Reasons to take a summer staycation in New Zealand
Stuck on summer holiday ideas? Itching to jump the ditch? While it can be tempting to escape New Zealand and head abroad, taking a staycation is often equally as rewarding. And we’ve got a stack of reasons to prove it.
From exploring some of the world’s most incredible scenery to not having to fork out wads of cash for flights, to discovering more about the people that make the place – there are so many reasons to stay in New Zealand this summer. Here are our favourites...
Sun, sand and stunning coastlines
It’s no secret that New Zealand’s known as one of the most picturesque places on earth – and the happiest. But as they say, we often forget how good we’ve got it.
If you consider yourself a ‘beach bum’, rolling out a towel, throwing on some shades and soaking up the rays along New Zealand’s coastline could be exactly what you’re after. Auckland has many beaches that are all within an hour from the city – there’s Mission Bay, Takapuna, Piha along the West Coast, or Waiheke, which is just a short ferry ride from Auckland’s centre. If you’re in the capital, Wellington, check out Oriental Bay, Lyall Bay, Makara or Eastbourne.
The South Island also boasts a handful of equally stunning spots. If you need a break from sunbathing, head to the Abel Tasman National Park, which has not only golden beaches and glistening waters but great walking tracks. Or, if you want guaranteed sunshine, stay in the heart of Nelson (New Zealand’s sunniest spot). Head to Tahunanui (one of New Zealand’s best beaches) for white sand – or Cable Bay for a bit of unique New Zealand history. These beaches can be reached within a day from the Picton Ferry Terminal.
Adventure at every twist and turn
Once you’ve worked on your tan, why not work up a sweat? With heaps of National Parks at our fingertips, we're so spoilt for choice. If you’re in the North Island and only have a couple of days to spare, just jump on the Northern Explorer and hop off at the Tongariro National Park. Here you’ll find the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, volcanic sights, waterfalls and great mountain biking tracks.
For those of you that are a little more daring, fear not (or maybe do), thrill-seeking adventure is what New Zealand does best. In fact, we’re amongst some of the best countries in the world for outdoor tourism. Down South, there’s everything from the iconic AJ Hackett Bungy Jump, to the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier (not far from Greymouth – a TranzAlpine stop), to jet-boating adventures in Queenstown.
Up North, things are equally as exciting. You’ve got the Auckland Sky Tower Jump, Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy, zip lining on Waiheke Island, black water rating in Waitomo, or quad bike adventures in the country’s capital. These are all a stone’s throw from the Northern Explorer train stops.
Of course, without the need to travel far and wide, you’ve probably got a little more time on your hands. So if that’s the case, it’s well worth indulging in a winery or two. Marlborough (one of the Coastal Pacific train stops) is home to some of New Zealand’s – and the world’s most exquisite vineyards. We’ve shared our favourites in our blog on Marlborough wineries.
If you’re a bit further south, the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools is another excellent spot to kick back. Being just under two hours from the TranzAlpine train stop in Christchurch, it’s easy to reach and the perfect way to unwind from the year that’s been – and let’s be honest, you probably deserve it. Choose between sulphur pools, aqua therapy private saunas or one of their pamper packs.
Back up in Nelson, which is two-hours tops from Picton, you’ll find relaxation in the form of arts and crafts. With a rich history of creative endeavours – and some of New Zealand’s friendliest faces (Nelson locals are known for their hospitality), you can immerse yourself in a world of creative adventures. Think craft beer, art museums, delicious eateries and weekend markets.
A chance to brush up on history
If you’re after more than just relaxing and adventure, a staycation is also a good opportunity to brush up on local history. Rotorua is home to historical sites and has some of the best cultural experiences in New Zealand. There’s Tamaki Maori Village, Rainbow Springs Nature Park and geothermal wonder, Te Puia – just to name a few.
Nelson Tasman is the South Island equivalent – being the place where Abel Tasman himself had the first European encounter with Māori. Here you’ll find three national parks (Abel Tasman is a must), Farewell Spit (a renowned bird sanctuary), museums galore and seven of the Lord of the Rings locations – they have a bunch of NZ tours.
If you’re taking the Interislander Ferry to reach Nelson Tasman, your first stop will be Picton before a 2-hour drive to reach your destination. If you’ve got kids in tow, it makes sense to check out the historical sites while you’re there – we’d recommend the Edwin Fox Museum.
Back in the North Island, in Palmerston North, is the New Zealand Rugby Museum. And you don’t have to be a rugby fanatic to appreciate the unique history that’s there, which includes fascinating stories about the All Blacks name and jersey. Plus, if you want to test your skills, there's a ‘have a go’ area is a great way to play ball.
You’ll save in more ways than one
Besides the New Zealand scenery, adventure, history, relaxation, places to kick back and accolades (Lonely Planet rated New Zealand travel as the fifth best in the world), taking a New Zealand holiday also means savings are on the cards.
Jumping on an overseas flight doesn’t come at a small price – and we don’t just mean the airfare. There’s the hassle of exchange rates, tourist traps and extra fees here and there. Of course, that’s all without mentioning the hassle of packing luggage – or worse, losing it. There’s nothing like the freedom of loading up the car in summer and playing your favourite tunes with the windows down. Plus, if you want to bring a furry friend on your travels, jumping on the Interislander Ferry means you can leave them in your car – for no extra cost. Just prepare them first.
Time is another factor. And even though we know travel is about the journey as well as the destination, working Monday to Friday often means ‘time is money’. Taking a staycation gives you the freedom to be spontaneous – whether that’s for a week or just the weekend. What’s more, you won’t have to muck around with visas, passports or trading currencies. It really is as simple as jumping in your car and hitting the road.
Best country in the world? Tick
Whether you’re after a summer of sunbathing, hiking, road trips, history lessons or something else entirely, New Zealand is the absolute place to be. And that’s all without mentioning the perks we’ve listed above. Scratch the idea of an overseas vacation, handpick the best things to do in NZ and explore all the great ways there are to travel. Look forward to seeing you on board!