They don’t call New Zealand the land of milk and honey of the Southern Hemisphere for nothing. Dairy aside, the scenic antipodean land not only boasts breathtaking natural landscapes, it also birthed a mighty variety of trees, bushes and blooming flora which play host to the buzzing bustling business of pollination where the bees of New Zealand partake in the production of the glorious golden nectar — honey. This establishes a solid bedrock for the thriving local honey industry in New Zealand which extends to the tourism arena, and it should not be overlooked by savvy travellers who seek to appreciate their travel destination’s local natural pride and joy.
So what is honey tourism? To put it simply, it’s like going on a wine tour, except with honey and bees instead of wine and grapes. Honey producers have unlocked the world of honey-making to the public in form of virtual and interactive tours! You can learn all about the different types of trees, bushes and flowers where the bees gather the goodies to produce your honey, see the bees at work in action, and have your hand at spotting the queen bee yourself.
One of the sweetest aspects (literally) to honey tourism is honey tasting! Much like wine tasting, you can enjoy a range of different blends and types of honey freshly collected straight from the local beekeepers and producers. And in doing so, you can directly support local beekeepers and honey producers. Further, the benefits and purity of local raw fresh honey far outweighs processed, pasteurised store-bought and mass-produced supermarket honey. You’d be adding a bunch of serious health points for yourself!
It is a unique activity where you get to enjoy a true sensory experience that well and truly encompasses smell (have a good whiff of that aroma), taste (consume ALL the honey!), see (watch how the bees get working), touch (literally step into the honey-making world), and hear all the buzz about bees and honey.
Where to Find the Best New Zealand Honey
Here are a couple of honey tourist sites you can venture to:
Arataki Honey Visitors Centre, Havelock North
Situated in the Hawkes Bay area on the North Island in the lovely town of Havelock North, Arataki Honey is a well-established beekeeping and honey production enterprise which does not disappoint in its delivery of fresh local honey goods. What’s even cooler is that Arataki kindly opens the doors to masses by allowing an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in their public Visitors Centre. The best part about all this is that it’s free of charge! This means an educational run-down into the working life of bees, honey creation and production and, best of all, honey tasting – at no cost!
Arataki Honey Visitors Centre features a highly interactive tour where you can see how honey is collected and made even to its microscopic detail (literally – there are microscopes available for an in-depth and closer look). And fret not, the bees are well-contained in glass viewing spaces so you can watch them do their business within safe bounds without finding yourself in a sticky situation!
Step into the world of apiary by dressing up as a beekeeper or – and get this – a bee! It’s all about immersive learning experience at Arataki. A range of activities including candle-making from beeswax will be sure to fill your day with productive fun. In addition to all the sweet retail therapy you can get at Arataki’s gift shop, the Centre also features its very own honey tasting center of Arataki’s ten distinct honey flavours and blends.
The Arataki Honey tour is suited for all ages. Group tours are available for booking, including school and pre-school groups, birthday options and also team-building or conference tours. Arataki Honey Visitors Centre is open all year round from 9am to 5pm except on Christmas and Easter, and from 1pm on ANZAC Day.
Get there: 66 Arataki Road, Havelock North 4130
Comvita Experience Tours, Bay of Plenty
Nestled in the village of Paengaroa on the Bay of Plenty and a quick drive from quick drive from Tauranga, Experience Comvita invites you to feast on visual simulation of the story of honey-making — even entering into a virtual beehive. Equipped with high-quality facilities, you can book 40-minute guided tours at the centre. You can also take a quick journey in history to learn all about the world that flows from the Manuka nectar, from the indigenous Maori communities to the contemporary industry.
Nestled in the village of Paengaroa on the Bay of Plenty and a quick drive from quick drive from Tauranga, Experience Comvita invites you to feast on the visual simulation of the story behind honey-making — even entering into a virtual beehive. Equipped with high-quality facilities, you can book 40-minute guided tours at the centre and embark on a quick journey in history to learn all about the world that flows from the Manuka nectar — all the way back in local history with the indigenous Maori communities to the contemporary flourishing industry.
Comvita is globally renown for its signature Manuka honey products with lab-tested certification of honey reaching high unique manuka factor (UMF) that is packed full of potent antibacterial and antimicrobial strength. The in-house Comvita Retail Store is chock full of its Manuka products — from the medicinal such as manuka honey mixed with olive leaf extract to propolis toothpaste. There is also a Health and Beauty Treatment Room alongside cafe all in one space. Sweet and fancy.
Comvita Experience is open to visitors 8:30am to 5pm on weekdays, 9:30am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays except Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s Day.
Get there: 23 Wilson Road South, Paengaroa 3153
So when you’re headed to New Zealand, book a trip for a honey tour and bee excited for a sweet experience ahead!