Discover a hundred percent out-of-this-world beauty with a trip to New Zealand
written by BERG GO
photos courtesy of TOURISM NEW ZEALAND and BERG GO using the VIVO V9
illustrated by ALEXIS ANGULO
New Zealand, for most travelers, is a place considered synonymous to the word dreamland. Its scenic and seemingly out-of-reach landscapes offer a certain splendor that appear to transcend this planet.
Whether it’s the cityscape, the mountain views, the wildlife, or its ethereal wonders, this country is surrounded with a beauty too perfect for this world.
Without a doubt, New Zealand is a bucket list destination. It’s a beautiful daydream for most of us, and its exquisiteness gives us hope that the world has not entirely turned ugly. It’s the one destination that truly showcases the real beauty of the world, and has the best of everything it can offer—a reason it is probably called Middle Earth.
Auckland may be the biggest city in New Zealand, but don’t ever mistake it for being just about its urbanity. While it exudes a vibrant and lively atmosphere perfect for urban travelers, it’s also a place where you can see spectacular nature landscapes—with beautiful beaches and amazing hiking trails that are a stone’s throw away. Add the rich Polynesian culture and outstanding gourmet scene, and you’re in for a great Kiwi adventure.
Skydiving is another activity that you should not miss when in New Zealand. Skydive Auckland offers the highest tandem skydive in the country’s North Island—where you will jump from 16,500 feet at a speed of over 200 kilometers per hour! It may be nerve-wracking, but the backdrop of the east and west coasts will truly make the activity worth it.
Auckland Sky Tower’s A.J. Hackett SkyWalk
While New Zealand is all about natural beauty and vibrant landscapes, it’s also known for thrilling adventures and extreme sports. In fact, it is where commercial bungee jumping originated—popularized by New Zealander Alan John “A.J. ” Hackett.
Apart from bungee jumping, there are other various extreme activities that you can do in Auckland alone, like the A.J. Hackett SkyWalk in Auckland Sky Tower. This is one of the city’s most sought after activities, as it involves walking on the tower’s top ledge amid the extraordinary views—making you feel on top of the world.
Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari Cruise
New Zealand is keen on wildlife conservation, and in every corner of the country, you are guaranteed to witness just how dedicated they are in achieving iteven Auckland. The city offers safari cruise where you can chase dolphins and watch whales swim around, while learning interesting facts about them.
This harbor, considered the main access by sea to Auckland, gives you a great view of the city’s striking skyscrapers. Don’t miss the chance to sail on this body of water— the best way to take in its beautiful scenery.
Auckland Waterfront is the perfect embodiment of how vibrant city life can go hand-in-hand with natural beauty. It’s an attraction with outstanding architecture and environment-friendly public spaces. It has three areas: the Wynyand Quarter, which showcases amazing urban designs; the Viaduct Harbour, which offers various bars and restaurants; and Queens Wharf, which gives amazing water views. The viaduct is also near Britomart, where you can stroll around and shop.
Kumeu Vineyard Cottages
A great cultural immersion awaits at Kumeu Vineyard Cottages, located a little outside of Auckland. Here, you can engage with the Māori (an indigenous Polynesian tribe in New Zealand), and even cook with them via hāngi (a traditional Māori cooking method in which the food is cooked in a pit dug in the ground).
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Have you seen the movie Avatar? What if we tell you it’s possible to see their glowing magical world in real life? Just take a guided boat ride through Waitomo Glowworm Caves and see an enchanted place that radiates beautiful illuminations all over. It’s like you’re entering a galaxy of tiny living lights! Who would have thought that worms could exude such phenomenal beauty? These glowworms (scientific name: Arachnoma luminosa), found only in New Zealand, are worth being seen at least once in your life.
Hobbiton Movie Set
The Hobbiton Movie Set is an experience of a lifetime, especially to fans of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. You’ll get to see The Shire up close and personal, as well as The Green Dragon Inn, the meeting place for all Hobbiton residents.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is located in Matamata. Director and producer Peter Jackson chose this town as his location for the films because he said it presents the actual description of The Shire and Hobbiton in the novel the films were based on. They created a total of 44 hobbit holes throughout the making of the film series (including The Hobbit). It has since become one of New Zealand’s most visited tourist attractions.
After your tour to the Hobbiton, taste a real piece of The Shire at the Marketplace. With individually themed stalls bursting with traditional Hobbit fare, you’ll surely get a glimpse of their world. The Marketplace sells New Zealand cheeses, freshly baked artisan breads, cured meats, and smoked fish.
