3 Things You Must do in New Zealand
New Zealand is a very special country. We may argue that Singapore has one of the best-looking skylines in the world, but New Zealand has some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world? And more activities then you can shake a stick at.
We have been to this unique country many times, so it is only fair that we reveal to you our top 3 things that everyone who visits New Zealand must tick off their list.
Whale watching in Kaikoura, South Island
We are very lucky with our beautiful attractions in Singapore, but if only we could watch whales!
Lucky for us, we can get a non-stop direct flight to one of the best places in the world to watch them in their natural habitat!
Just a 2.5-hour drive north of Christchurch, New Zealand, will take you to the small seaside town of Kaikoura, a place well known for its abundant wildlife and sperm whale population.
Whale watching tours are open daily from 7am – 8:30pm, but we recommend the earlier trip out there if you want to see a good group of whales. We recommend, where possible, to book on a clear day with minimal wind to avoid the choppy boat rides!
Make sure you book your whale watching tour as far in advance as possible. In peak season the slots get booked up easily and you may end up with an unsuitable time slot or miss out altogether!
The trip is a few hours long, and once the tour finds the whales they try to keep with them for as long as possible. This allows you the best opportunities to take pictures, videos, and really take in the experience.
It is by far one of the most spectacular sights you will ever get to see, seeing the whales in their natural habitat, plus they often come up to the boat and swim around it.
Although the whales’ size makes them a little daunting at first, often being up to the size of a Boeing 737 and six times a heavy, they really are gentle creatures.
These giant sperm whales can usually be seen all year round, but if you want the best chance of seeing them plus lots of other marine life, we recommend going in the summer months or January or February.
The trips are around S$86 per person, and well worth the cost as it is one of the best places in the world to see them.
Whale watching is the main attraction in Kaikoura, so everything in this town is geared around it. There are some amazing hotels and B&Bs to stay in, and if you go in the winter month you can go skiing and snowboarding close by.
This beautiful, mountain view town is a little wonder of the world! The coastline is also home to wild seals that laze around on the rocks all day. They are pretty tame, and the locals will sometimes feed them which is fun to watch.
The Wine & Food Festival, Marlborough, Blenheim, South Island
Many visitors come to New Zealand to visit the North Island’s cities and thermal sites, but the South Island is spectacular also.
In the Summer, the South Island has some of the best beaches, bays and festivals to get to visit. The best of all the festival, and there are a few, is the annual Wine and Food festival, which normally takes place around the 10th February each year in the small town of Blenheim.
If tasting all the best wines New Zealand has to offer in one place sounds like a bit of you then you can’t miss this festival.
Hosted in a giant vineyard (because where else?) the best wineries in the country pop up stands for tasting and buying, surrounded by amazing local food stalls. There is also live entertainment from a large stage with national and international music and performers.
Standard entry is around S$57, and this includes your entry and a ‘wine glass,’ which is worn on a lanyard round your neck. You are then free to visit all the wine stands and get a tasting, or sometimes a full glass of their wine, for a small fee, normally between S$3-$9 (super cheap) and you can go back as many times as you like.
There is a VIP package available for purchase which includes unlimited food and drink all day, plus access to a VIP lounge, and of course, access to the luxury loos for S$287. They sell out quickly!
February is the peak of summer so the festival it’s always really hot with bright blue skies and sunshine, so make sure you smother yourself in sun cream!
People flock from all over the country/world to this event, so make sure you book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. If you are struggling to find a hotel, a lot of the locals open up their homes as B&Bs during this period. You can find shared and private accommodation on www.airbnb.com.
The Marlborough Sounds, South Island.
If you want to see some amazing bays, then you must visit the Marlborough Sounds. Located on the South Island, the Sounds is a collection of sea-drowned valleys with stunning secret beaches and the calmest, clearest blue waters you will ever see! Trust us.
To get to the Marlborough Sounds you need to get a boat from Picton, a small harbour at the top of the South Island. The inter-islander ferry and planes fly to Picton from most major towns on the North and South Island.
We recommend staying in the sounds for a few days. Most of the locals rent out their stunning ‘batches’ (a bayside villa style home) for nightly or weekly rental, or there are also some B&Bs as well.
Our favourite of the Sound’s is The Queen Charlotte Sounds, The Abel Tasman, The Milford sounds, Queen Charlotte Track and Ship Cove. These coves offer a mix of unique orange, red or white sand with turquoise crystal sea and amazing wildlife. It’s not uncommon to have your boat followed by dolphins either!
Most of the larger bays offer a range of water sports and sea-kayaking, as well as unique walking treks where you can see some of the most luscious ‘rainforest’ style terrain and stunning natural waterfalls and creeks.
Make sure you plan your trip around the bays and ensure you have enough time to see everything on offer.