Travel Articles

Nature & the Great Outdoors

There's nothing like getting out into the wilderness when it comes to unwinding and relaxing. It's long been proven that being outside in natural surroundings has a soothing effect on body, mind and spirit. 

Stroll through lush native tree ferns, rock on calm waters or sleep under the stars far from the hustle and bustle of city life. New Zealand's natural wilderness has the perfect experience to help you rest, relax and rejuvenate.

Unwind on the water

Whether it's coastal wonders or freshwater delight, New Zealand has so many opportunities to enjoy the serenity and peace of being in, on or around water. Our long coastline and vast freshwater lakes and rivers offer everything from swimming and surfing to paddling, sailing or lazily snorkeling in a protected marine reserve.  

Why not zone into mindful focus by exploring crystal-clear Lake Taupo on a paddleboard or kayak? Take a guided tour on the lake or hire a kayak or paddleboard and explore the numerous, unspoiled bays and beaches on your own.

Sea-kayaking offers a different experience again. The heavenly bays of the Abel Tasman National Park near Nelson are ideal for a gentle sail or kayak. Imagine paddling past pristine native forest lined with golden sandy beaches. If you're lucky, you'll spot fur seals lounging on the headland rocks or diving into the clear, blue waters. Summer (December to February) is the most popular time to visit but can be crowded. Instead, try the shoulder seasons of spring (November) and autumn (March-April), which offer crisp mornings, calm waters and the chance of having the beach all to yourself.

If being under the water is your calming go-to, New Zealand has snorkeling and diving opportunities galore. While we can't offer a tropical coral reef, Goat Island Marine Reserve, just 80km north of Auckland, has the next best thing. This is a reserve packed full of sea life with experienced guides to help you enjoy it. 

At the other end of the country, go south to the serenity of the "Sound of Silence." Fiordland's Doubtful Sound is a deep haven of calm water ringed by towering cliffs and waterfalls. Truly, this Sound is best experienced after the day tourists have left. Fortunately, you can spend one or even two nights on the tranquil water. Watch dolphins, penguins and seals at dusk and dawn, wine and dine like royalty, and gently rock to sleep on your very own Overnight Cruiseadventure. 

Think you'll need even more time on the water? Try a luxurious seven-day cruise in and out of Fiordland's many inlets, learning about the area's history and drinking in scenery ranging from peaceful to majestic.

Zone-in to the flow of a trail 

Being wholly and joyfully immersed in activity leaves no room to worry; here, you're entirely in the moment. 

Active relaxers often enter this "zone" or "flow," as they call it when they're cycling or hiking. Gliding along a winding mountain trail or beside a clear, flowing river sends your cares to the back of your mind. You simply enjoy the moments for what they are, with no thought of past or future worries. 

There are hundreds of "flow trails" dotted around New Zealand. The mountain bike hubs of Rotorua, Nelson and Queenstown are just the beginning. As diverse as they are breath-taking, the 22 Great Rides on the nationwide Ngā Haerenga (New Zealand Cycle Trail) are New Zealand's showcase rides. They offer a satisfying blend of natural wonders and cultural sights, not to mention food and wine to help you unwind after a day in the saddle.

If you'd rather walk than cycle, venture onto one of New Zealand's thousands of nature walks instead. Honestly, there is every imaginable sort of path in New Zealand. Try a stroll through a park, a short walk to waterfalls and hidden lakes or marvel at the awesome power of the sea when it meets the shore.

Of course, the longer you walk, the more you can disconnect from daily life. Take a scenic day hike or challenge yourself on one of the ten iconic Great Walks through rugged mountain peaks, vast valleys and unspoiled native forest. Here, you'll truly see New Zealand nature at its very best.

Rest your head in a peaceful place  

One thing you can guarantee at any of New Zealand's boutique eco-luxury lodges is your host's dedication to your well-being.  

For example, Treetops, near Rotorua, is dedicated to preserving its vast, forest environment. At the same time, Treetops' guests experience New Zealand's natural surroundings in five-star luxury.  

Go even further and perch in the branches at Hapuku Lodge near Kaikoura. From your treehouse, 10 meters high, the dramatic view of mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other will take your breath away. 

If heights and trees aren't your thing, then head inland to Twizel, where the SkyScape pods have expansive 360०views of plains, mountains, and the infinite beauty of the Milky Way. These off-grid glass pods are in the Mackenzie district's Dark Sky Reserve and are the perfect place to put your day-to-day worries and cares into perspective.

Relax, enjoy, take heart.

So, if you arrive in our beautiful country stressed or careworn, take heart. New Zealand's gorgeous landscapes, diverse activities and luxurious eco-lodges offer you the perfect way to unwind. 

 

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