Our Top Five Things to do in Queenstown

Queenstown has long been known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Adrenaline seekers have been flocking there for years to fling themselves off bridges or out of aeroplanes. but its picturesque location and laid back atmosphere make it a great location for a holiday – regardless of how daring you are!

Surrounded by mountains and set on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakitipu, you’ll be captivated by the natural beauty of the area, and theres plenty of places to explore, activities to try and adventures to be had.

Here are are top five experiences not to miss when you visit.

 

1. Arrowtown

A short 35 minutes drive from Queenstown will take you to Arrowtown, one of our favourite places in New Zealand. A former gold mining region, this small settlement has retained all the charm and character of its earlier years, and with plenty of stories to tell, it’s a lovely places to spend a day enjoying the peace and relaxed atmosphere after the action packed activity hub of Queenstown.

Autumn colours Arrowtown

Make sure you take a trip down to the Chinese Settlement at the edge of the river that dates back to 1868 – the collection of restored building and shelters give you a real insight into life back in the 1900’s.

 

2. Shotover Jet

Over three million people have ridden the Shotover Jet since it first took to the water and we think it’s definitely a Queenstown thrill you really shouldn’t miss. Zoom across Lake Wakitipu and on to the Kawarau and Shotover rivers in a 45km, 60 minute adrenaline fuelled adventure, that allows you to experience some of New Zealand’s most diverse waterways. This isn’t for the fainthearted, but in our opinion, its not nearly as terrifying or hair-raising as a bungy jump or a skydive!!

Shotover Jet - Historic Bridge 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.A ride on the TSS Earnslaw

A 1912 Edwardian vintage steamship, the TSS Earnslaw is hard to miss as it cruises up and down Lake Wakitipu.

You can board the ship for a 90 minute cruise that showcases the wonderful alpine scenery of the area, as well as giving you an opportunity to explore this fascinating part of Queenstown history.

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Do bear in mind though that from mid may to the end of June 2017 the steamboat will be undergoing some maintenance and won’t be operating.

You can read more about the history of the Earnslaw here http://www.tssearnslaw.co.nz/tss-earnslaw/History/

 

4. Visiting Queenstown Gardens

We can’t think of anywhere better to spend a relaxing afternoon than at Queenstown Gardens, enjoying the peaceful surroundings and taking in the views of the surrounding mountains. The gardens are in a beautiul location, situated out on a small peninsula on the shores of Lake Wakitipu, and a great place to take a picnic and sit back watching the world go by.

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Stroll through the rose garden and across the pristine lawns, or if you still fancy a bit of activity there’s an 18 hole Frisbee golf course (trust us, you must try it!)

 

5. The Skyline Gondola and Luge

For the best views in the Queesntown region, head up on the Gondola to the skyline complex and enjoy panoramic 360 degree views of the Remarkables mountain range, Coronet Peak and out across Lake Wakitipu.

To make your way back down, we highly recommend taking to the tracks and climbing aboard the three wheeled cart to race back down to the bottom of the hill. Its not as hair raising as it sounds and a huge amount or fun regardless of your age!

Some or all of these experiences can be included in a Silver Fern holiday – Just get in touch if you’d like to have a chat with us about planning your New Zealand Holiday.

 

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Our Five Favourite North Island Wineries

Wine has been a serious business in New Zealand since the 1980s and if you love the country’s Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, there are plenty of opportunities to taste them during visits to our five favourite wineries in New Zealand’s North Island, more often than not, found in stunning locations.

Hawkes Bay and Martinborough on North Island, and Marlborough and Central Otago on South Island are the flagship regions for wine-lovers and you can explore these by car, driving the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, or even follow a bicycle trail of wine estates.

Purely in the interests of research, we’ve checked many of these out ourselves and thought it was time for a blog post about our favourites!

We’ve split these into two separate blog posts – The North Island and the South Island, and highlight our top five on each Island.

This week, we’re taking you through our recommendations for the North Island, from Auckland down to Martinborough in the Wairapa………

 

Coopers Creek Winery – Auckland

Coopers Creek Winery was founded back in 1980, in Kumeu, Auckland’s heritage wine region just half an hour north of Auckland.  There’s a cosy cellar door with a fireplace for the winter months, and in the summer you can enjoy Pizzas and platters out in the garden where they’ll often have a live jazz band playing.

