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Photo courtesy of Melissa Varnadoe

From its awesome natural beauty or its many extreme adventures, the island nation of New Zealand will take your breath away. Truly a trip of a lifetime, New Zealand welcomes honeymooners of all walks of life to experience its multitude of wonders.


Best Time to Visit:
The North Island is subtropical while the South Island enjoys the change of seasons, making anytime a good time for a visit. If you choose to explore both islands, pack accordingly and don’t forget their seasons are opposite from those of North America. Summer months (December, January and February) are the busiest and the time you’ll encounter the highest prices.


LGBT-Friendly Factor:
Same-sex couples have been legally recognized in New Zealand since 2005, and enjoy virtually all the same rights as married couples. Kiwis, as New Zealanders are called, are known for their friendly and relaxed attitudes, and history shows that the Maori culture was accepting of homosexual relationships long before the arrival of the Europeans.


Slumber:

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Photo courtesy of Amaury Laporte

Auckland
The Westin Auckland Lighter Quay: Chic design and traditional Maori art marry beautifully at this boutique hotel located in the Viaduct Harbor. You’ll instantly be at peace as you walk past the calming water features throughout the ground floor. Its waterfront address provides charming views of the marina from floor-to-ceiling windows, and you’ll be just a short walk from a host of fabulous restaurants on the harbor’s edge.

Rotorua
Regent of Rotorua: A study in black and white with pops of vibrant apple green and lit by sparkling chandeliers, this boutique hotel is an oasis of sophistication and style in the midst of the rugged geothermal landscape of Rotorua. Book a couples treatment at the spa, sip cocktails at the stylish bar, or soak away a day of hiking in the hotel’s very own mineral pool. If you’re looking for ways to relax in the lap of luxury, you’ll be spoiled for choice here.

Queenstown
The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel Cozy and romantic, you’ll never guess you’re only a one-minute walk from the heart of Queenstown at this quaint lodge. Start each morning with a tasty homemade breakfast and enjoy lovely afternoon teas around the open fireplace. If you’re here for skiing, the hotel has loads of thoughtful amenities like a boot-drying room and an indulgent hydrotherapy spa to relax after a long day on the slopes.

Waitomo
Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge Directions, recommendations, use of a kitchen and even homemade cookies: There isn’t much the friendly owners of this cute little bed and breakfast aren’t willing to do to ensure you have a pleasant stay in Waitomo. Their location is perfect for walking to restaurants and tour pickups, and they’ll even let you borrow a flashlight and point you in the direction of your own personal glowworm tour.

Wellington
At Home Wellington You’ll feel right at home in these spacious studio suites with your own small, but fully equipped kitchen, modern décor and large balcony. You can even do laundry in your room, which can come in handy for those couples trying to travel light. Be sure to book a queen suite and you’ll enjoy a great view of the Te Papa Museum.


Wine & Dine:

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Photo courtesy of Melissa Varnadoe

Auckland
Visit the Viaduct Harbor for a night of beautiful waterfront dining. Enjoy authentic Italian pastas and pizzas at Portofino Restaurant on its enormous covered patio, or head to Degree Gastrobar for a glass of delicious New Zealand wine and a platter of sizzling seafood or meat cooked right at your table from their stone grill menu. Degree Gastrobar also has live music on the weekends if you want to extend dinner into a night of dancing.

For a truly special experience, look no further than The Grove Restaurant. Located right next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Grove is arguably one of Auckland’s best restaurants and has the accolades to prove it. You’ll enjoy the freshest New Zealand ingredients thoughtfully executed with a modern twist. The tasting menu with wine pairing will be a meal to remember.

Rotorua
You’ll have your choice of al fresco dining in downtown Rotorua, but Indian Star Tandoori Restaurant stands out as one of the best. Delectable curries and masalas will have you thinking you’re in Delhi instead of a small town in New Zealand. The chefs are always happy to cater to any level of spice you’re comfortable with and provide recommendations for those just discovering the yumminess that is Indian cuisine.

Queenstown
Take the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak to the Skyline Restaurant where the unique dining destination serves up a mammoth buffet of delicious New Zealand fare. Tiered tables mean there isn’t a bad seat in the house, but reservations are a must. There is no better view to be had in Queenstown or a more perfect place to catch the sunset with your honey.

Waitomo
You’ll literally only have a handful of dining options in the tiny Waitomo, but the choice will be clear. Huhu Café is a great place to pick up fresh sandwiches, muffins or coffee during the day, but in the evening you’ll be blown away by the refined cuisine being plated up by their discerning kitchen. The menu changes with what’s in season, so just let their enthusiastic staff recommend their favorites; you won’t be disappointed.


