There is no place in the world like New Zealand. From powerful glaciers and volcanos to Lord of the Rings filming locations that make you feel as if you have truly stepped into Middle Earth, New Zealand is truly a beautiful place. It is also the perfect honeymoon destination for those who like a little bit of adventure mixed in with their romance. In 2018, Eric and I went on a fast-paced two-week honeymoon in New Zealand and had an incredible time, but I wish I could go back and change a few things to have made the honeymoon more enjoyable. For those of you planning a honeymoon in New Zealand, these important tips will help you to have the adventure of a lifetime while also enjoying this special time with your new spouse!

Wanaka, New Zealand

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Why We Chose New Zealand For Our Honeymoon

My husband and I spent days discussing where to go for our honeymoon. As a couple who loves to travel, it was very difficult to decide on our “perfect” trip when the whole world seemed to be calling to us with open arms. I want to go everywhere in the world, and I will. I refuse to do anything less. However, we really wanted the honeymoon to be somewhere special for both of us, and we decided to go all out and choose New Zealand.

The reflection of a mountain in mirror lake

Initially, we thought we would go to Australia. We read up on Australia and the Great Barrier Reef and all the other amazing things that Australia has to offer. However, as we researched Australia more, we realized that many of the pictures and hikes that excited us the most were actually mislabeled! The true place that many of these pictures came from was New Zealand. We also didn’t have time to get PADI certified between planning a wedding, moving, and me dealing with a new job so we wouldn’t be able to dive and enjoy the reef to its fullest extent. So we changed our plans, and what we found was the most amazing experience anyone could ask for.

Don’t get me wrong, no trip is perfect. We drove 2500km in around 2 weeks and spent much of our time in the car getting from place to place, but what we saw made it so worth it, and I’m here to give you tips to ensure that you DON’T spend your entire honeymoon driving around in a rental car like we did.

What To Know About New Zealand

Language:

English is the predominately spoken language in New Zealand. However, the indigenous culture in Zealand is Maori, and they have their own language which is also considered an official language of the country.

Currency:

New Zealand has its own unique currency, the “New Zealand dollar.” However, you will often hear these dollars referred to as “kiwis.” Actually, you will also hear New Zealanders refer to themselves as kiwis as well! The term “Kiwi” references a unique bird that is found in New Zealand that the people have adopted as one of their cultural symbols.

Getting Around New Zealand:

New Zealand is comprised of two main islands: the North Island and the South Island. Each island has its own unique features and activities.

The North Island is home to volcanos and geothermal activity like geysers. If you and your partner love places like Yellowstone, then the North Island has a lot to offer you. There are sulfur ponds, activity geysers, and volcanic hikes that draw visitors to the North Island. It is also home to the very famous “Hobbiton” set. If you are a big Lord of the Rings fan, then you absolutely cannot miss visiting the real-life Shire and partaking in a second breakfast fit for a hobbit.

The sulphur ponds of the north island during our honeymoon in New Zealand

The South Island is home to glaciers, fiords, and waterfalls galore. While the North Island emits steam from its geothermal activity, the South Island is covered in ice and water. The South Island is home to the famous Franz Josef Glacier where visitors often helicopter in and hike on the glacier. It is also home to Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park which Rudyard Kipling described as the “8th wonder of the world.”

The Ferry in Between Islands

If you plan on visiting both islands, you do not have to book a flight from one island to another unless you want to cover a major distance like flying from Christchurch to Auckland. The islands are actually very close to each other and there is a scenic ferry that connects the two islands. It goes from the port in Wellington (North Island) to Picton (South Island). This very takes about 3-4 hours and is a very comfortable and scenic ride.

If you have rented a car, you can book a spot for your car on the ferry to take it to the neighboring island. Pets are also allowed on board. There are kennels for dogs or you may sit with them in your car.

Renting a Car

While public transport exists in the major cities, there are significantly fewer options to take you from town to town or city to city. While you could base in one major city and do multiple guided tours out of that city, I would recommend renting a car to maximize your time in New Zealand. It is important to keep in mind that New Zealand contains two very large islands so it is unlikely that you will be able to see everything even with a car (Trust me, I tried). If you are planning on driving around, be sure to check the driving times in advance to ensure that you aren’t spending your whole honeymoon in the car.

