Kissing with Kiwis
OutTraveler has lined up five romantic getaways for you, just in case this week's marriage equality news has you contemplating a Kiwi excursion--or wedding.
Head straight to the leafy, gay-buzzy inner-city suburb of Ponsonby and check into the Moana Vista, a gay Victorian guesthouse, a stroll away from the harbor and a cruisy tidal beach. Visit gay eateries on Ponsonby Road like SPQR for people watching, excellent paella, and flamboyant waiters. The city's Civic Theatre is an Arabian carpet ride of a building where iconic local lesbian Freda Stark nakedly danced her way to fame in the 1930s. Hop on a 45-minute ferry ride to vineyard- and mansion-filled Waiheke Island and its gay-popular, clothing-optional Little Palm Beach.
Amid the pastureland of the Geyser Highway, this sulphur- and mud-springs city has been an international center of tourism for over 150 years. Stop by the upscale Polynesian Spa. It's a great spot for hot springs bathing, hydro spa therapies, and warm-mud facials in a tranquil outdoor setting overlooking Lake Rotorua. The Rotorua Museum of Art and History is housed in the Tudor-style castle of an old hydrotherapy spa that dates back to 1908. It's an Edwardian hallucination amid the boiling mud with a show providing an earthquake experience.
This lunar-like landscape of geysers includes the Lady Knox Geyser, which spectacularly ejaculates 20 meters daily around 10:15 a.m., and lesser-known thermal pools like Kerosene Creek, which is clothing-optional one Saturday each month—and where the water and men are all hot.
After a dramatic drive through mountainous hills and valleys, you’ll sight magnificent Hawke's Bay and the art deco town of Napier. Drop by the Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery. View a film about the town's devastating 1931 earthquake as well as funky exhibits like cyberpunk London men's dresses. For an utterly restful and beautifully designed stay, check into the men-only St. Andrew's Retreat. Set amid 12 acres of orchards (including a garden with penises made out of native plants), St. Andrew’s radiates a lovely, clothing-optional peacefulness. Your gay host, John, takes you on walking tours of the Spanish Mission architecture of nearby Hastings. The bistro at Black Barn Vineyards combines excellent food, wine, and views with a contemporary art gallery. Its grassy amphitheater has hosted concerts by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Rod Stewart.
New Zealand's small capital (the world's southernmost) is an artsy Seattle-style city with a gorgeous seafront lined with sculptures celebrating local artists. Wellington was put on the world's map by director Peter Jackson, and nowadays you may spot the likes of Sigourney Weaver or Sir Ian McKellen. As in most capitals, the gay scene tends to be a bit closeted, especially when compared with Auckland, but it's active under the surface. An interestingly odd place to stay is Koromiko Homestay, perched on a steep cliff at the end of a winding, narrow road. The multilevel '70s architectural masterpiece has two Yellow Submarine-like guest suites overlooking the harbor. Be sure to make a pilgrimage to the Victorian birthplace of Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand's famous bisexual writer and the only author Virginia Woolf envied. Marvel at the claustrophobic interiors that produced the fiery writer, and check out the clothes that made her a consummate style vixen. Finish with a meal and a drink at Nikau Gallery Café inside the elegant City Gallery Wellington. Its Anglo-Indian kedgeree dish is superb, and in a city that's often windy and cold, the cafés sunny atmosphere is a true treasure.