7 Reasons to Experience the Magic of the Mighty Waikato

Famous for its rolling hills and lush countryside, the Waikato region is a jewel in the crown of the North Island.

Whatever you’re into, you’ll find heaps to explore here, from world-famous gardens in the beautiful city of Hamilton, to incredible outdoor adventures, adrenaline-packed experiences and some of NZ’s best surfing.

Here are seven of our favourite reasons to visit magical Waikato.

1.   Hobbiton Movie Set

A view over the Hobbiton™️ Movie Set is seen through the circular door of a hobbit hole as morning mist envelops green rolling hills in the near distance
Hobbiton™️ Movie Set, Waikato.

Take a journey to Middle Earth to explore the world’s largest and most iconic movie set at Hobbiton. This 12-acre marvel was used to film both The Lord of the Rings and movie trilogies, and today you can take an incredible guided tour of its rolling valleys to see what Hobbit life is like at Bilbo’s place at Bag End, then cap off your tour with an ale by the fire or in the beer garden at the legendary Green Dragon Inn… or feast like a Hobbit with one of their delicious dining experiences.

2.   Waitomo Glowworm Caves

a man standing at the front of a small boat points to the roof of a cave illuminated by the glow of thousands of glow worms as guests watch on
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato.

Leave the bright lights of the city behind and wonder at a totally unique natural light show in the subterranean wonderland at Waitomo. The caves here are home to thousands of tiny glowworms, found only in New Zealand. Inside, you can bask in the amazing blue glow of the glowworm grotto as you take a magical boat ride down the river, with storytelling provided by your expert local guide. Truly unmissable. For the more adventurous, black water rafting, abseiling and ziplining are also on offer in this underground playground.

3.   Raglan

Two people are seen in silhouette as they stand on a green pasture in front of a view of the ocean and black sand beaches of Raglan, New Zealand
Raglan, Waikato.

Aotearoa’s coolest beach town is home to one of the longest left-hand surf breaks in the world. Raglan is beloved for its laid-back vibe, artistic community, and great cafes and bars to explore in town. And there’s plenty of walks and adventures to get into in the beautiful green countryside that surrounds this idyllic place. Perhaps New Zealand’s best kept secret, a visit to Raglan is one that will live long in your memory.

4.   Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari

Ranger Craig holds a native Kiwi in his hands at Sanctuary Mountain, Waikato, New Zealand
Sanctuary Mountain, Waikato.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is both a remarkable achievement and an unblemished paradise—at 3400 hectares, it’s the largest fenced nature sanctuary in New Zealand. With its 47km long pest-proof fence keeping out predators, the sanctuary is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including Kiwi and Tuatara that thrive in this special place. With over 400 dedicated volunteers helping to preserve the environment on the maunga (mountain), this is a happy place for any nature lover. Various guided tours of the forest and wetlands are available.

5.   Hamilton Gardens

An ornate and immaculately kept garden with box hedges and white walls in the Italian Renaissance Garden at Hamilton Gardens, Waikato, New Zealand
Hamilton Gardens, Waikato.

Likened to a living museum, a breathtaking selection of themed gardens wow more than a million visitors each year at Hamilton Gardens. With more than 25 immaculately crafted gardens to explore, it’s little wonder this award-winning collection is known by garden lovers all over the globe. Take a journey through time and take in gardens inspired by cultures from Italy to India, England to Japan and beyond, or marvel at the new Surrealist Garden where things are five times their normal size. We recommend allowing a few hours for your visit to NZ’s most stunning gardens.

6.   Waikato River

A man and a woman stand on a balcony overlooking the Waikato River as evening sun touches the riverbanks on either side of the river
Waikato River, Waikato.

The mighty Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest, flowing from Mount Ruapehu, through Lake Taupō to the legendary Huka Falls and out to the sea at Port Waikato. So, where will your river adventure take you? Kayaking under a glowworm galaxy on one of the river’s hydro lakes? Family-friendly jetboat rides near Cambridge? Or perhaps cycling across suspension bridges and boardwalks on the Waikato River Trails? The choice is yours.

