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.
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.