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There are lovely gardens to relax in and they welcome visitors to take along a picnic to enjoy on the lawns, though they do also have a café that serves platters, coffee and of course their award winning wine!

http://www.cooperscreek.co.nz/

 

 Mudbrick Estate Winery – Waiheke Island

Mudbrick Estate is a wonderful winery that enjoys a picturesque setting on Waiheke Island, 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

The wine here is undoubtedly fantastic, but we think that the real highlight here is the food that accompanies it!!

Mudbrick offers a wonderfully inventive menu that’s a real culinary treat – definitely a place to head to if you want to spoil yourselves and enjoy a real treat.

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As with most wineries in New Zealand, they offer wine tasting at the cellar door that you don’t need to book for, and if there’s a group of ten or more of you, you can book to enjoy a vineyard tour to learn more about the grapes grown there.

Wonderful setting and a great place to watch the sun go down over the vineyard, and if you decide you don’t want to leave, they own four wonderful holiday cottages on the Island that you can stay in too.

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 Te Mata Estate – Hawkes Bay

There are so many excellent wineries to choose from in Hawkes Bay, but we have a real soft spot for Te Mata Estate, a small winery that’s also New Zealand’s oldest. Te Mata makes some of New Zealand’s very best Bordeaux style wine, and our absolute favourite here (and a firm favourite with many of our travellers too) is their Gamay Noir, a light red that’s bursting with a palette of ripe cherries and red fruits. . There are just 7.3 Hectares of Gamay grapes grown in New Zealand so it’s a pretty special wine for Te Mata and we definitely recommend giving it a try.

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The staff at Te Mata are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, so you’re sure to leave their cellar door, not only with a bottle of two of wine to take away, but also having learned an awful lot about the wine produced here.

https://www.temata.co.nz/

 

Black Barn Vineyard – Napier

Five minutes from Havelock North is Black Barn Vineyard, a small, boutique winery also specialising in Bordeaux style red wine varieties, but offering a great deal more than just top class wine.

Over the years their business has grown to include an onsite farmers market and summer concert series in their purpose built amphitheatre.

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There’s an onsite ‘kitchen’ shop with meals to take home, handcrafted pies and homemade jams and chutneys and with a commitment to ensure that very food item used on their menu and sold in their shop is grown within the hawkes bay region – the focus on local produce is seriously impressive.

As a boutique vineyard, the wines are only available to buy directly – even more of a reason to visit, so you know you’ll be getting something very special and exclusive.

https://www.blackbarn.com/

 

 William Grace vineyard – Wairarapa

A Small family run vineyard in central Martinborough, William Grace specialises in Organic and Biodynamic Wine, something a growing number of New Zealand wine producers are getting into.

Closely planted, high density grapes are tended by hand resulting in low yields and concentrated fruit resulting in wines that are really special to drink.

Vineyards Marlborough

Although they do have a cellar door open for tastings, because of the small size of the winery there may not always be someone around to see you, so it’s always worth ringing ahead if you’re planning to visit to taste the wine or buy a bottle or two.

https://www.williamgrace.co.nz/

We’ve put together a sample itinerary for a 14 day wine tour of the North and South Island which you can down load here https://www.silverfernholidays.com/special-interest/wine-appreciation/ or get in touch and we can help create a tailor made itinerary just for you.

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Six of the Best Golf Courses in New Zealand

New Zealand is a wonderful destination for golfers. Whether you play just for fun or more competitively, you’ll find a course that will not only challenge you with its exciting and demanding design, but will also wow you with its jaw dropping location and backdrop.

With over 400 golf courses spread across the North and South Islands, you’ll find a course close to you, wherever you are. There are a fantastic selection of world class courses and state of the art facilities across the country, and it’s no surprise that golf is the highest participation sport in the country played by over 500,000 adults each year.

Here are our top six Golf Courses in New Zealand……..

Wairakei International Golf Course

As well as receiving worldwide acclaim for its course, Wairakei is also a wildlife sanctuary, and the 18 holes are surrounded by 180 acres of native flora and fauna – you might even spot an endangered Kiwi or Brown Teal meandering on the greens and fairways! Owner Gary Lane, has planted over 25,000 native trees and 5000 exotic plants over the past few years, making a huge effort to regenerate the area, and it’s created a beautiful natural beauty to enjoy a round of golf in, whether you’re a serious golfer or just playing for fun.

