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The Top 5 Festivals in Nepal

What comes to your mind when you think of Nepal? If you are like most people, you probably envision beautiful scenic landscapes, sacred religious temples, and brightly colored handmade goods. Nepal is also famous for its fun and vibrant festivals. If you are thinking about visiting the country soon, you should try to experience at least one event before you hop on a flight to go back home. Just remember to run errands, stock up on groceries, and do other important tasks before the festivals start, since some of the local businesses may close during the events. Below you can find more information about the five best festivals in Nepal.

The Holi Festival – March

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is considered one of the most popular festivals in Nepal and marks the arrival of spring. The week-long event is primarily celebrated in the Hindu community since it symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
The Holi festival celebrates the death of Holika, a person who tried to kill Lord Vishnu’s loyal follower Prahlada. According to an Indian religious story called Mahabharata, Holika was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu. The king was jealous and only wanted the townspeople to worship him and not Lord Vishnu. Despite his threats and intimidation, Prahlada refused to stop worshipping Lord Vishnu. In a fit of rage, King Hiranyakashipu ordered his sister to burn Holika to death for his defiance. However, Lord Vishnu protected Prahlada and allowed him to survive the fire while Holika burned to death. Once the townspeople found out about the miraculous event, they threw water and colored powder on Prahlada to bless him and denounce evil.
To this day, crowds of people honor the memory of during Holi by splashing water and throwing colored powder everywhere to bestow blessings on each other. If you want to experience the Holi festival in person, try to wear light colored clothes so you can easily see the vibrant colors.

The Buddha Jayanti Festival – April

Both the Buddhist and Hindu community participate in the Buddha Jayanti festival. The April event is supposed to commemorate the life and death of Lord Buddha, who was born on the Western plains of Nepal in a town called Lumbini. Buddhists from all over the world come to join the procession and show their respect for Lord Buddha.
The temples and monasteries in Lumbini open their doors during the Buddha Jayanti festival so people can come inside and pray or give an offering. Many people bring flowers, scarves, and candles to place on or near different statues of Buddha. You may also be able to hear the echoes of monks chanting ceremonial prayers and beating drums while you walk through the streets. Sermons promoting world peace and compassion are also commonplace during the Buddha Jayanti festival.

The Indra Jatra Festival – September

Indra Jatra is an extravagant annual street festival that is meant to give honor and thanks to the god of rain Indra. Both Hindus and Buddhists come together to celebrate the occasion for eight days in September.
The Indra Jatra festival is usually only observed in the capital city of Kathmandu. Many people flock to the city so they can see masked performers called Lakhay tell the story of how Indra came to Earth using interpretive dance. Spectators can also enjoy a parade of chariots and dance around ceremonial poles. Every year, the Hindu priests choose one young village girl to represent the spirit of Kumari during the festival. If you’re lucky, you may be able to see her riding in one of the main chariots as the Living Goddess Kumari.

The Dashain Festival – September and October

Dashain is considered to be one of the most important and longest Hindu festivals in Nepal. The event commemorates the victory of good over evil and usually lasts around 15 days. The celebration occurs between September and October and ends on the day of the full moon.
The locals usually perform many rituals (including animal sacrifice) during the festival. If you go, you’ll probably notice the villagers building a large tent-like structure with bamboo and rope. Once the base is secure, they’ll attach a home-made swing inside of it and take turns riding it. It’s also not unusual to see hundreds of colorful kites in the sky since there are multiple kite competitions over the two weeks. If you didn’t get the opportunity to swing with the locals, you can always purchase a kite from a local vendor and enter one of the competitions if you want to participate.
A common Dashain ritual is to tidy up the house so that the goddesses will be tempted to visit and bestow prosperity and good wealth onto the family. Another is to offer several gifts like animals and other food products to the goddess Durga. It’s customary for the older generation to place a mixture of rice, yogurt, and red vermillion on the foreheads of children to give them their blessings at the end of Dashain. Overall, the annual tradition is a time for everyone to feast on delicious food, open presents and spend lots of time with loved ones.

