I started out writing this post to tell you all the reasons you should honeymoon in New Zealand. Then I realised, well, New Zealand is epic and already known as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world, but where should you actually go when you get there?
If you’re planning a New Zealand honeymoon, here are the top destinations you should be considering for your itinerary, plus some awesome adventure activities to consider, and if you’re looking to drop some serious cash, some of the best places to stay for honeymooners!
So, what are the best destinations in for a honeymoon in New Zealand?
No list of best places to go in New Zealand, let alone best honeymoon destinations, would be complete with adding Milford Sound. In fact, the whole Milford area is stunning! As a Kiwi, I can’t believe it took me until my own honeymoon to make the trip there because it’s one of the best places I’ve ever been in the world.
In addition the must-do activity of taking a cruise through Milford Sound, you can also kayak or walk in the area. The road to Milford had plenty of things to do and some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand too, so make sure you have plenty of stops!
Romantic things to do: Stay overnight and enjoy a dinner at the Milford Sound Lodge. Try to catch the sunset or sunrise, BUT make sure you have a ton of bug spray on because sandflies will be in abundance!
Where to stay: Many people try and do Milford Sound in one day from Te Anau or even Christchurch, but to really make the most of your experience I’d highly recommend an overnight stay. The Milford Sound Lodge has beautiful chalet rooms, backpacker style accommodation, and campervan parks.
Snowcapped mountains and turquoise glacier lakes are what you can expect when you travel to the area around Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Spend your time relaxing in Mount Cook Village at the foot of the mountains, or do some of the walks in the area (the Hooker Valley Track is great!) and visit the Tasman Glacier Lake.
Romantic things to do:Just outside of Mount Cook Village is a designated Day Sky reserve, the only one in the southern hemisphere, so go stargazing on clear nights!
Where to stay: The Hermitage Hotel is world-renowned, with beautiful views from all its windows, or opt for the Mount Cook Lodge. We stayed in the Chalets, which are triangle-roofed cabins technically part of the Mount Cook Lodge but next to The Hermitage.
Nelson & Abel Tasman
Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park located at the top of the South Island and are a welcome addition to any outdoor couples honeymoon itinerary. The Abel Tasman Coastal track is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, with part of the walk running along the beautiful beaches. If you’re not up for a multi-day hike, consider taking a water taxi into one of the bays for the day, or getting out on the water in a kayak. You’ll feel less like you’re in the South Pacific and more like you’re in some tropical paradise.
Romantic things to do: Embrace the cliche of a stroll down the beach, hand in hand.
Where to stay: Edenhouse is a 6-star property located in rural Nelson, The Resurgence, Motueka is eco-friendly accommodation with bathtub views across Kahurangi National Park, and the Split Apple Retreat is luxury spa accommodation just near Abel Tasman. Try Warwick House, The Sails, and Parautane Lodge for more budget-friendly options.
West Coast, South Island
The West Coast of the South Island sees the brunt of the weather off the Tasman Sea, but the result is a stunningly lush rainforest, in stark contrast to the much drier east of the country. There’s so much to see, from the Punakaiki Rocks to the Blue Pools in Haast Pass.
One of the best things we did during our whole honeymoon in New Zealand was the Heli Hike on the Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier is one of only 3 in the world (one of the others is Fox Glacier, just down the road) that ends at a rainforest. Given the instability of the glacier face, you have to take a helicopter ride higher up on the glacier to then be able to walk along the surface, through crevices, and sometimes, ice caves. An epic honeymoon experience!
Don’t forget to try whitebait fritters, a West Coast specialty. We’d recommend stopping by the Curly Tree Whitebait Company just before Haast!
Romantic things to do: Soak in the Franz Josef Hot Pools, especially after a long day out or being up on the glacier. You can even hire a private pool!
Where to stay: Accommodation is a little more sparse and spread out in this area. The Te Waonui Forest Retreat is located in Franz Josef, but you can also consider nearby Fox Glacier or even other places along the coast like Haast and Hokitika.
