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A Complete Guide For An Epic New Zealand Honeymoon

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a New Zealand honeymoon? Imagine nature and adventures, remote landscapes and lots of walking opportunities. If you too are a soft adventure couple who loves the outdoors then you are going to love your New Zealand honeymoon.
New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful places on this planet. From sounds, through remote beaches to secluded villages in the middle of the mountains, New Zealand will be sure to take your breath away.

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New Zealand Honeymoon

I had a great itinerary around the South Island which was perfect for a New Zealand honeymoon. We started in Christchurch, drove to Picton via Kaikoura, hiked the Queen Charlotte, then spent some quality time in Takaka. We then explored the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, the Farewell Spit and the Pupu Springs. From the Golden Coast, we retraced our steps back to Nelson, then continued the journey towards Queenstown via Hokitika. After falling in love with Queenstown, we drove to Milford Sounds, stayed in Te Anau, before driving to Aoraki via Twisel. At the end of the journey, we drove to Christchurch, where we caught our flight back to the UK.

Hooker Valley Aoraki Hike

Christchurch

Why go

Christchurch has an international airport and unless you take the ferry from the North Island to Picton, your options are quite limited in terms of flights. We flew from the UK, via Abu Dhabi and Perth before landing in Christchurch. As a fairly large city, you get a good introduction into the New Zealand way of life. It has an abundance of shops, cafés and restaurants, although nowadays most of them are scattered around the outskirts, as the city centre is undertaking a major reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake.

What to eat

There are plenty of interesting restaurants around the city but expect to find the usual dishes you find all around the world. Nothing really stood out for me in Christchurch with the exception of a Greek Restaurant called Costas Taverna. It is located rather far from the city centre, but if you have a rental, I urge you to drive there and give it a try. Book a table in advance. It offers a variety of really lovely Greek dishes, which in my opinion outstared any other food in the city.

Where to sleep

After 30 hours of international flights, any bed would just do the trick. We thought we might not be as exhausted (mistake no. 1) or have serious jet lag (mistake no. 2). We booked a room in Tuscana Motor Lodge, a very nice establishment with onsite car park and a really comfortable double bed. It also had it’s own kitchen as throughout the journey we booked apartments with kitchen facilities so we can store food in preparation for long hikes. The price is roughly £60 per night and it was well worth it, especially because we slept for over 12 hours to get over the jet lag.
Click to check prices on booking.com

Must not miss

A trip to the botanic garden should really not be missed whilst in Christchurch. It also features a nice museum and a lovely rose garden. It’s usually very quiet and relaxing, a brilliant place to grab a cup of coffee and chill on the wooden benches under the sunshine. The botanic garden is a really nice way to ease into your New Zealand honeymoon.

Botanical-Garden-Christchurch-New-Zealand

Kaikoura

Why go

There are three reasons why one would stop in Kaikoura: Firstly, because there are lots of whale watching tours which will enable you to encounter unusual marine life. Secondly, because this coastal town features really lovely walks with incredibly beautiful views. Thirdly, Kaikoura is famed for its delicious crayfish.

What to eat

As I already mentioned, crayfish is really great in Kaikoura. It doesn’t come cheap but it’s well worth every penny (or cent in this case). There are plenty of restaurants selling it. I recommend trying the shakes in Tuti’s.

Where to sleep

I quite like the Bella Vista Motels throughout New Zealand. Located close to all amenities, I would recommend checking out the Bella Vista Motel in Kaikoura. Prices are around £50+ per night. Very comfy beds with all kitchen equipment one would need. Click to check the latest prices and availability on booking.com

Must not miss

Say hello to the Pacific Ocean by going on an organised whale tour. You could see fur seals, whales and dolphins too. A myriad of cute and awesome packed in a few hours marine adventure.

New Zealand Whale

Picton

Why go

Picton is very small, but visiting this town is an absolute must if you are interested in hiking the Spectacular Queen Charlotte Track. You can do day hikes or a complete 3-5 day track. Located in the Marlborough Sounds, Picton has stunning views, lush vegetation and a super relaxed harbourside.