The Tihar Festival – October and November

Another festival you should try to see while visiting Nepal is the Festival of Lights or Tihar. The Tihar festival is meant to pay homage to Yama, the God of Death and Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Similar to the Indian festival of Diwali, the event is celebrated during October and November and can last up to five days. Each day has different rituals and traditions.
In contrast to the wild and colorful celebration of Holi, the Festival of Lights is a time for people to sit down and reflect on the past year and what they’d like to accomplish in the next. It also marks the end of the lunar calendar. Tihar is a time of prayer and spiritual renewal to the Nepalese community. Many families come together over the holiday to eat large meals and exchange gifts with each other. People also use decorative candles and lanterns to celebrate the occasion since it serves as a visual symbol of how the light will always triumph over the darkness. If you look up into the sky, you may also be able to see colorful lanterns and fireworks that are supposed to help usher in a prosperous and healthy new year.
This list of popular festivals merely scratches the surface of what Nepal has to offer. There are a variety of national and regional festivals every month dedicated to different deities and special occasions that you can explore during your time there.

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Romantic Taiwanese Getaways for Nature Lovers

Nature Lovers

This little island nation was nicknamed “the Beautiful Island” by the Portuguese for a reason. It is full of verdant forests, charming seascapes, and some of the friendliest locals in the world. Taiwan is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, and here are some of the best locations in particular:

Hualien, Taiwan

This lovely coastal city located in Northeastern Taiwan has an unhurried mountain town feel, perfect for long, lingering walks and meaningful memories. The Taroko National Park, a 92,000-hectare national park is one of Taiwan’s nine national parks, featuring all-natural mountains, gorges, rivers, and cliffs. You can take a guided day tour of the Taroko Gorge, or make your own way through the winding mountain paths or alongside the rocky Qixingtan Beach.
In addition, Hualien also features a Cultural and Creative Industries Park–former industrial spaces that have been converted into art venues including art exhibits and craft shops. If you come at the right time, you can be treated to street performers and music shows as well! There are even opportunities to go whale and dolphin watching in Hualien, with a high likelihood of successful sightings, particularly between April and October.
And don’t forget the food: for an authentic Taiwanese night market experience, check out Dongdamen Night Market, located on Zhongshan road and open from 5:30 to 11:30 pm, daily. This subsection of a larger bazaar and events area is home to three main market lanes, including Futing Market (featuring Taiwanese food), another street representing mainland Chinese dishes, and Aboriginal street, a lane filled with local vendors offering aboriginal style snacks and gifts. Hualien is the perfect romantic vacation spot for nature-loving foodie couples from anywhere around the world.

Tamshui, Taipei

If you prefer a more citified feel for your love story, remember to check out Tamshui, Taipei–known for its famous Lover’s Bridge which lights up at night as live musicians serenade diners at the local restaurants along the river. Located near Tamkang University, Tamshui is a beloved spot for college-aged lovers and is a top dating spot for university students and visitors alike.
Even during the day, couples can rent bikes and ride along the peaceful coast, perhaps stopping in to visit Fort San Domingo (one of the oldest European style buildings in Taiwan) or Tamshui Old Street (full of delicious foods like the iconic fish balls and Ah Gei) for an unforgettable date.

Pingxi Sky Lanterns, Taipei

Have you ever wanted to release your own burning lantern into the night sky as a declaration of your love? After Disney released Tangled in 2010, viewers everywhere have swooned at the romantic scene where Rapunzel and Flynn sing to each other as floating lanterns glow like stars in the inky night air.
Pingxi (also known as Shi Fen) was literally awarded the “most romantic place in Taiwan” in 2014, made famous by the movie “You Are the Apple of My Eye” which also featured a romantic scene involving the releasing of a sky lantern.
If experiencing a sky lantern has always been your dream, you need dream no longer: Visitors to Pingxi are given the opportunity to decorate and release their own sky lanterns, as well as stroll along the rustic railway, hand in hand, or explore the Pingxi Old Street–a street built into a hill with a train track going overhead.
If you are looking for a memorable place and activity to declare your love to your significant other, or even pop the question, you can’t go wrong with Pingxi and its famous sky lanterns! During Chinese New Years, particularly, tourists are invited to release a Chinese lantern into the sky.

Brown Boulevard, Taitung

This picturesque path located in the center of the island nation is perfect for a romantic lovers’ bike ride. Featuring a wide expanse of green rice fields, only one solitary tree, and zero telephone poles, Brown Boulevard has long been considered an ideal backdrop for wedding photography or just a relaxing location to travel through, hand in hand. Made famous because of a Mr. Brown Coffee commercial, this verdant paradise road is nestled in the rustic Chishang township of Taitung County and is closed to non-agricultural vehicles, making it safe and peaceful–perfect for exploring and enjoying.

