Just when you thought nothing could make moving to New Zealand more enticing than its progressive young leader Jacinda Ardern, a pandemic hit, halting countries in every corner of the world, except, for the most part, Aotearoa.
While the rest of the world endured long lockdowns, and stop-start re-openings, New Zealanders have been going about their lives, virtually Covid-free over the past year.
And now Kiwis and Aussies are set to reunite after both countries’ governments announced a trans-Tasman bubble, offering quarantine-free travel, from April 1.
The upshot? New Zealand is suddenly the best – and only – hope that most Aussies have of an overseas holiday in 2021.
Luckily, New Zealand is brimming with brilliant things to see and do. To celebrate the reunion of our neighbouring countries, we asked four creative Kiwis to list their must-visit places, from local cheap eats you won’t find on Instagram to once-in-a lifetime activities.
Designer Maggie Marilyn recently opened her flagship store in Auckland’s Britomart precinct. She talks us through the city’s best spots.
Stay: Hotel Britomart.
Do: If you visit Auckland you have to go to the west coast beaches—Piha, Bethel’s, Muriwai— they are out of this world.
If money was no object? I’d stay at The Landing in the Bay of Islands for one of their wellness retreats.
Stylist Chloe Hill recently relocated Petone beach in Wellington. Here, she shares her favourite spots in the coolest capital city.
Eat: Aunty Mena’s is my go to for delicious vegetarian and vegan options, it’s very low key but so delicious. I also love Mother of Coffee Ethiopian cuisine Restaurant which is tucked away on Left Bank. They have meat options but the vegetarian platter is what I make a beeline for every time. For something really special (you’ll need to book months in advance) Hiakai is one of Aotearoa’s most famous restaurants. Don’t stress though, if you can’t get a booking talented Chef Monique Fiso has released a recipe book packed with delicious modern Māori recipes.
Drink: The bar downstairs at Naumi Studios is worth popping by for a drink for the decor alone! I also love The Library as the walls are covered in books so it’s perfect for a one person cocktail and reading sesh.
Stay: Naumi Studios is super cute and right in the heart of the city, on Cuba Street, so very handy for getting around. Splash out on the floral executive suite!
Shop: Hunters & Collectors is the ultimate for pre-loved fashion and amazing designer gems, there are heaps of other second hand shops nearby too like Recycle Boutique and Soup Fashion Recovery. Another little treasure is Kaukau which just opened this month, they have a curated edit of local brands like Curio Noir candles and Baina towels, alongside some amazing art pieces. Some other iconic Welly brands who have flagships here are Yumei for their beautiful handbags, Twenty Seven Names who are infamous for their pretty fashion and Haviliah who just opened a very colourful shop on Cuba Street.
Do: Zealandia is an eco sanctuary only a five minute drive from the city centre, surrounded by massive fences they managed to create a safe haven for endangered species like Tuatara. I have a membership so I pop in for a bush walk every couple of weeks, so magical!
If money was no object? I’d head over the mountain ranges to the beautiful Wairarapa to stay at Wharekauhau Country Estate and visit all the beautiful wineries, maybe a helicopter ride over the Tararua Ranges while there!
Model Manahou Mackay recently relocated to Sydney, Australia, so she listed the places in Auckland she’s dreaming of from across the sea.
Drink: Annabel’s Wine Bar.
From London’s four-month long lockdown, writer Isabelle Truman has been dreaming of her hometown, sunny Hawke’s Bay.
Do: A walk up Te Mata Peak followed by brunch and coffee at Peak House cafe which has unparalleled views overlooking Hawke’s Bay. On a sunny day, there’s no better place to be. Other than maybe Waimarama Beach!
If money was no obstacle? A weekend at Craggy Range winery where they have vineyard cottages overlooking the Tukituki River and views over Te Mata Peak. It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but you’re actually just a few minutes’ walk to their world renowned restaurant and wine cellar (even better). I was lucky enough to stay there once and I haven’t woken up anywhere more peaceful in the entire world. Pure bliss.
PRIMER’s co-founder is from Christchurch, and she is so keen to get home she has already booked her flights. Here are her travel tips for the South Island.
Eat: The beautiful Queenstown is filled with incredible dining experiences and wineries. Amisfield is one of them. Botswana Butchery is another. Waiheke Island (an hour’s ferry ride from Auckland) is another incredible destination for foodies.
To do: The French fishing village of Akaroa, which is about an 1.5 hour’s drive from Christchurch is a gorgeous day-trip that will take you over the dramatic Banks Peninsula. If you’re in New Zealand over summer, the Abel Tasman National Park remains one of my favourite spots on earth, and you can walk it, kayak it or just visit one of the many beautiful bays via ferry. And of course Queenstown and Wanaka can’t be beaten for skiing in winter (while the nearby, historic Arrowtown is a beautiful side trip).
If money was no object? The Lindis luxury Lodge. Yes it costs thousands of dollars a night. But the unparalleled vistas across the vast and rugged Ahuriri Valley are what travel dreams are made of.
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