Couple in their 50s on a West Coast Beach in New Zealand

New Zealand Tours for Seniors

08 May 2021
miles

Here's our handy guide to New Zealand tours for seniors, everything you need to know for a trip to New Zealand for active travellers in their 50s, 60s and beyond.

Recently retired and planning to celebrate with a trip to to New Zealand?

Or maybe it's a dream trip to celebrate a 50th, 60th or even 70th birthday?

Perhaps it's for a special anniversary, a trip with your children or New Zealand is on your bucket list? But when you look at websites for "senior travel" it's not quite what you're looking for. 

Read on to find out how "senior travel" in New Zealand may not be what you think it is!

We all get to the point in life where galavanting around the world like a 20 something backpacker is not our thing anymore, but you've still got the travel bug and curiousity to see the world.

You have a sense of adventure and you want to enjoy yourself, explore beautiful locations, hike through stunning scenery, learn about New Zealand culture but now you'd like a comfortable bed and a delicious meal at the end of the day.

10 reasons why New Zealand is perfect for the senior traveller

1. So many amazing, "once in a lifetime" places to visit

2. Quality accommodation with all the comforts of home

3. Incredible food and wine

4. So many exciting activities for seniors

5. It's a safe and friendly destination

6. Great travel options for seniors

7. The best tour guides in the world

8. An ideal destination for single or solo senior travellers

9. Getting travel insurance for New Zealand is easy

10. Great deals for seniors

1.Check off some amazing bucket list attractions

One thing we've learnt from operating tours for senior travellers is that those iconic, once-in-a-lifetime spots and experiences are what people want. New Zealand is the perfect place for this an amazing island nation - it’s hard to believe that so many jaw-dropping landscapes can be crammed into such a small country.

Here are the places guests on our tours (senior travellers in their 50s & 60s) tell us they love so much:

  • Bay of Islands: When you gaze out at the peaceful islands and turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands, you’ll see why they are one of the most popular tourist draws in New Zealand.
     
  • Abel Tasman National Park: Named after the first European explorer to New Zealand, this is the only easily accessible coastal national park in the country and it offers plenty of fantastic hiking opportunities.
     
  • Mount Cook National Park: Enormous ancient glaciers, craggy peaks that scrape the impossibly blue sky, hiking trails through an ancient temperate rainforest with twisting trees and thick ferns - Mount Cook National Park will delight.
     
  • Milford Sound: Seeing Milford Sound for the first time will take your breath away. It’s featured on almost every tourism brochure and video for the South Island and it’s pretty obvious why. There’s nothing like cruising slowly on a boat through these sheer cliff faces with waterfalls cascading down them.
     
  • Rotorua: The steaming geysers and geothermal hot springs of Rotorua have been attracting visitors for over 100 years. It’s also a great place to attend a traditional Maori feast and get to know more about their unique culture.
     
  • Queenstown: With towering mountains and the blue waters of Lake Wakatipu all around it, Queenstown is a fun city with an unbelievably beautiful setting.

These are just a few of the amazing destinations that you will discover on your travels around New Zealand. The great thing about this country is that it is so small and everything is close together, so you’ll be able to see many different attractions all in one trip.

Senior travellers exploring the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook

2. Quality accommodation with all the comforts of home

We know exactly how important it is to have comfortable accommodations to return to at the end of a long and exciting day exploring New Zealand.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about staying anywhere sub-par - we use 4-star accommodation wherever possible. We have handpicked all of the places where we stay, choosing them for their comfort, location, amenities and style.

For example, in Auckland you’ll stay in the Hotel Mercure right in the city centre. It’s a prime spot that is only a short stroll from the downtown shopping district, the waterfront and some of the best restaurants in the city. 

Another example is the stunning five star Bolton Hotel in Wellington. Right in the centre of town within walking distance of all the craft breweries and restaurants with friendly five star service 24 hours a day.

See more about our the accommodation on our tours here.

Senior travellers enjoying a glass of wine on the shores of Lake Wanaka

3. The food and wine is divine

Yes, the scenery is gorgeous and the culture is fascinating… but you are probably also thinking about the food and wine you will be able to enjoy. After all, that’s one of the best parts of travel - the opportunity to taste scrumptious local delicacies.

New Zealand’s cuisine takes its inspiration from a wide range of influences, including Asia, Polynesia and Europe. Since this is an island nation with a primarily agricultural economy, many of the dishes are based on fresh produce from the land and sea.

Then, there’s the wine. The wine culture in New Zealand only dates back to the mid 1800s, but Kiwi wine is getting lots of praise from around the world.

