Was it worth the journey?
On my last visit to New Zealand, in 2013, I thought this country was beautiful, but perhaps not exciting. In 2022, New Zealand’s tranquil beauty seemed not commonplace, but revelatory. I’ll take salmon sashimi, or whatever other pretext I can muster, to experience a place like it.
If You Go:
Flights from the United States and most other countries land in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, on the North Island. From Auckland, it’s a one hour 25 minute flight to Marlborough Airport, the northern gateway to the South Island. After my road trip, I flew out of Queenstown, in the south, the adventure tourism hub of the country.
Mapu, in Lyttleton, outside Christchurch, has just six seats, with one dinner seating, so reserve as far in advance as you can. A meal for one with a nonalcoholic pairing costs 280 New Zealand dollars (about $172); with wine, it’s 370 New Zealand dollars.
Accommodations at Glenburn Coastal Retreat, in Hapuku, just north of Kaikoura, go for 429 dollars a night; for that you get a self-contained house with a living room, an expansive bathroom, a bedroom and a backyard barbecue grill, as well as stunning ocean and mountain views.
Black Estate Wines, in the Waipara Valley, has an excellent restaurant and makes some of the area’s best wines. A multicourse meal with wine runs about 120 dollars. The estate also offers wine tastings and rents an apartment for 395 dollars a night.
In Christchurch, the George Hotel, fronting Hagley Park, is what every city needs: a comfortable, hyperlocal luxury hotel with meticulous service. Rooms start at 428 dollars a night.
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