Wairakei

The sprawling course, located in the Taupo region of New Zealand, uses natural contours to their fullest and features 108 large well placed bunkers. In 2010, Wairakei was voted New Zealand’s number 1 golf course by Golf Update readers and also in a survey of golf industry leaders.

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course

This is one of our favourite golf courses in New Zealand – Its location is unbeatable, up high on the cliffs and overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   Inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland, whilst six of the holes are played right on the edge of the cliffs that sweep down to the sea.

Cape Kidnappers golf course

The complex includes a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens and an excellent shop.

Clearwater Golf Course

Clearwater is currently home to the New Zealand Open Championship, and combines elements of links golf with parkland golf more reminiscent of Florida. Beautiful spring fed lakes, Clearwater really does live up to its name, and its location, close to Christchurch city, but with stunning backdrops of the Southern Alps is hard to beat.

 

If you prefer to enjoy gold from the sidelines there’s a great members lounge with a sweeping deck that offers a great spot to view the closing hole.

Titirangi Golf Course

Consistently voted in New Zealand’s Top Five courses, The Titirangi Golf Course was built in 1909 and designed by Alister Mackenzie, who went on to design some of the world’s top courses including Augusta, Royal Melbourne and Cyprus Point. The course is located between the Manukau harbour and Waitakere Ranges and features challenging bunkers, elevated tees and beautiful rolling fairways.

Just twenty minutes outside Auckland city it’s easily accessible and offers a great round of challenging golf to players of all skill levels.

Jack’s Point Golf Course

A spectacular 18 hole par 72 championship golf course, Jacks Point offers golfers of any level of skill an unforgettable and challenging experience.

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The course is designed around the natural landscape and weaves through grasslands, over rocky outcrops and through native bush right down to the edge of Lake Wakitipu.

Just a short drive out from central Queenstown it’s an un-missable golf course for any enthusiast.

Millbrook Resort and Golf Course

With impeccably groomed fairways and greens, the strategic use of water and sand traps here ensures that a round of golf at the Milbrook Resort is exciting and demanding.

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The 6,412 metre course is surrounded by an alpine backdrop of the Remarkables mountain range, which offers a stunning backdrop to tee off against, not to mention countless wonderful photo opportunities!Also voted as best New Zealand Gold Hotel at the World Golf Awards in 2013, you are guaranteed a wonderful stay here, as well as a fabulous round of golf!

A golfing holiday in New Zealand is a great way to combine sport and scenery, and we’ve put together an itinerary that allows you to enjoy some of the top courses, whilst also highlighting the other unmissable activities and sights in the area. Click Here to download it.  Of course, this itinerary is just a guide, so do get in touch if you’d like to discuss a tailor made golfing itinerary for your New Zealand holiday.

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B&B of the Month: Sunlover Retreat

One of the things we enjoy most  about planning unforgettable holidays to New Zealand, is recommending our favourite places to stay. This month our B&B of the month is Sunlover Retreat in the Coromandel.

If you read our previous blog post you’ll know why we choose to work so closely with smaller, more characterful Bed & Breakfasts as opposed to large hotels, and we thought it would be a great idea to introduce you to some of the hosts at our most loved properties. In this series of blog posts a selection of B&B owners will share their secrets about where they live and why they love welcoming guests in to stay with them.

Donna and Chris  run Sunlover Retreat, in Tairua and we asked them whats so special about their B&B…..

We’d love it if you could introduce yourselves. Tell us about who you are, how long you’ve been running your B&B, What made you decide to open your home to guests,

We are Donna and Chris Brooke and with our 4-legged Retradoodle, Rover, we opened our B&B in 2013.  We initially built our home to retire to, however once built, we were so keen to live and work in Tairua that we opened our B&B.

What’s the best thing about where you live (Locally and regionally)?

Tairua is the gateway to the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.  Our whole region is famous for its fabulous beaches, native bush, fishing and pretty much anything to do with the outdoors.  Chris and I particularly enjoy walking around Tairua along the esplanade and up to Paku Hill.  The views are amazing.  We also enjoy fishing and have a small boat that regularly allows us to catch our dinner!

Where’s your favourite place to eat and drink in your town?

We love to eat at Manaia Restaurant and Bar.  It is a 5 minute walk from Sunlover and is a real café hub in Tairua.  The food is delicious and fresh.  The chef has a modern twist on many old favourites.  They love to serve small plates in a tapas style along with the traditional a la carte.