What to eat

I didn’t actually eat out in a restaurant whilst in Picton. I purchased ingredients from the local supermarket and made my own food. This also enabled me to have food on me for the hike. I did try the Picton Village Bakkerij though, and I was very pleased with their sandwiches and morning goodies.

Where to sleep

When in Picton, you must reserve a room at the Kippilaw House. It was super nice, super clean with a really beautiful garden. The owner was very friendly and the breakfast was indeed nice. I loved falling asleep on the sound of the cicadas. The B&B faces the lush hills, a truly awesome view to wake up to. Check prices on booking.com

Must not miss

Even if you don’t want to hike for 5 days on the Queen Charlotte Track, organise a day walk through the sounds. You can get the very early morning ferry, walk for about 3-5 hours, then catch the ferry back to Picton. Don’t miss hiking in such beautiful, remote place.

Queen Charlotte Track New Zealand View

Takaka

Why go

Takaka is a town located on the Golden Coast, in New Zealand. It’s rather small (think one street) but it’s the people who live and visit Takaka that make this place so unusual. The centre looked as if time had stopped and the hippie movements was still a thing. Expect shops full of yoga pants and colourful tank tops. Here, we saw people walking barefoot, eating happy chips and chilling in some of the most vibrant night bars which smelled like herbs and food. Stylish dreadlocks seem to set the fashion in Takaka all around the town. This is definitely something to experience whilst in New Zealand.

What to eat

I recommend The Wholemeal Cafe for breakfast and the Brigand for dinner. Buy ingredients from the local shop and make lunch to have with you during hikes.

Where to sleep

We stayed in the Golden Bay Motel for three nights. The rooms were massive, with a double bed, sofa, tv, and a super cool back door leading to a large green space. The kitchen was quite tiny, but fully equipped with everything one may need. The bathroom was the only thing which didn’t impress me as much. It was good that the toilet and the shower were separated (two different rooms essentially) but they looked a bit outdated. Even so, I would not hesitate to recommend this place. The price was about £60 per night. They have a laundrette, so it’s a good time to give your clothes a clean, especially if you’ve been previously hiking. Check out the latest prices on booking.com

Must not miss

You are in the Golden Bay for the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, right? Grab those boots and go on what I think was New Zealand’s most impressive walk. After tracking quite a bit on the South Island, I can say with no hesitation: prioritise the Abel Tasman Coastal track. You will see the most impressive views over the Tasman Sea and chill on some of New Zealand’s most surreal beaches. You can do a day walk if you are pressed for time, although I recommend allocating the full 5 days for this track. Whilst in Takaka, don’t forget to check out the Farewell Spit, the Pupu Springs and of course the Wharariki Beach.

Tip: Stay for 3 nights in Takaka so you can fully enjoy the Coastal Track. This is on top of the three-five days you will need to complete the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

Want even more? Here is an article of the ultimate New Zealand Road Trip from a fellow blogger.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Nelson

Why go

In this article, I’ve already stated that Nelson was my favourite city on the South Island. I loved how sunny and chilled it was, loved the atmosphere and the friendliness of people. Nelson will surprise you with its awesome beachfront and San Francisco type houses. Truly spectacular city.

What to eat

Nelson has plenty of restaurants dotted all around the city. You can find local and international cuisine. Whatever you end up eating (although I strongly recommend either the clams or the steak), make sure you pair it with a perfect glass of wine. At the end of the day, you are in one of the famed wine regions of New Zealand. If you fancy something a bit more casual, drink craft beer, there are plenty to choose from in Nelson.

