Exploring Abel Tasman with Abel Tasman Eco Tours

We can’t help but rave about Abel Tasman National Park on this blog – it’s such a jewel with New Zealand’s nature offerings! No matter what time of the year you choose to visit, your time in Abel Tasman will create some enduring memories. If you want to see a different side of this paradise, check out Abel Tasman Eco Tours. We guarantee it will be a highlight of your New Zealand adventure!




Exploring Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest but most-visited of all of New Zealand national parks, and it offers some spectacular day trips. This often surprises travellers, because they expect the record to be held by Fiordland. In comparison however, Abel Tasman is much more accessible and better-connected, being just an hour from Nelson. It also benefits from a mild sunny climate year-round, with stunning beaches and plenty of opportunities for water excursions such as kayaking and boat tours. Needless to say, there is a LOT to do here!


The value of a guided tour

At Guest NZ, we’ve always been big advocates of guided tours. Why? Because they add so much value to any holiday. New Zealand is a pretty easy destination to get around and explore. But there’s only so much you can see in the space of a few weeks. If you really want to get ‘under the skin’ of somewhere in this timeframe, you will need the help of the locals. They can give you information and ‘secrets’ that you simply won’t find on your own. For this reason, we always suggest that travellers put at least a couple of tours into their itinerary.

And that’s before we even mention just what fantastic people New Zealanders are. By and large, people run tours because they are genuinely passionate about showing their country to travellers, not simply to make money. Getting to know the locals is the best part of any holiday, but it’s especially rewarding here.



Stew Robertson

Abel Tasman Eco Tours 

Abel Tasman Eco Tours has a great company slogan “Open your eyes.” The owner Stew Robertson has these words written on his boat and t-shirts. It’s a great way to show his passion for the Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman Eco Tours have gained popularity with international travellers who are genuinely interested in eco-tourism. Started in 2013, their mission is simple; to deliver the highest quality eco tours to the Abel Tasman region. Determined to spread the word about the unique ecology of this region, they offer all staff in the national park the opportunity to come on one of their tours. They are also extensively involved in marine conservation, and are the only tour operator in Abel Tasman who are SMART certified by the Department of Conservation. This means that they promote and practice responsible behaviour around marine mammals.

There are three different tour options on offer. We chose the Golden Future Boat day tour. This is a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people, which takes you on a coastal boat tour around the bays and inlets of the park.



Abel Tasman – A Nature Paradise

The photos in the Abel Tasman Eco Tours brochure are true to life. Heading out to the open sea, the emerald green of the water was striking! We came across a school of curious Dusky Dolphins. What a moment that was!

Larger boats don’t have access to the idyllic inlets along the coast – but Abel Tasman Eco Tours do! It was in these areas that we managed to get a close-up view of Eagle Rays gliding elegantly beneath us. There were also a number of very relaxed fur seals chilling out alongside the boat:

There’s very little sea traffic in this coastal paradise. And the local operators you occasionally meet on the journey are happy to share the information of the day. This kayaking guide stopped for an interesting chat just before we exited the inlets.


Abel Tasman Eco Tour


Stew’s knowledge is impressive.  Throughout the tour, he was able to answer every question fired at him. This is a sign of a truly exceptional tour guide. On eco-tours especially, you are usually dealing with a group of people who want more in-depth information.

Abel Tasman Eco Tours – Forest Walk




We stopped at Sandfly Bay for lunch and a  peaceful forest walk.  Silver ferns (Pongas) feature all along the track here.



This waterfall provided a welcomed moment of serenity!


Abel Tasman Eco Tours

Stew was determined to find some whitebait and after a bit of wading around, he found some of this New Zealand delicacy…



…plus some rather impressive jellyfish!




Abel Tasman Eco Tours helps in various conservation projects and pest control programmes all across the park. It’s always a great feeling when you support tour operations who are doing such great work. Stew knows where to find those cute little Blue Penguins, gannets and cormorants!