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Tell us something about your town/region that we probably won’t know – A hidden gem, a little known fact etc.

Tairua has a wonderful surf beach that is perfect for swimming or just whiling away the day.  Many people don’t even know its there as they hurry through our town to get to famous beaches futher up the peninsula.  However, we always recommend to guests to go and enjoy the beach with one of our packed picnics.  We also have a marvellous hidden gem in Te Karo Bay … a 5 minute drive out of Tairua.  We feel Te Karo Bay rivals even Cathedral Cove!  Once there we recommend to guests to take the 20 minute walk to Otara Bay as they will most likely find they are the only ones on this pristine, gorgeous beach. Keep your eyes peeled as it is a ‘Kiwi Zone’.

Why do you love running a B&B?

The joy of running a B&B certainly lays in the people we attract to stay with us.  It seems that people the world over appreciate the natural beauty of our flora and fauna and really appreciate what NZ has to offer.  It feels like that every day you are a part of someone’s marvellous journey and it is always a real pleasure to be a part of it.

What do you love most about living in New Zealand?

We love that the natural beauty lies at our doorstep.  In NZ you do not need to move too far to see the sparkling ocean or enjoy the restful bush.

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What would you make sure you do/see if you had just one day in your town?

Many of guests spend the day exploring Tairua.  We recommend meandering along the foreshore to place where NZ’s oldest Maori artefact was found under the pohutukawa tree.  Then wander from there over to the beach to enjoy the surf pounding on the sand.  From there there are a few steps to climb to take you to the top of Paku Hill.  Up there you have the most marvellous view not only of Tairua but our sister seaside town Pauanui, their beaches and the Coromandel Ranges stretching as far back as the eye can see.  Once you’ve had enough of that 360 view then at the bottom of Paku Hill there are 2 cafes to choose from for your coffee and food stop.  Then it is a short meander back into Tairua town to look around the eclectic group of shops we have.  A wonderful day out exploring and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Tairua.

Sunlover Retreat is just one of the unique small properties which we specialise in featuring in both Silver Fern tailor-made holidays and Small Group Journeys All our recommended accommodations are featured on our website, and we’ll be featuring more B&B’s over the coming weeks.

 

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Our Top Five New Zealand Gardens to Visit

New Zealand has a wonderful selection of gardens to visit, and most cities and towns right across the country have both public and private gardens that visitors are able to enjoy, either independently or as part of a garden tour.

As with the general landscape in New Zealand, you’ll find huge diversity in the plants in these gardens, from sub alpine to sub tropical and everything in between!

Airlies Garden and Wetlands, Auckland

 One of the most well loved and well known gardens in New Zealand, Airlies is characterised by beautiful sweeping lawns, and covers 12 acres of land, with stunning informal borders, ponds and waterways.

Created by Beverley Mcconnell some 50 years ago, the garden has been ranked by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as a garden of international significance,  a reflection of its year round appeal and plant interest.

 

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton

 There is something for everyone at Hamilton Gardens. Rather than being a botanical garden, this unique 54 hectare garden, is often described as being more like a museum, and the five garden collections each tell the ‘story of gardens’ and how they have developed over time, and across cultures, as well as how they are used today.

In 2014 the gardens won “International Garden of the Year”- Well worth a visit!!

 

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth

Pukekura autumn #5In the heart of New Plymouth, you’ll find this 52 hectare parkland, one of New Zealands premier botanical gardens.

With formal gardens, bush walks, lakes and a lovely tea house, it’s a great place to while away a few hours, and if you visit in the summer its worth tying in your trip with the annual Festival of Lights that’s held there.

 

Paloma Gardens, Whanganui

 Paloma Gardens is notable for its several distinct zones to visit, including the Palm Garden, the Desert House, the Garden of Death, the Bamboo Forests, the Jardin Exotique, the Wedding Lawn and the two Arboreta.

With some areas enjoying over thirty years of growth, and others, newly planted, there’s a wide variety of New Zealand flora and fauna here, and a huge range of inspiring garden themes to enjoy.

Otari Wiltons Bush, Wellington

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New Zealand’s only native botanic garden, Otari Wiltons Bush is devoted to the cultivation and preservation of indigenous plants. Native trees include the mahoe, tawa, kohekohe, rewarewa, hinau and northern rata.