Just east of Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula is a great beginning to a honeymoon in New Zealand. Take a walk to Cathedral Cove, a natural rock formation, and dig yourself your own hot pool on Hot Water Beach. The rocky coastline to the west contrasts with the golden beaches to the east, and with a mixture of activities on offer and time for relaxation, it makes a great honeymoon destination.
Romantic things to do: Basically everything! Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, and enjoy the beauty at Cathedral Cove.
Where to stay: The Bushland Park Lodge and Retreat is a spot of luxury in Whangamata, or try the Hahei area.
What’s more romantic than hot springs, spas, and lake views? Rotorua provides a great range of activities for all types of honeymooners. Get your adventure on at the original Luge, or river rafting down a 7-metre waterfall, the highest you can do in the world. If you want to chill out, try the Polynesian Spa on the shores of Lake Rotorua, wander around the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and learn more about the history of New Zealand at the Buried Village.
Romantic things to do: Relax together at the Polynesian Spa. And race each other down the Luge…
Where to stay: There’s an abundance of accommodation in Rotorua, owing to its long history as a top tourist destination. The Novotel and Millennium Hotel are good mid-range options. The Treetops Lodge and Estate is a luxurious sanctuary, or try Peppers on the Point with beautiful views, sauna, and a fitness centre.
Visiting the Waitomo Caves on your New Zealand honeymoon is a unique experience not just in New Zealand itself, but in the world. The extensive system of caves in Waitomo are naturally illuminated by thousands of bioluminescent glowworms. This is no ordinary cave tour! In addition to seeing centuries-old stalagmites and stalactites in some of the caves, you’ll be able to see what appears to be the night sky, underground.
For an extra thrill (and because it’s New Zealand so we have to do something adventurous) take a Legendary Black Water Rafting tour, and float on an inner tube down an underground river with the glowworms shining above you. There’s the classic Black Labyrinth Tour where tubing if your main objective or the Black Abyss Tour where abseiling, zip lining, and waterfall climbing are thrown in too.
Read more about my experience on the Black Abyss Tour here!
Romantic things to do: Seeing the wonder of glowworms together is definitely romantic, it’s just up to you how you do it!
I’ve already mentioned Milford, but there’s so much more in the rest of the World Heritage-listed site of Fiordland that gets skipped over as people rush to Milford Sound. Consider staying in the beautiful lakefront towns of Manapouri or Te Anau to relax during your honeymoon. We spent far more time than we intended here (I may or may not have messed up our accommodation) but it was time well-spent in the end.
Visit Doubtful Sound, slightly smaller than Milford Sound but stunningly impressive. Try kayaking here to get up close and personal with the edges of the fiord, and leave your sailing adventure for Milford Sound. You might even be lucky enough to spot some dolphins!
You can take a plane or helicopter over the area as a honeymoon treat, to really appreciate the vast and dramatic scenery of this sparsely populated location.
Romantic things to do: Find an isolated place to stay and enjoy spending time together in a beautiful setting.
Where to stay: There are some great off-the-beaten-track type accommodation options here, from the cabins at Freestone to a yurt in Te Anau (check Airbnb) but Fiordland Lodge is the ultimate in luxury accommodation.
New Zealand’s capital may not seem like the most romantic place for honeymooners, but as a former Wellingtonian, I think it deserves to be on the list! Experience the ultimate in New Zealand cafe culture, with more bars, cafes, and restaurants per capita than New York, walk along the waterfront and visit the national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa.
Climb Mount Victoria for panoramic views, before you head over to Miramar to visit the Weta Workshop, a huge part of the New Zealand film industry and the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies, before exploring the golden sand beaches nearby.
Romantic things to do: Eat out at one of the many great restaurants, we loved Ortega Fish Shack!
Where to stay: QT Museum Wellington is just near Te Papa and the waterfront, and is a great base for exploring the city (try the high tea as well!).
Known for its beaches and wineries, the Hawkes Bay region may be left off many honeymoon itineraries because it’s slightly more out of the way. However, if you’re spending more time in the North Island or you want to get a bit further off the beaten track, then it’s a great place to explore. Indulge yourself at some of the award-winning wineries and restaurants, and take a walking tour of the unique town of Napier, rebuilt in art deco style after a 1931 earthquake devastated the region.
