New Zealand is well known for its beautiful nature and laid-back lifestyle. But for a honeymoon, why not focus on a romantic getaway? For time-short honeymooners, it really can be a struggle to fit in all the activities you want. So if you’re a romantic getaway in New Zealand, remember: With a special holiday, less is more! This means that you should plan to stay longer at one location – around 2-3 nights. Try using each location as a base for exploring, with day trips around where you are saying. This will set you up for a memorable honeymoon.
General facts to help plan your honeymoon
Climate for weekend getaways
New Zealand is located in the Southern hemisphere, so this makes our season the conditions opposite to the Northern hemisphere. The Summer between December and February is the peak tourist season, and so the busiest time of year for travel. Now here’s what you might not know – our autumn is a wonderful time to travel New Zealand. The weather is more settled, and also much quieter. Keep in mind that New Zealand is surrounded by sea, so don’t expect the continental weather you would get in Europe. The weather here can be fast-changing – ‘four seasons in one day’ is an apt description! The New Zealand summer can have a lot of rain, especially up north which has a sub-tropical climate.
The Winter, or the off season, can be lovely in some parts of the country. If you enjoy snowsports and alpine scenery, the South Island is not to be missed. It’s really important that you research the climate conditions in detail of each place in your itinerary – the variety will surprise you! You can read more about this in our dedicated seasonal guide.
Decide on locations and times for your couples retreat New Zealand
Now you’ve got the climate and weather conditions sorted, you now get to decide where you want to spend your time. This is the fun part! For any honeymoon itinerary, we’d recommend that you stay longer at key locations. Many honeymoon travellers only have 10, 12 or 14 days, so you want to focus your planning around 3-4 key sites and explore from there. There are activities of every kind around New Zealand – check out our Top 10 honeymoon activities guide.
New Zealand Accommodation styles for your romantic escape
There is a ton of accommodation options in New Zealand to select from. However, there isn’t so much in the way of truly romantic places to stay. Due to the small scale and limited amount of unique properties, the important thing is to plan early. If you are wanting to travel at peak season, be warned; many properties are totally booked up a year in advance! This is because there are some really well-appointed vineyard cottages, but definitely not hundreds – maybe a few dozen around the country.
Besides vineyard cottages, you’ll find lovely farm stay retreats and special eco ‘pods’ located in acres of solitude – what could be more perfect for a romantic honeymoon getaway? For the main cities you might want to go for a boutique hotel, such as The George in Christchurch or a QT Hotel in Wellington. Luxury lodges are beautiful for romantic retreats. I’d suggest having a few ‘rock star’ properties in your honeymoon – you’ll remember those for the rest of your life!
Activities and tours to do whilst on your romantic retreat
Throughout your honeymoon travel in New Zealand, you’ll be constantly reminded that it’s all about the outdoors in this country. This is what makes New Zealand ideal for exploration! Going for a walk or a hike can mean so much more here. It could be a zipline through native forest, taking a jetboat up and down remote rivers, or a helicopter flight onto a glacier. Believe me, you won’t cover it all in a few weeks! But you’ll get to experience the sort of amazing activities you would never do in your home country.
Choosing the right locations and sorting out the day-to-day travel times is terribly important. After all, you are on the most romantic getaway of a lifetime, you want a beautifully balanced itinerary without the stress! Below are our recommended top 10 romantic getaways in New Zealand:
1. Bay of Islands day tour actions
The Bay of Islands is the birthplace of New Zealand. The first missionaries, traders and pirates came ashore here in the early 1900s. The first Polynesian seafarers – Maori – came here 600-700 years before that. Today, the Bay of Islands is a wonderful place for water sports, diving, snorkelling, and dolphin swims. Plus, there are some great day tours into the Far North to see those its stunning beaches! Visiting the historic site of Waitangi, where the nation’s founding document was signed, is a must-do.
2. Waikato and the Waitomo Caves – fun for couples
Its pretty much accepted that most travellers don’t come to New Zealand for its cities. On the contrary, it’s the outdoors and the rural areas holidaymakers love. The Waikato and Waitomo regions are the perfect examples of the authentic and pristine areas that New Zealand has to offer. Staying in a romantic farm cottage or exploring a small-scale Hobbiton tour with a local guide, is something you won’t get in mega-tourism locations. But if you are keen to see Hobbiton Village, (the more famous film set), it’s a short drive away. But expect to be just one of hundreds milling around!
If you are keen on more luxury accommodation, you’ll love the newly opened Henley Boutique Hotel at Cambridge. Eager to explore a cave? Then going Black Water Rafting in Waitomo is the activity for you!
3. Hawkes Bay stylish romance experiences
If you are into the finer things in life and would love a round of golf at one of the leading courses, the Hawkes Bay would be your pick of the bunch! This region sits on the eastern coast of the North Island, and as a warm, dry climate. In fact, some of New Zealand’s best red wines are grown here. There’s plenty of opportunities for wine tasting! The Cape Kidnappers area found in the Hawkes Bay is not only famous for its golf course. There are also Gannet colonies which can be explored in a rather unique way – with a New Zealand tractor! With accommodation options, you might spend a couple of thousand for one of the world’s best lodges – Cape Kidnappers – or a few hundred dollars in a cottage nearby.
It’s definitely worth taking a visit to near-by Napier, with its incredible Art deco architecture. The entire town had to be rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1929, and this heritage has made it one of the most remarkable urban centres in the country.
