Glowworm cave. If those two words alone don’t convince you to visit the Ruakuri Caves in the village of Waitomo on New Zealand’s North Island, nothing will. Tourists love the boat ride through the naturally illuminated limestone grotto. Stay nearby in our handpicked hotels, bookable on Culture Trip.
With the jacuzzi bubbling away, watch the breeze rustle through the trees and meadows beyond as you chink your champagne glass. The semi-rural setting makes for a relaxing spot to rest, 50 minutes by car from Hamilton airport. Homey rooms flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows reveal the great outdoors, with beds dressed with cosy covers and maps of the world hung above. Kick back on the sun deck as you nibble butter breakfast croissants or play a few relaxing rounds on the golf course.
Sleep in the form of transport you may have arrived in at this unique motel with a string of upcycled, self-catering historic boats, planes and steam train carriages. You can also climb through a circular door, beneath the curving hill, into a cave room fit for a hobbit. Cows are grazing on the field right above the two cave rooms at Woodlyn Park, mirroring the attraction that brought you to this wacky wonderland.
Sheltered by towering mature trees, bird song fills the empty and still air each morning at this cluster of chalets. Family-owned and focused on nature tourism, the village is home to 20 chalets, as well as a lodge that sleeps up to 60 in dorm-style rooms. All chalets are northerly facing to make the most of the sun and rural vista, and there are plenty of decked spots from which to watch local wildlife. Dine at the cafe on burgers or quiche, or walk to the pub, village shops and local museum for a change of scene.
Te Awamutu, a half-hour drive from Hamilton, is home to a museum with an impressive collection of Māori objects and details on how local life changed following European settlement from 1823. It’s also home to the family-run Rosetown Motel, close by, with fuss-free rooms and soothing art on walls, sleeping from one to five guests. Kitchens are handy if you want to self-cater with fresh, local produce from this verdant region.
This 1996-built, bright and airy B&B neighbours property from the 1800s; the original pitstop for weary riverboat passengers navigating the Waikato waters. That old homestead is next to the current B&B. Larger than your average hotel room, the spacious deluxe suites look out onto a large veranda and have individual design quirks, including sunken baths. Need more space? Book the expansive three-bedroom Tree Tops apartment for views across the Acacia Reserve.
Grab an e-scooter or bicycle, and explore all 29 acres (12ha) of this modern mansion’s park-like grounds. Set just outside tree-lined Cambridge, all 14 rooms are inspired by a British country house and individually decorated with chintz wallpaper, sink-into Chesterfield sofas and crackling fires. Indulge in country-house pursuits such as croquet, chess or tennis followed by a mosey around the gin bar. Then there’s the spa, gym, indoor pool, jacuzzi and sauna.
Indoor and outdoor become one at this eco-luxe hotel surrounded by woodland overlooking the waters of Lake Te Koutu. Timber-clad rooms make the most of natural materials, bringing the outside in, while a sustainable tourism policy means no single-use paper or plastic, locally sourced produce including blueberries and cheeses, and a bicycle storage, hire and repair station. Stay in nature-hued rooms with inky blue pops or two-bed apartments with handy kitchens for longer stays. Don’t miss the spa, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake.
Kick back by the pool surrounded by towering palms and imagine yourself in the tropics. Yet, if you can tear yourself away from floating in the sun, it’s also less than half an hour from The Lord of the Rings’ popular Hobbiton film set. Beautifully decorated and themed rooms – Marine features lovely teal blue fabrics, Mimosa, golden ochre, and Mink, soft green – sleep up to three with access to the gorgeous gardens.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Thalita Alves.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.