Adventuring on a New Zealand vacation is fabulous, and it’s fair to say that love is the grandest adventure of all. The country’s Māori name is “Aotearoa,” translated as “land of the long, white cloud.” This country will awaken your senses and open your heart. Head somewhere bright, misty, ancient, or secluded and seal your travels with a kiss. Consider heading to one of our top twenty favorite spots, and let it happen!
1. Auckland: The Sky Tower
Standing at 1,076 ft high, the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Go to level 60, the Sky Deck, for views of the city and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. On very bright days, you can see as far as the Coromandel Peninsula. Kiss here. Head down to level 52, and dine at Orbit 360◦, New Zealand’s premier revolving restaurant.
2. Auckland Domain and Winter Gardens
This is the oldest park in the city, and it is walking distance from the central area. Check the carved Māori memorial that circles a totara tree. It is a memorial to the peaceful Māori chief, Potatu Te Wherowhero. The Gardens are perfect for an afternoon picnic. Or you may choose to dine at the Wintergarden Café, nestled beside a duck pond and enclosed by native ferns. The scent of flowers is a heady brew. Surrender to it.
3. Auckland: A Waitemata Harbor Sailing
The sun sparkles on this harbor, looking out over the volcanic cone of Rangitoto. It is one of Auckland’s most beautiful sights, and a natural barrier between the central business district and the North Shore. Get on a traditional rigged ketch that’s manned by sailors from the Maritime Museum. Memorable!
4. Paihia / North Island
This is the spot to discover secret coves and lovely beaches on the Bay of Islands. What are your ocean fantasies? From Paihia you can take a trip to the outer islands, go on a fishing expedition, or catch the ferry to Russell. You can also cruise to the “hole in the rock” at Cape Brett, go kayaking, sailing, or scuba diving. There is nothing like the ocean to make you feel fully alive. Celebrate each other!
5. Cape Reinga / North Island
This sacred site is a powerful northern New Zealand experience. It is here that the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean—currents joust and dance as they mix. At the tip of the Cape is an ancient, weathered Pohutukawa tree. Legend has it that the spirits of deceased Māoris leap from this point into the sea, returning to their ancestral home. Be still, feel the peace, embrace.
6. Waitomo Caves / North Island
Imagine exploring underground caves on a boat tour. Perhaps you’d prefer black water rafting, where you crawl, swim, and float through caves on a rubber tube. Ziplining through the dark is also a possibility. Arising to the surface, and the light, you are reborn. Rejoice and kiss.
7. Rotorua / North Island
Clear streams that bubble over bright stones, a mystical forest, bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, natural hot springs, and a glimpse into authentic Māori culture… this is the place to let everything ordinary slip away. Climb into a mud bath together and cover each other with warm, healing earth. Soak in a natural hot spring and let go. Consider a hāngī meal here, food that’s cooked in steam and soil. Get natural together.
8. Hahei / North Island
Fall in love with the sheltered, golden sands, native trees, and mounds of pink shells on Hahei. Immerse yourself in the water. Discover reefs, caves, and arches. Nearby Cathedral Cove is a beautiful limestone arch over two white sand beaches. Stand under the arch, feel the soft majesty. Kiss here.
9. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland / North Island
This is one of nature’s finest sculptures. The geothermal activity looks as if it came out of a paint box, and volcanic features are easily viewed from pathways. Named “One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World,” choose a trail and follow it. The Champagne Pool has colored springs, mud bubbling up from the center, splendid views, and ancient craters. The Lady Knox Geyser shoots water and steam 61 feet into the air, every day at 10:15 a.m. This is the place to remember that life has an edgy sense of humor. Lighten up!
10. Wellington Night Market / North Island
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is packed with charm, style, and marketplaces. One of the best might be the night market. This is a joyous celebration of creativity, food, heritage, and culture. In the heart of the city, local artists, performers, and vendors gather, and you are invited! The sheer variety of food (try the unusual), and the international flavor of the mélange, will make your senses sing. Go for it.
11. Wellington Cable Car
Get into the historic, red cable car and climb the hill from town to the Kelburn Lookout. This is an absolute must-do—the views are stunning. Stop into the cable car museum, the Botanic Garden, the Carter Observatory, and Zealandia. Look down into the harbor and make up stories, together, about where the ships have been, where they’re going, and who owns which yacht. It’s a beautiful way to spend the day. Together.
12. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
This museum’s name, in Wellington, is translated as “Container of Treasures” and that it is. The space is equal to three football fields, and the diversity of exhibits is mind-boggling. It holds everything from ancient Māori artifacts to cutting-edge installations. There is an immersive Nature Zone so you can really climb inside New Zealand’s unique place on the planet. The high point, for many, is a 700-year-old moa egg resting in a giant nest made of recycled materials. This museum is about possibilities. Imagine how many possibilities there are to fuel your romance…
13. Durie Hill Tower, Whanganui / North Island
This city sits on the edge of the Whanganui River, and it was founded by the Māoris around 1250 AD. There’s a good business economy as well as a healthy art scene. While here, go to Durie Hill, famous for its elevator. The 110 ft. Durie Hill Memorial Tower is a memorial to WWI. You may choose to climb a winding staircase, with 176 stairs, for stellar views of the city and Mt. Taranaki to the north as well as the Tasman Sea. This is a place for peaceful reflection. Be gentle.
14. Bridge on the Maitai River, Nelson / South Island
Nelson was granted city status in 1858. Today it has a buzzing art scene, fine crafts, a perfect climate, and sweet beaches. Stop into the World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum. This is real kick and, as far as we know, there’s no place like it in the world. Now, head to the Maitai River. It flows through the center of Nelson to the harbor, and it is a beauty. The bridge over the river is nearly perfect. Bridges between bodies of water, our bodies, our hearts… bridges are about connecting.
15. Abel Tasman National Park / South Island
Tucked into the north part of the South Island, this is New Zealand’s small, but perfect, park. The beaches are unspoiled; walk them, slowly, with appreciation. The waters are tropically clear, and the forest tumbles down to the sand. This nature reserve is home to Little Blue Penguins, Bottlenose and Dusky Dolphins, Orca Whales, Bellbirds with their glorious song, and fur seals. Tasman is a place created for romance and slow kisses.
16. Wairau Valley Vineyards; Wairau / South Island
The Wairau Valley is New Zealand’s best-known wine region. There are 130 wineries in the area. The wines are celebrated in the Marlborough Wine and Food festival each February, harvest season. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling are specialties of the region; it is white wine lover’s paradise. The No. 1 Family Estate specializes in methode traditionelle sparkling wines; Tour their underground cellar. Hunters Wines has a load of awards, and they create red, white, and sparkling wines. Wine and romance? Who could imagine such a pairing?
17. Christchurch, the Avon River / South Island
Climb on board an Edwardian-style handcrafted punting boat and ply the tranquil waters of the Avon River. Called Ōtākaro in the Māori language, the river flows through Christchurch’s city center. A private guide can take you through the Botanic Gardens on an elegant flat-bottomed boat. Home to enormous brown trout, watch anglers reel them in. The river gives you a different perspective of Christchurch’s city center, and punting is an eco-friendly way to tour the city. Fall back in time together and simply relax.
18. The Ōpārara Basin/ South Island
The Ōpārara Basin Cave System is perfect for sweethearts who are adventurous hikers. Head to Kahurangi National Park, and you’ll find the unspoiled natural environment of temperate Rainforests. There are large rock arches and caves with fossils. It also has several plants and animals that live only in this one, particular spot. Truly untamed, go here together and feed your wild side.
19. Queenstown / A Historic Pleasure Steamer
Built in 1912, the TSS Earnshaw is a holdover from the mining boom. The steamer transported sheep, cattle, and passengers to the nearby high country stations. Today, this vintage boat is the only remaining passenger-carrying steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. You can cruise Lake Wakatipu on the pleasure steamer, explore the decks, view the engine room, and get into the historic displays. Known as “The Lady of the Lake,” relax with a drink, get a meal from the café, and be amazed by stunning forest views. This is an experience that takes you back to a time when romance was real.
20. Queenstown / Skyline Gondola
This is a Queenstown must. The Skyline Gondola is the perfect size for two partners, and you’ll be transported 1,476 feet to Bob’s Peak. It is the steepest cable car rise in the Southern Hemisphere, and it is a thrill. From the apex, there’s a panoramic view that includes Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, paragliders, Walter and Cecil Peak, and the city of Queenstown itself. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet, grab a drink, and try the luge—a raised toboggan—for your trip downhill. This is the joy you were meant to have!