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 we accept we're not going to be galavanting around the world like a 20 something backpacker, 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 and perhaps relax with a glass of wine at the end of the day. If that sounds like you then read on, we all know youth is wasted on the youth, same goes for when travelling in New Zealand.

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

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 over 50, quite a few over 70 even. 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. Our goal was to create vibrant, fun and exciting tours of New Zealand for people just like us, which means you're probably over 50. 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 here and see for yourself, they're sure having a great time.

One thing we've noticed lately is people coming to New Zealand as a family, parents and adult children travelling together. Mothers and daughters, mothers and grand daughters, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons or even whole families including the in laws. The great thing about New Zealand is that there's so much for everyone to do, regardless of how old you are or how active you want to be. If you want to challenge yourself with a glacier hike that’s great, or you can enjoy a relaxing short walk. We offer vineyard tours, sailing, lake cruises, hiking, glacier landings, scenic flights, kayaking and so much more.

As you journey through New Zealand’s diverse landscapes, you’ll enjoy the local cuisine and wine, stay in comfortable accommodation and feast on wonderful privately hosted “long” lunches amidst gorgeous scenery. (Plus, you won’t have to drive back afterwards!)

So if that sounds like you, read on to find out 10 important things you need to know about Senior Travel in New Zealand.

1.Check off some amazing bucket list attractions

New Zealand is an amazing island nation - it’s hard to believe that so many jaw-dropping landscapes can be crammed into such a small country. On your travels around New Zealand you’ll have the opportunity to feast your eyes on some of the world’s most gorgeous natural wonders, such as:

  • 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.

2. Enjoy 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 beautiful Sebel Suites on the Viaduct Harbour. It’s a pretty swanky spot that is only a short stroll from the downtown shopping district, the Wynyard Quarter and some of the best restaurants in the city. The suites have a lot of amenities that make them wonderfully convenient, including a full kitchen, in-room laundry and 24 hour in room dining.

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 tour accommodation here.

Enjoying New Zealand wine on the lawn at 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.

What are some of the mouthwatering treats you should try while you are in New Zealand?

  • 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 tour here.

4. There's an activity in New Zealand for everyone

Today’s senior traveller is fit, healthy and young at heart. Many intrepid elderly travelers come to New Zealand for walks, hiking and much more. The incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape of New Zealand and the wide range of activities means that there is an activity 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.

5. New Zealand is safe and friendly

Traveling outside of your comfort zone can be a little bit scary, but travel in New Zealand is incredibly safe. Did you know that according to the 2017 Global Peace Index (which ranks 162 countries from around the world according to their risk of personal violence) 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.

You’ll probably 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 are no vaccinations required to enter the country.

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! For some general travel safety tips for older travellers, take a look at Smarter Travel.

Images of Baby Boomers having the time of their lives in New Zealand

6. 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 types of senior travel:

Guided tours

Pros of Touring Cons of Touring
  • You’ll have a professional tour guide taking you around to some of the best attractions, so you don’t have worry about driving or any planning.
  • It’s a fun, social atmosphere and a great chance to meet other travellers of different backgrounds and ages.
  • 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 Cons 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.
  • 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.

Travelling by rail

Pros of Travelling by Rail Cons 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.
  • 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 Cons 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.
  • 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.

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

7. The big question for New Zealand - Self drive or coach travel?

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 two weeks in New Zealand, take a look at this 14 day New Zealand itinerary and imagine yourself first 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.

8. What about solo senior travellers or families?

If you are travelling on your own, you are more than welcome to join us. 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.

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.

Mum, Dad and grown up kids travel photo, Mt Cook & Lake Pukaki

9. Travel insurance for New Zealand

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.

Also, it will over 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! 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!

So, what are you waiting for?

Remember, you don’t have to stop traveling just because you are getting older. In fact, getting older 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.

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. Most of our travellers are over 50, if that's you and you like the sound of everything you've read so far get in touch today.

Tours You’ll Love