You’ll also find a fernery, Alpine garden, rock garden with adjoining fish pool and a wild garden, all easily accessed by a network of paths and boardwalks.

 

Lanarch Castle , Dunedin

Dating back to 1871, the impressive Lanarch castle in Dunedin is New Zealand’s only castle, and well worth a visit for that reason alone. However it’s the beautiful gardens that really capture the imagination on a visit to Lanarch.

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Another Garden of International Significance, this unique collection of specialised gardens includes the Patterned Garden, the Lost Rock Garden, the Serpentine Walk, the Rain Forest, the South Seas Garden, the Alice Lawn, and the Laburnum Arch and Green Room.

The owner of Lanarch, Margaret Barker, bought the castle in 1967 ant set about restoring it to its former glory, and through years of hard work and creativity, has established on of New Zealands most beautiful and imaginative garden displays.

We’ve incorporated these gardens, along with other must see experiences and activities into a sample 17 day itinerary that’s available to download by clicking the link below. Of course, there are many, many more wonderful gardens to enjoy so do get in touch if you would like to chat in more depth with us about creating a unique itinerary focusing upon New Zealand’s wonderful flora and fauna.

 

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Wanaka: A Walkers Paradise

The small ,friendly township of Wanaka has to be one of our favourite stopping off points in the South Island of New Zealand . Less commercial than it’s near neighbour, Queenstown , it has an easy laid –back feel ,situated on beautiful Lake Wanaka amongst the stunning scenery of Mt Aspiring National Park .

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The township is also the gateway to many easy day walks to viewpoints or along the shoreline of the lake .

One of our favourites is the Diamond Lake Rocky Mountain track , often described as the best half day walk in New Zealand , it winds around a hillside from a trailhead located about 18 km from Wanaka town centre on the Wanaka – Mount Aspiring Road. At the top of Rocky Mountain there are  wonderful views of Lake Wanaka, Glendhu Bay, and the surrounding mountains.

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Another favourite is the trail to the Rob Roy Glacier.This is about an hour’s drive from Wanaka and  commences from the Raspberry Flat car-park. After about 15 minutes there is a swing bridge crossing of the West Matukituki River, downstream from the Rob Roy Stream junction. After the bridge the track climbs through a small gorge into beech forest, then into alpine vegetation at the head of the valley, with good views of the Rob Roy Glacier – a great place for lunch , before you head back down the valley .

Closer to the township is the strenuous  climb up Mt Roy . The track starts at the Roys Peak Track car park, 6 km from the Wanaka on the Mt Aspiring Road. . After crossing through paddocks, the well-graded track continues through alpine tussock to the ridge.At the summit( 1578m)  there are views of  most of Lake Wanaka, the surrounding peaks and Mount Aspiring/Tititea.

Rob Roy Glacier

Strong walking shoes or boots are required for all these walks ( not trainers ) Ensure you are carrying wet weather gear and a first aid kit .

Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy !

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Weekend Rides: Cycling the Old Ghost Road

You may have read our blog post a little while back about The New Zealand National Cycle Trail, a fabulous network of biking trails that zig zag right across the North and South Islands of New Zealand and are a wonderful way to add some outdoor activity to your holiday – especially as there’s a trail to suit all abilities so you don’t have to be a cycling pro to enjoy it.

The 2,500kms of tracks across the country that make up the National Cycle Trail provide routes for every ability, including easy rides on gravel tracks with lots of welcoming B&Bs along the way,

The newest addition to the trails is The Old Ghost Road, in the North West corner of the South Island that opened on the 12th December last year after a huge renovation and restoration project, largely run by volunteers.

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It’s an 85km stretch of an old, long forgotten miner’s track that runs from the upper Buller Gorge to the mighty Mokihinui River in the north, and offers some fantastic cycling.

It’s not an easy ride but the rewards are plentiful as you traverse bridges over deep rivers, climb up onto high ridges with stunning views and through native forest. This trail is graded as a level 4, so do bear in mind that it will suit more experienced and competent cyclists – but if you’re not so serious about your biking don’t worry – Like the other 22 trails on this National Cycle Project, we can incorporate a day taking to two wheels for this ride through native forests, river flats, long forgotten valleys and fabulous wilderness into a tailor made itinerary, so you don’t have to tackle the whole thing if you’d rather just experience a taste of it!