Where to sleep

We rented an apartment with a pool. We only stayed in Nelson for a night, so we decided to spoil ourselves a little, especially after days of walking and hiking. We rented Delorenzo Studio Apartments and really loved our stay. Prices start at £120 but well worth every penny, especially since you can spoil a little during your New Zealand honeymoon, right? Check our the latest prices on booking.com

Must not miss

Nelson has a really lovely beach which looks absolutely spectacular during sunset. Grab your walking boots and trek the beach. Because of the reflux, the sandy shores look infinite. Have the camera and the tripod as you will have some stunning views to photographs during sunset.

Nelson Beach Sunset

Hokitika

Why go

Located on the West Coast, Hokitika is a small town known mainly for its beachfront and the awesome Hokitika Gorge. There are plenty of cool activities to be done and I found Hokitika to be surprisingly awesome. People were incredibly friendly, we discovered a glow worm dell (completely free of charge), saw the most beautiful gorge and experienced an epic tree top walk.

What to eat

We drove from Nelson, so we arrived fairly late in the evening. As we really wanted to allocate some time for the Hokitika Gorge, we skipped seated dinner and headed over to the local supermarket. We found fresh ready to eat (massive) prawns so we bought almost a kg. We also bought some cheese, olives and some breadsticks. We found a wooden picnic table right by the sea, so, we sat down and indulged ourselves in awesome food and crazy cool views. The sea was quite wild that evening, with waves so big, it even made us want to surf.

Where to sleep

We stayed in Hokitika for one night. We chose the Bella Vista Motel due to its great location and really nice reviews. We weren’t disappointed. I would like to add they had one of the coolest showers on the island. It felt like stepping into a spaceship. Awesome! Check out the latest prices on booking.com

Must not miss

Whilst in Hokitika (even if just passing by) make sure to visit the Hokitika Gorge. It features some of the most incredible blue waters I have ever seen. There is a small (20 minute) walk to the glacier river, which will take you on an adventure through lush vegetation, beautiful ancient trees and a swing bridge. I recommend getting here either early in the morning, or late in the evening. There are lots of sandflies by the river, so be prepared.

Hokitika Gorge First Peak

Queenstown

Why go

Queenstown is the epicentre of nature, outdoors and sports on the South Island. Whether you want to bungee jump, mountain bike or ski, Queenstown is well equipped for it. This Southern city becomes rather popular during the winter months when many come here to ski and snowboard on the impressive slopes of the Remarkables. Queenstown is a great place to meet new people, as it got a lot of attention in the recent years, hence tourism (especially amongst the young) has been booming.

What to eat

There are myriad of options in Queenstown, from a mighty burger, through delicious bakery, to impressive seafood. We ate in the Skyline restaurant and in a seafood restaurant called Fishbone and they both lived up to the expectation.

Where to sleep

We spent 3 nights in Queenstown and we rented a double room in 33 Lomond Lodge. It was spacious, clean and nice, with awesome views. We paid £74 per night but it can get more expensive during the holiday season. Also, if you want to spoil yourself during your New Zealand honeymoon, you might want to consider upgrading your room to get an epic view. Click for latest prices on booking.com

Must not miss

Although you should experience as many extreme sports as you can during your stay in Queenstown, I actually rather enjoyed my cultural time, seeing a traditional Maori Haka Dance. Included in the price, you get a gondola ride (awesome views over Queenstown) as well as dinner and the dance spectacle. I would strongly recommend booking this in advance.

Queenstown mountains

Milford Sound

Why go

When you think of postcard-perfect views, pure remoteness and raw nature, you should automatically think of the Milford Sounds. This place really looks spectacular. You will see majestic cliffs rising vertically from the sea, lush forest surrounding the area and have the chance to observe rare penguins and seal pups. It’s a long drive to Milford Sound, but it’s well worth the effort.

What to eat

There are only two restaurants in Milford Sound which I found to be a bit too expensive. I bought lots of foods and snacks for the journey to ensure it will keep me going throughout the day. During the cruise, you might get lunch or at least tea and biscuits. Stop in Te Anau and buy food on your way to Milford Sound.