Reasons To Honeymoon in New Zealand

It’s Picture Perfect

The New Zealand landscape provides a little bit of everything. There are fjords, waterfalls everywhere, geysers, mountains, valleys, oceans, and crystal clear lakes. It doesn’t matter which way you turn, New Zealand has something worth taking a picture of. There are stark differences between the North and South Islands’ landscapes which means that if you choose to explore both islands, the scenery will still feel new and different each day of your honeymoon.

Milford Sound waterfalls
I mean. Look at these free-flowing waterfalls. (Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand)

New Zealand was the Filming Location for Lord of the Rings

If you or your spouse are even a little bit interested in the Lord of the Rings series, then New Zealand is the perfect destination for you. New Zealand was the filming location for the majority of the movies. In fact, there are still multiple surviving sets that you can explore including Hobbiton which was the filming location for the Shire.

visiting the shire (hobbiton) on our honeymoon in New Zealand
Peep our jet-lagged selves. (The Shire, North Island, New Zealand)

Lord of the Rings was filmed all over the country which means that quite often, you will find yourself on a filming site without even knowing it! Make sure to ask your guides on all of your tours about Lord of the Rings, they will let you know some really awesome locations to go see and facts about the filming process. The Kiwi’s are very proud to have been the setting for these famous movies, and your tour guides will be more than happy to point out famous Lord of the Rings scenes.

I had a blast learning about it and I hadn’t even seen the whole series! (Meanwhile, Eric can quote basically the entire first chapter of the Hobbit from memory). We both really enjoyed Hobbiton, and it truly felt like stepping into another world.

 

It Is A Dark Sky Reserve

Did you know that New Zealand is home to one of the few official Dark Sky Reserves in the Southern Hemisphere? Dark Sky Reserves are essentially national parks that control light pollution in order to allow for a better view of the night sky for astronomers, scientists, photographers, and general observers.

New Zealand’s most famous dark sky area is located near Lake Tekapo. This particular one does not allow light pollution within 30 square miles, which creates the PERFECT star-gazing location. Because the light pollution is almost non-existent, you can actually see the milky way with eyes.

When my husband and I stayed the night in this dark sky reserve, we decided to try our hand at astrophotography for the first time. We did some basic googling and were able to take some pretty awesome photos of the Milky Way even though it was our first time ever trying astrophotography.

It was so easy to get an amazing picture like this when the stars were so visible. The sky was like nothing I had ever seen. It felt like it was just me, Eric, and the universe. Add some wine and a hot tub with that and it was the most amazing experience and definitely one for the record books.

the milky way taken from Tekapo
This photo was captured that night

The Hiking is Amazing

One of the most appealing aspects of New Zealand for Eric and me was the fact that the hiking was just incredible. We are avid hikers and enjoy hikes that have an incredible view. New Zealand has hundreds of hikes to choose from. The hikes range from quick day hikes to massive treks that Kiwi’s refer to as the “Great Walks”. We were able to do amazing hikes like Roy’s Peak on the South Island (relatively difficult) and Hooker Valley by Mount Cook (easy).

The best part about hiking in New Zealand is that there is a hike for everybody. Because of the diverse landscape, you can hike on the beach, in the mountains, and even over volcanoes!

Read More: The Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

hiking Roy's Peak during our honeymoon in New Zealand
Roy’s Peak Hike in New Zealand

Tips For Planning a Honeymoon in New Zealand

The best tips for planning a honeymoon in New Zealand all center around the activities that you want to do during your time there. Because it is located so far south in the southern hemisphere, while it is summer in Europe and the United States, it is actually winter in New Zealand. Keeping things like this in mind while planning your honeymoon in New Zealand will allow you to have the best time possible.

If you go in the dead of winter, you may struggle to access places like Milford Sound in the South Island as many roads close during the winter months but you also have to opportunity to participate in winter sports. We went in July which is the winter season, but we were still able to complete hikes like Roy’s Peak in the South Island and also cruise on Milford Sound. We did have to take a small plane from Queenstown to Milford Sound though as most of the road was closed.

