The Kiwi Gold List

For such a compact little country, New Zealand offers a bewildering range of unique and wonderful experiences. Where else can you see the ocean from the top of a glacier? Or visit sub-tropical rainforests and vast sand dunes – all in a single day?

Add to this New Zealand's unique blend of Maori and European culture, with touches of the Pacific and Asia, and you have a vibrant blend of culture, cuisine, and nature that’s hard to beat.

Each person’s ideal visit to New Zealand will be different, depending on their travel style and interests.
 
Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a connoisseur of fine food and wine, or keen to learn about a different culture and way of life, there will be the perfect New Zealand experience for you.
 
Our job is to use our local knowledge to create an unforgettable, one-of-a- kind trip - just for you and your travelling companions. To get you thinking about your perfect itinerary, we have put together our ‘Kiwi Gold List’.
 
This list is by no means exhaustive – it’s just a few of our favourite experiences to give you a taste of what New Zealand has to offer. We guarantee that there will be something for your own ‘must-do’ list – and we’ll be more than happy to arrange it for you.
 

Picnic on a peak

Imagine this: You and your significant other, a picnic rug covered in gourmet food, a bottle of chilled bubbly, and uninterrupted, spectacular views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. And best of all, you are the only people for miles and miles.
 
Welcome to picnicking, New Zealand style. Nowhere else is complete wilderness so easily accessible. A short helicopter ride takes you up to one of many peaks around the beautiful alpine resort of Queenstown – and leaves you there to soak up the views and the solitude.
 

When you are ready to return to earth, you just call your helicopter pilot on your handheld radio. Any men out there considering proposing to their beloved? This experience comes with a guaranteed ‘yes’.

 

Capital arts

The Lonely Planet calls Wellington the "the coolest little capital in the world" – and we definitely agree. The abundance of arts and cultural events, the culinary and film scene, and the boutique shopping precincts all mean Wellington is a city brimming with creative talent.
The city is home to numerous galleries and museums, including Te Papa Tongarewa - the national museum of New Zealand, the City Gallery, The Dowse, and the Museum of City and Sea - each with its own collection of creative works.
 
But if you really want to get under Wellington’s artistic skin, the best way is to spend a day immersed in art and architecture with a private guide who really knows their stuff. Not only will you be taken to see works in the best galleries, museums, public spaces, and shops, but you will also visit the private studios of some of the city’s best known artists.
 

Eat on the wild side

If you are keen to learn about New Zealand’s indigenous cuisine, the wild food cooking experience at Treetops Wilderness Lodge near Rotorua is hard to beat.
 
First, you are taken deep into Treetops’ 2,500 acres of native bush by 4WD to discover the wild populations of fish, birds and animals. Unspoiled streams are packed with fat trout and eels, and there are also deer, wild pigs, and both native and introduced game birds. You will learn about the best way to prepare and cook each of them.
 
Then the lodge’s talented Maori chefs guide you through Treetops’ pristine 800-year-old rainforest to pick traditional herbs such as kawakawa and horopito - before going back to the lodge kitchen for a cooking class and hangi.
 
This is Maori cuisine with a luxury twist – but if you want a more rustic experience, we can organise that too.
 

The best one day walk in the country

New Zealand has a vast network of spectacular walking tracks, and energetic hikers can discover golden beaches, virgin bush, glacier-carved valleys and mountain passes.
 
If one day in the wilderness is enough for you, the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely considered the best one-day ‘tramp’ in New Zealand. It’s not for the faint-hearted – be prepared to be on your feet for six to eight hours, but you will be rewarded with some of the most surreal volcanic landscapes in the world.
 
We can organise transport to and from track and, if you wish, a knowledgeable private guide. We think this is a good idea because the Crossing lies within the Tongariro National Park, which has dual World Heritage status because of its cultural significance to Maori as well as its outstanding volcanic features.
 
And if a seven-hour walk doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, let us take you on a scenic flight over this spectacular region instead.
 

Fly fishing – in more ways than one

New Zealand’s vast coastline, and hundreds of rivers and lakes, makes it an angler’s heaven. It offers some of the best trout fishing in the world - from the volcanic Taupo-Rotorua region in the central North Island, to the glacial-formed lakes of west Otago and Fiordland.
 