Penghu Islands

If you love aquatics, consider bringing your beloved to Penghu, a group of islands and islets located off the west coast of Chiayi County. And if you and your loved one appreciate history, check out the Penghu Living Museum, which offers insights into centuries of Penghu culture, from religious beliefs to child-rearing practices.
Qimei’s most arresting feature is a double heart of stacked stones, an ancient but well-preserved fish trap located in the deep green-blue ocean and visible from the sky above. It is often said to represent eternal love and is the perfect backdrop to a romantic picnic, wedding proposal, or wedding photo shoot.

Yang Ming Shan, Taipei

Yang Ming Shan is an epic vantage point from which to view Taipei’s sparkling night scenery: the Yang Ming Shan National Park features a hidden volcano and is particularly beautiful during flower season, with sakura blossoms in full bloom.
There are also numerous restaurants with spectacular views located near Yangmingshan national park, including The Peak, which offers private seats for couples and a large menu with many selections; Back Garden, a Mediterranean-Bali themed outdoor restaurant, and Sleepless, the iconic spot for couples in love since 1986. Any and all of these elegant restaurants provide the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal after a day of hiking and exploring, and a time to talk about matters of the heart.
No matter where you go in Taiwan, an emerald land full of unspoiled nature and unique adventures, you will be sure to make one-of-a-kind memories with your significant other by your side. The most important thing is to enjoy each other and the land, and remember that, in the words of the great Charles Schulz: “in life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”

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The Ultimate Food Tour of Toronto, Canada

Feast Through Toronto, Canada

There is no shortage of markets and restaurants to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to enjoy each one of the delicious cuisines that Toronto has to offer so that you can make the most of your Toronto “Food Tour.”

St. Lawrence Market

It easy to see why St. Lawrence Market has a reputation as one of the best food markets in the entire world! With over 120 merchants, you’ll find everything from the freshest seasonal produce to the most eclectic dishes prepared with care. Learn about cooking while you shop and taste all of the wonderful delights that are offered here. You can take lessons at The Market Kitchen, as you learn the basics of cooking, how to prepare delicious, mouth-watering desserts, or even take one of the ‘Secrets Of’ classes, where you will learn tricks of the trade that are used by some of the top chefs in the world. Learn how to cook with wine and also discover how to fine-tune your knife skills. Don’t forget to save some time for shopping! You’ll want to check out the Carousel Bakery, where you will find the peameal bacon sandwich that Toronto is known for. Also, stop by Buster’s Sea Cove, famous for the fried fish, grilled “catch of the day,” sandwiches, salads, and much more.

Chinatown

With it’s laid back atmosphere and wonderful cuisine, it is no surprise that every foodie who lives in or visits Toronto spends time in Chinatown. The neighborhood is small and straightforward, but with big, amazing tastes. You’ll be able to experience the finest in Chinese culture as you wander up and down the streets, whether you want to eat a full meal, or just pick up some of the best, most authentic herbs and spices that can be found. With a history that dates back well over 100 years, you’ll find restaurants such as Lee Garden, a delightful Cantonese establishment, the casual, Hong Kong style eatery, Swatow, Spadina Garden, offering over 200 Chinese dishes to choose from, and many other wonderful places.

The Chase

While spending time in Toronto, the occasion may arise when you’d like to have a romantic dinner for two with that special person! Head over to The Chase, for the Signature Roast Dinner. The Chase is located in one of the tallest skyscrapers in all of Toronto, providing views that are as amazing as the food itself. The dinner for two includes ricotta and stinging nettles, followed by a roast chicken stuffed with Foie grass, apples and chestnuts. Guest will also enjoy artisan cheese and homemade preserves. Have a sweet tooth? You’ll be delighted by dessert, with menu offerings that include lime cake, chocolate cake with ganache, peanut butter, and vanilla ice cream, and more.

Kensington Market

Kensington Market is one place in Toronto that is not to be missed! The neighborhood has an abundance of small stores, restaurants, and bakeries that will simply delight any food lover. Start with a visit to one of the local coffee shops, such as Casa Coffee, where you can fuel up with your favorite java to be ready for your adventure. After browsing the neighborhood for a bit, you can relax at one of the many restaurants that are located here. Looking for a casual place to grab a quick, yet delicious bite? Consider stopping at Amadeu’s Restaurant for Grilled Chicken Breast, Seafood Rice for Two, or perhaps Spanish Style Paella. In the mood for a burger instead? Look no further than The Burgernator, located in the center of Kensington Market. Here, you will find burgers with astonishing names, such as the Atomic Burger, the Bulldozer, or the Big Bang. When the time comes to try an excellent bakery, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is surely where you want to be. Wanda herself has been baking since childhood, and her creations do not disappoint. Choose from selections such as Black Forest Cake, Wild Blueberry Pie, or Chocolate Almond Kisses. Every bite will leave you wanting more!