Flexibility is always the key to any good eco-tour.  Stew was able to change the plan at any time to suit a particular request. It truly makes all the difference to have tour guides who are willing to cater to the individual desires of their customers. It’s a sign that rather than being on aut0-pilot, guides treat every tour as unique, no matter how many they have taken.




For more information, you can check out Abel Tasman Eco Tour’s website here. For more itinerary ideas for the Abel Tasman region, check out our dedicated nature and lifestyle itineraries!


Happy Travelling!


Stewart Island things to do

Getting across to New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island, is a breeze.  From Invercargill, you can either fly across in a small plane or go by boat. Now it is safe to assume that travellers don’t go to Stewart Island for a great latte or a shopping expedition. And that’s because this island is a nature lover’s idea of heaven – getting away from it all. Although the main hub, which is Oban at Half Moon Bay, does have the basics.

Oban is the one village on stewart island

…and plenty of fishing boats

oban harbour with boats

Why visit Stewart Island ?

Most of Stewart Island is National Park territory, so it does have the purest nature experience you will find anywhere in the world. Also, much of Stewart Island is free of predators – that means that the island has the most plentiful native bird life. The Kiwi birds are protected here so a Kiwi Night Tour is a must-do. The beaches are truly beautiful – this one is a called Bathing Beach, and for a good reason.

Stewart Island things to do - sightseeing nature walks

Bathing Beach Stewart Island

Plus, the tramping and hiking experiences are unsurpassed. You can choose a day trip or stay overnight in huts.

Where to eat on Stewart Island:

South Sea Hotel

The iconic and busy South Sea Hotel is the place where all the locals go. And what an incredible atmosphere this hotel has – especially at night – it is an experience not to be missed. Stewart Island also has a small supermarket. And for a supermarket of this size, it really does punch above its weight. For pure convenience, there is no better option, especially if you are going on a major tramping excursion.

Stewart Island things to do - South sea Hotel Stewart Island

South Sea Hotel

Kai Hut

Continuing with the food theme, the Kai Hut is incredibly popular with travellers and the locals.  The fish & chips are delish! Once again, you will really love the nightly communal atmosphere – mixing it up with the locals.

Kai Hut dining option on stewart island

Church Hill Restaurant

If you’re looking for a more refined dining night out, then you really can’t go pass the lovely Church Hill Restaurant. In fact, we think Stewart Island is very lucky to have these guys.  Owners, Deanne and Chris are true professionals and offer a beautiful dining experience. Their restaurant is small and intimate with a roaring fire for those cold nights.

Stewart Island things to do - Church Hill Restaurant

Church Hill Restaurant and Boutique accommodation

Deanne is a trained chef and Chris is front-of-house. You will get beautiful views out over the bay. Chef Gordon Ramsay has dined here, and loved it – so what better recommendation is that!

Stewart Island shops

Glowing Sky

As a traveller, sometimes you will find true ‘gems’ in the unlikeliest places.  The Glowing Sky shop is one such gem. I guarantee you will get no better service than at this family-owned business.  The Glowing Sky shop specialize in pure Merino Wool clothing. Many of their garments are cleverly multi-functional. That mean with a bit of folding this way and that, a bolero jacket can change into a scarf – that sort of thing.

Stewart Island things to do - Merino wool fashion

Glowing Sky Merino Clothing Shop

4 Four Square Supermarket

The Four Square Supermarket may look on the small side, but it is extremely well equipped.  There is a meat and deli section, sandwich packs and home-made soup waiting in the fridge.  No one needs to starve.  The great thing about Stewart Island is that the locals have learnt to be flexible.  If they don’t have it, they will do their best to get it in for you.

How to get around Stewart Island

Getting around Stewart Island is easy.  You can hire an e-bike or scooter – or rent a small car.  Just remember that the roads are very narrow, so its best that you don’t go over 40 kph in speed. You will need to be on the lookout for pedestrians that also need to share the roads from time to time.