4. Breathtaking Abel Tasman & Golden Bay
For pure romance, the Abel Tasman region is truly the best destination in New Zealand. Everything you could wish, you’ll find here – lovely vineyard cottages and first-class lodges (such as Te Koi at Bronte), stunning beaches, activities such as kayaking or cruises or eco-educational tours and top-notch food – especially fish, as Nelson is the main fishing port. Time-permitting, head over to Golden Bay for a bit of horse riding. or simply discover a rather ‘under-explored’ part of New Zealand. Recommendation: plan at least three nights in the Nelson-Tasman region. We guarantee you will love it!
5. The Wild Romance of the West Coast
The West Coast of the South Island is known for its rugged rainforest and natural spirit. There’s always something to wake up to in the morning, with the wild winds and rolling waves from the Tasman Sea to welcome you. The drive around the Coastal Road is extremely scenic – one national park or nature reserve follows the next!
Some parts are very remote – after all, there are only 33,000 souls living in a 600km stretch from Karamea to Jackson Bay. But on a romantic getaway in New Zealand, surely that’s what you’re looking for. Expect good-hearted people and honest foods. The West Coast is just a bit different to other parts of New Zealand – if you’re around for the Hokitika Wild Food Festival, you’ll know what I am talking about!
6. Queenstown Fun and Romance for Couples
Queenstown is the most widely-known holiday location in New Zealand. It has grown over the past 20 years to over 2 million annual visitors. So, expect lots of wonderful restaurants, fab lodges, and exciting fun adventures such as the Zip-trek or Dart River Safaris. It also has access to cycle trails and hikes. There really is a lot to do and to see! If you want to best of both worlds, consider staying in Wanaka or Glenorchy, which is a 45-minute scenic drive from downtown Queenstown. Honeymooners and romantic getaways love the spa and beauty treatments at Millbrook Resort, as well as Onsen pools. As Queenstown has an international airport, it can also be used to combine Australia travel plans.
7. Majestic Fiordland Wilderness Discoveries
If you love nature and hiking, then the Fiordland region is the place for you. Spend at least two nights in New Zealand’s walking capital, Te Anau, and explore it. Take a guided walk on the famous Milford Track (one day or multi-day option) or just pop into Rainbow Reach on the Kepler Track for an afternoon stroll to Lake Manapouri. There are heaps of walking and hiking options on your romantic getaway. Milford Sound is a must-visit! For the more remote places – some of them deep in the Fiordland wilderness – use a Waterwings plane or a helicopter flight. On a clear day, this will be a day to remember. Take your insect repellent though! Another special trip is going from Lake Hauroko with a jetboat right down to the southern coast. From here you’ll get the first glimpse of New Zealand’s third island – Stewart Island.
8. Stewart Island with natural wonders
This is a place for serious nature lovers, and for travellers with a bit more time on their romantic excursion. Stewart Island is accessible with a 20-minute flight from Invercargill or a one-hour ferry ride from Bluff (the southern-most town in NZ). The place is basically a national park with special permit areas. There is one village – Halfmoon Bay – with a permanent population of around 400. During the winter season, (May-September) it’s very quiet. During the summer season (Oct – April) the place will be ‘humming’ – well, for Steward Island standards anyway!
Stewart Island is the perfect place to experience wildlife as well as some more serious hiking. I use the word “serious” because many of the key walks are quite muddy – so be prepared. Apart from hiking, there is also kayaking in Patterson Inlet as well as Kiwi bird night tours and fishing tours. But let’s not forget the wonderful fresh fish in the local pub, the ‘South Sea Hotel’.
9. The Mighty Mount Cook National Park
Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous New Zealander and the first man to conquer Mt. Everest, used to be a beekeeper (north of Auckland). But his training turf was Mt. Cook National Park. From sea level to New Zealand’s highest mountain (3653 metres) it’s only a distance of 25 kms. The area is magic for the vast glacier lake as well. Honeymooners and romantic getaway travellers love the remoteness and space in this part of New Zealand.
Staying in a place like the Mt. Cook Retreat is the true New Zealand high country experience. Doing glacier lake tour on the Tasman Glacier Lake or heli-hiking on the glacier itself are special trips you will not forget in a hurry. Naturally, there are lots of walks and hikes you can do in the national park. I should make special mention of the Stargazing at Mt. John in nearby Lake Tekapo! Such a romantic activity is perfect for honeymooners!
10. Honeymoon at Akaroa & the Banks Peninsula
At the end of your honeymoon, you’d probably like to chill a bit – just let a couple of days go by without rushing The PurePods are the perfect way to let your soul rest and your brain to remember all the experiences you had during your honeymoon. There is still lots to see and do on the Banks Peninsula, which is only 1-2 hours from Christchurch airport. Try a Dolphin Swim or a cruise from Akaroa. There are wineries, a cheese factory, plus wild and remote bays you can explore at your leisure before catching a flight back home!
Summary on Top 10 Romantic Getaways New Zealand
Yes, there is lots to see and to do when travelling New Zealand for your honeymoon or romantic getaway. My key advice is not to try and see everything. Focus on key regions you really want to explore, then select the right kind of accommodation for you. Don’t worry about ‘splashing’ out a bit here and there to get a truly memorable romantic experience. Once you add some tours, you’ll achieve the right mix and have a fab holiday in New Zealand. For any questions, email Michael and he’ll be happy to answer them – make the right choices.
To get a general idea, check out our sample honeymoon itineraries from Guest NZ!
Happy travelling on your Honeymoon!