This land of ours is distinct in a multitude of ways. This summer make the time to seek out a "world famous in New Zealand" moment all for yourself.
The singsong of a tui, a burst of pohutukawa red, the carved maihi (arms) of a marae's wharenui (meeting house) – there are some moments you could be nowhere else in the world but Aotearoa. We've scoured the country to showcase some more quintessential Kiwi-ness to revel in for a uniquely New Zealand summer.
NATURAL HOT POOLS ON GREAT BARRIER
Time spent at Great Barrier Island, at the farthest reaches of the Hauraki Gulf, always feels like discovering an off-the-beatenpath hidden gem. Ramp up that voyage of discovery by following the walking track that leads to Kaitoke Hot Springs. You'll be immersed in native bush for 45-minutes as you follow the edge of the Kaitoke Swamp, before being treated to a wonderfully wild natural phenomenon — the natural sulphorous Kaitoke Hot Springs. There are no man-made enhancements here, just you and the natural warmth of the hot springs set right in the New Zealand bush.
A HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE AT RANGITIKEI FARMSTAY
If your only experience of farming in New Zealand is watching Country Calendar, then it's time to get your hands dirty with a visit to Rangitikei Farmstay. Situated halfway between Wellington and Taupo, this large fourth generation working sheep and beef farm has been in the family since 1901, so this is the real deal. There's a range of accommodation — converted from farmhouse, hayshed and washhouse — to choose from and then all that's left to do is pick what activities appeal. Among many others, you could try your hand at sheep shearing, watch the dogs at work, feed the animals, collect fresh eggs, or pick produce from the orchard and gardens. Fresh air, fresh food and plenty of fun.
FINE MĀORI DINING AT WELLINGTON'S HIAKAI
What started as a pop-up series dedicated to the exploration of Māori cooking techniques and ingredients, has now become a fully fledged restaurant in our country's capital, and was recently named among Lonely Planet's top travel picks for 2021. Chef Monique Fiso's boundary-pushing menus have been instrumental in promoting and celebrating Māori food culture. Think ingredients such as kina, kūmara, sea oysters, kawakawa, horopito and mamaku, all elevated to delicious new heights under Chef Fiso's skilled touch.
NATIVE TREE-TOP ACCOMMODATION IN KAIKOURA
Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses, situated 12 kilometres north of Kaikoura, describes its tree-top accommodations as "luxury out on a limb". Sitting snugly in the canopy of a native kanuka grove, the five tree houses have large windows which invite their arborous setting right into your bedroom. And being ten metres or more above ground, you're also afforded soul-restoring views of Kaikoura's dramatic mountains and the Pacific Ocean. As one of New Zealand's "luxury lodges" you'll be treated to deep soaking tubs, fireplaces and custom-made furniture. And if you can bear to leave your tree-top idyll, the cuisine in the dining room brings some Kiwi magic to the plate too, including Kaikoura's famed crayfish.
TRAIN THROUGH THE SOUTHERN ALPS
Sit back, relax and watch out the window as the South Island's striking natural landscape passes you by. The 223-kilometre TranzAlpine train journey between Christchurch and Greymouth traverses the width of the country, taking in the epic vistas of ice-fed Waimakariri River, the mighty Southern Alps and miles of native beech forest. Choose your level of comfort with either Scenic Class carriages, with their panoramic windows and reclined seating, or go one fancier with Scenic Plus, which includes local foods and regional wines to match. This train journey is classed as one of the world's greatest for very good reason.
BIRD SPOTTING ON ULVA ISLAND
New Zealand's native birds are such a treasure and there may be no better place to spot them than in the predator-free environment of Ulva Island, part of Stewart Island/Rakiura. This incredible habitat is a haven for rare and endangered birds, including South Island saddleback, mohua, rifleman and the Stewart Island robin. There's even a chance you'll see a kiwi during the day, as the Stewart Island brown kiwis are active during both day and night. There are an estimated 20,000 kiwis on Stewart Island; that's more than humans. Of course, this notoriously shy bird we're named after doesn't go much in for socialising and if you do see one, you shouldn't approach within five metres. Nevertheless, we still like the odds of catching a rare glimpse.
Make the most of your summer adventures by visiting a local i-SITE. There you'll get free practical advice from the locals who know the area. They can take care of booking any activities you might like to do and will get you the best price possible. They also have a contact number - 0800 474 830 - and live internet chat if you're stuck or just need some last minute help.
To find out more visit isite.nz
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com