7.   A city escape in Hamilton

Two women walk along a decked promenade next to the Waikato River in central Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
Hamilton, Waikato.

Explore cosmopolitan Hamilton at your own pace, and soak up the history and vibrant culture of the beating heart of the central North Island. Take a river cruise and enjoy lunch by the waterfront, explore the city’s laneways and micro-breweries or indulge in the signature high tea at Zealong Tea Estate, where you’ll find gourmet treats served with traditional teas, and incredible views over the green pastures of Waikato.

Book your trip to the Mighty Waikato today and see why this is the place where magic runs deep.

Thrilling New Zealand Holiday Experiences for All Ages

Do you remember the first time you took an overseas holiday? Boarded a plane, letting the engines take you away before stepping onto the tarmac a few hours later, in another country, mere footsteps from a world yet to be discovered?

New Zealand doesn’t hold back on adventure, thrills and the sort of chills that leave you breathless with happiness… and maybe a little adrenaline, if you’re into bungy, canyon swings or sky-diving. Nature-driven journeys; food and wine tours; attractions to delight the young, the hard-to-impress, the retired, the middle-aged, the 20-somethings, the 30-somethings and everyone in-between. You’re this close to unlocking it all. But what can you do? What should you see? We’ve nailed down three options to get you started.

Auckland SkyWalk – Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

See Auckland from the Sky

There’s more to Auckland than the harbour views, island adventures and world-expanding day-tours operating out of its lively hub. Look up. The City of Sails wouldn’t be complete without its 328m icon, standing proudly above the CBD, promising all sorts of sensations, including exquisite dishes to tickle your inner foodie. But the main attraction will always be the panoramic sky-deck, exhibiting the Auckland area for 80km in every direction – north, south, east, west… you’ll spend a while spotting landmarks and enjoying the view.

Travel Tip: Need an extra zing in your report back home? Why not try the SkyJump or the SkyWalk? There are weight limits though, so be mindful of the scale before booking.

Need-to-Know: Combos are available if both experiences tick your adrenaline-pumping boxes.

Skipper’s Canyon 4WD – Photo: Nomad Safaris

Join in the Gold Rush at Skipper’s Canyon

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Combining 4WD fun with a splash of sight-seeing and liberal lashings of photogenic views, this Skipper’s Canyon tour isn’t your average day-trip. Recommended by locals and visitors alike as a must-do, you’ll be blown away (and a little unnerved) by the twisting roads of Skipper’s Canyon, stopping at the lovely Lighthouse Rock before carefully driving over the breath-stealing Skipper’s Suspension Bridge. Pan for gold, explore the historical township or enjoy a bite to eat at Skipper’s Schoolhouse before piling back into the 4WD to bump on back to Queenstown.

Travel Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for Lord of the Rings filming locations!

Need-to-Know: There is no minimum age! Car-seats are available upon request. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Redwood Treewalk Suspension Bridge – Photo: Redwoods Treewalk

Conquer the Canopy of Rotorua

Leave the dash and dazzle of urban New Zealand behind and traverse 553m of suspended majesty, as the gentle Redwoods of Rotorua await your curiosity. Let the birds sound your way along this 30 to 45-minute nature walk with a difference, pausing to soak in the majesty of 22 forest giants and climbing to a towering 12m across safe suspension bridges strung in the treetops. Not keen on the daytime crowds? The Redwoods Treewalk welcomes adventurers when the stars come out, transforming a daytime escape into an evening experience.

Travel Tip: Is it raining outside? Perfect! There’s nothing quite like the ethereal beauty of Redwoods in wet weather. Grab a raincoat, rug up and head out!

Need-to-Know: No experience is required to explore the treetops. Walk at your own pace, harness-free, in complete safety.

Don’t dream about your next adventure, live it. Begin your New Zealand holiday plan today.

