Where We've Been Featured This Week

Well, we're well into January 2017, and our busiest time of the year, so it's all go here at Silver Fern HQ this week.

We're busy planning our annual trip to New Zealand in May to explore places we've not been to yet, experience some of the new trips, adventures and activities that have opened since we were there last year and check out some new boutique accommodations that have been in touch over the past months.

We've also been lucky enough to feature in a couple of publications this month too.....

Media features this week.....


Responsible Travel - New Zealand Travel Guide

Last year we partnered with Responsible Travel, a Brighton based company who (in their own words) 'work with the best specialist tour operators in the world' to encourage responsible tourism, and ensure that not only do travellers and holiday makers have a wonderfully memorable trip, but also that local people, industries and communities benefit from visitors too.

We we're delighted to be asked to write for their extended online New Zealand Travel Guide at the end of last year, its now online and well worth a read. Although we've written in several sections, it was lovely to have a little special feature with a photo in their Family Friendly New Zealand section. Our director, John has spend a lot of time travelling in New Zealand with his wife Barbara and daughter Sarah, so he has lots of travel tips to share!


John, Barbara and Sarah exploring by bicycle.
John, Barbara and Sarah exploring by bicycle.



Wanderlust - Top 50 trips of 2017

This week, we've also been featured in the Wanderlust Magazine's Top 50 trips of 2017 - we're number 34 - ' Stroll the best of new Zealand' with our 23 night Easy Walks of New Zealand self drive tour, where as well as some of the more famous and well known New Zealand day walks, we also share some of our favourite lesser known walks such as the Pouaki Crossing 


As always, for more information about any of the itineraries featured, or about planning your New Zealand adventure, do get in touch with us either via our website or by giving us a call at our office on  01636 813544.

Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

We're delighted to announce that we'll be exhibiting and speaking at Destinations : The Holiday & Travel Show this year.

Held in association with The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sunday Times Travel magazine,its  the UK’s biggest event for travel inspiration and takes place at Olympia London from 2 - 5 February 2017.


If you'd like to visit the show, we're able to offer free tickets. You can get hold of these by quoting DST72 (our unique Silver Fern Holidays code) here: http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/form/registration

DON'T MISS......

Our director, John Lightwood will be up on stage at 10.45am on Friday 3rd of February to talk about New Zealand: Why it's landscapes should be on your bucket list.


As well as inspirational travel advice, Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show brings together some of travel’s very best authors, TV presenters, photographers and internationally renowned musicians and performers.  Your complimentary ticket includes free entry to:

  • The Stanfords Travel Writers Festival - meet your favourite travel authors, hear their inspiring stories and have the opportunity to purchase signed and dedicated copies at the ‘Signings at Stanfords’ shop. Headliners include Broadcast, Author and Actor Michael Palin, TV Presenter Simon Reeve, Author and Film Maker Levison Wood and many more
  • Experience The World stages - soak up new cultures, enjoy colourful performances and get a taste for exotic delicacies with hundreds of free world food and drink samples on offer
  • MASTA Travel Health Zone - enjoy a free consultation with specialist travel nurses about your next journey, pick up vital adviceabout the countries you are travelling to and win exciting prizes at the Travel Health Theatre
  • Meet the Experts Theatres - (Where we will be speaking) get inspired with new ideas as adventurers and explorers bring travel to life with over 50 hours of free talks
  • Travel Photography Masterclasses in association with CEWE PhotoBook - learn how best to capture those breath-taking views and memorable moments with professional photographer Steve Davey

So why not come and meet us at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show at Olympia London on stand AP99. Quote DST72 here to claim your free e-ticket!

2016 - A Round Up

Gosh, where has 2016 gone? I’m sure we all say it every year, but this year really does seem to have flown by! Our busiest time of year is well underway -  New Zealand is enjoying its summer time, and we’re busy waving off travellers to enjoy an adventure of a lifetime exploring the ‘Land of the long white cloud’ – but we thought we’d take a few moments to share whats been happening here at Silver Fern Holidays over the past year...Read more

Travelling in New Zealand with Kids: A Survival Guide

New Zealand is often overlooked for family holidays, especially for those with smaller children, simply because of its distance from the UK and the considerable time it takes to get there. However, we think it’s the perfect place to visit with a family, with endless activities to keep children busy and a strong focus on enjoying the great outdoors. Below we share our secrets of our favourite family friendly things to see and do. We also have advice and some top tips to ensure that the journey itself becomes part of the adventure!Read more

Hanmer Springs: A Beautiful Diversion

Kaikoura Earthquake- Two Weeks On

The recent earthquake near Kaikoura has caused extensive damage to road and rail links from Picton  to Christchurch, and it will take some time for them to be repaired and business as usual to be restored.
Read more

Our Top Five Things to Do in Akaroa

Akaroa is a pretty little historic French and English settlement just 90 minutes from Christchurch. The town of Akaroa itself is full of galleries, craft stores and cafes and the colonial architecture, lends it a unique charm that’s quite unlike anywhere else in New Zealand.
Read more

The Best Restaurants in New Zealand Revealed

This week, Trip Advisor has announced their Travellers Choice best restaurants in New Zealand – the top spots across the country to get some seriously good food, but don’t worry if you’re travelling to New Zealand on a limited budget – it’s not all about the fine dining – there’s also a list of top recommended ‘cheap eats’ too.

