Snow-capped peaks, rugged countryside and epic surfing beaches all intersect in New Zealand, which is why it’s long been a favourite with Aussie travellers. But what is our neighbouring country like to explore in 2022? We spoke to three Qantas Frequent Flyers who recently returned from NZ to get the low-down on this haven for nature lovers—including where they stayed, swam, wined and dined.
“We reconnected with family and road-tripped with our best friends”
For Sydneysider Jane Vaeafe, a roadtrip to Queenstown allowed her to discover picturesque spots and the region's top eats.
“My husband Marz is originally from Christchurch and we travelled there together for 10 days in July. He hadn’t seen his family since 2019 so it was equal parts fun and emotional. I remember being at the airport and he turned to me with a massive grin on his face and said, ‘I can’t believe we’re actually going.’ He was so excited. We flew Qantas and it was wonderful. The staff were so lovely; I’m such an overpacker so I love the luggage allowance you get.
“Our trip was so special; not only did we reconnect with family, we also spent a week road-tripping with our best friends, Rob and Jen, to Queenstown. The last time we were together was on our joint honeymoon in 2017.
“You must stop at Fairlie Bakehouse in the Canterbury region for the best meat pies. Marz scoffed about five of them! Lake Tekapo will blow you away. Hop into the Tekapo Springs at night and watch the stars; the air is freezing but the pools are warm. It’s so beautiful and relaxing.
“In Queenstown, we went on the Skyline Luge (I was in the slow lane!) and had dinner at Stratosfare, which was incredible and had an amazing view. We also visited Gibbston Valley Winery – going into the wine caves to see where the wine is made was brilliant.
“The trip was so wonderful and I now can’t wait to go on another holiday. Given my husband will read this, I should say: ‘I’m happy for you to surprise me with a trip!’”
Qantas flies from Australia to New Zealand with non-stop flights to major cities including Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown. Visit our New Zealand travel guide to start planning your trip.
“We ate at some of the most incredible venues while we were there”
For Erin Hutchinson, catching up with an old friend provided the perfect excuse to travel to Auckland and discover the city’s best bars and restaurants.
“My husband Luke and I flew to Auckland in May because he and my best friend Fleur were running in a half marathon in Hawke’s Bay. Pre-COVID I would fly to New Zealand about four times a year to catch up with her, so it was very emotional to finally get back there and reconnect.
“We started the journey in Auckland, wining and dining our way through some of the city’s best restaurants, including Hello Beasty, which has an incredible Asian-fusion menu. We also found this little speakeasy cocktail bar called Caretaker where you just tell the bartender your favourite ingredients and they create a cocktail just for you.
“After Auckland we jumped in the car and road-tripped to Hawke’s Bay for the half marathon and stopped at an amazing little beach town called Raglan.
“We spent time exploring the region's vineyards including Craggy Range Winery. They have the most wonderful view over the mountains and their cellar door has such knowledgeable hosts. Their restaurant is also a must-try, with their menu all made from locally sourced produce.
“All-in-all, we were there for a week in total and it was such a beautiful journey. We flew Qantas, which was faultless, and now we can’t wait to book our next trip.”
“It’s one of the most beautiful beaches – more people should know about it!”
For New Zealand-born Sydneysider Pip Moffitt, a visit back home brought back special memories and created many more.
“My partner and I went back to New Zealand for an extended break to visit my family in Hamilton. We hadn’t all been together in over two years so it was a very special trip. We stayed at my parents’ place and went on a few day trips while we were there.
“We visited Raglan, a popular surf beach on the west coast, which is so different from any Australian beach. The sand is black, the terrain is rugged and it’s surrounded by beautiful New Zealand natives. It’s stunning.
“We also did a family trip to Whangapoua, which is on the Coromandel Peninsula, two and a half hours from Hamilton and three hours from Auckland. As a family, we’ve spent our summer breaks there for the past 10 years, so it was nice to return after a couple of years stuck at home in Australia.
“Whangapoua is also the home of New Chums, which is like a tropical island. The water is so clear and the beach is untouched – more people should know about it because it’s so beautiful. The best part is that even during the busiest times of the year, you’ll find very few people in New Chums. It’s one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.”