It might now be more than halfway through the year (where has 2021 gone!?), but that doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down and take things easy – especially not once you see what New Zealand is dishing up for you to do, see and experience this July.
Adventure awaits in Queenstown, with tandem paragliding, altitude golf and heli-snowmobiling on the itinerary, while in Auckland there are boutique wineries to visit and sailing trips to enjoy. Rotorua has plenty to offer on the nature and culture front, and in Wellington you could be hitting the cycling trails and visiting Hollywood’s go-to special effects studio. Phew! Now, what to do first…
Hike Whirinaki Forest
Venture deep into the central North Island and discover what is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest prehistoric rainforests. The Whirinaki Forest is an easy day trip from Rotorua, and the best way to explore it is on foot, on an epic seven-hour hike through dense, leafy canopy and past 1,000-year-old trees. A local guide will lead the way (so you don’t have to worry about veering off the track), pointing out rare birdlife and New Zealand’s only land mammals: the shy long-tailed and short-tailed bats.
Whirinaki Forest Hike
Play a Round of Altitude Golf
There’s golf, and then there’s altitude golf. This thrilling par-three hole is accessible only by helicopter, and sits high in the Southern Alps at 4,500 feet. You’ll fly in, tee off (you can choose two of the four tee boxes, depending on your swing) and putt out. Then once you’ve finished on the green, your private chopper will transport you home via the scenic route over Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin. There has never been a hole-in-one here – could it be you?
Altitude Golf by Helicopter
Muriwai is a tight-knit coastal community located on Auckland’s rugged west coast, and is renowned for its windswept black-sand surf beaches and cliff-top colony of gannets. On this half-day tour you’ll get plenty of time to explore both of these fascinating sites, while also visiting a couple of the region’s lovely little family-run wineries. Here you’ll sample an award-winning selection of vinos, with pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling all on the tasting menu. Be sure to stock up on a few bottles while you’re at it.
Muriwai Scenic Wine Tour
Pedal Around Wellington
Boasting a stunning harbour and impressive network of biking paths, New Zealand’s vibrant capital is a cyclist’s dream. There’s just one hitch: it’s really, really hilly. Oh, and sometimes it gets windy, too. Lucky for you, we’ve found a solution in the form of e-bikes. For five hours you can glide past all of Wellington’s important landmarks – such as the waterfront, Oriental Bay, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and even the summit of Mount Maupuia – without even breaking a sweat.
Wellington Electric Bike Tour
Ride in a Monster Truck
Brace yourself for an adrenaline overdose when you strap in for a wild ride in a real-life monster truck. The action takes place at Off Road NZ in Rotorua, where, after a full safety briefing, you’ll head into the bush, tackling bumpy old logging routes and hair-raising obstacles like near-vertical slopes and enormous boulders. The purpose-built 4WD is equipped with a roll cage and a solid suspension system, but with no roof and no doors there’s nothing between you and the great outdoors – so hold on tight!
Monster 4X4 Thrill Ride
The high-octane experiences on offer in Queenstown never seem to disappoint, but this is really taking it to the next level. Thrill-seekers can now traverse the remote Garvie Plateau as part of New Zealand’s only heli-snowmobiling adventure. Operating between June and September, the tour begins with a chopper flight direct to exclusive backcountry trails that the average tourist doesn’t have access to. Then it’s time to jump on the snowmobile (no previous experience is required) for one spectacular journey across the pristine snow.
Sail Auckland Harbour
Soak up the sights of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour aboard a 15-metre sailing yacht for an evening cruise complete with a three-course dinner. Enjoy canapés and a welcome drink as you depart the dock, before listening to a live commentary on the city’s iconic buildings and sailing history – including hosting the America’s Cup. Dinner is served above deck, to allow you to admire the dazzling skyline as it comes alive in a twinkling display of lights.
Auckland Harbour Sailboat Cruise
Visit Weta Workshop
Step into a world of hobbits, trolls and aliens when you enter Wellington’s Weta Workshop – an award-winning special effects studio that is responsible for bringing to life films like The Lord of the Rings and Avatar. On this guided tour of the facility you’ll watch an exclusive documentary, marvel at incredible costumes, set pieces and Oscar-winning props, and see the artists hard at work. Also included is the Miniatures Stage Tour, where you can learn about the filmmaking technique of miniature effects and how it’s used for TV and film productions.
Weta Cave Workshop Tour
Experience a Traditional Hangi Dinner
For an evening you won’t soon forget, head to Tamaki Maori Village. Located just outside of Rotorua, the immersive experience begins with a powhiri (welcome ceremony) by a group of proud descendants of New Zealand’s ancient warriors. Next you’ll enter the village, where you can listen to traditional Maori instruments and observe arts and crafts being made. In the wharenui (meeting house), you’ll dine on a mouth-watering hangi feast of food cooked underground in earth ovens, and watch as a Rangiatea cultural group perform a haka song and dance.
Maori Hangi Dinner and Performance
Fly High on a Tandem Paraglide
Paragliding can be a nail-biting experience to begin with, but add in a snow launch and the chance to steer the glider yourself and it turns into the ultimate adrenaline junkie’s adventure. During the winter months, chairlifts allow the instructors to reach the Coronet Peak ski field, where the launch point sits at 5,400 feet. There’s no need to worry though, as your instructor is a four-times New Zealand Paragliding Champion with more than 30 years in the business. So just sit back and enjoy the view.