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Six places you need to put on your New Zealand travel to-do list

New Zealand has reopened to vaccinated Australians, with hundreds already crossing the Tasman for a long-awaited trip.

Aotearoa has much to offer in the way of luxurious lodgings, adventure, gourmet dining and wildlife encounters. So it’s not surprising that prior to the pandemic Australia was New Zealand’s largest international visitor market.

Tourism New Zealand’s latest research shows around 60% of Australians want to travel to New Zealand in the next six months. Most of these visitors will be seeking fun or relaxation.

Here are our picks of six places you need to put on your New Zealand travel list where you can do just that.

Wind down with a wellness stay in Northland

In less than a one-hour flight from New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, you’ll be in the Bay of Islands. Surrounded by sparkling waters and rolling green hills this destination is the epitome of a New Zealand postcard. For a true wellness experience, stay at The Landing, a luxury retreat on 400 hectares on the southwestern tip of Purerua Peninsula. Besides the odd guest arriving by helicopter, you’ll hear nothing but the lapping waves and the moo of grazing cows in the greener-than-green pastures. Sit back and sip wines from the onsite winery- Northland’s largest – while you take in the view. Or join one of the regular wellness weekends held here.

The Landing in the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand is the perfect place to wind down and should top your New Zealand travel to-do list
The spectacular views that await at The Landing in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands region

Soak in geothermal waters in the Coromandel Peninsula

Most people outside of New Zealand have probably never heard of the Coromandel Peninsula. Travellers to the North Island tend to bypass it for well-known Rotorua, but the peninsula packs a big punch. Roughly two hours from Auckland, the winding roads showcase spectacular views of sparkling bays at every turn. The region is dotted with tiny towns that would rival any Byron Bay stay. Don’t miss the geothermal pools at The Lost Spring in Whitianga. At the pools, you can soak in 16,000-year-old mineral water springs and soak your worries away.

The Lost Springs in the Coromandel Peninsula is perfect for relaxation and should be on your New Zealand travel to-do list
Relax in the geothermal waters of the Lost Springs on the Coromandel Peninsula

Take time to breathe amid stunning scenery in Glenorchy

Few places are as pretty as Glenorchy. The tiny town 45 minutes from Queenstown, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, glacial rivers, and ancient beech forests. It’s little wonder it’s a film star, featuring in NarniaThe Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Join the intensive winter wellness programme at retreat Aro ha, which means “in the presence of divine breath” to feel just that. Wake to the chimes of a Tibetan bowl and spend days doing yoga and practising mindfulness. All while staying in zen-inspired eco-accommodation. The view alone is worth a visit here.

The glassy glacier rivers you’ll find in the tiny South Island town of Glenorchy

Ramp things up with some adventure in Queenstown

There are few places that offer the number of opulent resorts and adventure experiences as Queenstown. Take things to new heights with Alpine Luxury Tours by flying in a helicopter over sheer cliff faces to a picnic spot at Earnslaw Burn. One of the most dramatic and beautiful film locations in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you’ll find cascading waterfalls tumbling down huge rock faces. Afterwards, head to the Nevis Valley and launch yourself 134 metres off a bridge in what is New Zealand’s highest bungy, or try New Zealand’s first bungy at Kawarau Bridge where you’ll leap 43 metres from the historic bridge. Be warned: this is not for the faint-hearted.

Kawarau Bridge Bungy is one of the best places for adventure when planning a trip to New Zealand
Kawarau Bridge is New Zealand’s first bungy – worth a visit even if you don’t want to dive off head first into the aqua waters below

Jet boat up and glide down one of New Zealand’s most beautiful rivers

Get the heart racing on a jet boat on the emerald-green, glacier-fed Dart River in the UNESCO Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park. Then, glide back down on Funyaks (inflatable canoes), where you’ll have plenty of time to take in the stunning mountainous scenery. Owned and operated by Ngāi Tahu Tourism, there’s also an opportunity to learn about the local Māori culture.

The Dart River where you can kayak and jet boat should top your New Zealand travel to-do list
Don’t miss a trip along the Dart River, just boat up and then float down and take in the stunning scenery

Go glacial in a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site

Few bucket list experiences beat being dropped in a moving ancient glacier by helicopter. The Franz Josef Glacier on the west coast of the South Island is the steepest and fastest moving glacier in the country. It might be old – 7,000 years in fact – but it makes for stunning photographs with its narrow icy crevasses, towers and caves.  

Land high on the main icefall and spend two and a half hours hiking around this incredible wintery wonderland.

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