Self-Driving: Our 3 Essential Free South Island Must See’s

Holidays cost money. It’s an inescapable fact of travel, whether you’re pinning down the best prices for flights and accommodation or sampling the tastiest eats your selected region has to offer, you and your hard-earned savings will part ways somewhere. Unlike many other global destinations, however, New Zealand comes pre-loaded with a singular and definitive advantage – a lot of the highlights across both islands are free. Sure, there are paid tours, but most places only require time, a sense of adventure and petrol. Pack a picnic, strap in and discover why the South Island is what self-drive dreams are made of.

Biking along Queenstown lakefront – Photo: Destination Queenstown

1. The Queenstown Botanical Gardens and Lake Walk

Leave the bungy jumping to the hoards and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Queenstown Botanical Gardens. Perched on the banks of Lake Wakitipu, this collection of native and imported fauna will satisfy every sense, tantalising your eyes, ears and even nose… who doesn’t love the smell of roses? After chowing down on a pre-prepared lunch (unless you prefer to stop at one of the many restaurants and cafes), why not take an amble along the lake? Photo opportunities abound in the most unexpected places!

Inside Tip: Don’t forget about the shoulder seasons! Autumn boasts the clear weather of summer, cooler temperatures and leaves of gold, green, pink as well as red.

Haast, West Coast – Photo: Fraser Clements

2. Haast Pass Road

Check out Thunder Creek Falls and the Blue Pools in one seamless hit, as the wonders of New Zealand remain pristine and free for all to see, savour and capture on their chosen device… let’s be honest, are you really not going to take a picture of water so blue and clear? You can even see the bottom in the deepest sections. Of course you are, and so you should! Haast Pass Road is an escape in itself, hemmed by native forest and wild scenic spots – keep an eye out for parking to make the most of the experience and proceed on foot.

Inside Tip: No traffic pull-out or designated parking? Do not park on the side of the road. Locals are quick to point out how dangerous this can be for obvious reasons.

Milford Sound, Fiordland – Photo: Graeme Murray

3. The Road to Milford Sound (including Te Anau)

There are not enough words in any language to quite describe the splendour of Milford Sound (and let’s not forget Doubtful Sound), you’ve got to see it in real time to believe it… but don’t rush through Fiordland National Park on your way. Magical, haunting and extremely stunning, make your way to the lakeside town of Te Anau, refuelling in more ways than one before diving into the untamed wilderness of southern New Zealand. If there’s anywhere that lives up to the original meaning of awesome, this is it!

Inside Tip: Pack an all-weather jacket, even in summer. When rain appears, it pours… but don’t let it put a damper on your plans. Milford Sound is gorgeous by rain, cloud or shine!

Set your wanderlust free in New Zealand. Need help planning the best holiday for your budget, including getting more bang out of the conversion rate? Contact New Zealand Holidays today and get started!


Weather-Wise: What Should You Pack for Your New Zealand Holiday

Don’t let second-hand stories sway you, the best weather in New Zealand isn’t restricted to a specific season, as the ever-changing climate shakes out once-in-a-lifetime activities as well as point-and-shoot sights with each mercurial variation. Something for everyone is the unofficial watch-word of Aotearoa, appealing to a broad range of travel styles, plans and itineraries. But what should you pack? How do you prepare for fall season in New Zealand or a summer on the shores of Lake Wakitipu? Is it mild all-year-round or will thermals come in handy once winter appears?

Gelato in Oneroa, Waiheke Island

All About Summer

When: December to February.

Average Temperatures: 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

What to Pack: Sunscreen, tees, shorts, jeans, swimwear, good walking shoes or hiking boots.

Things You Won’t Need: Rain ponchos and sweats bands. Say hello to warm days without the humidity of somewhere like Australia.

Seasonal Tip: Book ahead – the summer season is extremely popular. Hotels, deals and attraction spots disappear in a snap.