For more information about The Old Ghost road and downloadable maps to help plan you ride, visit http://nzcycletrail.com/trails/old-ghost-road/

 

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10 Must-Visit Destinations on a New Zealand Honeymoon

We often think of honeymoons as being all about tropical beaches and spending time lounging around doing very little, a honeymoon in New Zealand can mean that, but it can also mean so much more! There is SO much to do in New Zealand, however you want to spend your honeymoon you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Adventure seekers can enjoy a wonderfully action packed holiday of hiking, bike riding, sky diving and luging. If you prefer to enjoy a more relaxed pace, there’s wine tasting to be enjoyed at some top class vineyards, hot pools to lie back and soak up the atmosphere in and endless stretches of stunning beaches to walk barefoot along.

Accommodation ranges from beachside ‘batches’ to welcoming b&b’s and incredible 5* luxury lodges and retreats. You’ll find your kiwi hosts incredibly welcoming and generous – and of course, we’ll make sure they know that this isn’t just any holiday!

Here’s our guide to the top ten unmissable destinations any honeymoon in New Zealand should include…………

Abel Tasman

With its secluded coves, turquoise waters and long stretches of golden Beaches, the Abel Tasman tops our list of the most romantic places in New Zealand. The best way to explore this beautiful National Park is by walking or kayaking – it’s a world renowned kayaking destination. Whether you choose to hike through the native forests and stroll along the idyllic secluded sands or paddle under breathtaking waterfalls and through the crystal clear waters – you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere more peaceful and picturesque to spend time on your honeymoon.

Milford Sound

‘The eighth wonder of the world’ according to Rudyard Kipling, Milford Sound has long been a top destination for loved up honeymooners. Take an overnight trip on the Milford Mariner to journey out deep into the sound and anchor up in a secluded cove for the night. You can wake to watch the sunrise, with the magical silence being broken only by the sound of native birdsong.

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Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Two hours away from Auckland you’ll find the Waitomo glowworm caves, in a region called Otorohanga. Here you will experience a magical boat ride that takes you deep into the caves, lit only by the twinkling lights of thousands of tiny glow worms that glow blue-green in the darkness.

Witnessing over 30 million years of geological history is pretty impressive, but it’s the romance of the flickering lights and the gentle lap of water on the sides of the boat that make this experience really special.

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Marlborough Sounds

Whether you choose to tackle the Queen Charlotte Track, take a dip in the ocean with some friendly bottle nosed dolphins or spend the day sampling wine and fresh Marlborough oysters at the Brancott Estate winery, the Marlborough Sounds is another high point of any honeymoon itinerary. Follow the New Zealand Wine Trail to discover why the region is so well known for its sauvignon Blancs, and share a long leisurely lunch at one of the vineyard restaurants.

Taste Marlborough Wine Touring (31)

Hanmer Hot Springs

Lie back and enjoy the healing and soothing properties of the natural spring water that are said to keep you youthful and bautiful due to their silica properties. There are 15 open air pools here, as well as private thermal pools and steam and sauna rooms. The spa next door has some wonderful treatments for some real pampering, the couples retreat is highly recommended!

A Helicopter ride over the glaciers

Take to the skies for a flight quite unlike any other. Flly high above the mountains and discover the beauty of New Zealand from up above. You can opt for a truly romantic mountain ledge picnic, enjoying some of the most amazing views you’ll ever see, or take a heli-hike and walk through some of the most stunning ice formations – we promise it’s a honeymoon experience you’ll never forget.

Stargazing on the South Island

For unrivalled romance, we recommend you spend an evening gazing up at the sky in one of the best star gazing sites in the world. New Zealand’s South Island has been recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest reserve of this type worldwide, and honestly, we can’t think of a better way to spend an evening on your honeymoon than wishing on shooting stars together!

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The Coromandel

There aren’t many beaches in the world where you can dig your very own hot pool, but on Hot Water beach in the Coromandel, you can do just that – After a soak, we recommend lacing up your walking shoes and taking a stroll to Cathedral Cove with its water worn rock formations and marine reserve where you can snorkel and scuba dive to explore the amazing marine life, before sampling some of regions wonderful food and wine at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

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Waihiki Island

Away from the hustle and bustle of daily life the white sandy beaches of Waihiki Island make it a honeymooners dream. Relax over a long indulgent lunch at one of the many winerys, take a stroll through the olive groves, or swim in the sparkling water – Waihekes beautiful surroundings ensure a really special time – there’s even a bay called ‘Honeymoon Bay’!

