Friday, December 14, 2018

Destination Honeymoon: New Zealand

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Does laying on a stunning beach, hiking in the mountainous backdrop of Lord of the Rings or jumping out of a plane in the adventure capital of the world sound like the perfect honeymoon? Experience the trip of a lifetime, and create epic memories in one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world – New Zealand.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing romantic getaway, action-packed activities, or a Michelin-worthy foodie experience, you’ll find it all in New Zealand. Check out our list of the top 5 activities for a picture perfect unforgettable honeymoon in Kiwiland.

Skydive Bay of Islands

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If you’re adventure seekers, nothing says I love you more than jumping out of a plane together at 16,000 feet! Skydive Bay of Islands offers the highest and one of the most beautiful skydiving opportunities in New Zealand, overlooking the stunning bay of 144 islands in the northern region. After 60 seconds of free fall, that paralyzing fear subsides, and you’ll experience a euphoria you never knew existed (see shit-eating grin in the image above). Gazing out across islands and cobalt blue water stretching as far as the eye can see, the views you’ll experience are unlike any in the world. Warm weather and clear blue skies are nearly guaranteed, (as guaranteed as you’ll get in bipolar New Zealand!) and whether this is your first jump or your 50th, you won’t regret jumping over paradise. Tandem skydive instructors are certified to the highest standard by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority, so you can rest assured your skydive will not only be the most exhilarating activity on your trip but also a safe and secure one.

Stargaze in the Aoraki Mackenzie dark sky reserve

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If you look up the Wikipedia page for romance, there’s likely an image of a couple cuddled under a blanket stargazing. There’s nothing quite as magical as gazing up at endless constellations under the darkest and clearest skies in the world. The Aoraki Mackenzie is a gold-rated dark sky reserve which is an area that has regulated light and chemical pollution, leading to exceptional starry nights.There are only eleven certified dark sky reserves in the world, making this adventure a rare honeymoon experience. With a spectacular landscape of the Southern Alps to the west and the Two Thumb Range to the east, the area surrounding Lake Tekapo sets the perfect stage for a romantic getaway for two. Book a few nights at Peppers Bluewater Resort near the shores of the lake and as the sun fades behind the mountains, grab some wine and spread a blanket out beneath the Church of the Good Shepherd for optimal stargazing.

Hike the Hooker Valley trail

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This area isn’t just great for stargazing, it also has fantastic hiking trails around Mount Cook. Hike along the Hooker Valley trail where you might recognize some of the infamous scenes from the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings trilogy. This trail is fairly easy and comes with stellar views! It’s an hour drive from Lake Tekapo, so pack a lunch and don’t forget your camera.

Get outdoors in Queenstown

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No trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting the adventure capital of the world – Queenstown. This quaint town is a favorite among tourists for its fine wineries, hiking, and endless outdoor activities. Take a gondola ride up to Bob’s peak and race your partner down the luge track. Bungy jump or rent bikes and ride down world class mountain bike tracks at the Queenstown bike park, or head over to the viewing deck for the most breathtaking 360-degree views of the city.

Have a foodie orgasm at the Millhouse

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One of the top reasons to stop in Queenstown on your honeymoon is this once in a lifetime dining experience; and no I’m not talking about Fergburger (although it’s a MUST late night treat!).The Millbrook Resort in historic Arrowtown exudes luxury without being in your face about it. Their signature restaurant The Millhouse is a MUST for all foodie travelers, and operates out of a restored flour mill, on the edge of the resort’s award-winning golf course overlooking the remarkable mountain range.

While guests flock to the Millhouse for the food, it’s the level of care and detail that goes into the entire evening that makes it worthy of your honeymoon. Everyone from the hosts to the wait staff to the chefs go above and beyond to ensure your experience is unforgettable. They didn’t skimp on the wine list, so do yourself a favor and order a bottle of local pinot and treat yourselves to the multi-course seasonal degustation menu, curated by esteemed Executive Chef Andi Boziqi. Andi hails from Albania, and cut his teeth in some of the best kitchens in London. While each dish draws inspiration from local ingredients, Andi certainly brings a bit of European influence to the menu too.

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The free-range pork belly is a phenomenal starter. Perfectly seasoned and lightly coated in a tangy bbq glaze, this tender pork would have been lovely all on its own, but it’s perfectly paired with a  modest baked potato and compressed apple. Drool.

The local bluff oysters are freshly shucked to order and have a nice sweetness you won’t find anywhere else. They serve as a light and refreshing palate cleanser before indulging in the real star of the show – the Merino lamb loin.

Lamb is a staple across the country (there are roughly 6 sheep to every person in New Zealand), but lamb prepared by one of the country’s few certified beef + lamb ambassadors is an experience worth seeking out. This award isn’t given out left and right – it’s reserved for a select group of outstanding chefs who consistently deliver world-class New Zealand beef and lamb dishes to their guests; it did not disappoint. Andi and team barrel-smoke the pork shoulder to perfection, and drizzle fig and goat cheese foam on top, along with a sprinkle of tapioca pearls.

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I know I gushed about the lamb, but the Angus beef filet is also insane. It’s prepared quite rare just the way I like it, swimming in a beautiful broth of beef drippings with mushroom dumplings, and lightly dusted with bone marrow crumbs.

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Most visitors come to New Zealand to explore the local culture, nature, and adventure, and honeymooners will soon find this is the perfect recipe to starting a happy life together.

About Kara Tiernan

Kara was born and raised in West Seattle, is a diehard Washington State Alum and Northwest enthusiast! Kara has lived in Florence, Philadelphia and Portland but was magnetized back to home plate. She loves the outdoors, has participated in four Seattle Rock and Roll half marathons and is THRILLED spandex and baggy sweaters made a comeback. She is a passionate reader and blogger, our Music Madness guru, and writes the scoop on Seattle destinations for CBS Local. But mainly, she believes there is nothing better than a pint of Manny's, live acoustic music and loud laughter shared between friends and neighbors.
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