Tips for a Honeymoon in New Zealand & Moorea

Read more about this couple's memorable trip to the North and South Island of New Zealand, plus Moorea!

View a real couple's travel tips for a fun, romantic, and adventurous honeymoon or anniversary trip to the must-see spots in New Zealand, followed by relaxation on the island of Moorea!

infinity pool by beach at sofitel moorea ia ora beach resort honeymoon resort destination
Photo: Grégoire Le Bacon

Just days following their magical ranch wedding in Southern California, Lauren Partipilo and Matt Schwartz traveled to the Southern Hemisphere to experience a honeymoon complete with adventure in New Zealand and relaxation on the island of Moorea.

Destination: New Zealand

“Our honeymoon was like a well-balanced Arnold Palmer – half bright, exciting adventure and half smooth, relaxing tranquility,” reveals Matt of New Zealand and Moorea, respectively. First on the itinerary, the newlyweds checked into Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island to see the namesake site by helicopter and ice trek with Franz Josef Glacier Guides – Matt’s favorite part of the trip. “It was our first time in a chopper, flying in windy conditions made the experience quite exhilarating, and it provided the perfect opportunity to quote Schwarzenegger before heading back to town… ‘Get to the choppa!’” he laughs.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier Exterior

Photo courtesy of 
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Honeymooners on Franz Josef Glacier Trek

Photo courtesy of Lauren Partipilo & Chris Matt Schwartz

Lauren and Matt continued their “Kiwi” travels in a city renowned for adventure sports, calling Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa home for three nights. On their first evening in town, they enjoyed the cliffside Onsen Hot Pools – “such a luxurious, relaxing, romantic, and can’t-miss activity,” Lauren confirms of the tranquil day spa. The following days included a day-long excursion to Milford Sound through Southern Discoveries, a high-speed jet boat and “funyak” tour with Dart River Adventures, and a Skyline Queenstown gondola to witness gorgeous views of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. “Don’t miss out on the gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for unreal views while you dine, grab a drink, or luge!” Matt suggests.

Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa

Photo by Tessa Chrisp

The last stop on their New Zealand adventure was on the country’s North Island. “This leg was specifically designed to get us to the best glowworm caving experience in New Zealand,” recalls Matt of The Black Water Rafting Co.’s Black Labyrinth tour of the Waitomo Caves – Lauren’s favorite part of the trip. “It took me completely out of my comfort zone and is the type of ‘bucket list’ activity that you never forget,” she exclaims.


Trekking Franz Josef Glacier. “It’s fun, adventurous, beautiful, and just an all-around awesome experience!”

Seeing “Middle Earth.” “They shot some of Lord of the Rings where we kayaked after the jet boat ride. It was an incredible excursion!”

Trying new eateries. “In Franz Josef, we recommend Full of Beans for coffee, Canavan's for a nice dinner, and The Landing and Monsoon for more-casual meals.”

Honeymooners on Milford Sound Cruise

Photo courtesy of Lauren Partipilo & Chris Matt Schwartz

Destination: Moorea

With the energy required for their New Zealand excursions behind them, Lauren and Matt were thrilled to spend the rest of their trip in a romantic destination that most only dream about. Gaining a day thanks to crossing the International Date Line into French Polynesia, Lauren and Matt were greeted with flower leis upon arrival at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort

Choosing to stay in one of the property’s luxury overwater bungalows was the cherry on top for the pair’s honeymoon complete with endless adventure in New Zealand and plenty of time to unwind in Moorea. “We were there three nights and did nothing but stay on property to enjoy our room and the beautiful grounds,” Lauren affirms of the getaway. “It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but the bungalow was everything we’d always imagined it would be.”

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort Bungalows

Photo by Philippe Bacchet

Though they enjoyed every part of their journey, Lauren and Matt do admit they could have planned for a less-demanding schedule – especially after a lively wedding weekend. “We were so busy planning the wedding that we did not pay close enough attention to the jam-packed nature of our trip,” Lauren shares. “Your inclination will be to squeeze in every activity possible, but remember to leave ample time to just relax.” 

Though they hired a travel agent, Marci Simon Cosentino of Travel One Inc., they also recommend travelers do their own extensive research. “Even if you have an excellent travel agent like ours, only you can tailor the trip to your own specific proclivities,” adds Matt. “It’s tough to add another thing to plan when you’re already planning a wedding, but it’s worth it.”


Taking a moment to breathe. “Lauren meditated every morning on the private bungalow deck. Nothing like an endless horizon to center you after planning a wedding!”

Snorkeling on a moment’s notice. “We loved the freedom of just plopping into the water after naps in our overwater bungalow.”

Relaxing all day, everyday. “Room service. Room service. Robes. Sunset. Room service.”

Honeymooners on Beach in Moorea

Photo courtesy of Lauren Partipilo & Chris Matt Schwartz

Travel Tips from Lauren & Matt:

“Our trip put us in New Zealand at the very beginning of their spring. The weather was good for the most part, but you’d probably be better off visiting in their summer, which is December-February.”

“If you’re renting a car in Greymouth and driving into Franz Josef, get yourself a bigger car, truck, or SUV. It rains a lot, the winding roads are narrow, and locals take them fast, which will leave you feeling vulnerable if you’re in a compact car driving on the side of the road you’re less familiar with!”

“While Milford Sound is definitely beautiful, we were not prepared for the all-day affair from Queenstown, which included a five-hour bus ride both ways.”

“Remember that things are pretty spread out in New Zealand, so to get from one city to the next – or the North to South Island – is definitely a trek and not just a quick jaunt.”