What to do in Stewart Island

Fishing trips

Your choice of fishing trips will largely depend on how “salty” you want your skipper to be.  What we tend to look for, is a skipper who will engage with their customers.  Of course, safety is paramount and is always a consideration, when making a choice like this.  Ask around and you will get some idea of who to book with.  Believe me, catching your very own blue cod on traditional hand lines, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Stewart Island things to do - fishing charters

Fishing for Blue Cod using Traditional Hand lines

And on these fishing charters, you will get to see the wonderful bird life of the area. From time to time, Mollymawk albatross will circle the boat. That’s actually very special, as the Mollymawk Albatross is only found in the Southern Hemisphere.

Stewart Island things to do - Bird life

Kiwi Night Tour Stewart Island

We can’t say enough good things about this beautiful experience.  Not many travellers get to see New Zealand’s iconic Kiwi Bird in the wild – believe me, it is incredibly special when you do.  The Stewart Island Kiwi Night Tours start from 5.00 pm or later, depending on the season.  The tour we did had the most amazing guide, a young woman called Robyn.  She had an all-consuming passion for the Stewart Island environment and it was infectious. We all came under its spell.

Stewart Island things to do - See Kiwi in the wild

Kiwi Night Tour

The tour began with a boat trip out to Little Glory Cove.  Everyone is armed with a torch before the walk begins. The track is mostly mossy boardwalk and easy to walk.  As the walk continues, don’t be surprised to feel a growing sense of serenity.  As we walked out onto the beach to check for seal lions, our guide shone her infrared torch onto a Kiwi that was foraging for sand hopper larvae.

Unusually, we had 28 minutes with this dear little male kiwi.  There are no more 16 people allowed at any one time on this tour, so that does tend to heighten the enjoyment. Also you need to be aware there are strict rules in place to protect these birds. Strong wild light is a definite no-no – and you need to keep your distance.  But if you are a true nature lover, you will totally understand why.

On the way back, we came across the most beautiful trees, some of them were 900 years old.  They were all growing across the forest at right angles, giving the illusion of an ancient world. Then most amazing thing happened. We came across a male kiwi calling for its mate.  Our guide had been waiting years for this moment – no other guide had ever seen a Kiwi elongate its head and give a mating cry. It was a very emotional moment for her and we were all touched by it.

Tramping (NZ for hiking) on Stewart Island

Tramping is huge on Stewart Island.  A very famous tramp, is the Mason Bay walk.  The only way you can get to Masons Bay (apart from cross this island be foot) is by plane or helicopter.  I can tell you, landing on this beach was an absolute thrill.

Now, a word of caution.  This is a 4-hour tramp and you really need to have a good level of fitness.  But most importantly, you need to have the correct gear.  And that means, warm clothing, good tramping boots and gators. There is a part you will go through called “Chocolate Swamp”.  This area is constantly muddy and you may find yourself up to your ankles in mud.  Otherwise the track is of a good standard and well maintained.

Where to stay in Stewart Island

Stewart Island Lodge

There are a number of accommodation options on Stewart Island, but not a great deal variety.  We stayed at the Stewart Lodge which had a wonderful host Lisa and views to die for. The lodge is suitable for those travellers who are totally independent, although helpful advice is on hand, if you need it.  The lodge is more than adequate and quite peaceful once everyone has settled in for the night

Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant

Some of us do enjoy a higher level of comfort – and that means travellers who value their time more than what they spend. So for a boutique stay, you really can’t go pass Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant. Not only do they have the best restaurant in town, but three lovely private cottages set in the bush.

Summary on Stewart Island

Stewart Island things to do will have you wondering where the time went.  Although it is not for everyone, we guarantee you will return to the mainland refreshed in mind, body and spirit. Autumn is a wonderful time to travel too!

View some of our sample nature & lifestyle travel itineraries. Stewart Island can easily be included.

Happy Travelling!

Top Day Trips in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Abel Tasman National Park is one of the smallest reserves in New Zealand, but by far one of the most spectacular. Its white sand beaches and rich rainforest take pride of place in New Zealand tourism campaigns. As a result, the park is anchored onto the itinerary of most visitors to these shores. The next task is to work out the best way to plan your visit. Abel Tasman is distinct from New Zealand’s other national parks in that you will need to catch internal transportation around the park – in the form of water taxis! This does mean that you will have to plan your Abel Tasman day trips carefully, but we are here to help you with that!


