Looking for New Zealand packages
that best suits your interest and budget? Here is a definitive guide.
An island nation in the Pacific Ocean composed of two significant landmasses, the North Island and the South Island aside from about 600 smaller islands, New Zealand is glorious with its ancient rock formations, glacial fjords and gentle evening light. JRR Tolkien may or may not have had New Zealand in mind when he created Middle-earth, but its celluloid version sure did.
What with the filming of The Lord of the Rings series spread out over its 150 locations that combine a maze of national parks, jagged cliffs, dales and lake front villages. A teeming biodiversity as a result of its geographic isolation for millions of years and a vibrant Maori culture are characteristic of a land that has drawn as much tourist interest as it has excited cultural anthropologists and explorers.
With a capital in Wellington in the North Island, home to stunning waterfront precincts, brightly painted timber houses and sunny beaches, New Zealand is a breathtaking amalgamation of the old world and the new, of splendid natural landscapes and working harbours, of cultures that are as old as the Polynesians and as contemporary as any world-class metropolis.
Wild wild country
Outside of being home to some world-class skiing and surfing destinations, New Zealand is one of the world’s foremost hiking getaways, locally known as tramping, owing to its ancient forests, lake-side trails, mountains, beaches, majestic fjords and the presence of the Southern Alps in the South Island.
When curating New Zealand tour packages
, ensure you plug in some of its most stunning trails such as Heaphy and Milford Tracks and a bunch of others in the South Island. There are treks through some of its most pristine wilderness such as the Mount Aspiring National Park, the Aoraki National Park and culminating in Fiordland National Park in the South Island.
Walking among towering beech forests past craggy peaks, plunging river valleys, and stopping every now and again to spot a native bird, will open you up to the majestic Kiwi wilderness. New Zealand’s volcanoes are a favourite of hikers; one such being the Tongariro Northern circuit. You can even head to the Stewart Island and pursue an isolated trek and experience stunning sea inlets and mudflats.
Oban, its only town on the Halfmoon Bay, presently uninhabited can be reached by a trek through the island, or perhaps a boat ride.
A ski holiday in New Zealand is highly sought-after for the quality of snow and the world-class ski zones. Christchurch-Canterbury in the South Island is hailed the best ski destination in New Zealand. A 90-minute drive from Christchurch will bring you to Mt Hutt known for its open slopes, steep descents, and open powder runs for an accomplished skier.
Experience the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, try out the local cuisine, go on a night skiing adventure. A winter spent in Queenstown and Wanaka will be extremely fulfilling for the ski-lover.
Another significant reason surfers make a beeline for New Zealand is the beach breaks it offers across its surf spots in the Northern and Southern Islands. The top pick in the North Island is Raglan. Down the west coast you will find a superb swell that seems to go on and on.
Even the Taranaki Peninsular has spectacular swell borne out by perfect wind conditions. This is on Surf Highway 45. Despite the harsh winter of the South Island, surfers come in horde and settle around Christchurch and Dunedin for the quality of swell and its relatively crowd-free coasts. Kaikoura in the South Island is another spot for fantastic beach breaks and reefs.
Against frosted peaks and an open sky, there is nothing more a skier can ask for.
A peek into the local Maori culture
A New Zealand tour
is incomplete without exploring the culture of its indigenous Maori tribe to get a sense of how it all begun. An offshoot of the Polynesian culture, the Maori folk are significant to New Zealand’s history and its cultural evolution. Not only did the Maori players impress themself upon modern Kiwi life by establishing themselves as the rugby world champion, but they continue to be celebrated and revered for everything they stand for.
Travel around New Zealand and you will hear snatches of the Maori language in the local market, on the street, in a cafe, you can even tune in to the Maori TV for a better understanding of their cultural practices, partake in a Maori feast or buy tickets to a local theatre to watch the Maori war dance called Haka.
A little altered now after coming in contact with the European settlers between the 18th and 19 centuries, the Maori culture continues to be relevant and forms the island nation’s largest ethnic diaspora.
