Nz blog 4 highlights tongariro crossing barton matthews6
Nz blog 4 highlights johnny
Nz blog 4 highlights doubtful sound
Nz otago bike trail bridge solo see and do active
Nz blog 4 highlights tongariro crossing barton matthews6
Nz blog 4 highlights johnny
Nz blog 4 highlights doubtful sound
Nz otago bike trail bridge solo see and do active

4 highlights of New Zealand

We cannot stop talking about the highlights of New Zealand, because the country offers countless surprises. From the geothermal area full of volcanoes in the north and the deep fjords in the south to the locals who welcome you with open arms. However, we are still going to tell you about these 4 highlights, which you can experience for yourself!

It doesn't matter where you travel to - the North or South Island or maybe even both - you won't get bored in New Zealand. So, if you are planning to go, a wonderful (round) trip is waiting for you! We are happy to help you plan this trip and have therefore listed 4 highlights for you:

1. Meet the locals: Kiwis and Maori

By getting out with the locals, you really get to know New Zealand. That is why you simply cannot miss an exclusive encounter with a local Maori or Kiwi during your trip.

Johnny, the legend of Awakari Valley

For example, meet the local legend Johnny. You will recognise him immediately by his wild grey hair and muddy jeans. Johnny lives in the Awakari Valley, where many red deer live. He is a former farmer and lumberjack. Today, he proudly shares his stories and introduces you to his valley, that’s right, his valley.

Johnny is renowned for living an “off grid” lifestyle and preserving his beloved Awakari Valley.

The largest Maori tribe

Travel to the largest Maori tribe, the Ngapuhi, in the Bay of Islands. Here, you will sail along the Waitangi River, past secluded beaches, while listening to the legendary stories about the region. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori and the British in the Bay of Islands.

Take a tour through Rotorua with Wikitoria

"E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata." With these words, you are invited by Wikitoria. She is one of our local friends from Rotorua, an area whose population is 40% Maori. This means that the region has the largest population of this age-old culture. As a Maori, Wikitoria sees it as an honour to showcase her rich culture in geothermal Rotorua, past and present.

Maori culture | New Zealand holiday
Immerse yourself in the dynamic Maori culture
© Jimmy Nelson
Meeting the Maori | New Zealand holiday
Together with a local Maori guide, learn more about the Maori

2. A discovery within nature that offers everything

There is no place where nature is as diverse as it is in New Zealand. In this country, you can admire volcanoes and climb glaciers. But here, you can see the beauty of the world's largest Kauri trees, which can grow up to 60 metres high.

Visit a volcano on the North Island

New Zealand has a beautiful hilly landscape and of course, many volcanoes. The country has no fewer than 18 dormant and active volcanoes, most of which are located on, or near the North Island.

The three most active volcanoes are in Tongariro National Park. Here, you can take magnificent hikes from the hotel, Chateau Tongariro. The walks vary from light to heavy. For instance, you can participate in the Tongariro Crossing, a fairly spirited walk along 'Mount Doom', known from Lord of the Rings, lava fields and mountain lakes.

Hike between two active volcanoes | New Zealand active holiday
Conquer Tongariro National Park
© Barton Matthews

Take a cruise on the Doubtful Sound

New Zealand is also well known for its fjords. There are no fewer than 14 fjords in Fiordland National Park and Doubtful Sound is without a doubt our favourite. Doubtful Sound is more remote and has fewer tourists than Milford Sound. It is, therefore, the place for a beautiful journey of discovery. For example, take a multi-day cruise past rainforests, mountains and waterfalls.

Climb mountains to get the best views

Travel to Hawke's Bay on the North Island to climb the 400 metres high Te Mata Peak mountain. At the highest point, you will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the region. The region is also known for the city, 'Art Deco', Napier, the largest Gannet colony and the oldest winery in New Zealand, Mission Estate.

Two people in a yellow kayak with a rainbow showing between two mountain edges
Be mesmerised by Doubtful Sound

3. Taste the culinary delights of New Zealand

Compared with France, New Zealand is a young wine country. But where France took centuries to produce perfect wines, New Zealand has managed to gain a strong reputation within the international wine world in less than 30 years.

Join your hosts to taste New Zealand cuisine while enjoying a fine glass of wine. Or, you could even think about staying in a cottage on a vineyard.

A friendly barbecue with Mike and Sue

In Makarora, you will experience what local hospitality is like with Mike and Sue. Here, you can also enjoy New Zealand culinary delights because your hosts love to cook! You could also join a real Kiwi barbecue. From the veranda, watch the sun go down behind the mountains, while you turn the meat over again and enjoy the most excellent wines.

Our local hosts provide warm Kiwi hospitality
Join your hosts for a Kiwi-style barbeque
Barbecue dinner with local hosts | New Zealand holiday
Savour New Zealand flavours and enjoy the view

The perfect wine to match your food in Matakana

The locals in Matakana know that good wines can complement delicious food. While the food is being served, take a sip of your wine and look out over the rolling landscape covered with vineyards.

If you stay here, you won’t have breakfast at the property, but instead, you will be taken into the Matakana Village and Farmers Market on Saturday morning. A bustling market that is a favourite among the locals!

Join the locals and visit the Matakana Village Farmers Market
Visit the Matakana farmers market for local produce

4. Travel comfortably from highlight to highlight along the most beautiful scenic routes

During your tour, you will drive from highlight to highlight along the most beautiful scenic roads. Are you going to drive or cycle?

Drive along the most beautiful roads through the mountains

Drive across the Southern Alps and Arthur's Pass past lakes, forests, and to the snow-covered mountains of the Milford Sound Highway. Or take the Lewis Pass, a route which is one of Andrew’s personal favourites. During almost every visit to New Zealand, Andrew drives this route purely for the scenery. The route starts in the rainforest and makes its way up the Lewis Pass, where you can drive through wide grass fields and along the Waiau River.

New Zealand is renowned for its scenic drives that glide through the landscape. That's why driving the length of this country offers the perfect opportunity to explore the ever-changing country.

Discover the gems along Arthurs Pass, one of New Zealand's most beautiful scenic drives

Or get on a bike!

On the other side of the world, you can easily get on your bike, but instead, you’ll experience a completely different kind of bike ride. In New Zealand, you can cycle over an old railway line, which leads you through tunnels and over bridges. During this tour, you will discover the area between Dunedin and Central Otago with endless beautiful views and vineyards. At the end of the route, you can get off your bike and savour a glass of delicious Pinot Noir. What a great way to end your journey.

Cycle one of New Zealand's best bike trails

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At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.