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Destinations in New Zealand

Destinations in New Zealand
New Zealand

New Zealand located in the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is made up of two main islands. The North Island is home to the majority of New Zealand's four million people. It's known for its beaches, islands, volcanoes and geothermal areas, and for showcasing our Maori heritage. The North Island's major cities, Auckland and Wellington, are exciting hubs of culture, cuisine and nightlife.
The South Island is famous for its dramatic landscapes and wildlife. The Southern Alps stretch almost the length of the island, sheltering glaciers and alpine lakes, not to mention world class ski fields. Our incredible 'sunken mountains' of Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds are easily explored by boat, while Kaikoura takes the prize for whale watching. And way down south you'll find the untamed island of Rakiura (aka Stewart Island), a true haven of native wildlife.
Being a compact country means that all destinations are within two hours' flight. Though it takes a bit longer, driving is a popular way to explore because you get to enjoy the stunning landscapes that linger around every corner. There's lots to see, so try to allow at least a week to visit each island. Of course we'd love you to stay longer, and once you get here, you'll probably feel the same.

Destinations in New Zealand


Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping - you're beginning to get the picture of Auckland, our largest and most diverse city.
Being at the narrowest point of the North Island, it literally stretches itself from one side of the country to the other, from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea. This means, wherever you are in Auckland, you're never far from the water. And what amazing water it is. From wild surf beaches to the tranquil Hauraki gulf, the sea and all its attractions are why this is known as the City of Sails.

Waiheke Island is a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. It is the most populated of the Hauraki Gulf islands. The landscape is a picturesque blend of farmland, forest, beaches, vineyards and olive groves.
In the Maori language Auckland is known as Tamaki-Makau-Rau - 'the maiden with a hundred suitors', because it was a region coveted by many tribes. The name still holds true, as Auckland's lifestyle is ranked amongst the best in the world.

Come and experience it for yourself. A few days in Auckland, building in a tour or two, is the perfect beginning to your New Zealand vacation.

Bay Of Plenty

When James Cook arrived in 1769, he anchored off a great bay 'full of plantations and villages' that was, he noted 'a bay of plenty'. The Bay of Plenty, today, is no less a place of plenty. Around Tauranga are hectares of orchards and gardens producing everything from kiwifruit and citrus fruit to avocados. Add to this bounty the local wines and the plentiful fresh seafood and you just know that this is a place where you will dine well.
Mount Maunganui, a short distance from Tauranga, has spectacular beaches which are a magnet for surfers all year round. For the adventurous, there's skydiving and for those more keen on terra firma, blokarting (small land yachts) will blow the cobwebs away.
Visit White Island- a quick helicopter ride from Whakatane-and you can walk, yes, on an active volcano as it hisses, belches and rumbles. It's that same geothermal activity that provides the hot pools and spas that you will find in many places where you can relax and let the world slide by. There is plentiful accommodation in the area; everything from bed and breakfasts through to hotels and boutique lodges.


The Coromandel is one of New Zealand's most popular and best-loved holiday destinations. When you visit it you will see why. A binocular's view across the gulf from Auckland, it is everything that a big city isn't. Cloaked in native rainforest with dazzling white sand beaches, it is rustic, unspoiled and relaxed. Activities and attractions are plentiful. You might choose skydiving in Whitianga or a guided sea kayak tour around the coast. You could take a walk in the coolness of the pristine bush-the Coromandel is a walker's paradise-or simply sit and relax in a warm bubbling pool at Hot Water Beach. And there are many more.
The Coromandel is the home of many artists and craftspeople. Pop into their studios-you're welcome to visit-and pick up a unique piece of art or pottery to take home with you. It's also the home of many events and concerts that draw locals and visitors alike to this remarkable place. Staying in the Coromandel is easy. Most of the accommodation providers have found themselves spectacular locations so whether your tastes are for the upmarket or the simple, you'll find a room -or tent site- with an amazing view.


Eastland is a special place. It's the place where the first Polynesian canoes landed, where Captain Cook made his first landfall and where Maori and European first encountered each other. And it's the first place on mainland New Zealand to see the sun.
In this relaxed and scenic part of the country, the world is slow. Drive along the unspoiled coastal road and you'll come across lots of little settlements. There is a strong Maori life in these communities with beautifully painted Maori churches, carved meeting-houses on the marae and conversations in Te Reo. Stop and say 'kia ora' (hello).
You'll see, also, that this is a place where the most common forms of transport are horses and bare feet. You might wish to take a car but you'll also want to take your time.

Accommodation can be as fancy as an upmarket lodge, boutique B&B's or quality waterfont motels. But really, this is the place for the holiday camper, whether in a campervan or a tent.

There are many attractions in the area. Take a tour of the local vineyards sampling the distinctive local wines. Buy a bottle and sit on the beach and watch the sun go down. Life doesn't get much better than that.


Just over an hour south of Auckland you enter the Hamilton & Waikato region; a land of lush verdant pasture where the fertile soils and reliable rainfall have made this the centre of the dairy industry.
New Zealands fourth largest city of Hamilton, boasts stunning parks, gardens and river walks. The Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, winds its way through the city and with abundant accommodation, and a popular nightlife and restaurant scene. Hamilton provides a perfect base for exploring the wider region too.
If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, drive east to Matamata and visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, the village created for the movies, or if surfing is more your style, then Raglan is the perfect spot for you with one of the longest left hand breaks in the world. For a different underground experience, drive south to the Waitomo Caves where the natural beauty of stalactites and stalagmites lit by the blue light of glowworms will take your breath away; or for those seeking more of an adrenalin rush, the blackwater rafting and abseiling are not to be missed.

