Shopping for Christmas presents is stressful. As is keeping a neutral face on Christmas morning when you unwrap yet another bath set or scented candle.
Instead of rushing around the shops trying to find that perfect gift for the person who has everything, this year why not gift an awesome experience they can enjoy right here in Aotearoa?
Gift experiences are not only a great way to support our tourism industry, but are also way more sustainable – and satisfying – than stuff you have to wrap.
Here are some of our favourite ideas.
READ MORE: * How learning to scuba dive transformed my understanding of the ocean * Better than socks: New start-up aims to boost domestic tourism with experience gifts * 8 creative ways to make gifting a voucher more exciting
You could stock up on boxes of Cadbury Roses when they’re on special at the supermarket. Or you could get more creative and gift vouchers for a local chocolate maker.
Wellington Chocolate Factory and Ocho in Dunedin offer gift vouchers starting from $10, which can be used to purchase their craft chocolate online, or at their factory shops. Auckland’s Miann Chocolate Factory also sells gift cards that can be used in any of their stores, or you can purchase experiences like chocolate factory tours, afternoon teas and dessert dates to give as a gift.
The feeling of bliss that comes from soaking in a private hot tub in a scenic spot is likely to linger far longer than a bath bomb.
Queenstown’s Onsen Hot Pools is the ultimate hot tub experience, perched on a cliff overlooking the Shotover River. Gift vouchers are available to purchase on their website, starting from $87.50 for one adult. Secret Spot Hot Tubs in Rotorua also offers gift vouchers, starting from $41 for one adult.
Waiho Hot Tubs in Franz Josef has vouchers starting from $89 for two adults, but you could also gift them a full holiday, with a soak, stay and dine package for two available for $249.
Scented candles and soaps are nice, but after the year we’ve had, it might be better to send them to the professionals for a proper de-stress.
Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa is a relaxation haven, with its mineral pools to bathe in and a wide range of massages and treatments to book. You can purchase a gift voucher to go towards any of these online, starting from $50 (and all therapies include a soak in the pools beforehand).
If you want to get them something sparkly and romantic, instead of gifting a piece of jewellery, consider a stargazing tour.
The Mackenzie region is one of the most magical stargazing locations in the world, best experienced alongside the experts at Dark Sky Project based in Tekapo. Their Summit Experience, which takes place at Mt John Observatory, costs $149, and can be purchased as an open-dated gift voucher.
Great Barrier Island is another internationally recognised dark sky sanctuary, and here you can stargaze on the beach with Good Heavens. Their stargazing group experience costs $120 per adult, and is available to purchase as a gift card.
Got a daredevil in the family? Or possibly even an irritating sibling you wouldn’t mind giving a loving nudge off a high place?
AJ Hackett Bungy has “Bungy Bucks” starting from $50 that can go towards an epic adventure, or you can purchase a voucher for a specific experience at their Auckland, Taupō, or Queenstown sites. Whether they’re scaling the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or leaping from 134 metres at New Zealand’s highest bungy in the Nevis Valley, it’s bound to be a gift they won’t forget in a hurry.
A bottle of wine or a box of craft beers is always a solid gift option, but a winery or brewery tour will give them a whole new appreciation of their favourite tipples.
In Wellington, Craft Beer Tours offers a guided hop around some of the capital’s best breweries, with behind the scenes access and plenty of sampling opportunities.
They also offer tours of Brewtown, Upper Hutt’s craft beer wonderland.
Gift vouchers are available for all experiences, starting from $135 for a half-day brewery tour.
In Queenstown, Appellation Wine Tours has a Christmas voucher special, offering $50 off selected wine tours purchased before December 24.
Their classic wine tour through the Gibbston wine region now costs $119 per person, with a 12-month window to use the vouchers.
Your friends and family in Auckland might have mastered the art of picnics over the last couple of months, but they won’t have experienced a picnic quite as epic as this.
Matakana-based Village Picnic offers mystery picnics, which make a fun day out for a couple or family. The experience is part scavenger hunt, part foodie tour as you make your way around the Matakana Coast, collecting artisan treats along the way to enjoy at a secret picnic destination. It's all prepaid, so makes a great gift – the experience starts from $165 for a couple.
If learning a new skill is likely to be one of their New Year’s resolutions, give them a head start by gifting them a fun workshop or class.
Most people would love to know how to surf, and there’s no better place to learn than one of the country’s top surfing destinations. Raglan Surf School offers lessons at the beginner-friendly Ngarunui Beach, with a two-hour group session starting from $84, which can be purchased as a gift voucher.
A cooking class is an activity where they’ll reap the rewards long after the lesson. They could do a lot worse than legendary chef Peter Gordon as their teacher, at his Homeland cooking school in Auckland. Vouchers can be purchased for the classes, which cost $145 for adults and $100 for children.
Who doesn’t love spending the night in some lush lodgings? Plenty of accommodation providers offer gift vouchers that can be used across their properties, or you could choose a more specific stay.
Make them feel like a prince or princess at Dunedin’s iconic Larnach Castle, with three unique accommodation options within the grounds. Gift cards are available to purchase at a value of your choosing, which can be used for any of the Larnach Castle experiences.
In Wellington, Pipinui Point is sure to impress – this private escape is perched on a clifftop high above the Cook Strait, with one of the most spectacular outdoor tubs in the country. Gift vouchers are available for a minimum of $575 (the starting price for a one-night stay in the winter months).
If you have no idea what they would enjoy, Chuffed Gifts could be the perfect solution.
Gift-givers can choose from an array of experience packages, starting from $99. The recipient then gets to select an experience within that package, with dozens of activities on offer all around New Zealand.
Each gift comes in a fun recyclable tube, which contains a booklet explaining how it works and all the experiences available – so there is still something tangible for you to put under the tree.
Staying safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. The latest travel advice can be found at: covid19.govt.nz.
Gifting an experience: Tourism New Zealand has more gift experience ideas on its new Gifting Hub. See newzealand.com/nz/gift-vouchers
This story was produced as a part of an editorial partnership with Tourism New Zealand. Read more about our partnership content here.