Little Italy

Every foodie must visit Little Italy, also known as College Street West. Here, you will find some of the best Italian restaurants in all of Toronto. You’ll want to try Her Father’s Cider Bar and Kitchen located in Harbord Village. Be sure to try the selection of more than 100 ciders from all around the world, as well as food offerings such as Beef Short Rib Hash, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Venison Sirloin, and more. La Forchetta Restaurant offers the best in Italian cuisine, with a selection of pasta from both Northern and Southern Italy. You’ll find a rustic, warm, and cozy atmosphere and a menu featuring items such as Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Smoked Duck Breast Risotto, and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin. Dessert is nothing less than incredible, with offerings including Twice Baked Warm Chocolate Cake, Tiramisu, Poached Bosc Pear, and other Italian classics. Complete your visit by spending some time at The Hogtown Pub & Oysters, serving local craft beers and other classic favorites. You should consider cocktails such as Billy’s Old Fashioned, the Copper Cup Moscow Mule, the Noxx & Dunn Rum Swizzle, and many more. A full wine list is also available.
Toronto is the ultimate place to try any kind of food in a great environment! As a true melting pot of different cultures, Toronto certainly has so much to offer. You’ll find amazing tastes from all over the world, all excellently prepared with a personal touch. Every foodie will take delight in the wonderful neighborhoods and welcoming restaurants that line the streets of this amazing city!

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Exploring Alternative Moscow: Three Underrated Gems

Wandering Red Square is only the start to an unforgettable trip to Moscow. From underground military bunkers converted to medieval monasteries and stunning fortresses seemingly from fairytales, Moscow has plenty to see beyond the main tourist hubs.

Bunker 42

About 200 feet beneath the Taganskaya metro station, a secret site provides a unique window into Moscow’s Cold War past. Bunker 42, formerly a top-secret military bunker, takes visitors back in time. Bunker 42 is now a converted museum run by hosts wearing KGB uniforms and guests inspecting a world hidden from the public for decades.
Bunker 42 is not your typical museum, however. A flood of modern touches makes Bunker 42 a happening place for locals and visitors alike. In the space transformed into a restaurant and night club, guests come for traditional Russian cuisine and stay for a night of karaoke and live entertainment. There are also multipurpose conference rooms and banquet halls that are regularly rented out for weddings and special occasions.
Combining Moscow’s recent history and a spread of recreational activities, Bunker 42 stands as one of the most interesting and overlooked spots in the city.

Izmailovo Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin is certainly worthy of its fame and status. About half an hour from central Moscow, however, the Izmailovo District is flush with spectacular scenery and Russian history. At the heart of the district, recently built kremlin surrounds the lush green landscape overlooking the Serebryano-Vinogradny Pond. This creates a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city.
Drawing visual inspiration from various Russian fairytales, the white-walled Izmailovo Kremlin was completed in 2007, though the village of Izmailovo goes back to medieval times. Inside the complex, an open-air market has been around in one form or another since the 1600s. Today, visitors at the market can find items from both Old Russia and the modern country. The mostly white kremlin also serves as a visual counterpoint to the vivid splashes of color of the Red Square.
You can also peruse a series of museums within the district, including the Museum of History of Vodka, where more than 1,000 different flavors of Russia’s famous liquor are typically on display. You may even find your way to museums featuring the history of Russian chocolate or folk toys.
Nearby, the Izmailovo Park offers plenty of activities as well, from riding in a horse-drawn sleigh to two Ferris wheels that provide excellent views of the neighboring countryside. In the winter, you can expect to find plenty of locals sharpening their ice skates to zip across the pond beneath the tall towers of the kremlin. Across from the kremlin lies a beautiful chateau formerly inhabited by Russian icon Peter the Great and generations of royalty. It’s not only a trip into the past at Izmailovo, however. The neighboring Izmailovo Hotel has been one of the biggest hotel complexes in the world since it was built for the 1980 Summer Olympics and is an attraction in its own right.

