After weeks of enforced alone time and nights in, couples up and down New Zealand are itching to hit the road and do something different!
If you’re anything like us (and 1.05 million other Kiwis), we can’t wait to bust our bubble and remind ourselves of what the rest of New Zealand looks like. Our feet are decidedly itchy. Roll on level 2 and – hopefully – some easing up on domestic travel restrictions.
Research shows that even planning a trip can top up your happiness levels, so grab your partner and figure out where you’re going to go first once life is resembling some kind of normality again. We’ve tracked down some of the most unique and romantic experiences in New Zealand to get you started.
1. STARGAZING FROM HOT POOLS AT LAKE TEKAPO
The ultimate in stellar relaxation, Tekapo Star Gazing is the only guided hot pools and star gazing experience in New Zealand. The tour operates from the renowned facilities of Tekapo Springs, combining the stunning Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with their soul-warming hot pools. Visit the website here.
2. BE A COUPLE OF BEEKEEPERS IN AUCKLAND
Get up close and personal with New Zealand honey bees at the Manuka Apiculture Beekeeping Experience Centre in West Auckland. You’ll both don a beekeeping suit and get a unique opportunity to experience beekeeping. Hold a frame with thousands of bees, find the queen bee and taste fresh New Zealand honey straight from the hive. Visit the website here.
3. UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY AT A PAINT & WINE NIGHT
Learn to paint with a glass of your favourite drop in hand. No experience necessary. The best part is you get to take your masterpiece home with you to keep. Paints, brushes, aprons canvas and wine will be waiting for you. A concept that originated in the States, we are delighted when Kiwi friends, Denym Bird, Alex Hamilton, and Euan Lockie brought it to New Zealand. Their Paintvine events are hosted across the North and South Islands. Visit the website here.
4. SPEND THE NIGHT IN A GLASS POD ABOVE AN ORGANIC WINERY
For a night with a difference – in a spectacular setting – you can’t get much better than a PurePod. Completely surrounded by glass, down to the roof and floor, you will sleep with views of the Southern Cross and millions of other stars. By day, you are surrounded by dramatic natural landscapes with you own secret slice of pure New Zealand literally at the back door (and the front door, and the side door!). There are PurePods across New Zealand but we love the sound of the Greystone PurePod, which is set high above the award-winning Greystone vineyard, less than an hour north of Christchurch, right in the heart of the Waipara Valley wine producing region. Visit the website here.
5. GET COVERED IN HOT CHOCOLATE IN HAMILTON
Try the famous Hot Chocolate body dip and Blossom water treatment at Hamilton’s Water Day Spa. Their essential oils salt scrub exfoliates your skin while a heavenly steam envelopes you. You are then buttered in a selection of hot chocolate, hydrating the skin with silky smooth results. This treatment is completed with warm Vichy showers. The hot chocolate dip takes 60 minutes. If you want to make a full day of it, there are a number of other luxuriant couples treatments that you could tag on, from therapeutic massages to the fantastic sounding Doterra fizz bomb. Visit the website here.
6. TRAVEL BACK IN TIME ON A STEAM TRAIN AT GLENBROOK
Experience the thrill of travelling by steam train on this 15 kilometre scenic journey. Meander through beautiful rural countryside on a vintage train hauled by one of the lovingly restored steam locomotives. Settle into the immaculate wood carriages and get to know the staff in vintage uniform who will clip your ticket as you listen to the panting steam engine. Enjoy time to visit the restoration workshops enroute before returning to the Glenbrook Station for a delicious morning tea. Visit the website here.
7. COOK UP AN ITALIAN FEAST IN WELLINGTON
Couples who like to get creative in the kitchen together can visit La Bella Italia in Wellington for some tips on how to prepare your next date night meal. Sip on a glass of prosecco with antipasti as you learn your ravioli from your gnocchi with under the guidance of a top Italian chef. Visit the website here.
8. ROMANTIC KAYAK BY SUNSET
If you’re after pure romance, book a sea kayak tour to Rangitoto Island, while the sun is slowly setting over Auckland and the Waitakere Ranges. The tour includes a climb to the summit of Rangitoto, where you will be treated to the finest 360 degree views that Auckland has to offer. At the return to the water’s edge, a BBQ dinner will be awaiting you. With your guide, you will paddle back in the dark watching the city lights sparkle like stars. Visit the website here.
9. STAY AT A LUXURY LODGE & FORAGE FOR LUNCH
Stay at the beautiful Treetops Lodge & Estate in Rotorua and forage for lunch with the Wild Food Cooking School. You will look for native ingredients with an expert forager then gather around the kitchen table and share in a unique cooking and dining experience. Join in lively banter and engaging discussion with professional chefs as you learn about the preparation and culinary properties of each ingredient. Create your own garnishes and watch as a delicious meal comes together before your eyes. Visit the website here.
10. THE MOST FUN YOU'LL HAVE IN A LOCKED ROOM...
They’ve been taking New Zealand secretly by storm for a while, and now there are Escape Rooms dotted around the country. For a unique, exciting and slightly out there date night, head along to your nearest Escape Room to solve crazy puzzles and break out within your time limit.
Escape Rooms New Zealand has locations in Auckland and Tauranga. The Mad Scientist escape room grabbed us. You wake up in a quarantined area and it looks like you're about to become subjects for a new experiment. You have 90 minutes, to escape. A sure-fire way to get the heart pumping! Visit the website here.
There is also CodeBreakers for those of you in Christchurch. It has had some stellar reviews and even has some games available online. Check them out here.