgeous three-year-old son, Theo, who seems to be in charge at our place as well as my partner’s 21-year-old son. It’s a busy, happy house.
Mel: I am a stepmum to a wonderful 18-year-old, Olivia who we have just helped relocate into the halls at Auckland University for her first year of a business degree. My husband and I have now found ourselves as empty-nesters.
Where was your most memorable holiday and why? Kim: Such a hard question! Borneo was a wonderful holiday for us, amazing wildlife and scenery. Also, Theo’s first trip when he was a baby and we stayed in a villa in Provence.
Mel: Egypt because I had always dreamed of seeing the pyramids and the Sphinx since I was young. Plus I went there on my own (and joined a group trip) which was scary but exhilarating at the same time.
What destination is on your wish list for 2020? Kim: This year we are planning to go to London, Barcelona and Dubai for the World Expo in October and a quick trip soon to Auckland to see Book of Mormon.
Mel: Tahiti is just such an idyllic destination quite close to home and no shopping temptations as I just can’t help myself.