Gorky Park

Gorky Park is a stunning site that is a must-see while in Moscow. A favorite public gathering space for nearly a century, Gorky Park traces its roots to the 18th century, when it was an imperial estate that held the now-famous Neskuchniy Garden. By the 1920s, the rich lands along the Moskva (Moscow) River were transformed into a huge park that would become a prototype for other parks all over Russia.
The park underwent substantial renovation less than a decade ago and now has two distinct portions, including a section with family-friendly amusement rides and the area that includes the Neskuchniy and Golitsynskiy gardens. In the spring, colorful flower fields fill in the background for a park that now has too many activities to count. There is plenty of boating, sunbathing, yoga, and horse riding in the summertime. Open-air ice skating under the lights in the enormous rink make Gorky Park a hot spot year-round. In warmer months, the beach area of the park’s riverbank also converts into an outdoor night club.
Just across from the park, visitors can also find the Fallen Monument Park, a collaboration of different Soviet statues and monuments that were moved there in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the neighboring Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is an excellent stop for art aficionados, as is the outdoor movie theater built on the roof of the museum. With many spots of cultural interest and a top-notch entertainment scene, Gorky Park is worthy of multiple stops during any trip to Moscow.

Other Spots Worth Checking Out

Golosov Ravine

Steeped in mysterious tales and stunning natural surroundings, Golosov Ravine is the perfect place to recharge your batteries while still absorbing interesting tidbits of Russian history and culture. Complete with a soothing brook, rolling green hillsides, and recently created pedestrian pathways, Golosov Ravine is only a 25-minute drive south of central Moscow and is a great spot for a hike. The area has also been the subject of plenty of local superstitions, myths, and legends.

Novodevichy Convent

There is no shortage of cathedrals and churches throughout Moscow, but the simple elegance of Novodevichy Convent is hard to surpass. Loosely falling under the parameters of the Moscow Baroque style, the series of buildings appeared in stages during the 16th and 17th centuries. The complex stands today as a stunning testament to Moscow’s medieval roots. Initially both a fortress and a nunnery, the convent has a range of majestic buildings worth exploring and boasts a beautiful perch along the river.
Though the mainstays of Moscow’s historic district are undoubtedly worth seeing, there are plenty of other things to do to keep you busy on a trip to the Russian capital. Countless historical sites, quirky spots, and excellent scenery make Moscow the perfect getaway.

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Five Delicious Restaurants in Sydney, Australia

Feast Through Sydney, Australia

You’ll quickly see why each dish is so popular as you enjoy some of the best meals that you have ever tasted. From the beginning of your trip until the very end, you’ll be having the ultimate food tour of Sydney.

Quay

Your trip to Sydney is not complete without a visit to Quay. Located in the heart of Sydney Harbor, the view from the restaurant speaks for itself, as you’ll enjoy your meal while gazing at the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The cuisine is inspired by nature, and the atmosphere reflects that down to every last detail. If you choose to sit in the Upper Tower, you can take in the panoramic views of Circular Quay as well as The Rocks. The Green Room offers two private terraces with animation and digital artwork for your enjoyment. Choose from a 6 or 10-course menu, with innovative dishes that include Smoked eel cream prepared with almond and fresh cold pressed almond oil, Smoked Pig Jowl, and the simply delightful Maremma Duck prepared with radicchio, black garlic aged mirin, and ice plant. From the first bite to the last, you’ll agree that Quay is one of the best spots that Sydney has to offer. Each bite is to be slowly savored, as you taste the creative blend of spices and ingredients in the expertly prepared dishes.

Aria Restaurant Sydney

This elegant, glass-walled restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy the best modern Australian Cuisine in Sydney. At Aria Restaurant Sydney, you’ll be treated to creations consisting of the best ingredients from some of Australia’s top innovative chefs. In a calm, contemporary, and serene atmosphere, guests are presented with delightful creations that include Filet, Black Angus, and grain-fed steaks, as well as incredible side dishes such as Creamed Royal Blue Potato, Roast Carrots, and Scarlett Butter Lettuce. Dessert is a sweet treat, with choices that include a selection of Australian and International Cheeses, and an ever-changing menu of after-dinner drinks.