Abel Tasman Coast Track signage


Abel Tasman Day Trips – The National Park

Abel Tasman National Park covers the shores of the north-western tip of the South Island between Nelson and Golden Bay. It might only cover 237 km, but it sure packs a lot in! You have stunning beaches, coastal tracks to suit all fitness levels, and fantastic kayaking tours. It also has a very significant role to play in New Zealand history. The region is named for the famous Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who become the first European to sight New Zealand in 1642, and moored this ship at Golden Bay. However, they never made landfall due to being scared off by the local Maori. Although the Dutch never actually colonised New Zealand, this interaction made its mark. The very name ‘New Zealand’ is named for the Dutch province of ‘Zeeland’ – most travellers aren’t aware of this piece of history!

How to get there


Most visitors to Abel Tasman National Park arrive from Nelson using State Highway 60, which takes around an hour. It is worth taking your time here for two reasons. It’s a really stunning road, but also not the highest quality. It’s pretty rutted in places, especially around Takaka Hill, so you’ll want to drive carefully.

The main starting point for most travellers is Kaiteriteri Beach or Marahau Beach. Both of which are located at the southern end of the park. (There’s also the lesser-used access from Totaranui/ Takaka from the northern part.) You can view a location map here.

You can easily reach the Nelson-Tasman region with a domestic flight from the North Island or South Island. For travellers who want to “chill” during their New Zealand holiday, the Abel Tasman region is the perfect spot!


Abel Tasman Coastal Walks seating

Places to stay whilst visiting Abel Tasman National Park


Many travellers will make Nelson their base to explore the Tasman region. Nelson itself has a lot to offer as a destination – a growing food culture, a great arts and crafts culture, and nature offerings in its own right. As one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand, it’s a fantastic place to stay all year-round. We definitely recommend checking out the fantastic day walks in the area!

Bronte – Ruby Bay – Motueka

These towns are located between Nelson and the Abel Tasman Park. Vineyards and fruit orchards make this one of the most scenic landscapes of New Zealand! You’ll also find lovely waterfront galleries and craft shops, bushwalks and cycling opportunities. Accommodation here is much more unique and varied, with lovely vineyard cottages and B&Bs such as Pine Hill Lodge. It’s only a 30 min drive to the Abel Tasman day trips or back to Nelson, so it puts you in a great position to explore.

Kaiteriteri + Marahau

This is just a stone’s throw from the Park entrance. Kaiteriteri is a holiday town best known for its spectacular beaches, but be warned: It’s a very popular holiday spot during the summer for locals! New Zealanders converge on the area from all over the South Island over the Christmas Holidays, turning it into a bit of a madhouse. To secure accommodation during the summer months, you need to book as much as a year in advance. This is something you need to factor into your holiday plans if you are visiting at this time of year. Travellers do have a pretty good choice of accommodation, including B&B’s, apartments and motels. However, there is a very limited choice of restaurants and general facilities.

Abel Tasman Day Trips: How to Choose

Unguided Walks – The best way to manage your own day trip is to take a water taxi to one of the bays along the coastline. A very popular day trip is to go from Kaiteriteri Beach with a water taxi at 9.15am or 10.30am to Bark Bay. From here, you can walk to Anchorage Bay in 4 hours (about 10 kms)  and then take the water taxi back to Kaiteriteri at 3.45pm or 4.45pm. For a longer hike, go further north to Awaroa and walk back to Tonga or Bark Bay. Either way, the water taxi is your best friend! You can find a list of water taxi services here.


Abel Tasman Shuttle - plank


Bark Bay Walk


Guided Kayaking and Walks -Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park really is the stuff of legend. It’s an experience that really shouldn’t be missed. Start from Kaiteriteri or Marahau with a local sea kayaking company, either for half or a full day. If you have a good level of fitness, I’d recommend a guided kayaking and walking trip. This will provide you with the best of both worlds! The water taxi will take you to Tonga Bay, which is part of a pristine marine reserve. Here you can start paddling in a double kayak.


