Featured image: What a way to wake up. Photo: Azur Lodge
While we’ve been waiting to say Kia ora to a New Zealand holiday (not long now!), our wish list has been growing. Currently top of mind — these nine romantic ideas for a New Zealand couple’s escape. Grab your passport and dive in.
- Sip your way around the Marlborough Sounds
Kick off your New Zealand holiday with a cruise through the magical Marlborough Sounds, and a glass of something sauvignon. At the tip of the South Island (Te Waipounamu),this region is famous for its sauvignon blanc wine, fresh seafood, and the ancient sunken valleys which make up the Sounds. Take a cruise or kayak safari through their majestic, sheltered waters or pick up the pace with a hike along one of New Zealand’s most famous hiking trails: the multi-day Queen Charlotte Track.
2. Turn up the heat in a hot pool
It’s no secret New Zealand has a sizzling hot pool scene. But where to indulge? On the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), immerse in the revered geothermal waters of Rotorua at The Lost Springs Geothermal Spa or Polynesian Spa. Or follow your noses to Hell’s Gate Mud Bath & Spas where restorative geothermal goo bubbles from deep within the earth. Paint it on for a very earthy couple’s spa experience. On the South Island, alpine water is heated to create a sublime bath time. Try the Onsen Hot Pools Retreat & Day Spa which offers a Kiwi twist on the traditional Japanese bathing experience, overlooking the Shotover River. Or go big-fun at the alpine wonderland of Tekapo Springs at Lake Tekapo (there’s an ice skating rink!).
3. Chase the snowflakes to Wānaka
There’s a lot to love in the South Island adventure playground of Wānaka. Centred around Lake Wānaka, and gateway to the glorious Mt Aspiring National Park, it’s a magnet for nature kids and powder hounds. Take a scenic flight over the breathtaking glaciers of the Southern Alps, hike the half-day Rob Roy Glacier Track, or channel your inner ski bunnies in Cardrona, Treble Cone, and Snow Farm (all within 40 minutes of town). Serious about ski? Check out the privately owned Soho Basin for an awesome high-country experience paired with delicious local food and wine.
4. Live large in Auckland
The North Island’s waterfront city of Auckland draws a crowd for its vibrant dining scene, nearby natural attractions, and the city’s long association with the America’s Cup yacht race. But a flourishing hotel scene is what makes NZ’s largest city a match for luxury-loving couples. Notable five-star retreats include the Wynyard Quarter’s new Park Hyatt Auckland, Viaduct Harbour’s QT Auckland and the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, and the nautical-themed Hilton Auckland which hovers 300 metres out to sea at the end of Princes Wharf. Ready to set sail? Head over to Waiheke Island: a haven of grapevines, olive groves, and beaches just 40 minutes by ferry from Auckland city.
5. Propose on a snowy mountain
No pressure, but if you’re looking for a place to pop the question, New Zealand has it. See Queenstown-based Over the Top helicopter tours for a private charter to the South Island’s remotely romantic landscapes of Milford Sound, Fiordland, and the Southern Alps glaciers. Or touch down on the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier and soar over the pristine Aoraki Mt Cook and Westland National Park with Inflite Experiences. That’s a yes from us! Not quite ready for “I do”? Try an awesome excursion instead. We’re talking lakeside picnics, mountaintop Champagne, heli-skiing, heli-golf, and even dog-sledding.
6. Swap five stars for a gazillion
In the heart of the South Island, you’ll find the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve: an area of such little light pollution you can literally see for miles. Hello, stellar star gazing. It’s also home to the Mt John Observatory where you can gaze into the heavens on a mountaintop Summit Experience. Or try the guided hot pools/stargazing experience at Tekapo Springs. Want more celestial action? Head due south to the Waipapa Lighthouse where the stargazing is superb, and you may even catch the elusive Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). A spine-tingling experience.
7. Take your love lakeside
New Zealand is brimming with magical lakes, including fluorescent-blue alpine beauties and city-side lovelies such as Lake Wakatipu. Sitting pretty in a glacier-carved valley and encircled by snow-dusted mountains in the heart of Queenstown, it’s a goodie. Take in the shimmering vistas from the historic Eichardt’s Private Hotel or pull up a seat fireside at their cosy bar. Or soak up the serenity from one of our favourite NZ hideaways, Azur Lodge. Just five minutes from downtown Queenstown, their luxury hilltop villas overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains are perfect for two.
8. Watch the sun set over the ocean
Auckland’s wild west-coast beaches may be more suited to thrill-seeking surfers than recreational swimmers, but they’re perfect for soaking up a north isle sunset. Try the black volcanic sands of popular Piha Beach and neighbouring Bethells Beach (also called Te Henga), or the more remote but stunning Anawhata Beach. And if your impression of NZ beaches started way back with The Piano, look upKarekare Beach. It’s just south of Piha and served as the dramatic backdrop for the 1993 Oscar-winning film.
9. Design your dream road trip
You, your love, and the open road. Whether it’s your first trip to New Zealand or your 50th, Aotearoa makes for an excellent road trip. Take in the stunning scenery and attractions at your own pace, bunking down in luxe accommodation along the way. On the south isle, try the astonishingly scenic and often dramatic drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound (around 300km). Or head north from the capital Wellington up to Auckland (around 650km) which encompasses plenty of North Island highlights.
Love 1930s architecture? Factor in a side trip to Napier and Hastings where beautifully restored art deco architecture meets a chic seaside vibe. You’ll also have the famous Hawke’s Bay wineries and cellar doors at your disposal. Cheers!