O Bar and Dining

When the time comes for a casual, laid back, yet delicious meal, look no further than O Bar and Dining. Choose from the Main Restaurant, The Lounge Bar, The Lobby Bar, or a Private Dining Room. Each choice is unique in its own right and provides the perfect space for a meal that you won’t soon forget. You’ll find a selection of food that melts in your mouth, as you choose from dishes such as Milly Hill Lamb Shoulder, Glazed King Salmon, and Twice Cooked Tinder Creek Farm Duckling. Dessert will make your mouth water, and the menu is so incredible that you will wish you could try one of everything. Delectable treats include Freeze Dried Raspberry Ice Cream, Almond Milk Sorbet, Hot raspberry & chocolate soufflé, and more. The experience continues, because guests can also try the Chef’s selection of cheese that is served with dates and a variety of fruit, or the Box of Truffles and Sweet Treats, consisting of Citrus Cashew Truffles, Pecan Butter and Matcha, and much more.

Fish at the Rocks

Enjoy exceptional maritime art and wonderfully prepared seafood dishes when you visit Fish at the Rocks. The relaxing atmosphere is extremely popular among locals, and the food is some of the best you will ever have. Dishes include Spaghettini Pasta prepared with fresh tomato and excellent herbs and spices, as well as Grilled Scampi topped with a flavorful butter, alongside a rocket pear & parmesan salad. Also, you can enjoy Whole Mud Crab chili style, served with a perfectly steamed rice. The side dishes that are offered here are equally as delicious, with choices such as the vegetable of the day and special homemade potato chips. Don’t miss out on dessert when dining at Fish at the Rocks. The menu offers selections like Crème Brulee with fruit, Carrot cake with macadamia praline and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and Smashed lemon curd served with raspberry pavlova.

Cho Cho San

Cho Cho San is quite possibly one of the most sophisticated restaurants in all of Sydney, so you’ll want to have a meal here. The environment is warm and luxurious, making every guest feel incredible as soon as they walk through the door. Choose from wonderful selections such as Natural Oysters or Ocean Trout appetizers. The next course of this amazing meal includes a Pork Cutlet served with apples, Teriyaki Fish Collars, or an expertly prepared Wagyu Sirloin complemented with wasabi. Be sure to ask for a dessert menu, because you can enjoy a wonderful ending to your meal with soft serve green tea ice cream, a scrumptious Miso Pudding, or sorbet in flavors like coconut, melon, or sake. With a selection of after-dinner drinks to choose from, you can relax as long as you like while enjoying the company as well as the ambiance of Cho Cho San.
As you can see, the food in the city of Sydney, Australia is beyond compare As home to some of the most talented chefs who create Australia’s most sought-after dishes, Sydney is a place where you can take delight in eating. So many different tastes and culinary styles come together in a way that is delicious, unique, and incredible. As you walk the streets of the city, you’ll be mesmerized by everything that you see! That adventure continues with each taste of the dishes that are offered at these wonderful restaurants.

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Romantic Encounters: Exploring New Zealand’s Best Getaways

Romantic New Zealand Getaways

Add in world-class wineries, a temperate climate, and an endless carousel of scenic small towns to explore and it’s not hard to see why the island country of the South Pacific lands on so many bucket lists. Consider these great excursions for your next romantic getaway to New Zealand.

The Romantic Adventures of Sutherland Falls, Milford Sound, and Te Anau

Scottish explorer Donald Sutherland was looking for a way from Milford Sound to Lake Wakatipu when he stumbled upon the waterfall that now bears his name. A skyscraping beauty tucked into a sprawling alpine forest, the 1,900-foot high waterfall would ultimately become one of the jewels of New Zealand’s South Island. Travelers on foot walk for several days through the pristine forests that line the Milford Track to catch a glimpse of Sutherland Falls.
If you’re looking more for romance than pure adventure, here’s another great option: soaring over the heavily forested national park and cruising in for a close-up of Sutherland Falls. Whether by plane or helicopter, a Sutherland Falls aerial excursion provides a stunning view of one of New Zealand’s most famous waterfalls as well as Milford Sound. With snow-capped mountains and crystal blue fjords, Milford Sound is just as ideal for romantic getaways as it is for exploration.
The gorgeous town of Te Anau is a great option for lodging that will take you close to the biggest draws in the area. Though you could take a boat to Glade Wharf to start the 36-mile Milford Track, you can also spend the day leisurely making your way around the mountain-facing lake and enjoying a spread of great restaurants and cafes that line the streets of the town. From cozy lakeside lodges and hotels to bed-and-breakfast rooms at nearby farms, there are plenty of ways to relax in Te Anau. There also all kinds of romantically-tinged boating excursions that leave from Te Anau, giving guests a close-up of the Fiordland rain forests and peaks of the Kepler and Murchison mountain ranges.