Glorious Hot days in the Tasman


All the equipment is provided by the operator. All you need to bring is a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a bathing costume, and towel! A guided nature walk on the Abel Tasman Track is included as well as lunch. You’ll return to Marahau or Kaiteriteri at 5.30pm.

Kayaking from Kaiteriteri


Sailing at Abel Tasman National Park – for those travellers who like a little less physical exertion, a perfect alternative is a sailing excursion with Abel Tasman Charters. It offers you another perspective to view this incredible coastline. You’ll explore the little bays and beaches, go for a swim, have a paddle in a kayak, and enjoy local food and wine in style!


Abel Tasman Charter Boat with Rod

Abel Tasman Day Trips – When is the best time to visit the Abel Tasman National Park?

Given that the region is one of the warmest and sunniest in New Zealand, you can visit throughout the year. There will be less services in winter, but you’re likely to have a beach to yourself! As we’ve already mentioned, this region is incredibly busy in the summer months. If you want fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation, it’s worth considering visiting in the off-season. The Autumn in particular is a beautiful time to visit!

Kaiteriteri beach solitude

Abel Tasman Day Trips – How long do I stay in the Abel Tasman region?

I’d recommend at least two nights – three is even better! Apart from the Abel Tasman National Park, this area is a classic New Zealand lifestyle destination. There are stunning wines (including tasting tours), local arts and crafts, and other nature and wildlife excursions such as the Golden Bay and Cape Farewell (see previous blog).

For more advice on the Tasman region, check out our nature and lifestyle itineraries.

Happy travelling!

How to Plan the Perfect New Zealand Honeymoon

So, the beautiful wedding gown has been packed away and you’re about to fly off for a fabulous honeymoon – or are you? The secret to an incredible honeymoon is NOT just wine and sunsets, no matter what Instagram might say! The key is always careful planning, especially if it’s a New Zealand honeymoon – you’re most likely travelling a long way to get here, so you need to make sure that it’s worth it!

Here are the factors you should consider to help you plan the perfect New Zealand Honeymoon:


Abel Tasman Charter on a beautiful sunny day 2

Planning your New Zealand honeymoon – How much time do you have?

The biggest mistake you can make on your honeymoon, no matter what your destination, is squeezing in too much. Excited newlyweds are keen to squeeze in as many highlights as possible, but slow down for a second; if you follow that particular strategy, you’ll probably see a lot less.

This might seem illogical, but if you spend your entire honeymoon trip rushing from place to place, a lot less is going to stick in your head. If your travels are centered around one activity after another, you are going to miss out on the little things which make a trip special. After the stress and adrenaline of an upcoming wedding, the honeymoon is really your chance to unwind and enjoy your first days as a couple. Packing your travels to the brim with ‘stuff’ can take away from this if you aren’t careful.

New Zealand honeymoons have become increasingly popular, despite the travel distance for newlyweds. It’s a small country with a diverse range of beautiful scenery and lots of adventurous activities. So, deciding what to add to the itinerary is challenging.

In general, the more activities you want to do, the more time you will need for your honeymoon. New Zealand might be a small country, but visitors routinely under-estimate travel times because they don’t account for the mountainous terrain. We recommend that couples take a least 10 days for a New Zealand honeymoon, to make it really worth the travel time.


Hasslefree Tours christchurch2

Planning your New Zealand honeymoon – What experiences do you both love and want the most?

Now comes the hard part; deciding how to spend your time. What interests do you and your partner share? Do you both have similar fitness levels? Are there any absolute ‘must-dos’? These are the questions that any couple needs to ask themselves during the planning process. A great idea is to create two separate lists of activities – one with the essentials, and one with the ‘extras.’  This will help you to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ so to speak. To plan out a well-rounded New Zealand honeymoon, try to get a good mix of different tours and activities.


