Meet two more of our trusted LGBT locals, Steve and Pete. Hear their thoughts on why Golden Bay is such a great destination for gay travellers.
Pete and Steve own and operate gorgeous Ratanui Lodge at the top of the South Island, and they are phenomenal hosts! I adore spending time with them in their slice of paradise. If you’re a gay traveller who seeks a more remote experience immersed in nature, Golden Bay is where it’s at!
Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, and over the infamous Takaka Hill, Golden Bay is often skipped by travellers who think it’s too far away. It’s exactly that ‘end of the road’ location that makes Golden Bay so idyllic.
What makes Golden Bay so special?
Golden Bay: Where if you are normal you are weird. The small community here thrives on diversity and acceptance, and is full of such a range of people from dairy farmers to retirees to old hippies living off the grid to amazing artists. Golden Bay is warm and sunny in summer, with 17 beaches. It has easy access to the Northern Abel Tasman National Park, and is an end of the road destination free of tour buses and mass tourism. The people here make the experience; the beaches and scenery make tourists want to linger. There is more to explore here than most expect. As access to the southern Abel Tasman National Park is at capacity over the summer months, the Northern Abel Tasman offers a wilderness feel where you can still have a golden sand beach all to yourselves!
How is the Golden Bay area for LGBTQ people?
Very open and accepting. LGBTQ people are an important part of the community and are celebrated. We have lived together in Golden Bay for 11 years as an out couple, and have been treated with acceptance and respect.
Why do you think NZ is so gay friendly compared to many other countries in the world?
New Zealand is a remote destination with a small population, and is a young country by European standards. There is still an “end of road” feel where everyone relies on each other and depends on each other. New Zealand is a small community relatively speaking as well and there is a need to get on with your neighbours. The conservative Churches that preach separation don’t have a strong influence in New Zealand culture. It seems that New Zealanders in general are less concerned about who you love than how you interact with the community as a human being.
Why did you move to NZ permanently Steve? Was our gay-friendly attitude part of the decision?
I moved here because I met Pete here on my travels in 2006. When we decided we were going to live together as a gay couple, the immigration standards here were much more friendly toward a gay couple than if we had tried to settle in the States. I was able to obtain a temporary work visa very quickly as a result of my relationship with Pete, and over time that led to temporary residency, followed by permanent residency, and last year to citizenship. The Immigration New Zealand family track is inclusive of gay couples. At the time we were starting out together, that wasn’t the case in the States and it would have been virtually impossible for Pete to join me in the US on a permanent basis. Also, I fell in love with New Zealand anyway, so it was an easy decision for us to make our home in New Zealand.
What makes NZ a great destination for gay travellers?
As a gay traveller, New Zealand offers a different experience than say Fire Island, Key West, or Mikanos. It’s not a huge party/nightlife scene. It’s an opportunity to see the most beautiful country in the world, with a stunning variety of scenery, in a safe, welcoming environment. As the gay Traveller matures and looks for experiences that are beyond gay-centric, but still gay-friendly, New Zealand offers warm welcomes, little judgement, and a chance to explore remote places away from the crowds. Basically as a gay traveller you can experience all the adventures that the rest of the tourists to New Zealand are here for, but without any threat or bias.
Golden Bay is a truly unique place with so much to do. It’s a perfect destination for semi-independent gay travellers who have time to get off the beaten path and explore.