Insider Travel Tips for New Zealand
See New Zealand through the eyes of the locals. Here are our suggestions of cool places to go from those in the know – our team behind The Team, who have visited New Zealand. Whether you book an escorted tour or a campervan package, you will be within reach of many of these activities, so why not check them out.
Please note that these are not escorted excursions, these are suggestions for general information only. Please scroll to the bottom of the page for further information on this.
Best Outdoor Market
Stroll through the Otara Markets - Auckland
The biggest and most vibrant outdoor market in New Zealand, you can find everything from fresh local produce, delicious ethnic food, to arts and crafts by local designers at the Otara Markets. The market is open on Saturdays from 6am-midday.
Where: The Otara Markets are located 20 minutes south of central Auckland on Newbury Street, off East Tamaki Road, Otara.
Tip: Get there early as many of the local store holders may start packing up around 11am. And remember, it’s a market so don’t be afraid to negotiate with stall holders!
Current available tours that include Auckland: The majority of our tours include Auckland.
Best British or Irish Bar
Fox and Ferret pub – Christchurch
The Fox and Ferret is a British style bar and restaurant in the City of Christchurch. Open from 11am, the pub shows all the best sports live on big screen, with a wide selection of food and drink to suit all tastes. Whether you’re English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish, all Lions fans will receive a warm welcome at this ‘Best British Bar’!
Where: The bar is located in Riccarton, right next to the Westfield Mall. It’s only a ten minute walk to AMI Stadium in Christchurch (for those of you heading to the provincial match against the Crusaders on 10 June 2017) and is a home away from home, offering Great British hospitality in the vibrant city of Christchurch.
Tip: If you’re going to Crusaders v British & Irish Lions, the staff at Fox and Ferret can sort you out with buses to the stadium. They also happen to have a ‘world-famous Stonegrill menu’ which is worth checking out.
Rob Gilmour, in the British & Irish Lions Supporter Tours sales team, who visited New Zealand in July 2015 says "Christchurch is such a cool town with an exciting vibe. We went to the Fox and Ferret pub in Riccarton and had an awesome time. The staff were so welcoming, you'll feel right at home during the Lions Tour".
Best Burger Bar
Fergburger – Queenstown
A particular favourite burger joint is Fergburger in Queenstown. Very popular with Queenstown visitors, Fergburger is very deserving of its soaring reputation. Fergburger has close to 30 types of burgers on their menu and is popular with the locals – always a good sign!
Where: Originally opened in February 2001 out of a garage off Cow Lane, the obscure location meant that Fergburger relied on word of mouth to attract customers. It is now located on Shotover Street, in the centre of Queenstown.
Tip: There is a reason people queue to eat here. The atmosphere is buzzing, but during busy periods, it’s best to expect a takeaway meal instead of dining in due to the limited seats.
Best Alternative Bar
Minus 5 Ice Bar – Queenstown
This is more of an experience than the perfect bar for a night out. Over 18 tonnes of crystal clear ice, chainsaws, chisels and one talented ice carver create the amazing frozen world. The Ice Bar changes every three months and is well worth a visit.
Where: Minus 5 Ice Bar is located at the iconic Steamer Wharf in central Queenstown.
Tip: They provide jackets, jumpers and gloves for you to wear on arrival but remember to wrap up warm – as the name suggests, it’s cold!
Annabelle Gallagher in the British & Irish Lions Supporter Tours marketing team, who visited New Zealand in August 2015 says “I loved the Ice Bar. It was icy and cold but we were all wrapped up and cosy! There are lots of ice sculptures, friendly staff, a great atmosphere and top quality drinks. It was so different from anything back home and it was real highlight of our stay in Queenstown.”
Best view to wake up to
Cape Reinga and the ‘Winterless North”
It is so hard to single out one view in New Zealand to top all others, but the best views have to be seen travelling by campervan. Imagine looking out in the morning to see the emerald blue waters of the Marlborough Sounds, the white sands of Abel Tasman or the rugged west coast of the North Island. So how to pick the best view? This is tough.
Where: We’ve gone for the ‘Winterless North’, home to a subtropical climate year-round. Cape Reinga, right at the end of the road at the northern-most tip of New Zealand, is topped with a lighthouse overlooking the Tasman Sea meeting the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents.
Tip: There are only a few campervan parks this far north, and not all open in New Zealand’s winter season, so you should make your booking in advance. Cape Reinga Tapotupotu Camp Ground is a 5 minute drive from Cape Reinga lighthouse.
Dave Barton, Head of Communications for British & Irish Lions, who has visited New Zealand three times, said: “The Bay of Islands is a real mix of culture, breath-taking scenery and activities. I was blown away by so many views and experiences but the ‘Winterless North’ just topped it for me. Cape Reinga Lighthouse sits at the tip of the Northland and it’s well worth the trip if you can get there.”
Best way to relax!
