The internet is a wonderful thing because along with memes, TikToks and UberEats, it also gives us the ability to travel anywhere in the world at the click of a button. Forget spending your coin on plane tickets and hotels, because in 2020 virtual travel is on the rise and we’re so here for it.
If New Zealand has been at the top of your wander-list for a while, we don’t blame you. Brimming with a mouth-watering foodie culture, adrenaline-packed adventure scene and expansive scenic escapes, she’s a bit of a stunner. Explore all this and more without having to drop a dime, thanks to these seven virtual travel escapes across New Zealand.
Fly High Over Tāmaki Makaurau
Whilst the people of Auckland were in lockdown for a few weeks, this beautiful coastal city and mother earth itself has been allowed to relax, recover and ultimately, just breathe. An aerial video of iconic Auckland areas and landmarks tells this story elegantly, narrated by indigenous singer/songwriter Moana Maniapoto’s daughter. From the expansive black sand beaches of the west coast to humming inner-city vistas, it’s a gentle reminder that whilst we might be at home for the foreseeable future, Auckland’s Papatūānuku (earth mother) is renewing and replenishing, ready for our return.
Dive Into The Hauraki Gulf
Auckland city is the gateway to the scenic Hauraki Gulf, a collection of picturesque islands sporting boutique vineyards, epic hiking trails and pristine beaches. Luckily for you, this isn’t off-limits as an immersive 360° virtual experience explores all aspects of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, especially below the sea. Dive deep and swim with schools of fish and dolphins, or scout out the shores of Pōnui Island. Our favourite is watching the energetic Godwit colony gather on Miranda beach, settling in on the white sands and soaring off into the blue skies, or jumping on a rowboat and taking off across the seas from Birkenhead Point. Prepare to splash out from the comfort of your own couch.
Soar Over Doubtful Sound In 360°
If you’re lucky enough to own a pair of VR goggles, slip them on and hit play on this 360° video of the picturesque Doubtful Sound in the South Island. You’ll take the role of a kea, a native New Zealand bird, as it nicks a traveller’s GoPro and takes off across the lush forestry and expansive lakes that make up the Doubtful Sound. It joins some kayakers, dives deep into the water, and settles in to scout out stars and a campfire. Now that’s a pretty exciting life for a bird if you ask us.
Get Cultured At Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum has opened its doors (online) with virtual experiences ready to mitigate any iso boredom you may be feeling. Take your new-found pottery hobby to the next level and get schooled in all things clay with their online exhibition of the ‘Crown Lynn Collection,’ which holds more than 2,000 pieces of New Zealand pottery from vases to jugs, figurines, dinnerware and more, each with a historical story to accompany it. Peruse the pieces and you might just find some inspiration for your next at-home pottery sesh.
Explore The Windy City Without The Chill
The only con to New Zealand’s electric little capital is that, quite frankly, it’s bloody cold and windy sometimes. Luckily the team over at WellingtonNZ have dropped a series of 360° VR videos to help you get in on the buzz of the city, without even having to leave your house. Explore the rich heritage and culture of New Zealand over at Te Papa, or live out your best nerd life at the Weta Cave at Weta Workshop. Yes, these are the guys behind Lord of the Rings, so we classify this as a New Zealand must-do.
Lace-Up And Hike New Zealand’s Great Walks
If you’ve always dreamed of checking out New Zealand’s Great Walks but haven’t quite mustered up the courage to do it (yet), stop by the Department of Conservation’s YouTube channel and check out their video of 360° photos from some of the country’s most iconic viewpoints. We’re talking the Kepler Track, Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Lake Waikaremoana and more. And the best part? You don’t even need to put any shoes on at all—now that’s a win-win.
Binge-Watch Travel Vloggers Taking On The Country
If that yearning for wanderlust is tugging at your heartstrings, satisfy it by living vicariously through travel vloggers who have taken on this beautiful country known as Aotearoa. Fellow Kiwis Daneger and Stacey have been all over the world, but set out on a back-yard escape earlier this year. They road-tripped the North Island and explored the sights, sounds and adventures of adrenaline-packed Queenstown. From the famous Onsen Hot Pools to some bangin’ fish and chips, check out their verdict on New Zealand here.
Jump across the ditch and explore these dreamy virtual travel experiences around Australia.
Image Credit: Marc Steenbeke