With a passionate Maori guide in tow, head to a marae, a tribal meeting ground and discover some of its fascinating legends and history. Places like Canterbury, Northland, Rotorua and Auckland are the best to hear a Maori speech, see their dance and singing performances, meet the locals and marvel at their unique carved meeting houses.
Not to mention, you get to sum it up with a special Hangi feast prepared in earth ovens.
Tattooing, weaving and carving
Aspects that are central to the Maori culture, all across New Zealand you will find traditional Maori jewellery as well as weapons in its many museums, workshops and art galleries. And in case you chance upon a greenstone (pounamu) jewellery, get someone to gift it to you. The pounamu, a hard emerald-green stone found in the South Island, when gifted is believed to bring in good luck to its wearer.
The Maoris carve out jewellery and other valuable objects with the stone. Just as fascinating is their art of tattooing that cover the face and the body. A lot of contemporary tattoo artists have adapted the Maori style of tattoos and offer it to discerning clients from all over the world.
Steeped in tradition and legends, much of the Maori history has been passed down through storytelling. Let your local guide regale you with stories of how New Zealand was created. The demi-god who had pulled out the North Island from the sea by using a magical fishing hook.
While every place has a story behind it, it is truly fascinating to hear the Maori version of it.
A visit to New Zealand is hardly complete without signing up for a cultural show where you can witness a kapa haka or performing arts that fuses synchronised singing with rhythmic dancing. Round it up with a haka performance, the fearsome Maori war dance. What better place than North Island’s Rotorua to experience the country’s captivating performing arts scene.
Wining and dining and guzzling beer
On a New Zealand trip
you will discover the inherent British influence in its cuisine when you stop by at a local pub and fish and chips comes off as its well-ordered dish. However, the New Zealand cuisine on its own has evolved since chefs in Napier, Auckland and Wellington began to be inspired by cuisine from as faraway as the South Pacific islands and even Western Europe and created a gastronomy that is both creative and respectful of its local produce.
From lambs to seafood like scallops, abalone (sea snails) and oysters, everything is locally sourced. With an ever-growing vegan food scene, a coffee and craft-beer culture that is both edgy and engrossing, and a penchant for sublime wines such as the Pinot Noir and the Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand is a veritable foodie haven that is not for the faint of heart.
Seafood you shouldn’t miss in New Zealand
A river fish found in abundance in the waters of the South Island’s West Coast. Sample a classic Kiwi Whitebait fritter at Curly Tree Whitebait Company when you are driving south on SH6.
Head to New Zealand’s crayfish capital, Kaikoura and stop by at a beach shack adjacent to the seal colony, and tuck into a succulent offering of Kaikoura seafood barbeque.
A highly sought-after fish in New Zealand, snapper called Tamure in Maori is served famously across restaurants and small eateries in the North Island.
October through March is the best time to get fresh scallops. From grilled to fried scallops, you will come across several renditions of this popular Kiwi fish across Coromandel and other parts of the North Island. Come September and this coastal town readies itself for the annual scallop festival where plump scallops are served across cafes and eateries.
Bluff Oysters :
These succulent New Zealand oysters are considered one of the world’s finest. The old-world seaport of Bluff in the South Island is home to New Zealand’s oyster production and even hosts the annual oyster festival in May.
The Maori for abalone, these giant sea snails come along in the shallow waters of rocky shorelines. The locals love their Paua minced and stuffed into a crispy fritter. Stop at any fish-and-chip outlet across the country and you can gorge on a plate of sumptuous Paua fritters.
Mt Cook Salmon :
Half of the world’s population of King Salmon are found in New Zealand. The greasiest of King Salmons are found in Lake Tekapo in the South Island, at the world’s highest salmon farm called Mt Cook Alpine Salmon (677 metres above sea level). These salmons are commonly ordered either grilled, smoked or as sashimi across several fine dine restaurants in the country.
