“Luckily we’re quarantined in the most beautiful country on Earth.”
Stuff Travel’s Brook Sabin pretty much hit the nail on the head – if you’re going to be stuck somewhere, you could do a lot worse than New Zealand.
2020 was the year we looked at adventures and trips within our own borders.
Early in the pandemic, Stuff Travel saw the need to support local businesses, launching the Back Your Backyard campaign as a way to highlight all that is good about tourism in New Zealand.
Since the success of that initiative, we have revamped our site, giving Kiwis the ability to dream, plan and book their next adventures.
You’ve lapped up our local escapes, here are the top 10 most-read NZ getaways.
10. Tekapo Springs stargazing: lie in a hot spring hammock in the mountains and watch the Milky Way – June 28
Our first stop in the top 10, and what a stop.
In the stunning Mackenzie Country, surrounded by snowy peaks, you’ll find Tekapo Springs. At night, the hot springs provide an exceptional stargazing tour.
9. Motueka: New Zealand’s small-town doughnut capital – June 15
Mmmm … doughnuts.
Homer Simpson would be winging his way to Nelson Tasman region if he could to New Zealand’s doughnut capital Motueka.
The Smoking Barrel offers incredible flavours. R18 Naughty Snickers with bourbon salted caramel, Bounty Bar, vanilla crème brulee, Caramilk deluxe, and salted caramel popcorn creations, to name a few.
8. For rent: New Zealand’s $35 island escape – May 19
Staying in the top of the South, and a small island getaway in the Marlborough Sounds. Arapaoa Island, formerly known as Arapawa Island, is a windswept slice of paradise.
The homestead has been restored to its full vintage glory; it’s the kind of place that transports you back to your grandma’s house, with its floral prints and dark wood finishings.
Go on an adventure to the longest abandoned tunnel in the southern hemisphere – it’s 1.4km of complete darkness.
Back to Nelson Tasman again, and the Great Taste Trail, which is an extensive cycle loop taking in Nelson, Motueka, Wakefield, Richmond and Kaiteriteri. As the name suggests, there are plenty of food and wine stops on the way.
The 159-kilometre ride takes three to five days to comfortably complete, although most opt to take a day trip on a small section.
You don’t have to believe in ghosts to find ghost towns – and other settlements with dark histories – intriguing.
In New Zealand, abandoned gold rush and mining towns and sites that have seen large-scale death or destruction tell important stories about our history. Sad ones, yes.
Here are five of the more spookier spots.
5. Ten of the best small New Zealand towns – March 14
You certainly love stories about small-town New Zealand. This list highlights the cute, cool and quirky settlements that can be found nationwide.
Kaiwaka, Kāwhia and Blackball are just three of the more under-discovered destinations.
You really love reading about small towns in this country.
Another of those amazing deals to get Kiwis out and about was this $29-a-day offer.
Before Covid-19, campervan hires could cost hundreds of dollars a night – often making them the domain of overseas tourists happy to pay the premium. But this offer from Tourism Holdings Ltd, the owner of the Britz, maui and Mighty camper brands, cost the price of smashed avocado and a couple of coffees.
2. New Zealand’s secret treehouse escape – May 31
Treehouses were very on-trend this year, but none proved quite as popular as this hideaway.
The Fairytale Tree House is hidden in native bush near Whangārei. This is a treehouse in the true sense – it’s not just a marketing ploy. A hulking tree is growing up the middle of the building, weaving through rooms like a snake.
1. Crazy travel deals: Operators are offering big discounts to get Kiwis travelling in New Zealand – May 20
And to our top Back Your Backyard story of the year, and another highlighting special offers from local tourism operators.
The story was published ahead of the first long weekend since lockdown, when tourism providers were offering some substantial discounts to get Kiwis out travelling after Covid-19 decimated the industry.
Among the offers were a $10 zipline adventure, $70 for a night in Château Tongariro, and a luxury overwater escape in Cromwell.