Hump Ridge Track, Southland – Photo: Tareen Ellis

Autumn Leaves, Please

When: March to May.

Average Temperatures: 10 to 22 degrees Celsius – be on the look out for chilly evening weather, particularly from mid-April onward.

What to Pack: Layers, jeans, a good wind and rain resistant jacket, thermals, tees, walking shoes or hiking boots and insect repellent.

Things You Won’t Need: Swimwear.

Seasonal Tip: Are you planning a self-drive tour? Be aware some mountain passes are gearing up for winter, with both snow and ice already present. It may be worth leaving the car behind for the day and booking a guided tour, instead of wrestling with snow chains and unknown roads.

Family walking in Ohakune, Ruapehu

Ski into Winter

When: June to August.

Average Temperatures: 0-15 degrees Celsius. Parts of New Zealand do experience truly chilly temperatures, as snow season picks up on the South island and slices of the North. Check general conditions a week before you leave and plan accordingly.

What to Pack: Thermals, gloves, thick socks, good shoes, something nice for your apres ski sessions, dense jeans, sunscreen, lip balm.

Things You Won’t Need: Tee shirts and insect repellent.

Seasonal Tip: Keen on non-ski attractions and off-mountain adventures? Winter is the perfect time to indulge your spontaneous side – no crowds, small groups and off-season prices.

Cherry Blossoms, Christchurch

It’s a Spring Thing

When: September to November.

Average Temperatures: 15- 20 degrees Celsius, with the occasional burst of rain.

What to Pack: Waterproof jacket or raincoat (it’s waterfall season, after all), tees, shirts, shorts, jeans and layers – things you can put on or take off to suit the changeable nature of this time of year. Don’t forget decent footwear for all the exploration you’ll be doing.

Things You Won’t Need: Ski or winter gear. Leave the super heavy clothes at home.

Seasonal Tip: The ideal time for self-drive tours, take advantage of the glorious weather and see New Zealand on your own terms and time.

Explore the Land of the Long White Cloud in the rain, sunshine or snow! Get in touch with New Zealand Holidays today and count down the hours until your next adventure.


The Top Places in New Zealand to Swim with the Dolphins

New Zealand is brimming with authentic once in a lifetime experiences. It’s just that sort of place, combining the best pleasure, thrill and relaxation attractions into two exploration-friendly islands without much effort. But what tops the list? What should you absolutely do?

Few activities can really compare to the playful company of our native dolphins. Cheeky, cheerful and not particularly shy, to swim with dolphins is to immerse yourself in freedom… just check out TripAdvisor for some real world thoughts and reflections! Where should you go? Easy, let us help you find the best experience for your budget.

Bay of Islands – Photo: Fraser Clements

The Bay of Islands

Map your journey to the northern reaches of New Zealand’s North Island and breathe in the serenity of Paihia, the official gateway to the beautiful Bay of Islands. A veritable playground for all sorts of marine life, including seals, penguins and you guessed it dolphins, you’ll be swept away by the gentle lapping of the waves in no time.

Price: $115

Duration: 4 hours (3 hours in winter).

Included: Hot showers and informative commentary (bring your own swimwear).

Keep in Mind: Swimming with dolphins is not guaranteed. Sea conditions, Department of Conservation Regulations and skipper’s discretion will determine whether it’s safe to go ahead. All swimmers must be confident in open water and above the age of 8 years.

Akaroa Nature Cruise – Photo: Graeme Murray


Spend a spell with the world’s smallest dolphins, as the cobalt waters of Akaroa buoy your adrenaline and a wide smile spans from ear to ear. Hector dolphins are curious creatures indeed, keen to make friends with passing humans and exchange hellos in the dolphin way.

Price: Kids $150/ Adults $170

Duration: 3.5 hours (including dolphin briefing and 45 minutes in the water).

Included: Wetsuit and snorkeling kit, hot chocolate and biscuits.