Romantic things to do: Indulge in a wine tasting and walk through the vines at one of the many vineyards.
Where to stay: Greenhill Lodge is an elegant, historic homestead in the area and a perfect place to stay and relax. The Mangapapa Hotel in Havelock North offers exquisite rooms, and The Dome in Napier offers modern luxury.
Queenstown is well-known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, and it’s a well-deserved reputation too! If you want to try bungy jumping, Queenstown has the original and the highest in New Zealand, plus swings if hanging upside isn’t your thing! Skydiving is popular as is the Shotover Jet boat ride, white water rafting, the luge, and a huge number of other adventure activities.
However, don’t think about skipping Queenstown if getting an adrenalin fix isn’t your thing. There are great things to do for couples on their honeymoon too, and beautiful places to stay. Visit some of the nearby wineries, like Amisfield, for unique dining experiences, or admire the views on a drive to Glenorchy.
Oh, and don’t forget to try a Fergburger!
Romantic things to do: As much as Queenstown is known for being an adventure capital, it is also a great place for couples. A lot of accommodation has amazing views, and there are plenty of activities you can do together. The Onsen Hot Pools are a particular favourite for their private hot pools with amazing views of the Shotover River. You’ll need to book really early to get the coveted sunset spot!
Where to stay: We stayed in an apartment at Oaks Shores which had stunning 180-degree views across Lake Wakatipu, and was reasonably priced for amazing the view was! There’s also the QT Queenstown, or the luxury lodges in the area are Blanket Bay Lodge in nearby Glenorchy, Matakauri Lodge, and Kohara Lodge.
The Wairarapa region runs along the east of the lower North Island. From the rugged beaches along the coast to the splendid array of wineries surrounding colonial-styled towns, it’s a lovely area to explore as a couple on your honeymoon. Cycle between the wineries, or head down to the coast to see New Zealand’s largest seal colony sunbathing on the rocks.
Romantic things to do: Cycle around the vineyards together (just don’t have too many samples!). Visit the antique shops in the small towns, and have fun talking about how you’d furnish your home.
Where to stay: The Wharekauhau Country Estate is in a remote area and is well-known as a favourite of celebrities visiting New Zealand.
Just an hour from Wanaka, Queenstown offers many of the same adventure activities but in a more laid-back environment. In addition, the walking tracks in the area give some of the most stunning and iconic views of New Zealand. Visit the Lavender Farm in the summer months and feel like you’ve been transported to the south of France, or cycle along the river tracks. There’s skiing at nearby Cardrona in the winter time, and the historic Cardrona Hotel is worth a stop at any time of year.
Romantic things to do: For the ultimate, take a helicopter ride that lands on one of the nearby peaks for the iconic views. Or walk up…
Where to stay: Release Wanaka offers a series of luxury holiday homes, many with their own pools and spas, or Wanaka Luxury Apartments and Lakeside Apartments offer five-star accommodation at an affordable price.
The Taranaki Region was named as one of the best in the world by Lonely Planet in 2017, and I’ve begun to see many more people adding it to their New Zealand trip. With the volcanic cone of Mount Taranaki at its heart, and rainforest and rugged surf beaches in its surrounds, it’s definitely an area for adventure and for those who love epic views. New Plymouth provides a cultural home base, with museums and public art.
Romantic things to do: There are plenty of spots to watch the sunset since you’re on New Zealand’s west coast. Park up the car and enjoy it.
Bay of Islands
A great destination for couples who love sailing and other watersports. You can take a cruise around the islands and out to the hole in the rock (where it’s good luck if the water drops on your head!), kayak around the various bays, or even try diving. Take a drive to see New Zealand’s oldest surviving stone building, the Stone Store in Kerikeri.
Use the Bay of Islands as your base to venture further north to 90 Mile beach where you can “surf” down the sand dunes, and Cape Reinga, where you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meeting off the north of New Zealand.
