Here are my Top 5 Locations for the active Honeymooner:
1) Waiheke Island – Wine Tasting and Hiking -Only 35 minutes via ferry from Auckland, Waiheke Island has several wineries that can be visited by an arranged tours, bus or car. We opted for the bus out to Onetangi Bay and then hiked to several nearby wineries including Casita Miro and Stonyridge. Waiheke Island is only one of many regions with delicious wine and fresh olive oil in New Zealand.
2) Rotorua – Cultural and Adventure - Learning about other cultures is one of the main reasons I travel. The Maori Hangi dinner & concert was an excellent introduction to the deep history of this small country. Rotorua is also built around geysers and natural springs so the geological aspect is pretty neat as well. Rafting the Kaituna River was a blast! Besides rafting down a 21ft waterfall and learning the Haka, the highlight of Rotorua was Treetops Lodge. Located 20 minutes outside of town, this stunning luxury lodge is nestled in the woods and encompasses 2500 acres of natural beauty. The food, service and surroundings are impeccable!
3) Abel Tasman National Park – Sea Kayaking, Hiking and Tranquility - We spent two days sea kayaking along the pristine coastline. The first day was overcast and rainy but the seas were calm and the weather did not inhibit our small group from paddling out to the islands to look for seals. As we made our way from island to coastline we would listen to our guide tell stories about Maori lore and the first explorers of Aotearoa. After a home cooked dinner, a restful sleep and then breakfast at Torrent Lodge, we set out in the bright sunny morning for day two.
4) Queenstown – Romance and Adventure Reminiscent of a Sierra Nevada mountain town, the tall peaks and ski fields tower all around you while a beautiful blue lake reflects the sky and snow topped summits; Queenstown is for romantics. It’s relaxed yet you can feel the energy buzzing as you pull into town as this is the base for experiencing the great outdoors; hiking, rafting, biking, wine tasting, bungee jumping and more. We enjoyed riding the gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak and watching the paragliders soar overhead. The luge up top is definitely worth a ride or 5!
5) Milford Sound –Nature Cruise and Scenic Flight - Carved out by ancient glaciers, the sound is technically a Fjord. There are a few combinations on how you can get to Milford Sound, and we took the coach/cruise/fly option. Though the first leg is about a 4 hour trip, it is broken up by commentary and changes in scenery. About half way, the stop at mirror lakes gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and take reflective photos that can rival a watercolor painting. Once at the Sound we boarded the 2.5 hour nature cruise and leisurely made our way out to the Tasman Sea. Tall mountains hovered on either side and water poured healthily down the water falls. Seals could be seen at various points along the route lounging on rocks. We even saw a couple of penguins! The most exhilarating aspect of the day was returning to Queenstown by a 12 seater fixed wing. I don’t know that I can ever describe how amazing that flight was, but it was such an adrenaline rush to fly so close to the mountain tops. At times I felt like I could reach out and grab a handful of snow. 20 minutes later we landed at the Queenstown airport. I couldn’t help but gloat just a little that the majority of the busload still had 3 hours or so yet to return.
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