When it comes to planning for seasons, there are really two major seasons that you want to be aware of depending on your desires for your time there: Hiking/Surfing Season,

Whale Watching Season

Another very important season to keep in mind when planning a honeymoon to New Zealand is the whale watching season. If you are anything like me, then seeing whales in the wild is absolutely mind-blowing. These creatures are so massive yet so graceful and are a true joy to watch. New Zealand is actually on the migration path for Orcas and Humpback whales, but you also have the opportunity to see dolphins, sperm whales, and other aquatic creatures if you get lucky.

the beach in New Zealand

It is important to note that the best time to see Orcas is from December to March, and the best time to see humpback whales is in June and July. However, sperm whales can be seen year-round as they have a large population residing around New Zealand.

If you are planning on going whale watching on your honeymoon in New Zealand, then Kaikoura is the best place to go. Kaikoura is a city on the east coast of the South Island that is home to unique ocean currents and underwater canyons. These features attract whales and other aquatic creatures to the area which raises your chances of seeing them.

Best Things To Do During a Honeymoon in New Zealand

Onsen Pools

If you are looking for a romantic activity for your honeymoon in New Zealand, then a visit to the Onsen pools in Queenstown should definitely be added to your itinerary. Onsen pools are large Japanese soaking tubs (basically hot tubs) that are designed to offer a truly relaxing experience. In the Onsen Spa in Queenstown, you and your partner can book an onsen room all to yourself for a more private experience. In addition to this, the onsen pools are located partially outside and provide you with a view of the mountains during the day and the stars at night.

the onsen pools spa during our honeymoon in New Zealand

Flight to Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. This sound is actually fiord located in Fiordland National Park in the South Island. As the roads sometimes close in the winter months due to snow, one of the popular ways of getting to Milford Sound is by doing a scenic flight into the area. Eric and I boarded a small plane in Queenstown that flew us to Milford Sound. The flight itself was so beautiful that it actually became one of our favorite parts of the trip!

the scenic flight to milford sound on our honeymoon in New Zealand

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

If you are planning on exploring the North Island during your honeymoon in New Zealand, then you need to check out the Waitomo glow worm caves. Located roughly an hour and a half from Hobbiton, these caves are famous for the way that they light up in complete darkness. The Waitomo caves are home to the famous glow worms that glow a bluish-green color even when it is completely dark. These worms like stars in the cave. There are multiple tours that you can take through the caves, but since the caves are filled with water, you have to go by boat.

Sleep Under the Stars

One romantic activity that you should definitely not miss out on while in this beautiful country is the opportunity to sleep under the stars. There is no better way to celebrate your new marriage than to lay with the person that you love and look up at the vast amount of stars. There are a few ways that you can do this. If you are on a budget, you can simply take some sleeping bags and lay out under the sky, just be prepared for it to get very cold.

However, if you are looking for a more luxurious experience, you should consider staying at SkyScape in the dark sky reserve. This glass house is designed with romance in mind. Located in the middle of nowhere, you have complete privacy to enjoy the evening with your spouse. The house has floor-to-ceiling glass that allows you to stargaze from the comfort of your own bed. In addition to this, they have an outdoor bathtub that can be used for a steamy, stargazing night as well. We stayed at Skyscape and had an incredible time.

Accommodations For Your Honeymoon in New Zealand

One important thing to note when planning a honeymoon to New Zealand is that roughly 33% of the land is designated as conversation land and a large portion of the rest of the country is used as farmland. This means that there aren’t very many cities in New Zealand and there are very few hotel accommodations outside of the major cities.

The majority of your options for hotel stays between cities will be small BnBs that are cute, but aren’t surrounded by much infrastructure. Due to the lack of infrastructure and availability of hotels, many people who visit New Zealand choose to rent a campervan for the majority of their stay.

Food in New Zealand

As I mentioned before, infrastructure is minimal between the major cities which means that restaurants can be difficult to come by. Eric and I often found ourselves eating gas station food (please do yourself a favor and try the famous gas station meat pies) or at a Subway. We supplemented most of our meals by grocery shopping.

If you are planning to rent a campervan, I highly recommend grocery shopping while you are in a town so that you can make your own meals along the way.

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If you are wondering how to plan the perfect honeymoon in New Zealand, look no further! New Zealand is a beautiful destination that is perfect for romance and adventure. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand have so much to offer.
If you are wondering how to plan the perfect honeymoon in New Zealand, look no further! New Zealand is a beautiful destination that is perfect for romance and adventure. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand have so much to offer.
If you are wondering how to plan the perfect honeymoon in New Zealand, look no further! New Zealand is a beautiful destination that is perfect for romance and adventure. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand have so much to offer.
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