The Impeccable Beaches and Scenery of Coromandel Peninsula

Lush rainforests, world-famous beaches, outstanding dolphin or whale watching, and much more awaits couples at the profoundly beautiful Coromandel Peninsula in northern New Zealand. Hahei Beach features wide sandy beaches, rocky islands, and other famous natural attractions. Hahei Beach is also a perfect starting point for any water-based activity you can think of, including world-class snorkeling and diving as well as kayaking excursions that show off the area’s showstopping coastlines. Staying near Hahei Beach allows visitors to enjoy a walk along the shore to Cathedral Cove, a very famous oceanside rock arch that is one of the most popular spots in New Zealand. Cathedral Cove is known for being a picturesque place for couples.
Down the road at Hot Water Beach, a favorite activity for romance seekers is digging a hot spring right along the shore. Best accomplished around low tide, hot springs are the result of the release of pockets of hot water as the tide retreats, making for a spectacular setting to take in a sunset. Couples can also peruse the beach at night and find waves of neon glow worms lining the shores, another quirky local phenomenon that has turned into a favorite night outing for visitors and locals alike.
Though you could certainly spend all your time in Coromandel at the beach, many couples head to the magical Kauaeranga Kauri Trail in the central portion of the peninsula for a completely different type of romantic escape. At the peak of the trail, The Putangirua Pinnacles (more commonly referred to as “The Pinnacles”) boast one of the best views on the North Island. The Pinnacles offer a spectacular panoramic glimpse of Coromandel Forest Park and nearly the entire peninsula. Though you can make it all the way to the peak and back in a days hike, a better option for romantics is to hike to the fully serviced huts and campsites right near The Pinnacles. From there, an unforgettable sunrise or sunset overlooking the expanses of the peninsula is only a short walk away.
For extended stays, a journey to the west side of the island to the Coromandel Township can also be a great exploration. A quaint and cozy town filled with terrific seaside walks, Coromandel Township is excellent for either relaxation or for biking along the shores hugging McGregor Bay. Another option for adventure is heading into the neighboring Waipoua Kauri Forest in an open-air mountain railcar, where you can get an up-close look at even more of Coromandel Peninsula’s incredibly diverse ecosystem.

Winetasting in Marlborough

The Marlborough region in northeast South Island is another ideal retreat for couples. It’s internationally famous for its production of sauvignon blanc and wine in general, making it the perfect getaway for anyone who likes the idea of escaping into one of the best wine countries in the world.
At Blenheim, Marlborough’s biggest town by population, couples will find an outstanding collection of restaurants featuring wines from the best vineyards all over Marlborough. The town itself is charming. Blenheim is also great for hopping on a bike and cruising through the countryside to vineyards like the Saint Clair Family Estate Vineyard Kitchen. With mountains guarding the vast plains and the region’s temperate climate, Blenheim is both beautiful and a practical way to start a wine-based adventure any time of the year.
Along the east coast at Yealands Estate Winery in Seddon, guests wind their way on a self-guided tour through a seemingly endless working farm and vineyard down to the cusp of Clifford Bay. The idyllic scenery and delectable wines–from pinot noir to sauvignon blanc and more–provide an unforgettable experience for both the wine enthusiast and novice. For even more great wine, the Renwick area is only a short drive or bike ride away from Blenheim and also offers opportunities to explore some of the best wineries in Marlborough.

Final Considerations

The temperate climate of New Zealand means that most features are available year-round, though seasonal differences still need to be taken into account before embarking on a romantic getaway. During the winter in Marlborough, for example, you’ll see plenty of blue skies and sunny days with calm seas. This weather is ideal for kayaking and pleasure boating even though temperatures are on the cooler side. Even in the summer (December through March), temperatures are moderate. Meanwhile, in the north, Coromandel Peninsula sees a swell of visitors to the beaches during the summer months, although the rest of the year is still a great time to explore the region.
Ultimately, there isn’t a wrong time to head to New Zealand as long as you’re ready for the relatively minor seasonal variations. With endless natural beauty and plenty of reasons to put down the phone and escape with a loved one, New Zealand is the perfect place to consider for a memorable romantic getaway.