Romantic things to do: Sail across the bay at sunset, or spend a day together on an island. Remember a picnic!
Where to stay: There are several small towns in the Bay of Islands but Russell and Paihia are the most common places to stay. Try the Duke of Malborough which has beautiful waterfront rooms, or for the height of luxury, Eagles Nest, with private pools and hot tubs with stunning views.
As the main entry point for international travellers, it’s highly likely you’ll be spending some time in Auckland. Luckily, Auckland has plenty of attractions to keep you busy for a day or two and is in close proximity to many others. Don’t miss going up the Sky Tower for 360 degrees views of the Auckland landscape, including all the many dormant volcanos it’s been built on. For an extra thrill, try the SkyWalk, where you walk around a 1-metre wide platform on the outside of the tower! You can also jump off on the SkyJump, or try the Bridge Climb over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Outside of the central city, you can visit Devonport, a village suburb with boutique shops, upscale restaurants, and classic pubs. Head over to Waiheke Island, with its vistas of beautiful beaches, vineyards, and olive groves, or to the West Coast black sand beaches.
Romantic things to do: Basically everything you do in Auckland can be a romantic date! I love the views from Mt Eden or take a trip to Waiheke Island. I also think challenging yourselves at the Skywalk is a great experience!
Lake Taupo & Tongariro National Park
Lake Taupo is a huge lake formed in a volcanic crater in the middle of the North Island. It’s known for its trout fishing, watersports, and other adventure activities. You can do New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy, or swing across a canyon. Stop by the Huka Falls just north of the lake to see the powerful force of the water from the lake pouring over the falls.
Just south of Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park was New Zealand’s first, and one of the oldest national parks in the world. It’s now a hugely popular tourist destination, partly thanks to Mt Ngauruhoe featuring as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and to the Tongariro Crossing, one of the best day walks in New Zealand.
Romantic things to do: Tandem Bungy or Swing? Or if that’s not your kind of thing, get out in a boat on the lake, or go for a walk through the Tongariro National Park.
Where to stay: Huka Lodge is considered to be one of the most luxurious lodges in New Zealand and would make a wonderful addition to your honeymoon accommodation. The Lake Taupo Lodge is another luxury accommodation nearby. The Chateau Tongariro Hotel is old-world elegance at the foot of the mountains, and warrants a stop on your travels at the very least!
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty runs from the Coromandel south along the east coast of the North Island. It’s known for the plentiful sunshine and beautiful beaches found there. Walk up Mount Maunganui and take in the views along the coast. This is where you should go if you’re looking for a more beachy, tropical New Zealand honeymoon!
Venture inland to Matamata to visit what is now one of New Zealand’s most famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set. Even if you’re not a huge fan it’s a beautiful place to wander around and like something out of a fairytale! Or excellent fantasy book…
Romantic things to do: We loved Hobbiton, especially sharing a drink together at the Green Dragon Inn at the end, because it really does feel like another world!
Where to stay: The French Country House in Tauranga has large sea-view rooms in an elegant French style. Kaimai Country Lodge has luxurious rooms with beautiful views, and isn’t anywhere near as expensive as some of the other options around the country!
At the top of the South Island, the Malborough Sounds is an extensive network of islands and sunken river valleys. Much of the wine that New Zealand is known for around the world comes from Malborough, so visiting the vineyards should certainly be on your list. Getting out on the water is a must, whether it’s in a kayak or boat.
Romantic things to do: Once again you have the vineyards, but also try kayaking together!
Where to stay: The Bay of Many Coves Resort sits within native bush on a tranquil bay, and the Malborough Lodge is another luxury resort in the area. McCormick House in Picton has beautiful rooms on offer also.
Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island is a bucket list destination for many New Zealanders and would be an amazing place to go on a honeymoon. Life is simpler and slower on Stewart Islands, and visitors should expect to fall into a more relaxed pace when they visit. The brilliant blue seas and white sand beaches will deceive you into thinking you’re somewhere other than the closest to Antarctica you can get in Oceania.
Visiting Stewart Island is all about nature and wildlife, so keep an eye out for penguins and Kiwis, the national bird of New Zealand.