There are 10 different wine making areas in New Zealand, with Marlborough famous for the sauvignon blanc, Central Otago and Martinborough for the pinot noir and pinot gris and Gisborne known for chardonnay.

Plus, there’s the wonderful way that New Zealanders eat. Meals are laid back, relaxed and involve plenty of laughter and conversation, completely in keeping with the chilled out Kiwi psyche.

Here are our favourite New Zealand food and wine experiences

  • Take the opportunity to try the food cooked at a Hangi - a traditional Maori feast. The meat, potatoes, pumpkin and other veggies are cooked in a hole in the ground atop hot rocks for several hours.
     
  • Be sure to try some New Zealand lamb. Although this meat is eaten all over the world, you won’t find it better or fresher than in NZ. Most restaurants in New Zealand will have wonderful lamb options, including steaks, lamb chops, lamb burgers and much more.
     
  • Barbeques are a huge part of the New Zealand culture - especially on the long warm summer days that are perfect for eating outdoors.
     
  • Tuatua, an indigenous New Zealand shellfish that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. The meat within the shell has a delectable soft, creamy texture and mild flavour.
     
  • Mince and cheese pie - a fluffy, flaky pastry with warm gooey cheese, beef mince and gravy inside. Heavenly! A heads up if you're coming from North America, pies in New Zealand are usually savoury, not sweet!
     
  • Be sure to try some Hokey Pokey ice cream - it really is what it’s all about. It’s a yummy combination of creamy vanilla ice cream with honeycomb balls.

Getting hungry? Find out more about our food and wine experiences on our tours here.

Guests enjoying a freshly caught seafood dinner

4. New Zealand has great activities for seniors

Today’s senior traveller is fit, healthy and young at heart. Many intrepid senior travellers enjoy hiking, cycling, water activities and so much more while they're in New Zealand, there's something here for everyone.

The incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape of New Zealand and the wide range of activities means that there is something in New Zealand to suit any fitness level. If you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy a typical busy day out in your hometown, you’ll be able to enjoy a day on one of our tours.

One of the things that many people love about our tours is the flexibility to do different things in different places - we have set up the tour so that you can take advantage of the many exciting experiences on offer. Plus, we make it easy by organising everything, confirming all bookings in advance and making sure you know everything you need to know.

You may feel like paddling a kayak around the spectacular coastline, going on a Lord of the Rings Tour, riding on the thrilling Dart River Jet or taking a tour of the local wineries.

If you love hiking and walking, you’ll have the chance to explore trails in some of the most famous hiking spots in the world including Queenstown, Tongariro National Park and Mount Cook.

When you book your tour we will send you a list of all optional activities before you even arrive in New Zealand, so that you can start planning which ones you want to take part in. Or, if you have something on your bucket list that isn’t mentioned, we can help to organise it for you.

Senior travellers walking on the beach in Abel Tasman National Park

5. New Zealand is safe and friendly

Traveling outside of your comfort zone can be a little bit scary but New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world to travel to.

Did you know that according to the 2020 Global Peace Index New Zealand in the 2nd safest country in the world? The only safer place you could visit would be Iceland. This means that New Zealand is the number one safest English speaking country in the world.

And you have probably news reports of how New Zealand fared during Covid, commonly accepted as being one of the best responses in the world which meant less cases here and a safer place to visit.

When you're here you’ll notice right away that Kiwis are quite relaxed and laid back - perhaps because we don’t have much to worry about. Here down at the bottom of the world we're lucky enough not to have the same worries as the rest of the world, we have very little crime and most of the time we just want to go for a hike and then sit in the sunshine and drink a cold beer.

Plus, you’ll be happy to know that the water is safe to drink, the restaurants have high cleanliness standards and there is a very high standard of public health.

We have put together a guide to safety in New Zealand, which you should take a moment to read before your trip. However, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and you take common sense precautions, you should not run into any dangers while travelling around New Zealand. The biggest risk is not wanting to go home!

We've also updated the way we operate our tours to ensure travellers are kept safe after Covid-19. Read how we're keeping guests safe on tour and our Covid-19 assurance policy.

MoaTrek Kiwi Guide Matt and guest at Mt Cook

6. Great travel options for seniors

As with everything in life, you have choices. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of different popular options for senior travel in New Zealand:

Travelling on a seniors' tour

Pros of travelling on a tour
  • You’ll have a professional tour guide taking you around to some of the best attractions, so you don’t have worry about driving, planning or making reservations.
  • It’s a fun, social atmosphere and a great chance to meet other travellers of different backgrounds and ages.
  • You've got someone to help you if something goes wrong.
Cons of travelling on a tour
  • If the tour group is too large, you can feel like you are in a huge flock of sheep being led around to each attraction… which is obviously a baaaaad feeling. That’s why we keep our tour groups nice and small.