Many of the restaurants recommended are ones we’ve personally visited and can vouch for – so if you have any questions about any of them, or are planning a trip to New Zealand and want to have a chat about our own recommendations for where to eat during your travels, just get in touch.

The Top Ten were decided on using a whole years worth of reviews on the popular Trip Advisor website, to gain an overall verdict of the best quality and overall experience of eateries the length and breadth of the country.

Although the top spot was awarded to the wonderful to Auckland restaurant ‘The French Café’ – previously also ranked as one of the top ten restaurants in the world by Trip Advisor – it's great to read that there were plenty of other restaurants that made the top ten that weren’t in the biggest cities in NZ, in fact one of our absolute favourite places to eat, Hopgood’s restaurant in Nelson took the number two position.


The Mission Restaurant at the Mission Estate Winery in Napier gained a place too, and rightly so. The food there is great, and the setting, up on the hill amongst the vines is beautifully picturesque. We suggest matching an antipasto platter with a bottle of their recommended wine and spending the afternoon enjoying the views and the atmosphere at the oldest winery in New Zealand - you can take a tour too.

We’re also really delighted that one of our old favourites Logan Brown in Wellington is in the top ten. One of our team members here at Silver Fern spent five years living in Wellington, and Logan Brown was always a favourite destination for celebrating a special occasion. Housed in an old bank on Cuba Street, its high vaulted ceilings and seriously stand out food make it an un-missable choice for fine dining during any stay in New Zealand’s capital city.

There’s also the list of top ten budget friendly places to eat too – which again, our New Zealand travel expert Caroline can definitely confirm top spot status, as she used to be a regular at all of the Wellington listings!

We’ve added the list of restaurants and links to their websites below – if you’re a real foodie, get in touch and we can help to plan a culinary themed trip around New Zealand!!

Travellers' Choice top 10 fine dining:

1. The French Cafe, Auckland.
2. Hopgoods, Nelson.
3. Clooney, Auckland.
4. The Grove, Auckland.
5. Logan Brown, Wellington.
6. No.31 Restaurant and Bar, Hanmer Springs.
7. Mission Restaurant, Napier.
8. Hippopotamus, Wellington.
9. Rata, Queenstown.
10. Botswana Butchery, Queenstown.

Travellers' Choice top 10 cheap eats:

1. Ali Baba's Tunisian Takeaways, Rotorua
2. Sri Pinang, Auckland
3. Turkish Delight Cafe, Mount Maunganui.
4. Little Penang, Wellington.
5. Cinema Paradiso Bar & Cafe, Wanaka.
6. Aunty Mena's Vegetarian Cafe, Wellington.
7. KK Malaysian Restaurant, Wellington.
8. Pronto, Mount Maunganui.
9. Midnight Espresso Bar, Wellington.
10. Johnny Barrs, Queenstown.

The Best Day Walk in New Zealand You've Never Heard Of

The Tongariro Crossing has long been hailed as New Zealand’s finest one day walk, and rightly so - it’s a truly unforgettable journey across dramatic volcanic landscape. But recently a new tramping trail has been nipping at its heels for the title, offering a much less crowded, equally scenic and just as challenging walk in Mount Egmont National Park.
The Pouakai Crossing is a diverse and demanding 8-9 hours walk that’s a little like the Taranaki region itself; a little wild and rugged in places, but with breathtakingly dramatic scenery and expansive views,making for a wonderful days tramping.


The 17km track circumnavigates Mount Tarankai starting at the North Egmont visitor centre. The walk begins with a steady climb through bush land, lined on either side with native ferns, and with the imposing Mount Taranaki looming up ahead. Walkers negotiate the Ahukawakawa alpine wetland and traverse the Stoney River bridge before climbing up the pouakai range onto the plateau 1400 metres above sea level. From here the trail descends – we recommend stopping at Pouakai Tarns for some excellent photo opportunities (weather permitting) and then continues back down through the forest on the newly upgraded Mangorei Track.

The Taranaki region of New Zealand’s North Island is relatively quiet as a tourist destination, certainly compared to other areas, and the DOC and Taranaki Tourist Board are hoping that the track upgrades, combined with some funding from the local council to promote it will really give it a boost – we certainly hope so, as it’s a seriously under rated area in our opinion! You can read more about some of our recommended experiences and places to stay in the region here.


