If there’s one thing to be said about life, it’s if people are so lucky, they get to explore the majestic wonder that is the island country of New Zealand. Climbing north to south, one can see the historic, native totara forests of Matauri Bay where the British and Maori peoples signed the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as the farming Hawke’s Bay region featuring the country’s largest kiwi sanctuary and the more vibrant, adult’s outdoors playground Queenstown, home to sights of Lord of the Rings according to the Province. Each of these sights, each crucial piece of what makes New Zealand the unique beauty it always has always will be fulfills the entire experience one needs to say they’ve truly been to New Zealand. If you get to the chance to lodge hop through this country, “the land of the long white cloud,” consider yourself one of the lucky few.

In one’s journey to adventure through New Zealand, one place best to start is up north at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in Matauri Bay, a place backed by generations of history for the Maori people. This Lodge, sitting on the edge of 6,000 acres also acting as a lamb farm, stands in the image of Cape Brett and the Cavalli Islands. A place catering its homeland’s natural desserts, the Lodge features waterfall hikes and Kauri’s Pink Beach (comprised of sea opals, not sand). Ready to instruct newcomers on NZ’s oldest industry, the Lodge also offers its lamb farm for herding instruction alongside loyal dogs. Even if you only have some time, no quick tutorial will leave you more informed than a few days at the Lodge.

The next stop should be the Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay, a working farming/luxury property within New Zealand’s wine region. Less folksy than the Lodge, this new area in Napier is known for its Art Deco architecture, rebuilt as such after a 1931 earthquake—from the wine tasting tours to the shops for Origin Earth’s cheeses and Manuka honey, this is just a quick preview before the Farm, with its views of fields over the Pacific. Clay shooting, bluff picnics, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding—just a few examples of what awaits NZ visitors, but there is also the sanctuary for the country’s national bird, the endangered kiwi, with the privilege of seeing one on guided tours not to be underestimated, for even most New Zealanders haven’t seen this special bird.

Your last stop, if that’s all time allows for, should be the Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown, South Island, the aforementioned adult’s outdoor playground and the part of New Zealand most outsiders are familiar with if they saw The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or Wolverine. Lodge life here is a bit more modern, situated on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, and was also the choice for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate. Within the glacial waters and their surrounding mountains, Queenstown features bungee jumping off Kawaru Bridge, skiing, whitewater rafting, hiking in Fjordland National Park, and a helicopter offering custom tours over the mountains, glaciers, and the Milford Sound, just to name a few beautiful perks.

It’s hard to imagine an experience capturing as many facets of New Zealand as this lodge hopping tour, and if you truly wish to say you’ve traveled to and seen it, then you can guess what my greatest recommendation is.

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