Cruises

Pros of travelling on a cruise
  • You’re basically staying in a moving hotel, so you only have to unpack once and you don’t have to worry about transport as the ship takes you from place to place.
  • Cruises are usually all-inclusive, so you know the cost in advance and you can enjoy unlimited food and beverages onboard.
Cons of travelling on a cruise
  • You might start to get a little bit of “cabin fever” and become bored after you have checked out everything on the ship.
  • You won’t have a much time at each destination. You might feel like you are being herded back on the ship not long after you arrive.
  • You're limited to the areas which have ports, for example you can't visit Aoraki Mt Cook if you're on a cruise.
  • Larger group travel can have more risk of communicable disease in the event of an outbreak.

Travelling by rail

Pros of travelling by rail
  • Riding on a train can be pretty relaxing and you can nibble on yummy snacks from the cafe car.
  • You’ll have more room to stretch out and move around - trains are more comfortable than buses.
  • Once you're on board you don't have to worry about taking a wrong turn or getting lost!
Cons of travelling on by rail
  • You’ll be seeing most of the pretty scenery from the window of the train, rather than hiking in it yourself.
  • While sleeping on a train can be nice, it’s never as comfortable as staying in a hotel.
  • The rail network in New Zealand is very limited so you can really only travel by train for a few short sectors.

Self drive travel

Pros of self drive travel
  • You’ll be able to travel at your own pace and make your own schedule. You can see the things that YOU really want to see.
  • You’ll have the freedom to venture to some of the more obscure destinations off the beaten track.
  • You can listen to your favourite road trip soundtrack.
Cons of self drive travel
  • When it comes to navigation and trip planning - you’re on your own. If you aren’t careful, you can find yourself lost in paradise!
  • Driving your own vehicle means that you won’t be able to indulge in yummy New Zealand wines on your adventures.
  • Someone always has to paying attention to the road, which means missing out on all those stunning views.
  • You may have to drive on the "wrong side" of the road, if you're from North America or Europe.

For some great travel tips from the best Baby Boomer travellers in the business, take a look at the My Itchy Travel Feet blog.

One question for your New Zealand trip - Drive yourself or join a tour?

Because there's so much awesome countryside inland away from the ocean and our rail network is not very extensive, most people opt for either driving themselves around or jumping on some kind of tour.

Yes, it’s true that you could rent a car and drive around New Zealand on your own. While this can be a lot of fun, there are also some disadvantages.

First of all - you’ll have to worry about the road rules and navigating New Zealand’s twisty roads, which might make your journey more stressful. Secondly, depending on where you are from you might have to drive on the other side of the road - which can be very disconcerting!

Plus, if you have to worry about driving then you won’t be able to indulge in delicious New Zealand wine from the wonderful vineyards that you visit. On our small group coach tours you will be able to enjoy a tasty tipple or two and relax.

Still not sure if driving yourself or joining a tour is right for you? Here's a quick exercise.

Say you've got three weeks in New Zealand, take a look at this 21 day New Zealand itinerary and first imagine yourself driving and navigating yourself and then imagine yourself on the same trip with a small group of people from all over the world visiting all the same places but being driven by someone who knows the roads and heaps more handy info as well.

Which sounds like your idea of a great holiday? There's your answer.

Senior travellers relaxing on the beach in Abel Tasman

7. New Zealand tour guides are the best in the world

When you travelling overseas in your 50s, 60s or beyond, your priorities and the style of are a little different than when you travelled in your 20s or 30s. Your desire for learning about the places you visit may be higher and you may appreciate having someone at hand to help you find somewhere special or be there if anything goes wrong.

That's the advantage of travelling on a guided tour and in fact, many of our guests tell us the best thing about their whole tour was the guide.

There are things that locals will know that are much harder for you as a visitor to find out.

If you have a burning interest in a particular New Zealand topic or there's some little out of the way place you'd love to find, a good tour guide can help you unearth that gem or shine light on your favourite topic.

And in the event of anything unexpected happening, having a tour guide and the backing of a locally based tour operator will be a real reassurance.

As well as someone who will take care of all the driving, checking in to accommodation and activity bookings, your guide becomes your go to person for information and helping with those little extras which make a trip so special.

All our tours are fully guided and our guide team is the most experienced and passionate in New Zealand.

Meet the MoaTrek Kiwi Guide team here.

8. What about solo senior travellers or families?

If you are travelling on your own, joining a tour is a great option. Whether you are single, divorced or widowed, the travel experience on MoaTrek tours is never lonely.