What makes this experience different: Smaller, friendlier and 100% committed to conservation, you’ll learn, have fun and return with a whole new perspective on aquatic life.

Swim with Dolphins – Photo: Destination Kaikoura


Welcome to the ocean capital of New Zealand! Dusky dolphins hang out in the cool waters all-year-round, treating onlookers and adventure seekers to impromptu shows of aqua acrobatics.

Price: Kids $165/ Adults $180

Duration: 3-3.5 hours (including 20-40 minutes of swim time if the dolphins are feeling social).

Included: Wetsuit and snorkeling kit.

What if the dolphins aren’t into it: Swimmers will be refunded back to the spectator rate.

Insider Tip: Make sure your chosen tour includes swimming with dolphins, opposed to simply viewing them from the dry comfort of a catamaran.

Ready to take a dive on the wild side? Tick a dolphin experience off your bucket list and contact New Zealand Holidays for more details. Let’s plan your trip together!


The North Island’s Best Day Walks

New Zealand is one of the most walkable nations in the world. Every year, thousands of intrepid travellers pack their bags and lace-up their all-terrain shoes to explore the hidden pockets and reaches of this green-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see paradise. The best bit? No snakes, creepies or crawlies to ruin your adventure mood. The North Island is a quiet achiever – a glorious stretch of startling natural attractions, beaches, coastlines, National Parks and so much more. How much more? Find out with these four tried and tested day walks, and witness the wild, wonderful side of New Zealand.

Rangitoto Island summit – Photo: Todd Eyre

1. Rangitoto Summit

Duration: 2 hours.

Difficulty Rating: Easy (expect a medium section or two, depending on your fitness level).

Starting Pointing: Rangitoto Wharf.

Hey, Volcano chasers, do we have an easy summit climb for you. Popping out at the Hauraki Golf, this conical vista draws the eye and the camera lens from the moment you meet it, feet first. The trek to the top begins on the wharf, ascending through lava fields, outcrops and lush forest to a proud peak, standing a respectable 259m above sea level. Conquer this local icon anytime throughout the day, as ferries leave the Auckland Viaduct often, like clock-work.

Putangirua Pinnacles – Photo: Destination Wairarapa

2. Putangirua Pinnacles

Duration: 3 hours.

Difficulty Rating: Easy (be ready for a couple of tricky sections along the path).

Starting Pointing: Aorangi Forest Park.

Rocky, raw and extremely photogenic, the Putangirua Pinnacles are people-pleasing stalagmites, piercing the air at around ten metres tall. Famous for their appearance in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you’ll be spoiled with views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke, making this leisurely walk one to remember. Don’t forget to take enough water – this bush stroll can be thirsty work.

Coromandel Coastal Walk – Photo: The Coromandel

3. Coromandel Coastal Walk

Duration: 7 hours.

Difficulty Rating: The easier end of medium.

Starting Pointing: Northern Coromandel Peninsula.

Take a day-long meander along this tramping – the local word for trekking – jewel, as coastal forest gives way to wildlife sights, the Coromandel Pinnacles, Port Charles and Cuvier Island, just to name a few of the attractions that will prompt your finger to click the camera trigger. Don’t want it to end just yet? Would you rather take your time? Why not camp out at either Stony Bay or Fletcher Bay, and complete the return leg tomorrow?

Photo: Northland NZ

4. Cape Brett Walkway, Northland

Duration: 8 hours one way.

Difficulty Rating: Challenging – for experienced hikers only.

Starting Pointing: Rawhiti, Bay of Islands.

Do you consider yourself to be a competent and confident hiker? The Cape Brett Walkway is your next challenge, threading the topmost territory of the Bay of Islands ever so neatly. Exhausting and rewarding, you’ll be tempted to stop often to take in the beauty of this iconic walk, before it concludes at a historic lighthouse (aka. The Department of Conservation Hut). Rest your legs overnight and make the return journey in the morning or book a boat ahead of time, and return to your hotel, ready to sink into a delicious dinner.

