Despite Australian border closures being extended time and time again, the one constant that never seems to be ruled out is the Australia – New Zealand travel bubble. It’s the one shining halo in an otherwise (temporarily) bleak international travel future.
As such, we’re planning ahead for the official announcement with gusto. There’s a lot to love about New Zealand — snow capped mountains, adrenaline sports, a booming foodie scene, Hobbiton (I’m not sorry).
However, choices need to be made and options need to be narrowed down, so let’s start off that NZ bucket list with six of the best places to visit first.
#1 The Natural Beauty Of Great Barrier Island
Did anyone else’s mind go straight to the Great Barrier Reef? Well this isn’t that. It’s the largest of the Hauraki Gulf islands, off the coast of Auckland. The stunning native forest is laced with walking tracks, lead to secluded natural hot springs and an historic Kauri dam — plus the snorkelling is stellar.
#2 Waiheke Island Wineries
Any excuse for wine, am I right? A 40-minute ferry from Auckland will get you to Waiheke Island, otherwise referred to as ‘the island of wine’, which is always a good sign. Here you’ll find stunning clifftop wineries, award-winning vintages and a wide range of types to taste.
#3 Muriwai Beach’s Rugged Cliffs
I love a dramatic cliff face no matter the context, but the views walking along Muriwai Beach with its striking black sand is something else. Viewing platforms give you sweeping views out to the Tasman Sea, and from August to March you can get a load of the 1200-strong nesting clifftop gannets colony.
#4 Auckland’s Largest Volcano, Rangitoto Island
You can see Rangitoto Island from the city, largely thanks to it being a 260 metre high volcano — making it the largest, and youngest, around Auckland. A 30-minute ferry will get you there, where you can take a 75-minute guided Kayak tour around the island, learning it’s unique history.
#5 Manukau Heads Lighthouse, Also For The Wine
Some of the best views around Auckland can be had from the Manukau Heads Lighthouse — the walk through Awhitu Penisula to get there isn’t bad either. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a boutique cliff-top vineyard, or head down to the black-sand beach of Karioitahi for epic water sports.
#6 The Quirky Art At Sculptureum
This is a weird experience to describe, but it’s voted as TripAdvisor’s number two ‘Best Thing To Do In Auckland’ — so it’s worth finding out for yourself. It’s a unique blend of arts, gardens and good food, “designed to unlock the imagination, fuel creativity and ignite the mind”, so says the website.
(Lead Image: Provided / Tourism NZ // Facebook Image: Instagram / @patchthewonderhorse)
Kassia is the Editor of AWOL, and a straight-up travel addict. She was born without a sense of direction, yet an intense desire to explore the world. As such, she's lost 90% of the time but she's learned to roll with it. You can catch her latest adventures on Instagram @probably_kassia.