As well as developments to the track itself, there are also plans to add an extra 5km the crossing trail taking hikers past the Pukeiti Rhododendron Gardens. Surrounded by 320 hectares of rainforest the gardens bloom throughout the year with various plants and flowers, and are a wonderful place to listen out for native birdlife such as tui, bellbird, pigeon, fantail, waxeye, and cuckoo.

Travellers planning a holiday to New Zealand should definitely be adding the Pouakai crossing to their bucket list of ‘must do’ New Zealand walks. Read about some more of our favourite New Zealand’s day walks here, or get in touch with us for more information.

Our Favourite Things to do in Christchurch

Christchurch is a city you really can’t miss visiting during your New Zealand Holiday. Often referred to as the gateway to the South Island, the city offers a mixture of culture, elegance and history, with a remarkable spirit of resilience and creativity following the earthquakes of 2010/11.

There are so many things to do in the city and these are just a small selection of some of our favourite highlights. So for more information or to discuss your plans and ideas for visiting Christchurch during your New Zealand holiday do get in touch.


Visit the Restart shopping Mall

Colourful shipping containers have become a statement as well as a necessity following the Earthquake in 2011 that destroyed so many of the cities buildings.


RE:Start is a pop up shopping mall build on Cashel Street, on the site of the old Cashel Street Mall. You’ll find cafes and restaurants, bookshops, gift shops and fashion boutiques housed in the mall, so it’s a great place for a browse, or to pick up gift and souvenirs.

Ride on a historic Tram

Take a 2.5km inner city loop around Christchurch on board the tram and get your bearings of this ‘oh so English’ city.


Hop on and buy your tickets on board – they’re valid for 48 hours and as the tram takes you past some of the cities most well loved and iconic sites, you can hop and off when you fancy.

Go punting on the River Avon

A great activity regardless of the season, this is certainly a different way to explore Christchurch. Climb aboard a flat bottomed boat, sit back, relax and take in the sights as an Edwardian attired punter does the hard work from the platformed till at the back of the boat.


There are two options to choose from: You can depart from the historic Antigua boat sheds and glide through the Botanic Gardens, admiring the beautiful flora and fauna that gained Christchurch it’s title as ‘The Garden City’, Or you can take the city centre departure point and journey through the heart of the city to see the developments that are underway as Christchurch continues to rebuild itself.

Visit Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens

You can’t visit the ‘Garden City’ and not spend some time enjoying the beautiful gardens.

Christchchurch River

Hagley Park is Christchurch’s biggest public park, and houses the Botanic Gardens as well as a golf course, tennis courts and cycle tracks. On a sunny day, it’s a great place to settle back on the grass with a picnic to watch the world go by.

Its especially beautiful during the springtime when the ground is covered with daffoldils and bluebells though we think that whever the time of year, it’s well worth a visit.


Ride to the top of the Port Hills on the Christchurch Gondola

For unrivalled panoramic views of the surrounding areas, we recommend taking a ride on the Christchurch Gondola (or cable car as you might call it) to the summit of the Port Hills.


Once you reach the top of the hills, to the west you will see Christchurch City stretching out before you, with the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps beyond. To the east and the south, enjoy views of Lyttleton Harbour, Lake Ellesmere and Banks Peninsula  and to the north the Pacific Ocean leads out to the distant Kaikoura Peninsula.

While you’re there, is worth taking the time to visit The Time Tunnel, a fascinating creative exhibit that chronicles the history of Christchurch and The Port Hills from its early settlement to the present day.


Visit the Christchurch Farmers Market

Head to the grounds of Riccarton House on Saturday mornings for a real foodie experience. Over 300 growers, makers and producers gather from the region to sell their wares, and their passion and enthusiasm for what they do is seriously infectious.


Wander amongst the stalls picking up breads, meats and cheeses for a picnic, grab a coffee and one of the many sweet treats there to tempt you and soak up the atmosphere as you discover the area through its culinary delights.


Visit the Cardboard Cathedral

An un-missable Christchurch sight to visit, not only because of its incredible engineering, but also because of the story it tells of the admirable resilience, creativity and determination of the city following the earthquake.


The cathedral is built on the site of the St Johns Latimer Square Anglican Church, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and opened its doors to the public in August 2013.

It isn’t fashioned entirely from cardboard, but uses huge cardboard tubes alongside timber beams, structural steel and concrete creating a fascinating piece of architecture that offers a new focal point for the city as well as being a venue for concerts, exhibitions and events.





Five Great New Zealand Walks

New Zealand is made for walking – wide open spaces, stunning coastlines, towering mountain peaks and golden tussock valleys draw people on to the many tracks that zig zag across the country.

