When Drew and I started planning out honeymoon we knew that we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been. We wanted to go somewhere that would have the perfect combination of beach, relaxation, romance, and adventure. Bora Bora was top of mind (until we realized a hamburger is about $100 there) and so was New Zealand. New Zealand hit all the check marks for us! We wouldn’t get bored laying by a beach every day for a week and we’d be able to do wine tastings, hikes, beaches, and explore a completely new place!
First Stop: Auckland
My recommendation if you’re going to New Zealand is to only do one day in Auckland. We spent two nights there and, in retrospect, would have only done one and then continued on to our next stop. It’s not a bad place at all, it’s just not the “pure New Zealand” we were looking for.
One Tree Hill
Second Stop: Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is just a 45 minute ferry ride from Auckland is known for it’s beautiful beaches and vineyards. You can also do a day trip ferry here and just go wine tasting but I would recommend going for at least two nights, if not three! We stayed at the cutest hotel called The Boatshed. It overlooked the water and the owners were so nice and accommodating! They have a chef who makes delicious breakfasts every morning and for an additional cost, you can also have dinner there, which I highly recommend! We did one beach day and one day wine tasting. It is such a quaint island and the little one street town has delicious restaurants as well!
Lodging: The Boatshed
Man O’ War Vineyard
The Oyster Inn
Private dinner at Boatshed
Third Stop: Nelson
Nelson is a small city on the northern most point of the southern island. It is known for Abel Tasman National Park, which is not to be missed! We stayed at Te Koi Lodge, which a luxury lodge about 45 minutes from Abel Tasman. There are not a ton of nice hotels close to the park, so I highly recommend this lodge, it is truly a destination in itself! We had ended up doing dinner at the lodge every night, since the owner is a professionally trained chef and would cook mouth watering meals every night for the guests. If you can, I would recommend doing two days at the Park, one for a day hike on the Coastal Track, and one to do a kayaking / boat day.
Lodging: Te Koi - Lodge at Bronte
Activities: Abel Tasman National Park
Do a day hike of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Kayaking excursion through Wilson’s
Private dinners at Te Koi
Fourth Stop: Queenstown
Queenstown is the wow factor from the moment you fly in. The actual city is pretty small and it is all centered around Lake Wakatipu. However, it may be small, but it is even more mighty! There is SO much to do here, it is called the adventure capital of the world for a reason! We stayed at the Azur Lodge, which is easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. We did not want to leave the room, it was so beautiful! We did 4 days in Queenstown and did everything from paragliding, souvenir shopping, the shotover jet (you have to google video this!), to a taking a helicopter to a glacier. It was incredible!
Lodging: Azur Lodge
Skyline Queenstown & Luge
Over the Top helicopter ride to glacier
Onsen Hot Pools
Day Trip to Lake Wanaka
Fishbone Bar & Grill
Fifth Stop: Milford Sound
We ended our honeymoon with the Mildford Track. I have had a lot of people ask me what the highlight of our honeymoon was and it really all was spectacular, but Drew and I agree that the Milford Track was the most special. The Milford Track is one of the great walks in New Zealand and Mildford Sound is referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. We used a company called Ultimate Hikes, which leads a group on this 5 day, 4 night trek, which is 33.5 miles total. It was so interesting meeting the other people in the group, who were from all over the world, and having this unique opportunity to talk to people whom you would never otherwise get to. To give you an idea, I was singing karaoke with a group of 11 Malaysians by the end! I would describe this trek as “glamping”. The company we used cooks all of your meals and each night you end at a lodge with a private room, shower, electricity, and, naturally, a bar! The trek itself is not overly hard, so do not let the 33.5 miles scare you away. The first and last day do not have any hiking and the middle three days are 10-13 miles each, most of which is flat, other than the 3rd day. This trek does take up a good part of the trip, especially if you are pressed for time, but I cannot recommend it enough! It is one of the most amazing things I have done in my life!