New Zealand is long on great things to do, wonderful places to stay, and must-watch events. In fact, there are so many travel experiences to write home about that we’ve simply rounded up some of the newest to look out for in 2017. From luxury stays to thrilling adventures, cultural experiences and vineyard marathons, here are plenty of reasons to criss-cross the ditch in 2017.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
If you have the readies, book a stay at New Zealand’s priciest hotel suite, the brand spanking new The Penthouse, a luxury rooftop abode at Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown. For close to $10,000 a night, you can expect sweeping views over Lake Wakatipu, a terrace spa, in-suite sauna, and 24-hour butler service. Indulge in after-hours, one-on-one shopping experiences across Queenstown, sip Krug Champagne daily, and enjoy the services of a private chef and a personal Land Rover driver. Eichardt’s has also opened two new Hotel Lake View Suites, and a new 200-seat restaurant, The Grille.
The 5-star Chateau Marlborough in Blenheim has recently finished 36 new rooms to become the largest hotel in the region. It has also re-opened its new Quench Restaurant & Wine Bar, which also features an outdoor dining area, poolside bar, and new Barrel Room for private dining.
For something smaller, check out Jucy Snooze – overnight and hourly pod accommodation at Christchurch Airport – which opened last month. The low-cost, short-stay pods, are a perfect option for long layovers. They feature beds, lockers, power points and Wi-Fi, with self-check-in technology. Jucy, also a popular car and caravan rental company, will open Snooze Queenstown in late 2017.
AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand
If it’s thrills you seek, take a leap with AJ Hackett Bungy’s new ‘Nevis Thriller’, an extreme experience set to open early in 2017. Details of the Thriller, which will be at the site of the Nevis Bungy and Nevis Swing near Queenstown, are yet to be revealed. We wait with bated breath.
Make like an elf, dwarf, hobbit or wizard when you visit Middle-earth. To celebrate 15 years as the ‘real Middle-earth’, Tourism New Zealand this month launched a series of itineraries to suit the type of travellers found in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. Just take the quiz on www.newzealand.com to find out which character you are.
It turns out I am a hobbit, and should begin my adventure at the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, before journeying to Mordor (Tongariro National Park), traversing forests and misty mountains before ending up in Paradise, in the Southern Lakes region.
Adventure caving operator Waitomo Adventures is constructing Trollcave, aimed at families with younger children. It even advertised recently for an Inaugural Troll Conservator. The cave, described as an underground ecosanctuary, is expected to open in late December/early January.
Children will negotiate an underground labyrinth of waterfalls and amazing rock formations in search of a troll they are trying to help. They will have to navigate a ‘rickety bridge’, ‘troll stepping stones’ and the like, but the attraction will be adaptable for wheelchairs and strollers.
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The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Te Papa, on Wellington’s waterfront, will open a new art gallery space in 2017. The museum offers a bicultural experience across art, history, Pacific and Maori culture, and the natural environment. The new double-height art gallery will feature eight-metre-high walls to showcase large sculptures, and will increase the art space at the museum by more than a third to 3,290 square metres. Changes will begin in February.
Earth and Sky
Earth and Sky is taking astro-tourism to new heights with plans for a new International Astronomy Centre on the shores of Lake Tekapo. The ‘Window to the Universe’ centre will provide a day-time astronomy experience in Aoraki Mackenzie, in the central South Island, which is a gold-rated dark sky reserve devoid of urban light. Visitors will learn how early Polynesian and Maori people used celestial navigation, through virtual reality and an interactive exhibits.
Meanwhile, at Tekapo Hot Springs, which is also within the dark sky reserve, visitors can soak in a natural hot pool for a spot of stargazing, with star guides pointing out the brightest features as ‘astro music’ plays in the background.
Watch This Space: Christchurch Street Art
Christchurch is making a name for itself in the street art scene, as the city evolves post-quake. Last year’s Spectrum street art festival featured artists from around the world. Now, San Francisco native Lindsay Chan has created an interactive street art map in the form of Watch This Space: Christchurch Street Art, featuring murals from the past and present. Visitors can follow the self-guided tour of more than 100 artworks around the city.
MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open
The MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open, the first LPGA or PGA Tour to be hosted in New Zealand, will take place at Windross Farm Golf Course in Ardmore, Auckland, from September 28 to October 1 next year. Windross Farm is New Zealand’s newest golf course, designed by Brett Thomson and Phil Tataurangi, and offers a mix of flat and undulating ground, plus 360-degree views of tree-lined hills and lush countryside.
World Masters Games 2017
The 10-day World Masters Games hits Auckland in 2017, with 28 sports and 45 disciplines, including some uniquely Pacific sports such as waka ama (Maori canoe). There will be 25,000 athletes competing in the event from April 21 to 30, and Queens Wharf at Auckland’s downtown waterfront will be the social hub of the Games. It will host an entertainment program including arts and cultural displays, food and wine, and comedy and music.
Waiheke Half Marathon
Runners, gird your liver for the inaugural Explore Waiheke Half Marathon on May 6, 2017. It starts and ends in Cable Bay vineyards, following a mostly flat course over the island’s western tip, with sea views and cool breezes to keep you company. The promoters say you will “do special things to the island’s grapes” to help get you through the run. Hmmm. Waiheke Island is in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and hosts several award-winning vineyards producing mainly red wines like syrah.
* Featured image: A scene from The Hobbit. Picture: Warner Bros.
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