Why you should visit New Zealand in 2023

From a global sporting competition pulling attention to its cities, to a new UNESCO-listed attraction, here’s why you need to book your ticket to Aotearoa in 2023…

Jessica Reid
14 December 2022

The new year will be the first full year that Aotearoa (New Zealand) will be open to international travellers since the coronavirus pandemic, and the country is ready for it. Those who visit will once again be greeted by old favourites, but there’s a range of exciting new reasons to visit New Zealand in 2023.

For one, ways to get there are improving, with Emirates’ direct flight from Dubai to Auckland recently relaunched. Qatar Airways currently operates a service from the UK to Auckland via Doha, with a 90-minute stop in Adelaide.

But beyond flights, what else is in store? From a global sporting competition pulling attention to its cities, to a new UNESCO-listed attraction, here’s why you need to book your ticket to New Zealand.

Why travellers should visit New Zealand in 2023

Visit New Zealand’s first UNESCO Geopark

Waitaki Whitestone Geopark (Schwrer Pressefoto/Tourism New Zealand)

Situated deep in New Zealand’s South Island (Te Waipounamu), Waitaki is a region that’s about to be put on the tourism map. The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark, an area of outstanding geology, wonderful history and fascinating culture, is set to become a UNESCO Global Geopark from the spring of 2023.

Within the park are 40 Geosites (important places of geological or geomorphological importance). Many of these sites will transport you back in time, from the limestone Elephant Rocks that once lay beneath the ocean in prehistoric times, to the many examples of Māori rock art dotted along the Maerewhenua River.

Under the UNESCO accreditation this area will be further protected, as well as pulling in more travellers to explore this extraordinary landscape on foot, from gentle walks to more challenging hikes. Outside the park, Waitaki will attract adventurers and wildlife-lovers with its Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, plus the chance to spot the world’s smallest penguins in Oamaru, the blue penguin.

Trek New Zealand’s brand new Great Walk

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track (Graeme Murray/Tourism New Zealand)

In 2022, New Zealand celebrated their 30th anniversary of their Great Walks. These are a selection of tracks for hiking enthusiasts, usually taking several days to complete and ranging in difficulty.

And with another new year comes a new track. Joining the line-up and becoming the 11th Great Walk in 2023 is the Tuatapere Hump Ridge, a three-day challenging looped track that rewards trampers with some of New Zealand’s finest coastal scenery. Vistas of the Fiordland’s shores, the Southern Ocean and Steward Island can all be marvelled at from sub-alpine heights.

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is the only private Great Walk on national park land, with options on how it can be explored, including Guided Walks and Prime Package walks, the latter for independent trekkers seeking a little more luxury during their trek.

Experience Māori culture through wellness

Rongoa Rakau tour (Tourism New Zealand)

Visitors should not visit New Zealand without exploring Māori culture. The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand that first arrived to the country around 1250 AD, bringing with them inspirational and influential ways of living that are still respected by locals and people around the world.

Wellbeing is one of the many important parts of Māori culture. Most people will head to Rotorua to experience this, thanks to its geothermal activity creating a land of magical, bubbling hot springs. New at Rotorua Lake for spring 2023 will be the Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa, a luxury wellness centre offering experiences inspired by authentic Māori culture and 650 years of spa heritage.

For more of an in-depth understanding of medicinal and herbal practices in Māori culture, join one of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari’s latest tours. The Rongoā Rākau tour takes small groups of travellers on forest walks, teaching people to identify plants and trees used by Māori people for their wellbeing.

Go city exploring during the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa (Shutterstock)

New Zealand’s cities will be put under the limelight during July and August when it will be co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. As women’s football continues to gain momentum following the 2022 Women’s Euros success, the sport will bring much excitement to the cities participating, including the city of Auckland, who will kick off the tournament at Eden Park Stadium on 22 July.

Other cities hosting games including the country’s capital Wellington, Hamilton and the South Island’s Dunedin. As ever with large-scale sporting events, we expect these cities to expand on their cultural offerings beyond the spectacular attractions already on offer. Take Wellington for example, home to Te Papa Tongarewa (New Zealand’s national museum), Capital Market, plus a fantastic contemporary art scene. So, even if you are not a fan of the sport, the atmosphere around these urban hubs will certainly have a real buzz.

Wanderlust is a huge advocate of low-season travel. Many of these cities lie close to the coast, meaning you’ll likely get to enjoy mild weather during your city explorations during your New Zealand ‘winter’ visit.

Tuck into New Zealand’s gastronomy heritage

Te Pa Tu (Miles Holden/Tourism New Zealand)

Traditional Māori cuisine is a side to the culture that has not yet been fully explored, yet a resurgence of its gastronomical story is beginning to take form in exciting new experiences across the country.

Take TE PĀ TŪ for example. This is more than just dining, but a chance to understand the importance of sustaining land, stories and people. The two experiences offered are based on the Māori lunar calendar called Maramataka, and includes the sharing of kai (food) such as canapés, a hāngi and a four-course plated dinner.

Whereas in Wellington, a new restaurant called Hiakai puts a modern twist on Māori cuisine. Started by chef Monique Fiso as a pop-up series, Hiakai now a permanent sophisticated dining experience, keeping the culture alive through the use of traditional ingredients and cooking techniques

And at Amisfield in Queenstown, chef by Vaughan Mabee bases his dishes around traditional Māori foraging techniques.

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