Ready to go? Let us do the hard work for you. Contact New Zealand Holidays today and plan a North Island trip to remember.


Walk and Kayak: Explore Abel Tasman National Park like a Local

Perched on the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island, Abel Tasman National Park has all the splendour of Milford Sound… without the crowds. A stone’s throw away from the cellar doors of the Marlborough wine region, this pint-sized national park – the smallest in New Zealand – packs more punch than you’d expect. From the granite formations off the rocky coast, to the natural marble obelisks, tumbling native forests and hidden pristine beaches, Abel Tasman National Park is an unrivalled paradise of possibilities.

Are you waiting for the best way to explore this under-sold jewel? We don’t like to disappoint, so let’s keep it simple – like a local, of course!

Hiker crossing bridge on Abel Tasman Coastal Track – Photo: Tamzin Henderson

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Pack your favourite pair of trainers or walking shoes and some good socks… you’re going to need them. This 3-5 day walk connects visitors with New Zealand’s natural wonder, traversing craggy headlands, exploring ancient forests and cooling off in the blue waters of one of the many beaches. Not hard enough, long enough or do you just need to see more? Why not join the Coastal and Inland tracks together and turn your 3-5 jaunt into a 8-10 day adventure? Either way, you’ll see and experience unforgettable moments, so pack a camera and a spare battery for the trip.

Sights to Savour Along the Way: Apple Tree Bay and the surrounding beech forest; Torrent Bay suspension Bridge; the wild and birdlife of Awaroa Estuary; and the rocky headland of Whariwharangi Bay.

Kayakers at Shag Harbour, Abel Tasman – Photo: abeltasman.com

Self-Guided Sea Kayaking

Leave the locals behind, say goodbye to crowds and drop into a world without distractions. Abel Tasman National Park by water is nothing short of magical, as gems like Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Golden Bay deliver beautiful, secluded adventures to even the most discerning traveller. Do things your way and hire out a kayak, paddling the calm waters of Abel Tasman’s sheltered coastline – the inlets and deserted beaches are endless. Bask in the sunshine as native fur seals, dolphins and frolicking seabirds put on a show, letting natural New Zealand fill you with a quiet kind of awe. Not ready for watery independence? We can hook you up with a tour operator to suit your tastes and skillset, ensuring nerves don’t get in the way of a good time.

Sights to Savour Along the Way: The protected waters of Tonga Island; the lovely Onetahuti Beach; glide past the seals of Shag Harbour; mazes of sea caves; secret reefs; and sheltered tidal lagoons. What you see is ultimately up to you!

When was the last time you got away? See the world this year. Book a self-drive tour with New Zealand Holidays today!


Authentic Aotearoa: 4 Ways to Experience the Local Culture

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New Zealand? Snow-capped peaks; chains of mountain ranges, volcanos and expansive national parks waiting to be discovered; wine regions, extreme sports and a wilderness experience that leaves one suffused in wonder… a cultural awakening, inexplicable and indescribable. What makes New Zealand special though, can’t be observed through a camera lens; the secret of this laid-back, welcoming, nature-orientated culture lies in its spiritual origins.

Are you ready to experience a more authentic New Zealand?

Photo: Te Puia

1. Te Po, Rotorua

Picture a clear night, lit only by tribal fires and a blanket of stars; a small crowd gathers, entranced by ancient stories, songs and dances. The Te Po package at Te Puia, Rotorua, is an opportunity to connect, relax and sample the hospitality of Te Arawa people. Your night will begin with a traditional welcoming ceremony, followed by a mouth-watering entrée of New Zealand mussels, corn on the cob, traditional breads, dips and a signature beverage harnessing the flavours of kawakawa extract and delicious manuka honey. And the main? Well, a surprise or two is good for anticipation – it’s simply delectable, we promise.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Meeting House – Photo: David Kirkland

2. Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Bay of Islands

New Zealand as we know it began on the green grounds of Waitangi, as two peoples met to draw up a peaceful accord and catalyse the birth of a small but amazing nation. An adult day pass is priced very reasonably at $50, giving you all the time in the world to explore the vast grounds and trace the journey of those who changed history. Between the Museum of Waitangi, and the absorbing cultural performances, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of Maori living and protocol. Bonus? Nothing quite measures up to the beautiful Bay of Islands back-drop.

