New Zealand, we've missed you. Forget the jokes, forget the sibling rivalry. We've missed you.
We've missed your mountains and your fiords, your lakes and your streams. We've missed your bikes trails and your hiking paths, your ski runs and open roads. We've missed your food, your wine, your beer, your coffee. We've missed your laidback, easy-going ways.
And now, finally, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. New Zealanders are already allowed into certain parts of Australia quarantine-free, and talk of a reciprocal "bubble" is being refloated.
We don't know when exactly, but it seems increasingly certain Australians will be able to return to the Land of the Long White Cloud soon. That means access to so much of what we love about travel, and everything that makes New Zealand great.
In anticipation of our return, we asked nine well-known Kiwis to tell us where to go.
THE POP STAR
TELL US WHERE TO GO "I would fully recommend Mount Maunganui," says Walker, an Australian-born musician who grew up on a marae, a traditional Maori meeting place, on the North Island. "On top of the mountain you can touch heaven, the view is breathtaking. I shot my current video, Bigger, there. It's very laid back."
Mount Maunganui. Photo: iStock
The area around the mountain also has plenty going for it. "There is a surf beach, Main Beach, and I always swim at Pilot Bay Beach," Walker says. "There's lots of brilliant fresh seafood around too. Tauranga, the town below Mount Maunganui, has the best old-style fish and chip shop, Bobby's Fresh Fish Market. It's classic."
Walker also recommends exploring the Gisborne area. "It has the largest native rainforest in New Zealand," he says. "And at Hicks Bay you can be among the first people in the world to see the sunrise."
TELL US WHERE TO GO "My favourite holiday destination is Central Otago, in the heart of the lower South Island," says Marshall, a novelist and short-story writer whose new book, Landmarks, is about to be released. "Both its history and its landscapes are individual and fascinating – lakes, mountains, tussock and tor country and evidence of its goldrush past.
"There are the tourist meccas of Queenstown and Wanaka, but also small places such as Ophir, St Bathans, Cambrian and Lawrence, quiet, little changed and redolent of colonial times. Increasingly popular is the rural cycling track from Clyde to Middlemarch, and Central has also become successful as a wine-growing region. Properties such as Felton Road and Two Paddocks have international reputations.
"This is a place of big skies and empty spaces, of chill winters and hot, dry summers, of community, or isolation. A special place."
THE FASHION DESIGNER
TELL US WHERE TO GO "I live in one of the most underrated places to visit: Dunedin," says Munro, the director of New Zealand fashion brand Company of Strangers. "If you love music, art and an underground scene, this is the place to visit. You can do gallery crawls, drink the best coffee in NZ, and there is some of the best boutique shopping at Company Store and Plume."
Dunedin. Photo: iStock
If you're into sampling Dunedin cuisine, Munro has a perfect day. "Buster Greens and Side-on are on the do-not-miss list for breakfast, lunch or snacks for the day," she says. "About 5pm is the right time to hit the best bar in Dunedin, Woof. Sample a local beer, get the best cheese ball – better than your nana used to make – and chat to the locals. The next thing you know it's dinner time. Head to either No.7 Balmac or the Esplanade and watch the ocean."
TELL US WHERE TO GO "I love Wellington," says Gregory, a New Zealand-born chef who now resides in Tasmania. "When I was 17 I moved out of home in Auckland and moved to Wellington, so I have really fond memories of it. I love how you can walk around the city, and the arts and culture and food scene there.
"Last time I was in Wellington I ate at my friend Monique Fiso's restaurant, Hiakai, which is all about Maori food. Monique uses fine-dining techniques with traditional flavours. There's lots of super-interesting ingredients like kawakawa leaves, which she used to create dishes and then matched them with things like a New Zealand gin that had manuka in it.
"We also went to this cute little pasta bar called 1154, that only does like four pastas a night, with natural wine. When I was there the guys from Flight of the Conchords walked past, and I was just like, 'Wellington's great'."
THE TOURISM BOSS
TELL US WHERE TO GO "It's like asking a parent who their favourite child is," laughs England-Hall, the CEO of Tourism New Zealand. "For me, all of New Zealand is spectacular. I've been to a lot of destinations, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, but there continues to be more things to discover.
