With a combination of nature and adventure, New Zealand offers the newly-weds to begin their life together with romance and zest.
With mountains and beaches side by side, New Zealand is an unconventionally interesting place to spend a romantic holiday. It has legends, hobbit, tattooed men sticking their tongues out, but none more so than the diversity of landscapes it offers. It’s a little wonder that The Lord of the Rings was shot here along the misty mountains, the Anduin river, even Mordor. One of the key features of New Zealand tourism is the adventure sports, it even attracts the newly weds who wish to start their stories with fun and frolic.
There’s no denying that North Island has more of the culture and history but the Southern Island leaves a similar impact visually. With its assortment of landscapes, New Zealand offers immense scope for a romantic holiday with options such as dawdling from coast to mountain to glacier to lake, staying in historic little hotels and picking up bottles of fine New Zealand wine.
Skipping Auckland, although it’s the point of entry for the country, a short flight to Nelson, at the northern tip of the southern island, can be a good beginning for the tour. Renting a car is the best way to explore the country, neither is it difficult through an Indian license.
However, although its pleasant, Nelson does not much time to explore. It is the surrounding areas that offer more with Abel Tasman National Park towards the west and Marlborough country towards the west. West takes you to a spectacular island, dotted coastline, turquoise water and an active beach, while East takes you to New Zealand’s premier wine region and wild, pretty bays with whale watching in the southern hemisphere summer.
Westwards towards the quiet coasts
As vineyards are closed during the winters, it is suggested to head westward towards Abel Tasman, to the little town of Motueka. The town that is locally considered a big town up the coast is, in fact, merely a street. It is also worthy to warn that the town is absolutely closed by 9 pm. This could act as a limitation for those who prefer dining late.
A water taxi during the day from Kaiteriteri takes you to one of the many beaches of your choice where you could take a hike on the surrounding hills. The drive to Kaiteriteri is wonderful with the road curvy that hugs the coast. The village itself is sweet and tiny, with a couple of cafes by the water that offer scrumptious brunch with a variety of sea food such as chowder, squid, crab meat, shrimp and cod; fresh from the sea 10 feet away. A trifle may be unwise if you are headed for a hike, but you could be swayed with the holiday mood.
The water taxi goes up the coast to Totaranui, the northern tip of the tiny national park, but skippers suggest to get off a couple of bays ahead and take a short hike for two hours until they pick you up again. Abel Tasman, in summer and good weather conditions, allows for upto five day hikes. It’s only after jumping off the cruise that you realise the beauty of the place from the top of the hill.
Walking through the trees you reach a secluded little bay with blue green water, clearer than crystal, the golden sand and a million little coves in the distance. Although summer is a good time for kayaking, the water during winter is freezing cold.
Back in Motueka, Nelson that is 40 minutes away, has a quad bike centre. Three hours of whizzing through the forest, with jumps, mud puddles and scared sheep and spectacular views is not worth missing. Additionally, you could also experience here a skywire, a 4 seater cage that hurtles downhill under it’s own weight, held up by a cable. It even goes backwards, which is particularly hilarious.
If you still have daylight left, go back slowly towards Motueka via the little coastal village of Mapua. Stop at the excellent fish and chips shop, pop in at the golden beer pub next door, get beer and go out to sit on the jetty. Amidst the yachts and gulls, sunsets are something to look out for.
The changing landscapes
The drastic change of landscape in New Zealand may astonish you. Heading inland from Nelson, you first reach idyllic countryside with sights of sheep, cows,battered old pickup trucks. Charleston, on the other hand, at the west coast which is rocky and fierce, like the dramatic backdrops of du Maurier novels, with head turning wind, craggy cliffs and a sea that looks like it wants to chew you up.
To add to this drama, you will come across along the way typical New Zealanders – huge men with beard and massive hair. You may be appalled by the appearance when in fact they are very polite and helpful.
The pancake rocks at Punakaiki on the west coast is a very fetching cluster of layered cliffs, especially cauldrons where the sea rushes in with a fearsome noise and a spray of sea water. But Franz Josef, the glacier just a walking distance away from the main highway and named after an emperor of Austria by German explorer Julius von Haast in 1865, is even more so. It is the only place in the world where a glacier comes down to meet a rain forest.
You can explore the glacier via day hikes, half day hikes, heli-hikes and scenic flights. Even the old ladies have the option to go for hikes. Heli hikes offers a helicopter ride to a glacier for the visitors to explore ice caverns for a couple of hours and fly back. However, the cost may dig a deep hole in your pockets.
It is recommended to take a scenic flight in a plane with terrific views over the Franz Josef glacier , and the neighbouring Fox glacier. A half day hike to the glacier lets you explore caverns and squeeze through crevasses. This combination is also cheaper than the heli hike, and considerably valuable. And once you are back down and aching, head for the glacier hot pools, exquisite after a hike.
It is the southern Alps, however, clawed by the glaciers many years ago, leaving behind the lakes with their terrific blue green water, the steep sided valleys and odd little lumps and hillocks, that will make your honeymoon memorable.
How to reach
There are in all 63 airports in New Zealand with the largest one being the Auckland International Airport. Direct flights are available to the country from USA, Australia, China, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and Korea. The others are largely restricted to flights from Australia.
Where to stay
Whether boutique hotels in Auckland, cosy wine inns amongst the vineyards of Marlborough, sweeping seascapes and rustic retreats in Central Otago or lakeview resorts in Queenstown; New Zealand offers a wide range when it comes to accommodation.