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Top Holiday Spots where Pooches can come too!

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

This article appeared in the NZ Herald and has some great tips for travelling dog lovers

+ gave a big shout out to Wineheke

You might be surprised at how many holiday hotspots now cater to canines, writes Ewan McDonald

Q. After several years of emotional trauma when leaving our pet in puppy prison when we go on holiday, we’re thinking about taking her along with us this summer. Is it easy to find pet-friendly accommodation and activities around the motu?

A. “Pet” and “pet-friendly” seem to be code for “dog”. I didn’t see a single reference to other companion animals and, as a human who’s somewhat ambivalently responsible for a turtle, I feel discriminated against. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the country’s axolotl and chinchilla fanciers, too.

It wasn’t so long ago that hoteliers, moteliers and campground owners had a blanket “no way” to the idea of dogs tagging along on the great Kiwi getaway. Times have changed for many, by no means all.

The SPCA has plenty of professional advice to consider when planning a pet-friendly holiday at

Their top tips include calling ahead to your chosen and presumably vetted (sorry) accommodation to check their rules, restrictions and facilities. Think about what things you can do with your dog at your destination (when and where are dogs allowed on the beach?), and don’t assume everywhere will be dog-friendly.

Remember to pack everything you think your dog might need, including food and water for the trip and, on the road, make regular stops for exercise, toilet time and fresh air.

A quick trip to another SPCA feature,, would be worth your while. It’s a comprehensive rundown of accommodation – from campgrounds to hotels, B&Bs to rented baches and holiday homes – with recommendations for each.

You might be surprised to hear that quite a few hotels now cater to canines. One of the trendsetters has been the Scenic Hotel Group, which prominently advertises six properties in its stable where “you and your VIP (Very Important Pooch) can stay”.

These are located in popular holiday spots from Northland to Haast, each having dedicated dog-friendly rooms conveniently located on the ground floor. You get free Wi-Fi, toiletries, tea and coffee; your pal gets a dog bed and bedding, plates and placemat, and possibly a welcome goody bag too.

Scenic Hotel Group have a range of pet-friendly properties where VIP’s (very important pooches) are most welcome. Photo / Getty Images

Dog Friendly New Zealand ( is another trove of information, with advice ranging from adoption, insurance and shampoos, to accommodation (the glamping section suggests some spectacularly situated and luxurious getaways), wineries, restaurants and outdoor activities for you and the four-legged person in your life.

One feature that will open many dog-owners’ eyes suggests outdoor adventures that you mightn’t have realised you could do with your dog across New Zealand. As they say, “Getting out and about with your dog doesn’t need to be limited to a beach walk, forest hike or neighbourhood run.” Visiting geysers, exploring marine reserves and hitting the slopes are all possibilities.

If your dog is comfortable with the motion of a boat, the Hahei Explorer cruises for an hour around coastal islands in the marine reserve, reefs, sea caves and Cathedral Cove in Coromandel. On Lake Taupō, the replica steamboat Ernest Kemp visits the rock carvings etched into the side of a cliff in Mine Bay, as well as discussing local history.

Orakei Korako, near Taupō, is our largest geyser field. On leash, dogs can stroll across the boardwalk to silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and geothermal steam. At Rotorua’s famous Redwood Forest, Secret Spots Hot Tubs offers “Shinny Dips” – relaxing hot foot soaks accompanied by a beverage – to follow your trail run. Or walk. Your four-legged mate is welcome to lounge alongside you.

On the Wānaka Snowfarm’s 55km of cross-country trails, dogs can join you in the alpine environment of the Pisa Range. Some trails are on-leash only; others permit dogs off-leash and under voice control. Snowfarm’s ski trails turn into MTB tracks in summer, so you can ride under the Central Otago sun and enjoy the views with your dog.

Wineheke Tours have come up with a way for dogs and owners to enjoy what each loves most – a walking tour of Waiheke’s best wineries with stops for beach runs, gelato and wine lunches. In the south, head out on the Gibbston River Wine Trail, riding or walking through vines and along tracks, stopping off at acclaimed wineries, taking in the landscape. Dogs must be kept on-leash while you ride or walk.

If your dog’s of an artistic bent, the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail at Snells Beach showcases sculptures by the country’s leading artists among native bush and ponds, home to tūī, kererū, kākā, wetland and water birds. Which is why your pal will be kept tightly leashed.

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