New Zealand is the go-to destination for vast national parks, mesmerising Maori culture and world-class adventure travel opportunities. With so much to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start.
To help you search out the best culture, food and bucket list experiences that are loved by visitors and locals alike, we caught up with our resident New Zealand insider Debbie, Product and Operations Contractor for Australasia. Read on for our insider's guide to luxury travel to New Zealand.
1) Which part of New Zealand is your favourite, and why?
My favourite part of New Zealand is Queenstown – there’s so much on offer there, with amazing scenery and mountain ranges making it the adrenaline capital of the country. No matter what age you are, there’s something for everyone, from excellent food and wine to skiing and hiking opportunities. The city really ticks every single box, and its a vibrant place too – Queenstown is home to a whole host of nationalities and it’s also just a 2 or 3 hour drive away from the seaside.
2) Do you have any tips for travellers looking to experience Maori culture whilst they’re in New Zealand?
As the North Island houses almost twice the population of the South Island, the infrastructure lends itself well to educate both locals and visitors about Maori culture. Cultural hotspots include cities like Wellington and Auckland, which play host to some of the best museums in the country. In Wellington, the country’s national Te Papa museum is a great place to learn more about Maori culture.
3) Would you recommend the North Island or South Island for first-time visitors to New Zealand, and why?
It really depends what you’re going to see, but my personal favourite is the South Island. My family is from the North Island’s Wellington so that in itself says a lot about the South Island’s charms! It seems the further south you go, the more and more friendly people get, and with Queenstown as one of the island’s major cities, there’s no shortage of things to do.
4) Are there any 'bucket list' experiences that you’d recommend to anyone visiting New Zealand?
For me, there are two must-do experiences for anyone that comes to New Zealand. Firstly, take an extended helicopter flight over my favourite city Queenstown – this takes you over the undulating Crown Range and gives you the incredible opportunity to explore the nearby glaciers. Secondly, the spectacular fjords and alpine peaks of Milford Sound are definitely worth exploring.
5) If you had to choose between going on a vacation to Australia or New Zealand, which one would you choose and why?
Controversial! I think it really depends what type of traveller you are – as Australia gets so hot, New Zealand is definitely better suited to ‘winter people,’ or those who like the cold. New Zealand is also a much smaller place, so you can really pack a lot into a relatively short trip – as an example, Queenstown is only a 6 or so hour drive from Christchurch, so it’s super easy to get around, wherever you are!