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Your next adventure: island-hopping in New Zealand

30th May 2014
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There’s more to New Zealand than its famous North and South Islands - the country is an island nation and there are many hot spots to be discovered dotting the coastlines.

 

For a sense of true escapism, to encounter endangered wildlife or just to treat yourself to a little bit of luxury, New Zealand’s islands offer something for everyone. Tourism New Zealand has selected the best islands visitors shouldn’t miss. 

 

Best for wildlife…

 

Stewart Island

 

Subantarctic Stewart Island, which lies 30 kilometres south of the South Island, has a land area of nearly 2,000 square kilometres and 85% of it is included within the boundaries of Rakiura National Park. Key highlights include nocturnal bird life (listen out for the calls of ruru, weka and kiwis by night) and listening to red-crowned parakeets, bush parrots and Stewart Island robins by day.

 

Stewart Island is also a paradise for hikers with 245 kilometres of walking tracks that can all be accessed from the town of Oban. Visitors can participate in short walks through Fern Gully, Horseshoe Point or Moturau Moana and for the adventurous, a three day 'Great Walks' hike.

 

Just off the west coast of Stewart Island is Ulva Island, the home to Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve. Here, guests can explore the 56 species of marine fish including kina, sea cucumber, starfish, kelp species and brachiopods with diving trips and sea kayak safaris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay… Overlooking the harbor of Paterson Inlet, Observation Rock Lodge on Stewart Island is a new luxury boutique lodge offering secluded gardens, untouched native forests and panoramic ocean and mountain views. The Lodging Deluxe package costs from £412 per night based on two people sharing including a double room in the Lodge House, a four course dinner, an exclusive outdoor Kiwi hot tub, a bush sauna and a guided activity such as a garden tour or cooking class.

 

Kapiti Island

 

Hosting some of New Zealand’s most endangered birds, including the kiwi, Kapiti Island is a 2,000-hectare nature reserve and its protected waters are home to an abundance of marine life. Located just 50 kilometres north of Wellington on the western coast, visitors can take a 15-minute ferry ride leaving from Paraparaumu Beach, with only 100 visitors being allowed to visit each day.

 

One of the most memorable experiences in New Zealand is to spot a Kiwi Bird in its natural habitat, and Kapiti Island is the best place for this - Kiwis are extinct on the mainland, but there are over 1,200 Little Spotted Kiwi Birds on the island.

 

Visitors will also have the opportunity to spot other endangered New Zealand birds such as Takahē, Kokako, Weka, Morepork, Blue Penguins and Royal Spoonbills. For those who want a little more adventure, kayaking, snorkeling and walking trails to the highest point, Rangatira Landing, are also available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay… Kapiti Nature Lodge, at Waiorua Bay, is the only accommodation on the Island and offers bird and history tours, traditional harakeke-flax weaving, seal watching and seafood gathering. Kapiti Nature Lodge offers tours from £203 per person per night in a four-bed cabin including return ferry transport, all meals, wine and beer, Department of Conservation permits and a guided walking tour at night.

 

Best for culture…

 

The first governor’s private residence at Kawau Island

 

Originally settled by early migrations of Maori people and then purchased as a private residence by Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand’s first governors, Kawau Island is now a must-visit island offering unusual history, fishing, swimming and boating.

 

Just an hour and a half from Auckland in the North Island, visitors can take ferries or water taxis from Sandspit Wharf near Warkworth. A major feature of the island is the historical, stately, Mansion House that stands alone in a secluded sunny bay with an extensive garden containing exotic plants and animals from all over the world such as wallabies and peacocks.

 

From the mansion, visitors can head to the walking tracks leading through the regenerating native forest to beaches, Maori pa sites and old copper mines.

 

Where to stay… Situated in the peaceful North Cove on Kawau Island, Kawau Lodge is a romantic hot spot with no choice but to relax as each suite offers a private deck overlooking the ocean and surrounding bush area. Kawau Lodge offers the Queen Weekend Package from £367 per couple including two nights accommodation in a Queens Lodge Room, meals including two breakfasts, one lunch and two evening meals and return transfers from Sandpit to Kawau Lodge.

 

Best for wine …

 

Waiheke Island

 

Located just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is known as the “Hamptons of the Auckland” and has countless stunning wineries, a growing local food scene, stunning white sandy beaches, an eclectic arts scene, galleries and studios and a growing crop of uber cool boutique properties. 

 

Stonyridge Vineyard is nestled in a valley of olive trees, colourful vines and the aromas of the south of France and offers wine tastings and café dining. Te Whau Vineyard is described as one of the most achingly beautiful and dramatic places a vineyard has ever taken root and grows five star Chardonnay and Cabernet Savignon/Merlot, the best of Waiheke wine. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay… Located in the heart of Oneroa Village on Waiheke Island, The Oyster Inn offers a renowned seafood restaurant, bars, beach shops and just three luxury boutique guest rooms all rolled into one. Founded by designer Jonathan Rutherfurd Best and former fashion PR for Louis Vuitton and Topshop Andrew Glenn, The Oyster Inn comes equipped with a vintage VW taxicab bus on hand for excursions and to collect the guests from the ferry terminal as well as a Fish & Chippery take-away window at hand at all times. The Oyster Inn guest rooms start from £146.

 

For more information on New Zealand visit www.newzealand.com




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