Picture-postcard peaks, pristine seas, verdant rain forests, and glistening glaciers – Aotearoa offers the most visually-arresting natural treasures to travellers. Combine this with a vibrant Indigenous culture and a thriving food and beverage scene and you’ve got yourself a vacation destination like no other. No surprises why the country happens to be a favorite of BTS’ Kim Taehyung (V) to jet to. Here’s a look at a few spots that should be on your Kiwi itinerary.
The island nation in the Pacific packs in the most diverse set of natural wonders. We’re talking snow-capped mountains surrounded by lush vegetation, hissing hot springs housed in one of the world’s largest geothermal spaces, and stunning offshore islands with diving spots. That’s not all, New Zealand also features several adrenaline-pumping adventure sports spots, sprawling vineyards bottling the finest grapes and swanky cities with a thriving art, food, and beverage scene. Not to mention, a Maori culture that’s intricately woven into the fabric of Kiwi identity.
Needless to say, the region has found takers across the globe. Some of the more popular ones happen to be from the wildly popular all-boy K-pop group BTS who explored this part of the world as a part of their reality show Bon Voyage. One in particular – read Kim Taehyung (V) went a step further to declare the country his favorite travel destination, gushing about its landscapes in several interviews. Whether you’re a seasoned fan hoping to see it through his eyes or a nomad on the lookout for their next vacation, here’s a roundup of a few places – from North to South – to hit up.
Explore the best of Kim Taehyung’s favorite country New Zealand
We’re starting this list out with a resort town that’s wildly popular with tourists for its range of experiences and picturesque views. The former is marked by a host of adventure sports – which includes jet boating through the Shotover River, paragliding at Coronet Peak, and snowboarding or skiing around The Remarkables. As the birthplace of bungee jumping, the Kawarau Bridge might be the most iconic spot to indulge in this adrenaline-pumping activity. And if that’s not adventurous enough, there are plenty of skydiving opportunities – complete with views of the alpine surroundings – to sign up for as well. To kick back, the region offers a range of cocktail bars, live-music gigs, designer boutiques, modern art galleries, weekend markets, cruises, specialty restaurants, and cafes. The annual Winter Festival is also worth pencilling into your planners.
Aoraki Mount Cook
Kim Taehyung on multiple occasions has alluded to this popular destination in the island country as a favorite. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to a whooping 23 peaks. Here, you’ll discover the longest glaciers, stunning snowfields, and starry skies. The turquoise Lake Pukaki, meanwhile, is a sight to behold. While mountaineers deem this the best climbing region in all of Australasia, you don’t have to be an adventurer to enjoy the topography. Several short walks around the region with well-marked tracks will lead you through herb fields and picturesque tarns.
This includes the likes of The Bowen Bush Walk, The Red Tarns Track, Hooker Valley Track, The Governors Bush Walk, and Tasman Glacier View Walk – all of which can be covered in just a few hours (or an hour) at best. You could also hop on a ski plane or helicopter and explore stunning ice formations, caverns, and glaciers. A popular option is the Tasman Glacier which offers great slopes for intermediate skiers. While climbing Aoraki itself is a challenging feat, experienced mountaineers enjoy Malte Brun, Sefton, Elie de Beaumont, and La Perouse. Interestingly, this region also forms the majority of the country’s only International Dark Sky Reserve and the night view here is breathtaking.
Bay of Islands
Water babies can’t miss out on the subtropical delight that is the Bay of Islands – which features 144 islands that are best discovered by boat. Several ferry services will help you do this. While here, you could go fishing, swim with dolphins and whales, hop on a yacht to cruise around the scenic spot, camp on the beautiful Urupukapuka Island, or explore the boutique towns of Paihia, Russell, and Opua. If you hop on a sea kayak, navigate to Tapeka Point for a tête-à-tête with whales, gannets, and penguins. This region has some of the best forest walks in the country and many travellers sign up to witness the giant Kauri trees – one of the world’s oldest and an intrinsic part of the Kiwi vegetation. Another popular attraction is the Rainbow Falls, where river water cascades into a natural pool that’s surrounded by native bush. If you enjoy a well brewed beverage, kick back at the country’s first pub, at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel which opened in 1827.