Real Journeys

Real Journeys

For example, small group wildlife tours such as Elm Wildlife Tours are an absolute favourite with our honeymoon clients – those little penguins are so darn cute! There are also adrenaline-filled thrills like Ziptrek tours in Queenstown – this is where you get to soar above the forest canopies like as bird!  Then there are the true must-have experiences, like kayaking through Abel Tasman. Of course, we can’t possibly forget the much publicized Lord of the Rings locations! A jet boat tour in Glenorchy is the perfect way to take in those stunning Tolkien vistas.

Please note: For a number of tours it is necessary to book ahead. The passenger numbers for nature tours are limited and short term bookings not usually possible.


NZone Skydive Queentown 3


Planning your New Zealand honeymoon – What time of the year did you have in mind?

Generally, the best time to visit New Zealand is between October and April – these are the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. However, it’s worth remembering that the peak season is the summer months (December – February). This is an extremely busy period of domestic travel for local New Zealanders as well as tourists, as this includes Christmas and the school holidays. This makes most areas of the country extremely busy, with seasonal price hikes for accommodation and car rentals. Flights also tend to be a lot more expensive during these months, so it’s worth considering travelling at another time of year.

For example, Autumn is a great time to visit New Zealand for your honeymoon. Prices are much cheaper, the crowds lessen, and the weather is generally fantastic. If you can only travel in New Zealand’s off-season winter months (June-August) remember that the temperatures will be lower and the days shorter. But this can be a great idea if you are into snowsports!


Arrowtown Autumn2

What sort of accommodation do you prefer?

The great strength of New Zealand’s accommodation options is VARIETY. It doesn’t have to be from lodge to lodge or hotel to hotel. Some of our most talked about places are tucked away in vineyards or farms, and now is your chance to mix and match!


Honeymoon Travel - New Zealand style


Honeymoon Travel - New Zealand style


New Zealand has some beautifully restored villa accommodation with every modern convenience, and they’re usually located in quiet places. This is perfect for honeymooning couples! Remember: you are on the trip of a lifetime, so spending a little more here and there is definitely worth it. You can check out our top romantic getaway ideas here.


Honeymoon Travel - New Zealand style

The Sounds Retreat Marlborough Sounds

New Zealand also provides all levels of accommodation privacy.  Some of our customers prefer hosts/owners to be on-site or just down the road, whilst others prefer total solitude with just the native birdlife for company.  If you prefer a full concierge service, then a stylish hotel will probably suit.

We guarantee that no matter how you decide to plan your New Zealand honeymoon, it will be an experience you will never forget. You will come away with so many lasting impressions – here’s one of the cutest!


Little Blue Penguin - Photo by Hapuku Factory Kaikoura

Little Blue Penguin – Photo by Hapuku Factory Kaikoura


For more honeymoon recommendations, check out our dedicated honeymoon itineraries!

Happy honeymoon travel throughout New Zealand!

Central Otago Experiences – Cromwell and Wanaka Adventures

The pretty and peaceful town of Cromwell is the ideal base for travellers. And that’s because Cromwell is just a short drive from busy Queenstown, Wanaka and those great wine areas.

Central Otago experiences - Wooing Tree Winery Cromwell

Wooing Tree Winery Cromwell

There really is no better time to stay here than in the beautiful months of Autumn – view details on New Zealand seasons. From April to May, the Autumn golds and reds are just awe-inspiring.

Cromwell Autumn colours

Burn Cottage Retreat Driveway entrance

Where to Stay in Cromwell

But a stay in Cromwell is also an excellent choice for repeat travellers.  Most of you would have stayed in Queenstown or Wanaka on your first time.  So maybe, you’re a bit over the resort towns where peace can be a foreign concept. Even if this is not your first time to New Zealand, we would strongly recommend going on day visits to these busier places. And if you’re not hotel people, a self-contained cottage like this, might just be what you are looking for.

