New Zealand has fondly adopted the kiwi bird as its national symbol, and there’s a lot to know about this weird little nocturnal bird that ...
So you’ve landed in Auckland. You’ll need more than a couple of days to explore New Zealand’s largest city. Don’t forget that beyond the bustle of the inner city there are lots of other things to see and do in the Auckland region.
Head out west to the Waitakere Ranges and go hiking through pristine rainforest or visit stunning surf beaches; head north to Matakana Wine Country and sample the local wines; or jump on a ferry and explore a few of the many islands dotting the Hauraki Gulf.
Set on three glittering harbours and draped over 48 volcanic cones, Auckland occupies a stunning natural landscape and definitely demands a few days’ exploration. Heading out of Auckland, take a trip around the beautiful twin coasts of Northland. While you’re there, visit the Whangarei Growers’ Market, where you can buy the freshest and best local produce the area has to offer. And if you like good food, head to Bay of Islands Food & Wine Festival. Swing by and visit the birthplace of New Zealand at Waitangi. Head up to the spectacular northernmost point of the country and sample the culture and cuisine and then, on your way back down the west coast, stop for a visit to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe.
Wellington is the home of cafés, theatre, arts, culture and film. It’s also just a short hop away from the spectacular beauty and attractions of the Wairarapa, Marlborough and Nelson regions. There are so many things to see and do in Wellington. If you like art and design, the World of WearableArt™ Awards Show is a fashion extravaganza, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Visit Te Papa and the City Gallery in Wellington to see the history and artistic tradition of New Zealand and the Pacific. And in the city that brought you The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Hobbit, immerse yourself in the Weta Cave. While you’re in the capital, you can’t miss the chance to pop across the Cook Strait. Marlborough and Nelson are famous for their world-class wines so go on and indulge!
The South Island is a land of amazing contrasts: stunning mountains, rugged coasts and vast patchwork plains. There is so much to see and explore. Start your journey in Blenheim with great local food and wine, or in Nelson, where boutique local beers add a refreshing twist. Then (no drinking and driving!) hop in the car and wind your way down the wild West Coast where you can indulge in one of New Zealand’s real delicacies, whitebait. Head south to Queenstown where you can experience the many and varied attractions and outdoor activities on offer in Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago. Further south still, you can head down SH 94 through the heart of Southland to experience real southern hospitality and fine foods, including the famous Bluff oyster.
Start your trip in Dunedin, that most Scottish of New Zealand cities. Indulge in fine local hospitality and then get out on the famous harbour to meet the local wildlife up close. Then head north from Dunedin with side trips along the way to see Te Ana Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Centre and, for the stargazers, Mount John’s Dark Sky Project at Lake Tekapo. Stop off at Methven to try your hand at outdoor adventure activities, head up to Mount Hutt to go hiking, or take a boat cruise on a glacier lake. Christchurch is a must-see. Getting back on its feet following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch is an exciting and unforgettable destination. Where else do you get the chance to see a city rebuild itself after a major civil emergency and yet be able to enjoy comfortable accommodation, excellent restaurants and plenty of activities? Driving north, stop in at the seaside town of Kaikoura for the finest and freshest seafood and take a trip with the world-famous Whale Watch Kaikoura. Then continue north to the celebrated Marlborough wine and cuisine at Brancott Vineyard before you head by ferry to Wellington.
You cannot visit New Zealand without, in one form or another, coming across the unique culture and heritage of Māori. Māori are the tangata whenua (“people of the land”) of New Zealand. Their culture permeates every part of our society. Throughout the country you’ll find events celebrating the stories, traditions, contemporary arts and culture of Māori. And with only a couple of hours or so between cities in the North Island, there’s much to grab your attention. In Wellington, visiting Te Papa is a must, while, half an hour north, in Porirua, Pātaka is a fantastic celebration of Pacific culture. If you’re in Auckland, take a cross-city walk with a Māori guide and make sure you visit Auckland Museum. Rotorua is, of course, a must-see. Visit a replica Māori village to experience cultural performances, a hāngi meal and Māori history told by the descendants of New Zealand’s original settlers. While in the Bay of Plenty, plan a visit to one of the local marae; and if you’re in Taranaki, visit Puke Ariki museum for the stories of the local people and their home at the foot of beautiful Mount Taranaki. The East Coast is a place where Māori culture is at the heart of the community. It’s here that the tangata whenua first met Captain James Cook in October 1769.