We think it’s the best way to explore the country and all that it has to offer – and with more than a quarter of the country designated as National Parkland you don’t have to travel far in New Zealand to find the perfect place to lace up your walking boots and take to the trails.

There are many walks to choose from – from a leisurely half a day wander to a more challenging 4-5 day wilderness trek and many of the longer trails have shorter options available too, so there’s walking to suit all abilities and all enthusiasms!

We’ve selected five of our favourite walks below, you’ll find more information about them, and our independent walking itineraries on our website – and of course, if you’d like to have a chat with us about any of the walks below, or about planning a holiday to New Zealand, please just get in touch.


The Kepler Track -

A perfectly looped alpine crossing, The Kepler track can be walked in either direction is 67km long and takes four days to complete. The walk traverses Fiordland National park in the South Island, and enjoys a real diversity of scenery from alpine tussock plains and remote lakes to lush forests and rocky peaks.


Accessible and described as an easy hike for independent non – guided walkers, it’s a great walk for those with relatively good levels of fitness – although those who aren’t quite so spritely needn’t be put off as shorter day walks are available on the Kepler Track too.

You can walk the track all year round, but do be aware that snow and adverse weather conditions can close the alpine section of the track during the winter months.

There are DOC huts and campsites along the way and for both booking are essential, particularly during the summer months (late October to late April) when the track is at its busiest.


Abel Tasman Coastal Track

One of our all time favourite New Zealand walks, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a beautiful walk around picturesque bays and glittering sandy beaches, that’s truly a New Zealand experience like no other in our humble opinion.

An easy, relaxed walk, for the majority of the year the track is bathed in sunshine that peeks through the sections of forest and is so well marked and graded it’s almost impossible to get lost!


Footwear isn’t so important on this track, as the pathways are all well laid, and there are no alpine sections, so trainers or even comfortable sandals will do the job.

The entire track takes between 3 -5 days to complete, although many walkers stretch it out a little longer, they enjoy it so much. There are many opportunities for wild swimming (a wonderful way too cool down after a long walk with a backpack on) and you can also give your legs a rest and spend a day kayaking around the bays, gaining a different perspective on the area. You’ll be joined often in the water by dolphins, seals and even penguins – and there aren’t a lot of places in the world where that happens!

Guided walks are availabe, but for independent walkers there are five huts along the way, with basic facilities. We recommend carrying a tent and camping (in the summer months) and don’t forget your hut and camp pass!


The Milford Track

Probably the most famous and certainly one of the ‘finest walks in the world’ The Milford Track is an opportunity to celebrate 125 years of history, and walk in the footsteps of early explorers to see New Zealand at its very best.

The route travels through Fiordland National Park, part of Te Wahipounamu – The Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, and offers a relatively easy four day hike on a well marked path.

Milford Track - Start

The track operates a booking system that limits how many people are permitted onto it at any one time, so you’ll never feel crowded – but it does mean you really do need to book ahead especially during peak seasons.

The Milford Track is 54km in length from the head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Some of our favourite sights along the way include breathtaking glacier –cut fiords, spectacular crashing waterfalls, beech forests and many rare and endangered species of plants, birdlife and animals.

Once you reach Milford Sound, reward yourself for all that walking with a scenic flight, or a cruise out onto the Sound itself – a truly unforgettable experience, we promise!


The Routeburn track

Second only to The Abel Tasman Coastal track, The Routeburn is the most well trodden trail in New Zealand. It’s also rated, by Sir Edmund Hillary as one of the most superb walking areas in the world.


The Routeburn is a 39km 3 day walk that attracts 10,000 hikers every year and passes through dense rainforests to breathtaking alpine meadows with stunning views over the dramatic mountain ranges and deep valleys.

Walkers can hike the track in either direction, and the track is rated as moderate. You can either walk independently or join a guided walking group if you’re planning your walk between the months of November to April.

As always, you need a camping permit from DOC to sleep at one of the four huts along the route.  Camping is prohibited along the Routeburn track to protect the area, with the exception of campsites at Routeburn Flats, Lake Mackenzie and Lake Howden.


The Tongariro Northern Circuit

Right in the heart of the North Island, within Tongariro National park you’ll find the Tongariro Northern circuit, a 43km loop track that winds its way past Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, passing through startlingly contrasting landscapes, from tranquil lakes to forest and alpine fields.


This 4 day walk covers some of the most interesting thermal areas of the Tongariro National Park – and you’ll walk among bubbling mud pools, hot springs and craters that will make you feel like you’re on the moon.

The best time to walk this track is between November and April, as the winter months can be quite harsh with snow and ice sometimes hiding the track making it a rather different experience!

Make sure to stop off at Ketatahi Hut to rest your aching limbs and have a well deserved soak in the thermal pools.