And how do you make the experience even better? Cut out days of hard walking by flying directly to the best and most remote fishing spots.
 
Our perfect heli-fishing experience would go something like this… Start with a spectacular helicopter flight over the Southern Alps, before being dropped off with your guide to explore the rivers and streams of a remote glacial valley.
 
Learn how to stalk and sight wild Brown and Rainbow Trout in the crystal clear waters that New Zealand is renowned for. Then fly back to a luxury retreat for the night, where the chef will teach you how to cook up your catch.
 

Meet the Gods of the forest

If you are after an experience that is ‘off the beaten track’, the Hokianga Harbour was made for you. While only a stone’s throw away from the infinitely more famous Bay of Islands, it couldn’t be more different to its east coast counterpart.
 
The gem of this region is the Waipoua Forest, home to the largest stands of kauri trees left in New Zealand. The kauri is one of the world’s great tree species, and the largest reaches more than 50m high. Called Tane Mahuta, or ‘Lord of the Forest’, this tree is mythical in stature and well over 2,000 years old.
 
An incomparable way to experience the forest, and the many great kauri within it, is on a night walk with local Maori guides. Few spectacles can compare to the sight of Tane Mahuta, towering overhead and shimmering in the moonlight, while the clear voices of your guides break the silence with beautiful Maori song. Spiritual is the only word for it.
 

Golfing heaven

Did you know New Zealand has the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world? And the range of courses is as diverse as the country’s landscape – from top-of-the-line properties like Kauri Cliffs in Northland, to small rural clubs where sheep keep the fairways trim.
 
And there’s no excuse for playing a round without a view. There are courses located between snowy mountain ranges, and beside stunning lakes; others offer cliff-top ocean views, or the steamy atmosphere of an active geothermal area.
 
No matter where you are in New Zealand, we can find you a suitable golf course and organise a round and equipment. And if golf is one of your main reasons for visiting, let us put together a golfer’s dream itinerary where you can stay and play in some of the most beautiful golf lodges in the world.
 

Meet the winemakers

New Zealand is a premier new-world wine country, producing award-winning red and white wines that reflect clean air, sunshine and sustainable wine practice.
We can introduce you to knowledgeable guides in all of New Zealand’s wine regions. They will take you to the best wineries and tailor the experience to your tastes and interests.
 
But if you want to go one step further, take a four-hour workshop with one of Central Otago’s boutique winemaking families.
 
The viticulturalist will take you on a tour of the vineyards to explain how quality grapes are grown, and the winemaker will teach you how the different varieties of wine are made. Then comes everybody’s favourite part of the day - the tutored tasting session.
 

Spot a national icon

There are few stranger sights than New Zealand’s national icon, the kiwi. The ground-dwelling, flightless bird has hair-like feathers, long whiskers, and nostrils at the end of its very long bill. It’s hard not to giggle if you are lucky enough to see one sniffing out food in the ground.
 
As kiwi are usually nocturnal and extremely shy, your best bet of seeing one in the wild is on Stewart Island, where they outnumber the human population.
 
For the perfect kiwi spotting experience, take a scenic flight over Stewart Island, with a beach landing at beautiful Mason Bay. Meet your personal guide to explore the area’s extensive dune systems and spot local bird life. If you are lucky you may even see a kiwi out in broad daylight, rooting around the seaweed on the beach.
 
If you’re up for the experience of rustic accommodation, you can spend the night at a Department of Conservation hut and increase your chances of success by going kiwi spotting at night.
 

Milford by day and night

Milford Sound is a world-renowned natural wonder. Steep rock walls rise straight out of the sea, luxuriant rainforest clings to the sheer rock faces, and waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres to the sea below.
 
Sightseeing boats ferry visitors back and forth along Milford Sound all day – but once the day visitors leave, the silence descends. Take an overnight cruise and you will be able to appreciate this beautiful fiord at a slower pace and without the crowds.
 
Once you have dropped anchor, you can explore by kayak or tender,  learn from your nature guides, and then enjoy a spot of stargazing from the deck of your boat before retiring to your private cabin for the night.
 
And for a completely different perspective, take a helicopter flight the next day. You will see that those sheer rock walls actually rise up into mighty snow-capped mountains. It’s a truly awe-inspiring sight, and surely one of the best heli trips in the world.