Denise Stephens

Freelance writer

New Zealand

I'm a freelance travel writer based in New Zealand. Coming from a background in heritage projects, I like to explore a destination's culture and heritage. My work has appeared in print and digital media in New Zealand and internationally.

Recent destinations include Wairarapa, Japan (Kyushu, Shimane, Hiroshima, Kinosaki Onsen, Kyoto, and Tokyo), Sydney, and Dunedin.

Writer (Associate) member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.

Otago Daily Times Online News
Overnight by rail in winter

Denise Stephens takes the slow train to Tokyo. On a chilly February evening, people gathered on the platform at Matsue station waiting for the...

NZ Herald
Nagasaki: The city that opened up Japan to the world

Nagasaki, a city straddling the west coast of Japan's Kyushu island , is the country's former front door to the world, writes Denise Stephens The evening crowds on Mount Inasa stood waiting for the famous night view, said to be one of the three best in the world.

5 Tips For Visiting Japan's Mount Fuji

Fuji rises to 12,389 feet on the coastal plain south of Tokyo, making it Japan's highest mountain. Here are some tips before you visit.

3 Fantastic Places In Wellington To See Native New Zealand Wildlife

Tree-covered hills and the sea surround Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. With nature so close by, there are many opportunities to see New Zealand's native wildlife. New Zealand is famous for rare flightless birds including the national icon, the kiwi, while more common species such as the tūi and kererū fly around the city.

NZ Herald
Floral fantastic: Why Japan is more than cherry blossoms

It may be famous for cherry blossoms but there are plenty of other florals to admire in Japan, writes Denise Stephens. For the past three seasons, the Japanese have enjoyed popular cherry blossom viewing sites free of crowds as closed borders meant no international tourists.

5 Reasons To Visit Japan During Plum Blossom Season

Cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring, and the season attracts thousands of visitors to Japan each year to see blossoming trees surrounding castles and temples and to walk under masses of pink petals in parks. With all the attention given to cherry blossoms, visitors often don't know about Japan's plum blossoms - which are just as beautiful.

AA Directions
Exploring the secret spots of inland Kaikōura

Kaikōura is famous for whale watching and crayfish, but for many travellers it’s a quick stop on the way to somewhere else. I spent a leisurely five days there with Driftwood Eco-Tours, exploring the area from the mountains to the sea. Our small group met locals in wool sheds and on walking tracks, listening to their stories and discovering places far from the usual tourist route.

NZ Herald
The Road to War: Featherston and the Remutaka Pass

The Anzacs who marched from Featherston are remembered in a sculpture that points towards Wellington and their waiting troopships, writes Denise Stephens Nine bronze columns lean towards the Remutaka Range, recalling the route thousands of New Zealanders followed on their way to war. They marched from Featherston Camp, through the town and up over the hill.

Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations NZ
Exploring Mana Island: History and Restoration - Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations NZ

One of New Zealand's earliest farms, Mana Island is now a scientific reserve. Denise Stephens learns about the restoration projects. Gannets basked in the sun, their cries filling the air. From where we stood at the top of the cliff, the colony looked real enough, but the birds were concrete models and the sounds were recorded.