Green-lipped mussels :
It gets its name from the bright green lining along the opening of the shell. This is a year around seafood with Marlborough in the South Island serving some of the freshest of mussels, being home to majority of the country’s mussel production.
Quick New Zealand check-list
When browsing New Zealand tour packages from India
, these are a few destinations you must strike off from your list.
The gorgeous resort town of Queenstown in the South Island has come up around a stunning inlet called Queenstown Bay on the glacial Lake Wakatipu with views of peaks such as The Remarkables, Walter Peak and Cecil Peak. Known for its skiing scene, Queenstown is also the getaway to the nearby towns of Invercargill and Dunedin.
The former being one of the world’s southernmost cities. Find exlcusive range of Queenstown Tour Packages
Visit Auckland in the North Island skirting two harbours and an important cosmopolitan centre home to the iconic Sky Tower with views over the Viaduct Harbour with its yachts and an impressive lineup of wine bars and cafes. Click now to get exclusive deals on Auckland tour packages
Te Anau :
If you can’t wait to see Milford Sound which Rudyard Kipling described as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, you need to visit Te Anau, the gateway to the fjords of the South Island.
Franz Josef Glacier :
Explore Franz Josef in the West Coast of the South Island and take a trek to the glacial valley. The town is a part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
A scenic town in the North Island, Paihia is the gateway to the sunny beaches and the dive sites on the Bay of Islands. View the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the foundation for modern-day New Zealand was laid. It comprises a typical Maori carved meeting house, a Maori canoe symbol and a museum. Take the trail to the Haruru Falls in the shape of a horseshoe.
A town in the South Island, Blenheim is the gateway to the famed wineries of the Wairau Valley. To join the dots on the town’s wine-making history, visit the Marlborough Museum, also a great place to get a glimpse into the early Polynesian inhabitants of the region.
The oldest city in the South Island facing the Tasman Bay, Nelson is big on art and craft. Little wonder, the streets are dotted with local handicraft stores and art galleries. Additionally, it is a base to travel to the nearby vineyards, the Abel Tasman National Park and caves formed by glacial activity.
Don’t miss the Founders Heritage Park which is a living museum and home to a vintage railway.
A little region in the South Island that lies on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. It is the Pancake Rocks that most tourists go there to see at Dolomite Point just to the south of the main town.
A coastal city in the North Island, Napier is set is a lush wine-making region on the Hawke’s Bay. Its tree-lined Marine Parade, a gorgeous waterfront promenade is its iconic landmark with the statue of the Pania of the Reef, a Maori maiden, at its heart. Book your Napier Tour Packages
at best price with Yatra.com
Best time to visit New Zealand
Its position in the Southern Hemisphere makes its weather varied but never tropical. A Kiwi summer lasts between December and February when the temperature averages around 18 degree Celsius. It is also the most expensive time of the year as it is the peak tourist season. Fall in New Zealand begins in March and goes on through May when the temperature varies between 18 and 23 degree Celsius.
It is a time to see leaves change colour dramatically from brown to red to golden, a phenomenon best experienced in the Otago and Wanaka regions of the South Island. Winter starts from June and continues till late August with clear skies, crisp air and cold mountains being the highlight of your stay. This is the time to go skiing in the North Island in the Tongariro National Park whose volcanic peaks are popular ski zones.
The average day temperature at this time of the year is between 8 and 12 degree Celsius. New Zealand has a lively spring season between September and November. The Southern Alps look stunning with their snowy peaks, new leaves and bright blossoms covering the forests. This is the best time to visit Christchurch and find out for yourself why it is dubbed ‘the Garden City’.
Rhododendron and garden festivals are afoot in this season when the temperature is between 17 and 21 degree Celsius.
Getting to New Zealand
Mostly there are airlines with direct flights from Australia such as Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines
, AirAsia X, LATAM Airlines, Emirates
, Qantas, China Airlines.
There are flights from New Delhi and Kolkata to Auckland and Wellington aboard a China Eastern or Singapore Airlines ordinarily with two stopovers with the journey time being close to 20 hours.