Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know the Quarantine Free Travel Zone is officially open for business. Yep, that means it’s time to stop dreaming about all the places we want to visit and actually take our travel-starved selves to see our long-lost neighbours over in New Zealand. Finally.
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And with the right mix of chilled walks and adrenaline-packed activities. That means it’s an ideal place to brush off the travel cobwebs and have an adventure, to take a romantic getaway with your boo, or a trip with your mates.
Ahead, we’ll run through all the burning questions you probably have about travelling over to New Zealand and give some top tips on what to see and do while you’re there.
First, Here Are The Facts:
How Do You Get To New Zealand From Australia?
Getting to New Zealand from Australia is pretty simple in the sense that you just book a flight from your closest major city, get on the plane, and hop off at the other side. The flight time isn’t too hefty either: around three hours from the east coast and six hours from Perth. In short, it’s just as easy to hop over to New Zealand right now as it is to fly to Byron, except you get the thrill of scanning your passport and getting a delicious stamp in it for the first time in far too long.
How Much Does It Cost To Go?
The cost of flights to New Zealand from Australia vary depending on when you go and where you travel from. The good news is Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Jetstar have all opened up their books again and because the Quarantine Free Travel Zone is so new, you can probably snap up a good deal. At the time of writing, one-way ticket prices start at $165 but, as always, shop around for the best deal possible.
Now For The Fun Stuff:
The Country Is Wall-To-Wall Breathtaking Vistas
You’ve seen the photos of New Zealand’s incredible/gorgeous/hurt-my-eyes-beautiful views that are a nature lover’s dream, but now it’s time to see it in person. The truth is, she isn’t even trying to be pretty — it’s just how she was made. One must-visit is cruising, kayaking, or hiking through Milford Sound, which is located on the west coast of the South Island. Carved from literal glaciers during the Ice Age, with mountainous cliffs flanking the dark waterway, there are also giant waterfalls that are up to 1,000 metres high (yes, you read that correctly).
Another fan-favourite is the eerie and prehistoric-looking black sand beach, Piha, which is about 40km from Auckland city. Of course, not many places rival the Mackenzie District in terms of natural beauty. Home to the famous (and breathtaking) Lake Tekapo — one of only two UNESCO Dark Sky Reserves in the southern hemisphere (along with Australia’s River Murray). That translates to some of the best stargazing, not just in New Zealand, but the world.
We Need To Talk About The Food & Wine
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With all the fresh air and lush rolling hills in New Zealand, it’s hardly surprising the food is top-notch, too. So it’s time to slow it down and think of your belly. Two places known for their food and wineries are Nelson Tasman and Marlborough. The former benefits from its coastal locale at the tippy top of the South Island, which means it’s not only delicious but picturesque, too. Notable wineries are Neudorf Vineyards and Seifried Estate, where you can find sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as pinot noir.
If you’re still hungry, it’s off to Marlborough. This region accounts for 84% of the country’s sauvignon blanc pickings (yes, please), but you can also find pinot noir here, too. Along the Wairau and Awatere Valleys, there’s a 24-kilometre circuit with 30 different wineries — the locals recommend doing a bike tour to tick off as many as you can. It’s worth noting too, that where there’s good wine, good food always follows. So keep your eyes peeled for artisan stores, cellar doors, and farmers’ markets along your travels. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Travelling In New Zealand Is Chill
It comes as no shock to anyone that New Zealand is generally considered to be Australia’s more relaxed mate, and it’s for good reason. The cities are smaller, which means you can get around them in a couple of days without rushing, and you can also venture out to all the gorge (and tasty) places mentioned above by driving only a few hours (this is particularly true of the North Island).
Take the Waikato District, for example: Sitting between Auckland and Rotorua (the cultural heart of New Zealand and home of bubbling mud pools), the Waikato District is home to Hobbiton. It needs to be said: I’m not necessarily a fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but I LOVED Hobbiton. I did the tour and banquet dinner, so you wander around the lush rolling hills of Hobbiton at dusk, before moving on to The Green Dragon Inn for pre-dinner drinks and then the huge banquet, complete with giant turkey drumsticks and entire ham hocks. Delightful, relaxing, and just a damn good time — I loved it even more than I thought I would.
But Then There’s Also The Adventure
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If you didn’t do something outrageously adventurous when in New Zealand, did you even really go? The answer is no. You’ve all seen the bungy jumping pics and now it’s time to head to the one place that does it better than most: Queenstown. Not only is it home to some of the best snow slopes in the country, but you can also go bungy jumping off the YUGE 134-metre high Nevis Highwire, go jet boating, or slow it down with sunrise hot air ballooning and cruise through Milford Sound.
Another popular adventure spot on the South Island is along the West Coast (just called ‘The Coast’ to locals), which is a three-hour drive from Christchurch, depending on where on The Coast you want to visit. If you’re looking to do some caving, or take a scenic flight, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers is the perfect place for it. Oh, and is it a coincidence that the Quarantine Free Travel Zone opened mere months before the snow season kicks off? There’s no way.
If allllll of this has inspired you to blow the cobwebs off your savings account and book a trip, we highly suggest you listen to that feeling. Go on, lock it in.