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Queenstown

Adrenaline junkies will love to spend a few days of their honeymoon in the adventure capital of New Zealand. Jet boat through the narrow shotover canyons, try a tandem skydive or Luge from the top of the Skyline Queesntown Gondola with its great panoramic views of the Remarkables.

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B&B of the Month: Colleith Lodge

One of the things we enjoy most  about planning unforgettable holidays to New Zealand, is recommending our favourite places to stay. If you read our previous blog post you’ll know why we choose to work so closely with smaller, more characterful Bed & Breakfasts as opposed to large hotels, and we thought it would be a great idea to introduce you to some of the hosts at our most loved properties. In this series of blog posts a selection of B&B owners will share their secrets about where they live and why they love welcoming guests in to stay with them.

This week it’s Maureen and Colin who own Colleith Lodge in Tairua…..

Col & Mu Nov 21 15 with C & P

We’d love it if you could introduce yourselves. Tell us about who you are, how long you’ve been running your B&B, What made you decide to open your home to guests?

We are Colin and Maureen Gilroy from Tairua on the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

We purchased our land in 1998 and in the year 2000 Colin started to build our home which was designed to purposely operate as a B & B.   We starting operating in October 2002.    We had been for a holiday in the U.K. in 1998 and stayed in B & B properties there and we thought we would like to have people from overseas staying with us whilst they were on holiday.

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What’s the best thing about where you live (Locally and regionally)?

It is scenically beautiful.   Lots of natural bush, fauna and lovely harbour and sea vistas from all over the area.   Gorgeous white sandy beaches.  Great swimming and surfing.  Great Fishing.   Laid back lifestyle.  Friendly people.

Where’s your favourite place to eat and drink in your town?

The Old Mill Licensed Waterfront Café. Organically sourced ingredients created into yummy dishes full of flavour and made with love. Eating while watching boats coming and going into the harbour.

Tell us something about your town/region that we probably won’t know – A hidden gem, a little known fact etc.

A short walk up Paku Mountain which is situated right in Tairua gives you 360 degree views of the harbour, Tairua Surf Beach, Pauanui Surf beach, the Pacific ocean and several islands plus the river and all the volcanic ranges.

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Why do you love running a B&B?

We meet very interesting and nice people and have a laugh

What do you love most about living in New Zealand?

Actually its seems from hearing stories from our guests that we are still not over crowded.

Can still be the only one on a lovely beach. We were born here and we are very proud to be kiwis. Just love it.

What would you make sure you do/see if you had just one day in your town?

I would go up Paku and see the view.  Go to Cathedral Cove and have a look at Hotwater Beach.

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Colleith Lodge is just one of the unique small properties which we specialise in featuring in both Silver Fern tailor-made holidays and Small Group Journeys All our recommended accommodations are featured on our website, and we’ll be featuring more B&B’s over the coming weeks.

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The British and Irish Lions Tour 2017

Lions Tour ItineraryAlthough we’ve not even made it to summer 2016 yet (infact, we’re not sure we’ve even quite made it to spring based on the weather recently!) excitement is already beginning to build in advance of a very exciting 2017 summer for rugby fans when the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand takes place.

In June next year the British and Irish Lions will embark on a 6 week tour across New Zealand, playing 10 matches in seven different host cities across the country.

As well as an opportunity for fans to enjoy some world class rugby, it’s also a chance for travellers to experience some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and diverse regions in-between game times and a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the country’s most enchanting sights and sounds.
Of course, most of the focus is on the matches, and rightly so, but we think that if you’re planning to travel all that way, it’s worth making sure your trip isn’t just about the game, as there’s so much more to see and do, so we’ve put together an itinerary that makes the most of the sport and the scenery!

We cannot guarantee tickets to the matches but from past experience we should be successful in obtaining your requested allocation

Our itineraries differ a little from most of the official Rugby tour itineraries for a few reasons……

There’s something for everyone, rugby and non rugby fans alike!

We’ll make sure that the fans amongst you will be there on time to meet friends and head to the stadium for the big games but equally that those of you who are not so into the sport will be kept entertained by the wide range of activities and experiences that we can recommend at some of the match locations.