Central Otago stay Cromwell and Wanaka Adventures

Burn Cottage Retreat Cromwell

Burn Cottages Retreat

This is a special oasis that really does live up to its name.  Burn Cottage Retreat sits on a huge acreage. You will very quickly get a sense of tranquility here.  There are only 3 cottages on this large property and they are quite a good distance away from each other.  We stayed in the Moonlight Cottage.  I guarantee, if you are looking for space, you will find it here.  And after a long drive, your cottage will be warm when you step in.  Co-owner, Cecelia, will have lit the fire a few hours before you arrive. This type of service is so appreciated, especially in the colder months of Autumn.

Central Otago Experiences - Burn Cottages Retreat Cromwell

Burn Cottages Retreat

Yet again, it really is about those special touches that only a boutique accommodation can provide. Beautiful walnuts in a bowl just waiting to be cracked. And do not be surprised if you Cecelia appears at your door with hot scones!

Central Otago Experiences - Burn Cottages Retreat

All the mod cons are here with the very latest Nespresso coffee machine gracing the kitchen bench.  The comfort level pretty much goes up a notch with this comfy super king size bed

After breakfast (a continental breakfast is optional) do take time out to explore the grounds.  There are very special little nooks and crannies where you can hide away and read a book.

With only 3 cottages on the entire property, you will find a special place where you can truly enjoy solitude.

What to do if you’re staying in Cromwell

Grab a bike at the cottage or take your car into the historic part of Cromwell.  It is here, you can become fully immersed with the landscape. You will love the most spectacular views at Lake Dunstan – plus the relaxed small-town vibe.

Central Otago Experinces - Lake Dunstan Cromwell stay

Lake Dunstan

Take a wander around at your leisure to the old shops.  These old buildings are heritage protected and have been restored for future generations. Pop into the Seed & Grain Store for a coffee and a chat with the locals.  Everyone here seems to be friendly.

Central Otago Experiences - historic part of Cromwell

Historic part of Cromwell

Jet Boat Tour from Wanaka

There is a Jet Boat company in Wanaka called Wanaka River Journeys. This company are owned and operated by a local family. They have a number jet boating options, one of which is called Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk. This one is a great option if you are a little time short.  It is a half-day tour and an absolute blast!

Central Otago Experiences - River Journeys Jet Boat Tour

Matukituki River

There is nothing more exhilarating than jet-boating down the Matukituki River.

And you will really get off the beaten track here.  You will have a 50-minute walk  that will take you through moss covered forest and waterfalls.

Yet again, you will see firsthand another location that was used for the LOTR films.  And you will get to heat the wonderful stories about this landscape. You will have so many photo opportunities. And often on these trips you will come across something totally unexpected – like this apple tree thriving in the middle of nowhere!

Vineyard Trike Tours

We paid a visit to a Wanaka B & B accommodation named Copper Beach – and found an unexpected gem.  The owners, Yvette & Ian led us to their large garage and look what we found – this shining beauty! So if you are looking for a wine tour with a difference, you might consider a Trike wine tour.

Especially on a hot summer’s day, it would be so good to engage all your senses.

Central Otago Experiences - Trike Vineyard Tours

Vineyard Tours on a Trike

Where to Eat in Central Otago

There are so many vineyards around Cromwell and the Bannockburn area nearby. And many of them provide great lunch restaurants overlooking their vineyards. In fact, a lot of these wineries will provide amazing lunch platters.  Wooing Tree, Mount Difficulty and Scott Base are just a few of them. Now for night dining you will get a choice of some great options.  We have heard some wonderful things about Kika in Wanaka. However, if you want to immerse yourself in the local scene, you can’t go past the historic Bannockburn Hotel.

The Bannockburn Hotel is about 8 kms out of Cromwell. They have included separate tapas menu – plus the biggest wine list you will ever see. We dined here recently and can’t say enough good things about the food. The atmosphere was wonderful – definitely not your usual pub decor. And it is worth mentioning, that they also have a courtesy shuttle van that will pick you up and drop you off.


There are so many reasons why Autumn is such a wonderful time to visit Central Otago. There are less people around and plenty of adventures to be had. It is actually a time when nature is at its finest before settling down for a well deserved nap.

Check out some sample South Island travel itineraries.

Happy Travelling through Mid Canterbury!


Latest Articles