Rolling green hills, Snow capped mountains, and lush vibrant rainforests cover the islands of New Zealand. After 2 years of strictly closed borders, this is part of the reason I jumped on one of the first planes I could down to the South Pacific.

North Island

First flying into Auckland, I spent a couple of days exploring the North Island. This included visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set and going deep inside the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Two very beautiful and surreal experiences unique to the country that was enhanced by our guide Wayne at Bush and Beach, who was full of pride and knowledge of his homeland, and plenty of witty banter. While in Auckland, I had the opportunity to stay in the brand new Voco Hotel. In the middle of the city center, I was free to explore the city on foot whenever I pleased. 3-minute walk to the nearest shopping street, beautiful architecture, and the famous Sky Tower!



South Island

On Day 3 I took a quick flight to Christchurch on the South Island. I immediately felt at home in the small city surrounded by gardens, art, history, and plenty of food. A short walk from this area is the George Hotel, a comfortable accommodation decorated with all kinds of artwork and amazing eggs benedict. After meeting with some great colleagues for dinner and drinks, I began my drive down the west coast of the island.

It is difficult to express the beauty of the landscapes you pass through in your travels on the South Island. I recommend adding at least an extra hour on to your travel time, as you will constantly be pulling over to admire the sights and take pictures. New Zealand accommodates this by providing many parking areas along the highway to safely step out and take in the surroundings. In a matter of a few hours, I had driven through the city, snowy mountains, and rainforests.

Franz Josef was a big highlight of the trip. The treehouse at Rainforest Retreats was the ideal spot to unwind surrounded by the Cabbage and Ponga trees. The next morning, I had the opportunity to do a Helihike on the Franz Josef Glacier.

From here I continued my way down the west coast to Wanaka arriving at the Edgewater Resort a couple of hours late, as I stopped countless times to take even more photos. The Edgewater sits on the edge of Lake Wanaka making it the perfect spot for a sunset walk just steps from your hotel room.

Queenstown was a perfect way to finish the journey. The Rees Apartment Hotel welcomed me warmly, served the best local wine, and provided a free shuttle service downtown every hour. You could easily spend hours exploring the lively little city surrounded by mountains. Lastly, I traveled out to see the Milford Sound. This is a must-do while traveling to New Zealand and even in a little bit of rain, the dolphins and penguins made an appearance.

If you have traveled with us to New Zealand, tell us about your experience. If you have not, send us an email at and we will put together your perfect custom itinerary!

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We traveled to New Zealand this year for a great adventure exploring the country. This trip was 4 years in the making due to the Covid pandemic. We booked in 2019 with Esplanade and they planned a fantastic trip. The Esplanade team worked with us seamlessly over the years as we booked and Covid cancelled our trip at least 3 times. When we finally were able to travel in 2023, they had everything perfect. We were really expecting a lot of confusion due to the multiple bookings and cancellations, but Esplanade had everything perfect at every turn. The accommodations, excursions, transfers, etc. were all planned even better than we could have imagined. We highly recommend Esplanade Travel and will be using them again on our next adventure.

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