PACK YOUR BAGS: 10 reasons to visit New Zealand this year

A trip to New Zealand is always a good idea. But if you’ve got clients still weighing up whether to visit the land of the long white cloud, here are 10 reasons to cross the ditch in 2019.

A trip to New Zealand is always a good idea. But if you’ve got clients still weighing up whether to visit the land of the long white cloud, here are 10 reasons to cross the ditch in 2019.

New Zealand Tourism has given us the heads up about the most exciting things emerging in their beautiful conntry this year from new hotels, walking tracks and tours to an indigenous food revolution and sporting events.

Here are 10 reasons New Zealand is a top holiday spot this year.

1. On track

Paparoa Track

Image: New Zealand Tourism

New Zealanders love their tramping (walking or hiking to the rest of us). So there’s understandable excitement about the new Paparoa Track, set to open in September 2019 on the South Island’s rugged West Coast.

It’s the first Great Walk – a collection of premium tramping tracks throughout the country – to come into being in 25 years, and opens up the mostly inaccessible Paparoa Range, an area of astounding natural beauty.

There’s a heart- rending back-story to the 55-kilometre track: it commemorates the 29 men who, in 2010, were killed in an accident at the Pike River Mine, set deep within the range.


2. A town reborn


Image: New Zealand Tourism

The charming coastal town of Kaikoura was devastated by the 2016 earthquake.

Now, the whale-watching capital of New Zealand has reopened for business. The spectacular coastal road from Marlborough is now ready to drive and the Coastal Pacific rail journey – considered one of the country’s most scenic – has just reopened on 1 December. And a new hotel, the Sudima Kaikoura, is due to open on The Esplanade later in the year.

3. Stay green

Resort Village Camp Glenorchy

Hoteliers in New Zealand are putting planet before profit by embracing the sustainability trend.

The newly opened Camp Glenorchy near Queenstown is built to a world-first sustainability code and features energy-efficient building designs, smart lighting systems, composting toilets and a solar garden.

The owners hope that the camp, with its range of cabins, bunkhouses and campervan/RV sites, will inspire guests to embrace sustainable ideas in their own homes.

Nearby, the self-described community hotel Sherwood, set on 1.2ha overlooking Lake Wakatipu, features a pared-back design including original Kelvinator fridges and enamel crockery.

In the Coromandel region on the North Island, luxury eco retreat Manawa Ridge is built entirely from recycled timbers and energy-efficient materials.

4. Star treatment

New Zealand

Image: Becky Nunes

In recent years, the country has begun to embrace the Māori New Year, known as Matariki.

This distinctly New Zealand event is celebrated in May or June, when the Pleiades star cluster – known to Māori as Matariki – appears on the north-eastern horizon: in 2019, Matariki begins on June 10. Join in one of the celebrations held around the country.

And be sure to visit the Star Compass (Ātea a Rangi) in Waitangi Regional Park, Hawke’s Bay, to learn about how early Māori used the stars to navigate.


5. In tandem

Iimage: The Gisborne Railbike Adventure

It’s something of a world first: a specially manufactured side-by-side tandem bicycle – either pedal or electric – fitted with guide wheels that will have you scooting along a disused section of railway on the east coast of the North Island.

On Rail Bike Adventures’ new two-day tour, ride 100km of railway track between Gisborne and Wairoa, with an overnight stay in pretty Mahia, taking in breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline along the way (there’s also a one-day option from Gisborne to Mahia). The new adventure hits the rails in late 2018.

6. Art and nature

There are two more good reasons to visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

The first is a new gallery, Toi Art, which opened in 2018 with an exhibition by contemporary sculptor Michael Parekowhai. The mammoth new space – about the size of 15 tennis courts – has been billed as “the new home for New Zealand art” by Te Papa chairman Evan Williams.

Second is an $11 million nature zone, Taiao, due to open in early 2019. It will bring together all of the museum’s nature- and environment-themed collections and exhibitions in one dazzling new space.

7. Flying kai

Image: Pacifica Restaurant

There’s a revolution under way in New Zealand that means it’s possible to sample authentic and reinvented indigenous flavours everywhere from top restaurants to food trucks to kai (food) festivals.

Visit Pacifica in Napier to try chef Jeremy Rameka’s five-course seafood menu which might include kina (sea urchin) and paua (abalone) or visit one of Monique Fiso’s Hiakai pop-up events dedicated to Māori cooking techniques and ingredients.

At the Kawhia Kai Festival, held every February at the remote harbourside settlement in the Waikato, you can try dishes like kaanga wai (fermented corn) and koki (shark liver pâté.)

8. Full swing

The New Zealand Open golf tournament celebrates its 100th anniversary in early 2019, hosted at two golf courses near Queenstown – Millbrook Resort and The Hills.

Professional golfers will compete for the prestigious title while a minimum of 140 amateurs and professionals will also play alongside one another in a unique Pro-Am format.

Set on 200ha, the 27-hole Millbrook course was designed by master golfer Sir Bob Charles and is ringed by snowy mountains, while the privately owned Hills course is set in a glacial valley and features Sir Michael Hill’s contemporary sculpture collection.

9. Helm games

Auckland will host about 400 of the world’s best sailors in late 2019 as part of the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships.

The ideal build-up to the America’s Cup, which Emirates Team New Zealand will defend on the Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana) in 2021, the event is likely to be used by many countries as a selection regatta for the 2020 Olympics.

You can get behind the helm of an authentic America’s Cup sailing yacht on Waitemata Harbour for a two-hour sail or a three-hour match race.

10. Quite a ride


Image: James Morgan Photography

He’s the man who brought bungy jumping to the world and now the company that bears his name is taking the A.J. Hackett brand of adrenaline-pumping action up a notch with the new Nevis Catapult.

Set 150m above the Kawarau River in the Nevis Valley outside of Queenstown, it’s the world’s biggest catapult thrill, reaching speeds of 100kmh in 1.5 seconds, all with 3Gs of force.

Want more? Then consider Wild Wire’s Lord of the Rungs waterfall climb – 450m to the top of the Twin Falls outside of Wanaka – or, in Rotorua, OGO’s new Mega Track, the longest (and fastest and steepest) giant-inflatable-ball-rolling stretch in the world.

Is New Zealand high on your clients’ bucket lists?