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Photo courtesy of Melissa Varnadoe

See & Do:

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Photo courtesy of Melissa Varnadoe

Around the bends New Zealand isn’t a huge country, which makes it really easy to hit the highlights of both islands. If you’re short on time you can take domestic flights between major cities, but if you have the luxury of a couple of weeks, there is no better way to enjoy the gorgeous scenery than by a road trip. Road conditions are good throughout the country, but give yourself extra time to reach destinations because you’ll be slowed down by all the curvy roads. Kiwis kid that they see no fun in a straight path and if they can put a bend in the road, they will. “Gayly” forward it is!

Go Native Kia ora, the warm greeting of the Maori people, can be felt as soon as you enter New Zealand. From their gentle and intimate greeting of touching noses to the intimidating faces of their fierce warriors, the Maori’s rich culture is truly fascinating. Auckland War Memorial Museum has a large exhibit of Maori artifacts and daily cultural performances or for an even more extensive collection, visit Wellington’s New Zealand National Museum, known to the locals as Te Papa. More than a third of the population of Rotorua is Maori, making it a great place to experience the culture up close and personal. You can attend a cultural show and eat a hangi dinner where your meal is prepared in the traditional method of cooking it underground with heated stones.

Glowing For something really unique and special, make your way to Waitomo in the North Island to see the magical lights of thousands of glowworms. Skip the crowds at the larger caves, and book with Spellbound Tours. Its friendly local guides will take you to see the cave with the highest concentration of glowworms, and you’ll feel like you’re floating just under the Milky Way as you ride along the underground river. It is a surreal experience. Thrill seekers can take the experience a step further by doing a black-water rafting tour where you’ll don a wetsuit and headlamp as you make your way through the crevices in Waitomo’s famous caves.

Cheers to the happy couple Wine-loving couples will want to sip their way from the top of the North Island in the Northland region to one of the world’s southernmost wine regions, Central Otango, in the South Island. Although most known for their wonderful sauvignon blancs from the Marlborough region, you’ll find a beautiful selection of varietals, both white and red, grown throughout the country.

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Photo courtesy of Spellbound Tours

Adrenaline rush New Zealand is an adventurous couple’s dream come true. Heli hike the Franz Josef Glacier combining a scenic helicopter ride with an icy glacial hike, white water raft the level 5 rapids in Rangitata Gorge, skydive over Lake Wakatipu, sea kayak through the Doubtful Sound in the Fiordland National Park, bungee jump off the Auckland harbor bridge or get inside a giant plastic ball and be shoved down a huge hill while “zorbing” in Rotorua. If you want to start your new life together with thrills and excitement, you’ve come to the right place.

Hit the slopes If you’re a couple of snow bunnies and are visiting in June through September, take advantage of the excellent snow conditions found in New Zealand. The best skiing or snowboarding in the North Island is at Mount Ruapehu, and base yourselves in Queenstown in the South Island for the best après ski atmosphere.

Get steamy Lake Rotorua is actually the collection of rainwater inside the caldera of a super volcano giving the city of Rotorua the nickname of “Sulfur City”. Steam can be seen coming up through the ground everywhere in the area, but you’ll want to visit the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland to see the real geothermal gems like eerie green pools of water, the world’s largest hot springs and bubbling mud pools. After trekking through the natural terrain, be sure to treat yourselves to some spa treatments at the award-winning Polynesian Spa.

Surf and sand Compared to their neighbors in Australia, New Zealand’s coastal waters have a reputation for being tame and excellent for swimming. A 15-minute drive from Auckland will have you basking on the golden sands of Mission Bay or follow the Kiwis to Coromandel Peninsula to enjoy incredible beaches, the picturesque Cathedral Cove and hiking in a coastal forest. The South Island is not without its great beach destinations and you won’t find more secluded stretches of sand than the beaches in Abel Tasman National Park. Just be ready to paddle your way to them in a sea kayak because they are only reachable by water.


Perfect for Couples Looking For:
Extreme adventures, outdoor pursuits, beaches, winter sports, cultural experiences and natural beauty.


Days to Stay:
10-14 days is ideal for exploring both islands.


Oh, and By the Way:
The South Island city of Christchurch experienced a 6.3 earthquake in February 2011. At time of publication, the city was still undergoing cleanup and repair efforts making it unsuitable for tourism. However, all other areas of the South Island and the entire North Island were in no way affected and are safe to visit.

 

Header photo courtesy of NewZealandTradeLinks.com

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