5 New Zealand travel experiences that give back to the local community

New Zealand is a spectacular country full of stunning landscapes, rich culture and history, superb food and wine – and famously friendly locals. You’ll get to meet a few of them and find out what life is really like in New Zealand when you travel this incredible country with Trafalgar. From exploring coffee and hazelnut farms and meeting local artisans to planting native trees and mustering sheep on a farm in the deep south, here are 5 local and unique New Zealand experiences you can now do with Trafalgar. Get out there and discover the real New Zealand!

1. Experience a slice of rural New Zealand at a country sheep farm

 
 
 
 
 
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Get to know what country life is like on a real farm set in the deep south of New Zealand. The Real Country Farm is run by ‘Southern Girl’ Laura Douglas, and she’ll share her story of being born and raised on a rural sheep farm outside of Queenstown.

Laura grew up fishing, hunting, horse riding and working on the family farm. After nearly a decade working in the corporate world, she switched stilettos for gumboots and came back to her cherished southern land. Today she shares her love of the land and what she calls ‘the real New Zealand’ with visitors at the Real Country Farm.

As you try your hand at the likes of sheep mustering and whip cracking, you’ll begin to feel like a friend, not a stranger, as you experience the genuine Southern Hospitality. You’ll even get to spend some time feeding and petting the farm animals, and find out what country life is all about in the South Island of New Zealand.

2. Discover a locally owned coffee farm in Doubtless Bay

rolling green hills ikarus coffee pekerau hills coffee farm new zealand experiences
Image credit: Ikarus Coffee Facebook

Venture into the rolling hills above Doubtless Bay in the Northland Region, and you’ll discover a coffee utopia. Established in 2008, Ikarus Coffee Roasters and Pekerau Hills Coffee Farm sit on lush green land. You’ll get to meet the owners, Rob and Carol Schluter and learn all about their incredible story.

They are pioneering coffee in New Zealand as the only commercial coffee growers in the country with a unique seed-to-cup experience. Their farm currently services several Far North cafes and their own mobile coffee unit at the local Farmers’ Markets. Plus, they’re operating the only coffee-growing project in New Zealand.

You’ll learn how they work with the climate and experiment with varietals to produce high-quality coffee – from planting the seed to pouring a hot cup of coffee. And of course, you’ll have the chance to sample some of their caffeinated delicacies! They’ve also developed some interesting teas like coffee leaf tea and coffee cherry tea. However you like to get your caffeine fix, you’re sure to find something wonderful here.

3. Explore the handcrafted pottery of local artisans in Matakana

 
 
 
 
 
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Matakana is a gorgeous little town about an hour’s drive north of Auckland in the North Island. Besides its beautiful vineyards, weekend farmers markets and foodie delights, this picturesque town is also home to Morris & James Pottery, a local ceramics haven.

You’ll go behind the scenes to see what it takes to produce large scale pottery from locally sourced clay. Each vibrant piece is individually handcrafted by skilled local artisans using clay sourced from their site on the Matakana River. The Pottery has a history that’s just as rich and layered as the Matakana clay they work with and you’ll also discover their amazing story.

Anthony Morris and Sue James first brought the Pottery to life in 1977, creating colourful ceramic pieces to take pride of place in homes all over New Zealand – and the world! Since then, the Pottery has remained entirely owned and staffed by creative and innovative locals. They also take care of their site on the river and replant their excavations with native bush, attracting a wide variety of wildlife.

4. Spend an afternoon planting native trees in Christchurch

 
 
 
 
 
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Journey into the Port Hills and you’ll find the Christchurch Adventure Park. People come from all over the country to go mountain biking, zip-lining and hiking here. In support of the Te Tapuwae o Rakau Trust, the park is aiming to re-plant over 10 million native trees. This is to encourage flora re-generation after the wildfires tore through the region in 2017.

You’ll get to spend an afternoon helping them on their mission, as we plant native trees while looking out over the beautiful Port Hills views. You’ll love reconnecting with nature and getting your hands dirty in the soil, all while contributing to the crucial environmental care of this region.

5. Meet the owners of a locally owned hazelnut farm

bunch of hazelnuts unique New Zealand experiences

We’ll show you what rural life has to offer in North Otago when we take you to Newlands Hazelnut Farm. You’ll get to meet the owners, Kerry and Peter Newlands and hear their stories about country life. You’ll also learn all about the process of growing hazelnuts in New Zealand.

The couple first planted around 1,500 hazelnut trees in 2000, and have planted a few thousand more over the years. The Newlands have since gone on to become one of the leading hazelnut growers in the country. They harvest tonnes of hazelnuts each year that are hand-sorted, dried, packed, and sent to Christchurch to be sold. Wander the beautiful orchards and get a taste of what life is like on a hazelnut farm in New Zealand!

All of these experiences can now be enjoyed on our Near Not Far Limited series of trips. To learn more about these trips, including how they have been crafted to help support local businesses and communities, head here.

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