With our friendly small groups you will get a chance to make new friends with other adventurous, curious travellers just like you. It’s a fun and safe way for any solo traveller to venture out and see what New Zealand has to offer.

Read our blogpost all about solo travel to New Zealand.

Most of our guests are solo travellers or couples, but more and more we're seeing families joining our tours and they all seem to have a wonderful time. Our trips aren't really designed for young children, but adult children and their parents, definitely yes.

Solo traveller walking at the Blue Pools near Wanaka

9. Travel insurance for New Zealand is accessible

Although travel insurance is important at any age, it’s essential for older travellers who may have more medical needs.

There’s nothing worse than needing insurance and not having it, so make sure that you are covered before you go. A good comprehensive travel insurance policy will cover you for travel interruption, illness, loss of baggage and cash.

The good news is that New Zealand is considered by insurance companies as one of the safest destinations in the world with an excellent medical system so you're not going to encounter any extra barriers to getting insurance cover for your trip.

The best travel insurance policies will also cover you for pre-existing medical conditions too, so that shouldn't be a barrier to overseas travel. Just make sure you declare if fully and understand what is and isn't covered.

Also, it will cover your expenses due to sickness, delays or accidents beyond your control. Travel insurance is so important - don’t leave your home country without it! It’s a very small price to pay for the peace of mind that it offers.

New Zealand has a great healthcare system. The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) will pay for medical costs and care if you have an accident - even if you are not a New Zealand citizen. However, the ACC won’t cover delayed flights, theft or other things that could go wrong on the road.

Read more about travel insurance and medical cover for travel to New Zealand here.

10. Don’t forget those sweet senior discounts

Your golden years are a great time to travel, because you’ll be able to take advantage of those great senior discounts, even if you're visiting New Zealand from overseas.

When you are over a certain age, lots of travel expenses become cheaper including airline tickets, activities, hotels and more. Plus, you can use your senior ID card and enjoy discounts at a lot of attractions and restaurants, even if you are not from New Zealand!

MoaTrek started in 1971, so that makes us seniors too!

When we started running our tours in the early 1970s they were all about parties and late nights and now we still like a good night out with fun people, just a different style.

See how MoaTrek looked in the 1970s here on one of our original videos.

Back then our goal was to create vibrant, fun and exciting tours of New Zealand. Roll forward to today and it's still the same, we've just graduated from tents to 4-star hotels and campfire cook-ups to premium food and wine. 

MoaTrek - New Zealand's leading small group tour operator

The wonderful thing about our tours here at MoaTrek are that they are designed especially for your needs - so that you can enjoy the ease of being on an organised tour while also enjoying the finer experiences of travelling with a group of people just like you.

Our small group guided tours allow you to see the best that New Zealand has to offer. We make getting around easier, so that you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Most of the guests on our tours are in their 50s and 60s, quite a few over 70 even.

We enjoy the classy, curious and cultured side of New Zealand travel and embrace the natural beauty, culture and cuisine of this country.

Take a look at some of our favourite trip photos from recent trips here and see for yourself, they're sure having a great time.

Senior travellers have the most fun!

Remember, you don’t have to stop traveling just because you are getting older. In fact, travelling in your 50s, 60s or 70s means that you can have a deep, meaningful travel experience - your lifetime of knowledge will allow you to fully appreciate the new experiences you are having.

Without having to think about going back to work after the trip and in many cases, having a little more money to spend on travel than when we were younger, means it's a great time to enjoy travel.

Senior travel in New Zealand can be an amazing adventure - a chance to explore this beautiful country with just the right blend of comfort and excitement. 

We also know that it can pay to have someone helping you organize your trip, take care of all the driving and be there if anything goes wrong. That's our job!

For international visitors wanting to visit our beautiful country see more about our small group tours here.

For our fellow senior New Zealanders wanting to further explore their beautiful backyard see our domestic MoaTours by MoaTrek at www.moatours.co.nz

What does senior travel in New Zealand look like?

If you'd like to see exactly what senior travel in New Zealand looks like, take a look at the following from Susan Mills, a 50+ traveller from Australia. Susan left the family at home for two weeks and joined one of our small group tours.

She wrote a diary, took lots of photos and even sat down for an interview after the trip.

Read Susan's MoaTrek New Zealand travel diary.

See Susan's photos from her trip

Listen to an interview with Susan after her trip.

A couple of other things we know are important to senior travellers

Small group travel

Quality, comfortable accommodation

Miles (the Big Moa) from MoaTrek at Lake Wakatipu
08 May 2021
miles
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