This year, it seems like New Zealand has been on a lot of people's lists. The country took three spots in TIME Magazine’s second annual World’s Greatest Places list, and scored six spots in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist.
You may also like:
Each of these unique experiences highlight a different part of Kiwi culture, from food, sustainability and experiences—and they all reflect New Zealand’s warm and welcoming hospitality. Here is a compilation of these top experiences that have been given the stamp of approval.
Sustainable traveling with Camp Glenorchy
Camp Glenorchy took the sustainability bar and set it up high when they opened in March 2018. Forty minutes north of Queenstown in the small community of Glenorchy, the net-zero hotel and campground aim to use 50 percent less energy and water than similar accommodations. It will achieve this by relying on a solar garden, smart lighting and smell-free composting toilets in each unit. Guests can keep track of their energy use with the in-room tablet.
Camp Glenorchy is the vision and creation of US-born Glenorchy locals Paul and Debbi Brainerd. Passionate about the guest experience, Debbi Brainerd was inspired by local landscapes and artists. “We’ve tried to create an experience at Camp Glenorchy that integrates the latest technology, while also delivering a warm, friendly experience for our guests,” she says.
Camp Glenorchy is located in 42 Oban St, Glenorchy. For reservations, visit CampGlenorchy.co.nz.
Going back to nature in Zealandia
A slice of native paradise is not what you expect to find in a capital's inner city, but Wellington’s Zealandia Ecosanctuary is exactly that. The brainchild of conservationist Jim Lynch, the sanctuary was inspired by a vision to return part of the city to its pre-human condition, a thousand years ago when the islands of New Zealand were a sanctuary for species that survived prehistoric days.
Just a few minutes by car from downtown Wellington, and nestled in a forested valley between city suburbs, Zealandia is an outdoor haven for some of New Zealand’s rarest native birds and other animals. It is a living monument to world-leading conservation efforts. The inhabitants include New Zealand’s rare "living dinosaur" tuatara, the ferocious giant weta insect, and threatened birds like the flightless kiwi and brown teal duck—one of the world’s rarest ducks—which are all at risk in the wild.
Zealandia is located at the end of Waiapu Road, Karori, Wellington. For tickets and information, go to VisitZealandia.com.
Celebrating Māori ingredients at Hiakai
Monique Fiso's restaurant Hiakai is more than just a place to experience indigenous cuisine in a fine dining setting. Her demand for traditional ingredients that weren’t readily available has inspired new supply chains and a new appreciation of Māori and Pacific food.
What she can’t buy, Monique and her team are out foraging for in the surrounding Wellington region and creating a one-of-a-kind dining journey which is spear-heading an indigenous food revolution in New Zealand. At Hiakai, Fiso and her staff also celebrate Manaakitanga, a Māori word that loosely translates to "hospitality," and they aim to share their Māori traditions with guests.
“We use a lot of Māori ingredients that a lot of people have never heard of before which led us to creating a glossary at the back of our menu going into detail about the native ingredients that guests are eating,” Fiso explains.
Hiakai is located in 40 Wallace Street, Mount Cook, Wellington. Book your table through Hiakai.com.
Eating crayfish at Kaikoura
Kaikoura means "eating crayfish" in Maori (kai = food or to eat, koura = crayfish) so it’s not surprising that this is a must-do in the town. Ranked seventh on the list of 500 Top Food Experiences in the world by Lonely Planet’s new publication the Ultimate Eatlist, the little town of Kaikoura sits between ocean and mountains on the South Island coastal highway.
Check out Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, the food caravan by the sea which serves them freshly cooked with a stack of bread and butter and a slice of lemon. You'll want to try their al fresco crayfish lunch and tick that off your New Zealand bucket list. Another option for a leisurely gourmet crayfish experience is in the restaurant at 5-star Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses (just north of Kaikoura) where they serve the finest crayfish you'll find in New Zealand. Kaikoura is 2.5 hours by road north of Christchurch, close to the Waipara wine region and the alpine spa village of Hanmer Springs.
Eat wild at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
An annual celebration of the weird and wonderful cuisine of New Zealand, the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival takes place every March in the west coast of the South Island. A fantastic gathering of adventurous foodies, travellers flock to the small town to try out of the ordinary delicacies, like huhu grubs, snails and mountain oysters.