Where to sleep

Your options are quite limited in terms of hotels too. Without a car it’s quite difficult to find something as the nearest hotel is several miles away from the Sounds. You either return to Queenstown or stop in Te Anau. We stopped in Te Anau for one night, before driving all the day to Aoraki. We stayed at the Radford on the Lake. It's quite pricey but it looks awesome and it was in an excellent location. For latest prices, click to see booking.com

Must not miss

To fully experience Milford Sound make sure you book a cruise. This way you will be close to those amazing cliffs and photograph spectacular waterfalls. The cruises last for about 90 minutes, enough to really soak in what Milford sound is all about. Avoid the big cruise companies and go with the smaller ones. You will pay the same, but have a smaller ferry with a smaller group of people. It feels more intimate and nicer.

Milford Sound New Zealand

Te Anau

Why go

We went to Te Anau purely because we needed a place to sleep, after coming back from Milford Sound. It’s a great place to get a good night sleep and enjoy a morning walk by the lake. If you stay in Te Anau a little longer, you should visit the glow worm cave which looks astonishing.

What to eat

Redcliffe Cafe is the nicest place in Te Anau. We very much liked the friendliness of the staff and the food, I would say it’s worth going to Te Anau just for this experience. It’s a very cosy place with a nice porch, where you can have some tea and allow for the afternoon to transcend into the twilight.

Where to sleep

We stayed in the Radfords which is a luxury accommodation with prices over £400 per night. Hey, it's a New Zealand honeymoon, so it's only natural that we would want some luxury here and there. If you want something more mid-range there are some Bella Vista Motels which are your best bet in the area. Simple rooms which cost £60 per night, pretty much their standard rate. Click for the latest prices on booking.com

new zealand flowers

Aoraki Village

Why go

For nature and hiking lovers, Aoraki Village is the perfect gateway to Mount Cook and the surrounding walking trails. There are plenty of day hikes from easy to moderate, so you don’t have to visit the area for Mount Cook only. The Aoraki Village is remote, with no supermarket around. Make sure to buy plenty of food from Twisel, a nearby town en-route to Aoraki.

What to eat

Same as everywhere else in remote areas, the options are quite limited. You have a couple of restaurants with not many varieties of dishes. We bought supplies for a few days from Twisel to ensure we don’t run out of food. It’s a great way to eat well and save money.

Where to sleep

Because you don’t really have restaurants around, it is essential that you book an apartment with kitchen facilities, so you can cook your own food. We stayed in Aoraki Court Motel, an impressive place with stunning views. It was incredibly modern and clean, although it comes with a price tag (£95 per night). It’s not on the cheap side, but given its remote location, excellent facilities and modern decor, we thought it was worth it. Click for the latest prices on booking.com

Must not miss

Many come to Aoraki because of the mountains, but there is more to it than meets the eye. When night comes, Aoraki Village undertakes a spectacular transformation. It’s one of the world’s darkest skies, which means heaven for the stargazer. You can grab the car, drive to a nearby field and marvel at the Milky Way. Alternatively, you can book an organised tour and star gaze with other enthusiasts. This way you will also get access to high tech telescopes.

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A Complete Guide For An Epic New Zealand Honeymoon
A Complete Guide For An Epic New Zealand Honeymoon

The New Zealand honeymoon proved to be pretty awesome. Definitely once in a lifetime opportunity to fully understand seclusion in the middle of nature’s best. The drive, the adventures, the explorations and the hikes, were all so incredible. For more New Zealand, don't forget to check this guide on day trips from Auckland.

Are you ready for your adventure? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Responses

S
Seiya
09 Nov 2017

Wow what a great trip.
I just started my journey through New Zealand, well not really started as I flew strait from Auckland to Nelson and I will stay here for a few weeks ;) (recommendation from some friends who have already been here)
But I am now really looking forward to explore the rest of the south island as well, maybe visiting some of the restaurants you recommended :)
I had to decide if I wanted to go to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound and chose Doubtful, hopefully it will be as awesome as how you described the Milford sound ;)

Seiya