Whether you’re a fan of the royal family or not, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the royal wedding. And let’s be honest, didn’t Meghan look stunning walking down the aisle in her custom designed Clare Waight Keller dress? With the vows taken, the champagne uncorked and the garden party all wrapped up, the next big question is where will Britain’s newest royal couple be honeymooning? While rumours suggest a wild meets luxurious escape in Canada’s Banff National Park, if Meghan’s travel history comes into play the answer could be New Zealand. Before she met Prince Harry, the free-spirited Suits actress was gallivanting around the Land of the Long White Cloud in the front seat of a campervan.
Throwing back to an interview with CN Traveller, here’s the scoop on her adventures traversing the South Island, sipping her way through vineyards, escaping to Waiheke and soaking up the New Zealand magic.
An extended stay
While some jet-setters snag whatever vacation time they can, Meghan made sure to pencil in a whole two weeks to explore NZ. This gave her time to take things slow, savour loads of wine, take in the views and discover off-the-beaten-track finds.
We love the fact that even though Meghan was well into her 30s back in 2015, she wholeheartedly embraced the idea of road-tripping around New Zealand with a girlfriend. No boyfriends or husbands necessary. Her trip is a fantastic example of how rewarding travelling with friends can be, regardless of whether you’re in your 30s, 50s or 70s.
Live the van life
Smaller than RVs but more decked out than tents, campervans are quickly gaining a reputation as a flexible, comfortable and on-trend way to travel. Hook yourself up with local, family-run providers like Wilderness, where you can rent fully-equipped campers for every occasion. Best of all, your own personal B&B on wheels gives you the freedom to explore NZ at your own pace. Feeling spontaneous? As a local, you may have noticed i-SITE Visitor Information Centres dotted across the country. Drop in for the scoop on campsites, national park information and more.
Walk on the wild side
Meghan may be a newly crowned Duchess but back in the day she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. During her campervan trip she plotted a course though a handful of drop dead gorgeous campsites, including the ravishing Lake Wanaka. There’s no arguing with the fact that New Zealand boasts some of the most stunning campsites on the planet and there’s nothing quite like pulling into a site after dark, only to wake up and find you’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Eat your way through Queenstown
It’s hard to resist the allure of Queenstown, the darling of New Zealand’s adventure travel scene. Save your appetite for top-notch, Meghan approved restaurants like Botswana Butchery, where you can devour venison pie, king crab cocktails, hand-cute venison, wild mushroom tart and other creative dishes. Meghan also sung praise to the Vudu Cafe and Larder, an award-winning local favourite blending artisan coffee with knockout waterfront views.
Hidden gems in Lake Wanaka
Laid-back Lake Wanaka offered Meghan her first taste of New Zealand, beyond the well-worn tourist circuit. As well as fly fishing she also spent an evening enjoying freshly baked cookies and plush sofas at the quirky Cinema Paradiso, one of the town’s hidden gems.
Take on Franz Josef Glacier
All too often travellers get caught up in the allure of foreign destinations and forget to explore their own back yards. If you haven’t yet ticked off Franz Josef Glacier, follow in Meghan’s footsteps and get yourself there ASAP. The glacier, also known as Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Māori, is carved into the west coast of the South Island and is best-explored on foot, with guided glacier valley walks for all fitness levels. For special occasions why not splurge on a scenic helicopter flight, or give your muscles a workout with an ice climb?
Sip your way through Marlborough
Need a break from the campervan life? Follow in Meghan’s footsteps and escape to a boutique hotel in Marlborough, where you’ll find a glut of beautiful wineries. According to Meghan, Kim Crawford was a highlight. If you’ve ever tasted their world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc you’ll understand why. While you’re there make a detour to Havelock for sumptuous green-lipped mussels, fresh-baked bread and of course, a glass or two of sauvignon blanc.
French flair on the Banks Peninsula
Perched on the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is a pocket-sized French town known for its cobblestone streets and artisan restaurants. Meghan revealed she dined at Ma Maison, an upmarket harbourfront restaurant wowing patrons with fresh, locally sourced seafood.
Sip your way through Waiheke
After 10 days touring NZ in a campervan Meghan wound up her trip with a luxe getaway to Waiheke, a sleepy island dotted with sandy beaches, local shops and boutique wineries. Don’t miss Mudbrick Winery, a Duchess of Sussex favourite pouring divine island drops. Rent a cabin on the beach for the ultimate sunset toast setting.
And just like that, New Zealand will always hold a special place in the Duchess’s heart. Whether they visit on a luxe honeymoon, royal engagement or couple’s getaway, Meghan and Harry will always be welcomed back to New Zealand with open arms, warm hearts and plenty of smiles.