Nestled in the heart of North Island, Taupo’s most popular attraction is the eponymous lake that switches from aquamarine to jade green and measures a depth of 13 m. The largest freshwater lake in Australasia, it is reported to be about the size of Singapore. Here, you could go kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, waterboarding, or sailing. Or hop on a boat to the Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings to get better acquainted with the indigenous culture and history. Right alongside the shores of these waters are forested paths and volcanic peaks of the Tongariro National Park.
The first to be featured on the World Heritage List, this region can be explored through the Great Lake Trail. A must-visit is the Hukka Falls – reportedly the most-visited national attraction – which thunders down to a jaw-dropping whirlpool. For a dose of adrenaline – go rafting on the Grade 3 rapids of the Tongariro. Or, go looking for the rare native blue duck ‘whio’ in Turangi. If you’re travelling with children, the Huka Prawn Park comes highly recommended. Here you can go paddleboarding and picnicking or engage in the region’s many interactive water experiences.
Right next door to Taupo is Roturua – a paradise of mud pools, geysers, hot springs, and rich Maori culture. The region sits within the Pacific Rim of Fire – boasting luxurious spas and wellness spots where you could soak in a natural pool. You could explore its geothermal valleys by air, past Lake Rotoiti onto a water landing or by heading to the summit of Mount Tarawera. The sight of the Pōhutu Geyser exploding hot water into the air will stay with you a lifetime. This region is also popular for mountain biking, zorbing, ziplining, horse riding, and trout fishing. Not to mention, wildlife parks and tree walks, including the Redwoods Treewalk where you can encounter 75-metre-tall trees through suspended bridges. While here, tour a pre-European village and experience a traditional hangi feast – cooked underground by the Maori tribe – all while being acquainted with their legends.
Grape connoisseurs hail this region for its wildly popular sauvignon blanc. As such the valleys of vines here are a must-visit. Over 30 cellar doors line this region, each of which can be explored on a bicycle or through a guided tour. Every second Saturday in February, the region hosts the country’s longest-running food and wine event which promises delicious gourmet bites and the best vinos to savour. That aside, several locals recommend paying a visit to Marlborough Sounds. Only accessible by boat – this region is home to blue penguins, rare Rowi kiwi, and fur seals, amongst other wildlife. Several different species of dolphins are found here as well and you could dive into the water to get acquainted with them while cruising.
If you enjoy cycling, hit up the 70 km Queen Charlotte track that can be covered in three days. You’ll be rewarded with the most jaw-dropping views of the region and visits from native birds. For something more relaxed, explore the local markets to grab souvenirs like hazelnuts, manuka honey, and natural beauty products. Then pop by a restaurant to savour mussels, a local delicacy. To really kick things up a notch, grab a bite at the Mussel capital of the world – Havelock. You could also explore colonial settlements while here.
The country’s largest, most diverse city has a lot to offer to travellers. You could learn about Maori history at the Auckland War Memorial Museum or the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. If you enjoy street murals, walk through the Auckland Domain. Like most other regions in the country, the city enjoys its adventure sports – with the Sky Tower and Harbour Bridge being go-to spots for bungee jumping. You could also explore helicopter rides, sea kayaking, and motorbike tours. Many locals rave about Waiheke Island which is home to white sand beaches, galleries, and art walks.
If you’re up for a hike, pop by The Waitakere Ranges, Shakespear Regional Park, and the Hunua Ranges and prepare to have your breath taken away. There are stunning coastlines in this part of the country – with the Piha and Karekare beaches being quite popular. Mission Bay is the closest to the city centre and worth the visit. The food here is a revelation, with several top-notch restaurants on offer. A popular recommendation? The award-winning French Café. While here, don’t miss out on stargazing at the Great Barrier Island.
Which of these spots are you adding to your itinerary?
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: New Zealand happens to be one of Kim Taehyung's (BTS V) favourite places to travel to.
Answer: While the answers change often, BTS have named Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, and their own hometown South Korea in their list of favourite places to travel to.