Destination of the Month — New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand – a land of unparalleled natural beauty and cultural richness. It’s truly a bucket list destination not to be missed! Nestled in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, this island nation boasts a unique blend of Maori heritage and European influences, creating a unique experiences that captivate the senses and inspire the soul. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature enthusiast, or a history buff – New Zealand promises an unforgettable journey filled with awe-inspiring moments and unforgettable memories.

New Zealand is actually two islands, but visitors can cover both islands on their trip in under two weeks. We would suggest giving yourself at least 10 days if you want to cover both though. If you have a week or less for your New Zealand adventure, we suggest sticking to one island to focus on so you don’t feel rushed.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular areas to visit in New Zealand…

Auckland: The City of Sails

Your journey begins in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, known for its stunning harbors, vibrant arts scene, and cosmopolitan charm. Explore the iconic Sky Tower, where panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands will leave you breathless. Dive into Auckland’s rich Maori heritage at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, where exhibits showcase the culture and history of the indigenous people of New Zealand.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Auckland offers countless opportunities. Sail on the sparkling waters of Waitemata Harbour or hike through the lush rainforests of Waitakere Ranges, where cascading waterfalls and native wildlife await around every corner. Don’t miss the chance to visit Waiheke Island, a haven for wine enthusiasts with its world-class vineyards and stunning beaches.

Ashby Tours Don’t Miss Moment:

Go sailing with the iconic New Zealand racing team.

Queenstown: The Adventure Capital

From Auckland, journey south to Queenstown, renowned as the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the majestic Southern Alps, Queenstown is a playground for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. Strap on your skis or snowboard in winter as you conquer the slopes of The Remarkables or Coronet Peak, two of New Zealand’s premier ski destinations.

In summer, Queenstown transforms into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Embark on a scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu or challenge yourself with a thrilling bungee jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge. For a more relaxed experience, explore the charming streets of Arrowtown, where gold rush history blends seamlessly with boutique shops and cozy cafes.

Ashby Tours Don’t Miss Moment:

Take the gondola to the top of the mountain for incredible views. Once at the top, you can race against family and friends on luge carts for an adrenaline-filled adventure.

Rotorua: Geothermal Wonderland

No visit to New Zealand is complete without experiencing Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland steeped in Maori culture. Immerse yourself in the sights and smells of bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, where vibrant colors and otherworldly landscapes create a photographer’s paradise. Discover the ancient traditions of the Maori people with a cultural performance and traditional hangi feast, a culinary experience unlike any other.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Rotorua offers endless opportunities for exploration. Hike through the redwood forests of Whakarewarewa or paddle along the tranquil waters of Lake Rotorua, where natural hot springs await to soothe tired muscles. Don’t forget to visit the nearby Waimangu Volcanic Valley, home to the world’s youngest geothermal system and a testament to New Zealand’s turbulent geological history.

Ashby Tours Don’t Miss Moment:

Hobbiton is a must see for any fans of The Lord of The Rings. Even those who haven’t seen the films will love the stories and movie set as you get to visit the hobbit homes for yourself.

Wellington: Culture and Cuisine

End your journey in Wellington, the vibrant capital city of New Zealand, known for its eclectic art scene, world-class dining, and picturesque waterfront. Explore the interactive exhibits at Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum, where stories of the country’s history and natural wonders come to life. Wander through the charming streets of Cuba Quarter, where quirky cafes and boutique shops await around every corner.

For food enthusiasts, Wellington is a culinary paradise offering a diverse range of flavors and cuisines. Indulge in freshly caught seafood at the bustling waterfront or savor artisanal dishes at one of the city’s award-winning restaurants.

Ashby Tours Don’t Miss Moment:

Take a scenic ride on the Wellington Cable Car to Mount Victoria, where panoramic views of the city and harbor await, providing the perfect conclusion to your New Zealand adventure.

Making Your Itinerary

While these are some of the most popular options for travelers, New Zealand offers a ton of variety and options for all types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for cultural experiences, food & wine, or adventure, there is a place for you!

Ashby Tours can help make sure you have the right itinerary for your travel style and preferences.

How to Get There

If you’re traveling to New Zealand directly from the US, your first stop will be in Auckland. You can find non-stop flights to Auckland from LAX, SFO, and JFK. The typical flight time from the west coast is 13 hours while travelers coming from JFK should expect about a 17 hour flight. These may seem like long flight times, however they are often quite comfortable and go by much faster than you may imagine. Having done this flight six times in the last year, I will say it’s more enjoyable than you may think and absolutely worth it for the beauty of this incredible destination!

Getting Around

Traveling around New Zealand is quite easy. If you are on a tour then all your transportation needs will be taken care of with private drivers. If you are doing a custom itinerary, a rental car is typically the easiest way to get around. The roads are easily navigable and traffic is almost nonexistent. If you prefer not to drive, you will find that you can still see everything even without a car. Getting to the major points is easily done by flight, train, or Uber, then our travel partners can handle all of your transportation for your excursions.

Seasons & Climate

When planning your trip to New Zealand, keep in mind their seasons are opposite compared to North America, with summer lasting from December to February and winter from June to August. Whether you’re chasing winter sports in Queenstown or exploring the lush landscapes of the North Island in summer, each season offers a unique charm and activities suited to different preferences. Be prepared for diverse weather patterns, and enjoy the stunning beauty of New Zealand year-round!


New Zealand is a destination like no other, where breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and thrilling adventures await at every turn. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Auckland, skiing down the slopes of Queenstown, marveling at geothermal wonders in Rotorua, or indulging in the vibrant culture of Wellington, each moment in New Zealand promises to be a journey of discovery and wonder.

Plan your trip today and experience the magic of New Zealand for yourself.

Your adventure awaits!