Waipoua Forest – Photo: James Heremaia

3. Waipoua Forest (near Whangarei)

The Waipoua Forest is the largest remaining patch of native forest on the North Island; a leisurely drive north of Dargaville, it’s easy to see why travellers continue to rate the highway trip highly, as farm-land gives away to something a little more wild and sky-scraping kauri trees begin to frame the road. Once you’ve arrived, wide-eyed and excited, the Footprints Waipoua tour will take you deep into the kauri forest, highlighting the remedial significance of native plants, the calls of native birds and of course, the Lord of the Forest, Tane Mahuta. Imagine trying to wrap your arms around a tree trunk 4.4 metres round… not quite magical enough? You’ll also meet Te Matua Ngahere, the Father of the Forest, aged between 2,500 and 3000 years old.

Te Papa, Wellington – Photo: Te Papa Museum

4. Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Leave the outside behind for a day and delve into Te Papa, a museum with a difference, combining historical flare with Maori art and modern indigenous identity pieces. Displays are always evolving – if you’ve already been, we can almost guarantee you haven’t seen everything Te Papa has to offer. New exhibitions appear regularly, showcasing traditions, interpretations, Pacific Cultures, natural history and powerful expression. Even if you’re not a museum person, you’d be remiss to skip this cultural experience.

Do you need to know more, do more and see more? Uncover the historical significance of some of New Zealand’s most striking places with New Zealand Holidays.


Top 4 Things to Love about Self-Drive Holidays

Sometimes, you just need to travel your way. Itineraries are inspirational, advice can be helpful, and insight is always welcome, but really, when you break it down… you need to get away from the voices and opinions.

A holiday is about you

Self-drive tours are experiencing a surge in popularity, as places like New Zealand communicate to the world just how easy it is to drive around the north and south islands. Why stay on a bus when you can cover kilometres yourself, stopping where you want to stop, taking in the path-less-travelled and really hitting an authentic Kiwi sweet-spot that so many miss while being shuttled from place to place? If you’re not quite sold on the idea yet, here are four more reasons why New Zealand self-drive tours satisfy every travel style imaginable.

Campervans at Lake Tekapo, Canterbury – Photo: Christopher Moss

1. Pick Your Car

You will not be allocated a vehicle that you a) hate and b) (most importantly) don’t feel comfortable driving. New Zealand Holidays has strong relationships with premier New Zealand car hire vendors, ensuring our travellers roll around the country safely, securely and comfortably… without sacrificing on the stuff you want and need. Like Bluetooth, GPS, air-conditioning, reverse censors, space and even showers (if you’re interested in a campervan).

Views of Mt Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu

2. Pick Your Route

There’s no wrong way to see New Zealand. Fly into Christchurch, take on the beautifully rugged West Coast and sample the sights of Franz Josef Glacier, before heading inland to the wonderful Wanaka for a spot of hiking in Mt Aspiring National Park or continue to Queenstown, around to Milford Sound and down again to Bluff for some delicious, freshly snared oysters. That is just one potential route in a multitude of possible holiday ideas that you can take, leave or draw ideas from.

Nin’s Bin Seafood on the Kaikoura Coast – Photo: ChristchurchNZ

3. Pick Your Stop

Of course, your route will rely a lot on what you want to see or experience. If you’re nature-loving-trail-traveller, the 32km Routeburn Track through Fiordland National Park may just what you need to wipe away the work cobwebs; history buffs will be drawn to Rotorua, as geothermal delights mingle with Maori tradition; and no one should forget or skip the famous Hole in the Rock tour, a must for any visit to the Bay of Islands. No matter where you begin and end your trip, you’ll be spoiled for choice along the road.