Thermal Spas – Rotorua
Rotorua is the perfect place to relax and unwind, whilst walking in the steps of Maori generations. Hot ‘n’ Cold is the magical point along the Wai-O-Tapu Stream where the cool river merges with a hot thermal spring. Sit in the naturally heated stream and relax by the banks while enjoying the scenery all for free. Or if you have a few extra pennies, perhaps visit Hells Gate, New Zealand’s most active geothermal attraction which features the biggest mud volcano in the country as well as the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. Take a guided tour and treat yourself to a mud bath or sulphur spa under the stars.
Where: Hot ‘n’ Cold is around 40km south of Rotorua. Hells Gate is situated on State Highway 30, approximately 15-minutes drive from central Rotorua.
Tip: Hot ‘n’ Cold - Pretty basic dirt paths lead to the hot stream which is shallow and great for a dip. Park safely beside the one lane bridge. Visit in daylight hours. Hells Gate is the only place in New Zealand where you can soak and relax in an outdoor Mud Bath, used for generations by Maori to ease joint and muscle pain.
Louise Lee, in the British & Irish Lions Supporter Tours sales team, who visited New Zealand in January 2013 says: "Rotorua is a must see when venturing to New Zealand. There is nowhere else like it, the natural wonders, the culture, the scenery! The geothermal activity surrounding Rotorua means that if you like a relaxing spa visit, you'll be spoilt for choice! I can't wait to get back there next year on the Lions Tour.
Best food and drink experience
Food and Wine Classic – Hawke’s Bay
The Hawke’s Bay region does food and wine like no other. For around three weeks in June, Hawke’s Bay hosts Winter F.A.W.C! – the Food and Wine Classic. Picture roaring fires, glasses of rich full bodied Hawke’s Bay wine and plenty of local lamb and venison prepared in a multitude of enticing ways. Wine cellars will be put to good use with music echoing off the walls and local food and wine offerings show off their wares at dozens of events across the four weekends in June.
Where: F.A.W.C! is hosted twice a year, once in summer and again in winter and is a delicious collection of food and wine experiences, set in stunning locations throughout Hawke's Bay.
Tip: Before you leave for New Zealand, print off the full programme PDF here http://www.fawc.co.nz/
Current available tours that include Hawke's Bay: Motorhome packages
Best place to see Wildlife
Ohau Point – Kaikoura
Kaikoura is surrounded by mountains, rare marine life, friendly locals and the mighty Pacific Ocean. It’s a place famous for whale watching, but more off the beaten track, just north of Kaikoura is Ohau Point, home to one of the local New Zealand fur seal colonies.
Where: Ohau Point and waterfall is a 15 minute drive heading north on State Highway 1 out of Kaikoura. Follow the signs from Ohau Point. Access is free.
Tip: The secret lies a short 10 minute walk from the coast heading inland, following a rocky stream, where you’ll encounter a huge waterfall that plunges into a small pool. During the winter months (May – August), mother seals take their pups there as a sort of ‘seal daycare’ while they hunt for food. Watching baby seal pups frolic in the waterfall and on the surrounding rocks is a magic experience.
Current available tours that include Kaikoura: Motorhome packages
Best place to explore
Waitakere Ranges - Auckland
West Auckland has 16,000 hectares of native rainforest, beautiful waterfalls and sweeping beaches called the Waitakere Ranges, all within 40 minutes of Auckland’s town centre. Follow the Kitekite track for 45 minutes and you’ll discover waterfalls, streams, pools and beautiful native bush. Favourite scenic spots such as Karekare Falls are just a few minutes’ walk from Karekare beach and are very accessible.
Where: The Waitakere Ranges are a chain of hills in the Auckland region, around a 40 minute drive from Auckland city centre.
Tip: Stop in at Arataki Visitor Centre for track maps and panoramic views before walking among the kauri trees and giant tree ferns. Take in the stunning views from the visitor centre lookouts points, which sweep across the forest back towards Auckland’s skyline.
Current available tours that include Auckland: The majority of our tours include Auckland.
Best Maori experience
Waitangi – Bay of Islands
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must-do if you are in the Bay of Islands region. Rich in history and stories of the momentous events which shaped the nation of New Zealand, it is New Zealand’s most important historic site where, in 1840, New Zealand's founding document was signed: the Treaty of Waitangi.
Where: Waitangi Treaty Grounds are located next to the Waitangi National Reserve in Northland. They include the former house of the British Resident in New Zealand (the British Government’s representative in New Zealand), James Busby.
Tip: The dinner and concert is not run in New Zealand’s winter months but make sure you catch an authentic cultural performance while you’re there.
Please note that these are not escorted excursions. The content on these pages is provided for general information only and you must obtain specialist advice before taking any action on the basis of the content on our site. You must verify critical information independently before you travel. Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no guarantees that the content on this site is accurate, complete or up-to-date or suitable for your purposes. These tips are NOT part of a guided tour, they are suggestions only. Please see here for further information.