This town is where you can see some of New Zealand’s best nature attractions. Known as the country’s most dynamic geothermal area, Rotorua offers the best springs, volcanoes, and mud pools, as well as activities that will make you reconnect with the environment.
Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
You’ll see a different kind of spring when you visit Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and while its bodies of water are not something you can swim in, it will still offer an experience that is just as great. One of its geysers, the Lady Knox Geyser, even erupts to a height of 10 to 20 meters! No wonder it’s considered one of the most surreal places in the world.
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
See New Zealand’s rich flora and fauna at this 22-acer conservation park. It has activities for all ages, such as trout feeding in spring-fed pools, tuatara viewing, themed water, and a free-flight bird show. Guests can also explore Kiwi houses, mud pools, and hot springs, or enjoy a picnic on the geyser terrace.
Rotorua Canopy Tours
Get in touch with nature through Rotorua Canopy Tours, where you can embark on a three-hour guided eco-tour in the untouched jungles of New Zealand and experience kilometers of forest while being suspended high among ancient trees (through ziplines and swing bridges)! The best part? It’s just fifteen minutes away from the center of Rotorua.
Skyline Rotorua offers exciting luge (a cart ride going down the hill) activities that let you take in a 180-degree view of Rotorua. They also offer amazing buffet dining experience high above town at their own restaurant Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar—a perfect way to end the day.
WHERE TO EAT IN NEW ZEALAND
- AMANO. This restaurant serves nothing but organic meat, cooked by its team of well-respected chefs. Its Shorthorn Beef and Suffolk Lamb are even raised in a farm exclusively for them.
- GIAPO HAUTE ICE CREAM This ice cream parlor serves arguably the best ice cream and gelatos in New Zealand, and is where “haute ice cream”—or innovative unique frozen creations—began.
- GIRAFFE RESTAURANT This establishment offers an ever-changing menu that features fresh and local produce. With a taste of one of its dishes, you can truly feel how dedicated they are to menu innovation.
- SOUL BAR AND BISTRO. This upscale restaurant is a favorite among A-listers, including Beyonce and Anthony Hopkins. Among their specialties include their mussels, lamb, and steak meals
- VILLA MARIA ESTATE New Zealand’s most awarded winery, Villa Maria Estate is known for its quality New Zealand wine, sought by wine enthusiasts around the world. Stop by for a visit.
- ZEALONG TEA ESTATE This place is the only commercial tea estate in New Zealand that produces 100% organic and award-winning tea.
- ROSELAND’S RESTAURANT After your trip to the Waitomo Caves, make sure to try the scrumptious Kiwi Barbeque at this restaurant.
WHERE TO STAY
- CORDIS HOTEL. This five-star smoke-free hotel at the center of the city boasts over 400 fully-equipped rooms, as well as amenities such as an outdoor pool, a patio, a tennis court, and a first-class spa service. Cordis Hotel is located at 83 Symonds Street, Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand. For bookings and reservations, visit <cordis-auckland. hotel-rez.com>
- NOVOTEL TAINUI HAMILTON If accessibility is what you’re looking for when in Hamilton, then this hotel is ideal for you. Novotel Tainui Hamilton is just steps away from parks and attractions like Hamilton Centre Place, SkyCity Hamilton, Waikato Museum of Art and History, and Founders Theatre. Restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment outlets are also within proximity. Novotel Tainui Hamilton is located at 7 Alma Street, Hamilton, New Zealand. For bookings and reservations, visit <accorhotels.com/gb/ hotel-2159-novotel-hamilton-tainui/index.shtml>
- REGENT OF ROTORUA BOUTIQUE HOTEL. The town’s most stylish hotel, Regent of Rotorua Boutique Hotel has been designed with the modern traveler in mind. Still, the character of Rotorua radiates, with an outdoor mineral pool and a hot spring bath that guarantee a relaxing dip. Regent of Rotorua Boutique Hotel is located at 1191 Pukaki Street, Rotorua, New Zealand. For bookings and reservations, visit <regentrotorua.co.nz>
FLY WITH PAL
If you’re planning to explore the beauty of New Zealand, make sure to fly with Philippine Airlines. It offers non-stop Manila to Auckland service thrice a week (every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday) via PR 218—departing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) at 11:15 PM and arriving at Auckland Airport (AKL) at 2:05 PM local time the following day.
The Auckland to Manila service, meanwhile, goes every Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday via PR 219—departing AKL at 12:30 AM local time and arriving in MNL at 5:45 AM. The airline also utilizes its twin-aisle dual class 254-seater A340s.
The service makes the airline the only local carrier with the quickest and most convenient flight option between Manila and Auckland.
For more information, phone (+632) 855 8888 or visit <philippineairlines.com>