Bennetts Bluff at sunset – Photo: Destination Queenstown

4. Pick Your Activities

Escorted and pre-planned tours leave very little wriggle-room for customisation, meaning you have to accept the activities in your path and leave those bucket-list items for next time. Self-drive tours? Not so much. It is possible to plan your route and stops around the activities you’d love to do.

Things to do in the North: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour; black-water rafting at Waitomo; caving; dune-sledding; snorkelling and scuba-diving the Poor Knight Islands; hiking; kayaking the Bay of Islands and much more.

Things to do in the South: Amble around Nelson Lakes National Park; ride the Shotover Canyon Jet; strain your brain at Puzzling World; bungy in Queenstown; explore magical Lord of the Rings sites by 4WD and horseback; stay the night on Doubtful Sound; and take a funyak trek down the Dart River. Your opportunities and options are endless.

Are you ready to make your next holiday one to remember? Do things your way with New Zealand Holidays. Bring your travel dreams, we’ll help you do the rest.


3 Reasons You Should Book the Hole in the Rock Cruise

Imagine a paradise removed from the fumes of busy streets, where man-made sound is scarce, besides the gentle hum of a boat-engine and the shuffle of cameras leaving busting day-packs. Welcome to the Bay of Islands. Although you’ll be sorely tempted to stay on dry-land, exploring the cosy corners of Paihia and savouring a gorgeous, golden sunset, the gateway to this often unsung island heaven lies on the white, wooden ferry terminal. The Hole in the Rock cruise is more than a boat-trip there and back – your eyes, ears and nose will be spoiled silly, leaving room for your tastebuds if you’ve packed a picnic for a lovely lunch on one of the island stops.

Intrigued? Whet your travel appetite below.

Photo: Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands

Islands Galore

144 islands to be precise. From the canon-ball scarred buildings of Russell to the wind-swept wonder of the Cape Brett Peninsula, you’ll be asked to turn your attention to the quays, inlets, obelisks, sudden hills and crescent islands littering the sea, crowned in deep green grasses, rocky outcrops and thousands of seabirds. This is a half-day trip, so have your camera ready, taking note of the names and stories attached to each sudden swell of earth.

What Else to Bring: Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and cash for food and snacks onboard.

Photo: Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands

Go Wildlife Spotting

You shouldn’t be surprised if you spot fins, flukes or tales, as dolphins, whales and other wildlife gravitate to the warm waters around the Islands, often frolicking in the white-water wake of many tour boats and private charters. Keep your eyes peeled for a sun-baking seal, or the soaring wingspans of countless waterbirds – like much of New Zealand, the Bay of Islands teems with wildlife. Did you miss your shot? Don’t worry too much. You’ll probably be spoiled with another five opportunities very soon – they can’t help themselves.

Cruise inclusions: Engaging, accurate and historical commentary; two pick-up and drop-off points; time to explore one of the 144 islands by foot.

Photo: Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands

The Legend

Visually, the Hole in the Rock is arresting. Historically, it’s nothing short of significant. Should your skipper approve the journey, you’ll be following in the paddle-path of local Maori warriors – they braved the current before battle, seeking good omens. It may not look too rough on the surface, but there’s a reason tour captains call it a natural washing machine… imagine navigating the journey in a kayak!

Photo: Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands

The Hole in the Rock

You’ve arrived! Motukokako Island and her guardian stand in wait, daring adventurous skippers to continue through – whether you do so or not will be down to the day’s conditions and the discretion of your captain. With luck and timing, you will come face to face with the silvery inner walls of the rock, as your tour vessel slides through an extremely narrow opening.

Did you know… droplets from the cave mouth are considered good luck by local Maori tradition.

Are you ready for the Hole experience? Find your sea-legs with New Zealand Holidays and speak to one of our passionate Bay of Islands specialists today.