Complete flexibility

One of our favourite things to do when we’re planning trips for our travellers is to mix and match transport to include journeys by car, train, bike, ferry or even horseback! It really adds something special to your holiday when you’re able to see the landscapes from different types of transport, and by mixing a few different ways of getting around, you’re guaranteed to see sights and experience adventures you wouldn’t otherwise!

Lots of choices for accommodation

Firstly, for all our travellers, regardless of why they’re visiting New Zealand, rather than staying in large corporate hotels, we always recommend staying in smaller bed and breakfast style accommodation. Returning travellers often tell us how much more enjoyable their holiday was because of the charm, comfort and personal service they experienced in B&B’s, not to mention the chance to make new friends, enjoy the amazing breakfasts (often with homegrown produce) and have a true taste of the local lifestyle.

Deck Chairs

Of course if you do choose to stay in hotel accommodation, for convenience or personal preference, we’ll happily arrange that too!!

We also thought it might be helpful to give you a little insider info on the seven main centres that the Lions Tour visits, just click on the links to read more in depth information about each area on our website.

Auckland

A vibrant and diverse city, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city. Often referred to as ‘the city of sails’ it centres on two large harbours. In the city itself, you’ll find the iconic Skytower, and the busy main shopping district of Queen Street. Viaduct Harbour is a must, if not to visit to admire the super yachts then to sample some of the cities best food at the restaurants and cafes that are found there.

Auckland Harbour (1)

From Auckland you can also take trips to some nearby islands including the vineyards, olive groves and beaches of Waihiki, just a 35 minute ferry ride from the harbour, or the volcanic island of Rangitoto.

To read more about things to do in Auckland and see some of our favourite accommodation options click here.

Wellington

The capital city of new Zealand and home to the countries parliament, Wellington is at the bottom of the North Island and a vibrant and buzzing little city.

CU34-Te-Papa-Wellington-Te-Papa-Museum

The National Museum here, te Papa is an absolute must, as is a walk around Oriental Bay, and for Lord of The Rings fans, a visit to the Weta Studios. We’ve written a whole blog post on our favourite things to do in wellington here 

Hamilton

The Hamilton region is famed for its rolling green hills, fabulous surf beaches and more recently, for being the chosen location for The Shire in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can read more about that here 

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Natural wonders are aplenty here, and we recommend a visit to the Waitomo Glow-worm caves, and for adventurous types, a go at black water rafting or abseiling. There are options for keen walkers, cyclists and hikers from easy rambles to overnight adventures and some excellent mountain biking tracks.

Rotorua

Well known as the thermal capital of new Zealand, Rotoruas bubbling mud pools and exploding geysers make it a place quite unlike any other. Its also the place to go to experience some authentic Maori culture, as the spiritual home of Maori people, and it’s a great destination to learn more about Maori culture and history.

Adrenaline junkies can also take advantage of its growth as an adventure destination, but for those who prefer a more sedate pace, there are wonderful forest walks and volcanic valleys to explore. Our top tips for what to do and see in Rotorua can be found here 

Whangarei

Right at the very top of Northland, you’ll find Whangarei, the perfect place to kick back, relax and take it easy for a few days. Northland is a great choice for swimming, kayaking and cruising, and as the historic birthplace of New Zealand and the place that the Treaty Of Waitangi  was signed, it will fill your cultural cup too.

Christchurch

After the earthquakes in 2011 Christchurch is rebuilding itself with a vibrancy and energy that’s really inspiring. We love the ingenuity of the RE:start shopping mall housed in old shipping containers, and every time we visit we’re amazed at just how much progress is being made. We recommend visiting the Botanic gardens, at over 150 years old they house a wonderful collection of native plants and trees. Go punting down the River Avon, or head out to the Port Hills for some fabulous walking tracks and brilliant views. Click here to read more about our Christchurch recommendations

Dunedin.

New Zealand’s University City, travellers from the UK feel at home here, as the city was modelled on Scotland! The city itself is full of impressive architecture, our favourite of which is the railway station (make sure you check out the mosaic floor!), and Lanarch Castle is rather impressive too!

Larnach Castle

A short drive out to the Otago peninsula rewards visitors with a real abundance of wildlife from Penguins to Royal Albatross and seals.

Our must see highlights of the city and the surrounding area can be found here

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