Cape Reinga at sunset. Photo: iStock
"I recently went to the Chatham Islands and Lake Ōhau for the first time, and have Stewart Island on my radar for later this year. I love our diversity of places and experiences, as well as the nuances that exist with the wonderful people who call those places home."
England-Hall does have a specific recommendation: "The West Coast has this untamed wilderness about it. It has spectacular scenery, national parks and thousand-year-old glaciers. It's also got unique heritage like Arahura River, one of the richest sources of Pounamu [greenstone], and early settler towns like Reefton."
TELL US WHERE TO GO "My parents bought a tiny section of the Coromandel in the 1980s, in Pauanui, and it's a beautiful part of the country," says Lynch, lead guitarist in the Auckland-based band The Feelers. "My soul is there because I grew up there, every summer. Couple of girls broke my heart. You know, there's a whole decade of stories."
TELL US WHERE TO GO " down that coastline you s just fantastic. whangamata has got bali vibe. everyone magical stuff. like the wild west. it hasn t been ruined. https: www.thefeelers.co.nz margin-bottom: 10px; ct-imagelandscape lead actor julian dennison attends a special screening of at amc loews lincoln square on monday, may 14, 2018, in new york. (photo by brent n. clarke invision ap) www.smh.com.au 0 4 p 1602727925327.png i love going to rukumoana marae, because my family marae is near morrinsville, waikato, hangi [traditional feast] there pretty incredible. also rich māori history folklore. are places can visit te puia, mitai village tamaki offer experiences anyone who interested culture heritage people. www.tepuia.com www.mitai.co.nz www.tamakimaorivillage.co.nz have real sentimental connection le bons bay, christchurch, we used go holiday as so will always hold place. would fishing, camping swimming isolated beach, crowded house be repeat car. beach absolutely pristine surrounded rolling green hills, seals often seen bay. such natural beauty. marlborough sounds stunning views excellent hiking; kaiteriteri golden-sand beach; cathedral cove an incredible place kayak; martinborough really cute towns wineries. www.kiis1011.com.au headshots pip edwards d 7 1602724004040.png definitely wanaka! book into [luxury lodge] mahu whenua if get chance stay overnight.<>
"For your wellness fix, head to the Dripping Bowl, a health-food café, and The Body Garage, a local yoga studio. On your down days, the retail scene in Wanaka is really worth checking out, there's a bunch of local designers like Wilson and Dorset, Common People, Revology, and Alice Herald for bespoke jewellery. And head to Maude or Rippon to taste some of the best wine in the world."
For those driving to Wanaka from Queenstown, Edwards also recommends a stop in Cardrona. "Be sure to take a walk up to the 'pou', these five beautiful hand-carved Maori pou [wooden posts] representing the mountain's values."
TEN KIWI SLANG TERMS TO REACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH
The local corner store. Milk and eggs used to be delivered to people's homes by the local dairy farm – when shops began providing that service, the name was transferred.
Essentially: it's all good. You'll find this epithet applied to anything and everything. In New Zealand, it really is sweet as.
Thongs or flip-flops, a contraction of "Japanese sandal". You'll hear it applied to footwear, and also to a situation that someone isn't coping with: "You can't handle the jandal."
An Esky. A cooler box. A place to store your Lemon & Paeroa and your Hokey Pokeys on your way back from the dairy.
The Kiwi version of "Woop Woop". As in, "He took us out to the Wop Wops". You might think a country as small as New Zealand wouldn't have Wop Wops, but you'd be wrong.
A modest holiday home or beach house, thought to be a shortening of "bachelor pad". These small houses can be found running along pretty much any shoreline in New Zealand.
Memorably coined by Julian Dennison's character in Hunt for the Wilderpeople – "I didn't choose the skux life, the skux life chose me" – a skux is something of a ladies man.
A comprehensive tour of a venue or place. It can be a good thing: "The chef gave me a full tiki tour of the kitchen." Or a bad thing: "That cab driver took me on a bit of a tiki tour…"
Students, specifically those from the University of Otago, where it's cold enough to need a scarf year-round. "Lot of scarfies at the pub tonight eh?"
Kiwis are so keen on hiking, often on multi-day or even multi-week treks, that they've coined their own term for it: tramping.