Romantic things to do: To me, just the idea of being on an island at the end of the world is romantic!
The North Canterbury regions stretches from Christchurch to Kaikoura along the coast, and inland to Hamner Springs. Go whale watching or swim with wild dolphins at Kaikoura, soak in the hot springs at Hamner, and when you’re done, head over to the West Coast via Arthur’s Pass or Lewis Pass, two of the most beautiful drives in New Zealand.
Christchurch is undergoing a regeneration after the devasting earthquakes during 2010-2011. The city is still being rebuilt, but there are beautiful areas to explore like the Port Hills, the Avon river area and the Botanic Gardens.
Romantic things to do: Whale watching and taking a dip in the hot springs at Hamner.
Where to stay: North Canterbury is full of luxury accommodation. Try Otahuna Lodge near Christchurch, or the Annandale Coastal Farm Escape & Luxury Villa Collection. The George Hotel in Christchurch is a more affordable option.
On the south coast of Otago, the southernmost district in New Zealand, the Catlins compromises a sparsely populated area of rugged coastline and rolling hills. There’s plenty of wildlife to see, with sea lions, penguins, and dolphins, as well as plentiful birdlife. Take a road trip along the Southern Scenic Route, connecting Dunedin, Invercargill and Te Anau. You’ll find beautiful waterfalls and thick green forests, and beaches where you might walk along hand-in-hand, with no other human in sight.
Romantic things to do: Visit some of the incredible waterfalls in the area.
Off the coast of the Bay of Plenty is the active marine volcano, White Island. It’s the most active volcano in New Zealand, and visiting is a truly unique honeymoon experience. You can take a scenic flight, or for an even more surreal experience, take a boat and walk around on the volcano itself, like walking on another planet!
Romantic things to do: I’m not sure if the smell of sulfur is romantic, but if you want to feel like you’ve visited another planet together then this could work…
Best time to visit New Zealand for a honeymoon
I’d recommend summer as the best time to travel to New Zealand for a honeymoon. This means sometime from November to February, depending on where you’re going. You’ll have the biggest range of activities on offer at that time, and the best weather. You could broaden this to September to May if you can handle the weather being a bit cooler!
Of course, if you love the snow and are into winter sports, you might want to consider coming in winter when you can make the most of getting up in the mountains. If that’s the case, then you’ll most likely be focusing your trip around the South Island, and then the Tongariro National Park area.
Where to stay on your honeymoon
I’ve noted some of the luxury lodges, hotels, and other types of accommodation available in the destinations above, but realistically, your honeymoon is unlikely to be non-stop luxury stays! Instead, I’d recommend mixing it up with some hotels, lodges, and private Airbnb stays.
Many travellers to New Zealand like to hire a campervan to travel around, but personally we liked being able to stay in different places on our honeymoon and just drive our little car around whenever we wanted to go somewhere, instead of having to have a small and cramped van, or a big campervan to negotiate with!
How to get around
New Zealand is made for road trips, and by far the best option for getting around New Zealand on your honeymoon is by car (or campervan, should you choose to go that down that route). However, I’d highly suggest reading up on New Zealand roads, because during peak season there can be a lot of traffic on some quite small roads, and a lot of people not used to driving on the left-hand side.
My number one tip for driving in New Zealand is patience. Don’t plan a packed itinerary that requires you to get places quickly, because it won’t happen! You’ll get stuck behind trucks and campervans a lot, especially in the South Island. Also, plan on having lots of breaks and not too much driving each day. It’s your honeymoon, after all, so you don’t want to be stressed!
Alternatively, you could consider travelling on public transportation, but you’ll miss out many of the great stops in between main centres. Another option is a to join a tour, but consider small group tours and their average customer to make sure it suits you as a couple!
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all of these destinations, but hopefully, this helps you narrow down your New Zealand honeymoon itinerary.
Need more help planning? Check out these other New Zealand posts (and more to come!):
- North Island Itinerary Ideas + Best Places to Visit
- Tongariro Crossing: The Best One Day Walk in New Zealand
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
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