Hamilton & Waikato is also a place of fierce and proud history where the Maori Land Wars were fought and the Kingitanga (Maori King) movement was formed. Visit the historic places and museums and you will hear the stories first hand.
Hawke's Bay

There are two words the sit with Hawke's Bay and they are Wine Country. Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country's leading producers of wine; notably red wines-cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah-but also with some quite stunning whites.

There are two words the sit with Hawke's Bay and they are Wine Country. Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country's leading producers of wine; notably red wines-cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah-but also with some quite stunning whites.
But there is much more than wine to this glorious place. It is New Zealand's Art Deco centre, rebuilt in the 1930's after a huge earthquake. It hosts the country's most elaborate celebrations of Matariki-the Maori New Year. It's a place where you can shop at the farmers market for locally grown delicacies, indulge in artisan gourmet food, and join the lunchers at Napier's Great Long Lunch. And it's a place where you can walk the forest trails of the Ruahine and Kaweka Forest Parks or the glorious beaches that stretch along the coast.

Hawke's Bay offers every kind of accommodation, from exclusive lodges and self.contained cottages to hotels, motels, camping grounds, bed & breakfasts and homestays. Some wineries have room for guests, providing the perfect setting for a romantic stay.

Horowhenua - Kapiti

The Kapiti-Horowhenua region sits on the North Island's West Coast, just north of Wellington. Known as the Nature Coast, it's a place of kilometres of unspoilt, wild, West coast beaches and forests climbing up the ranges. It has many attractions.
There's horse trekking along the beach and forest walks. Take a tour to Kapiti Island Nature Reserve and you can see (and, oh yes, hear) the phenomenal bird life of the country including birds that are rarely or never seen on the mainland. Or browse the many galleries and pick up a piece of unique art to take home with you.

Lake Taupo

This beautiful lake is about the size of Singapore-more of an inland sea really. It was created nearly two thousand years ago by a volcanic eruption so big it darkened the skies in Europe and China. Visit the Craters of the Moon and you'll see evidence of the lake's fiery birth in the geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools.
At some of Lake Taupo's beaches, swimmers and paddlers can enjoy warm, geothermal water currents. Other scenic highlights include the magnificent Huka Falls, where more than 220,000 litres of water thunder over the cliff face every second, and the Aratiatia Rapids. Across the lake loom the massive volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, just 1-2 hours' drive away.

Taupo is a great lake for water-skiing, sailing and kayaking. The forests surrounding the lake offer hiking and mountain biking to suit all levels of experience. But what Taupo is really known for is fishing. With the largest natural trout fishery in the world, this is the place to cast a line and look for the big one.
There's a genuinely friendly local culture in Taupo township and the surrounding areas, and accommodation is plentiful.


The Manawatu is heartland New Zealand. A landscape that sweeps from the sea to the Tararua Ranges, it offers an exciting choice of adventure from rafting and kayaking to horse trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing. And if you want experience country life, it's all around you. Go to a real stock auction. This is where the farmers buy and sell their stock, gathering around pens as the auctioneer rattles off the bids. Stock auctions are one of New Zealand's oldest traditions, dating back to the 1880s. Or find a farmstay and meet farmers whose families have been on the land for generations.


Northland's story is a story of two coastlines, Much of the coastline remains unspoilt but on the west coast it is rugged and soulful and simple while on the east coast it is relatively more sophisticated and urbane.

Drive north along the west coast and you'll come across the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the tallest kauri tree in an area that was once covered in kauri. Exit the forest and you come to the Hokianga Harbour with its huge white sand dunes and quiet beach communities. Then head to the northernmost tip, Cape Reinga, and watch the seas of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea collide.


Rotorua is one place where the turbulent forces that formed New Zealand are most evident. This city, on the Volcanic Plateau, has one of the world's most lively fields of geothermal activity. Skyrocketing geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools all tell you that this place sits squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire.
Rotorua is also the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled here more than 600 years ago and their presence offers the visitor numerous cultural experiences. Try a hangi feast -cooked in the steaming ground, take a tour of an authentic pre-European Maori village or treat yourself to an indulgent spa therapy. If adventure is your thing, Rotorua has many attractions to get the adrenalin flowing; everything from skydiving and luging to zorbing and one of New Zealand's best mountain bike circuits


No region in the North Island has more defined character than Taranaki, nor more symmetry. Wherever you are in Taranaki, the majestic symmetrical cone of Mount Taranaki gazes down at you. Seen from the summit the green fertile lowlands below are threaded with roads and dotted with toy-like towns and the coast is rugged and wild. It's a place where you can go snowboarding in the morning and surfing the same afternoon.
The region offers a huge range of outdoor activities. You can take a gentle stroll through cool native forest or embark on a multi-day hike. There's river rafting, ocean surfing, and winter snow sports. If you fancy a little less adventure, walk the New Plymouth coastal walkway and see the Wind Wand, conceived by the pioneering kinetic artist, Len Lye. There are art trails, festivals and award-winning museums and galleries and a thriving cafe culture. And there are gardens. Walk the parks and gardens in the rhododendron season and they are a beauty to behold.


Wairarapa is an hour's drive north of Wellington, tucked away in the south-east corner of the North Island. Coming from Wellington, you drive over the winding Rimutaka Hill road. Halfway down there's a corner where the whole vista of the Wairarapa opens up before you, bush-clad ranges to the west across flat plains to a rugged coast on the east.
A rural area with an off-the-beaten-track charm, the Wairarapa offers the traveller a wide range of experiences. Head up to the Waiohine Gorge at the foot of the Tararuas and a swing bridge is your gateway to tramping tracks into the ranges. Head out to Cape Palliser on the coast and you'll pass through the tiny fishing village of Ngawi where you'll see a colourful array of old bulldozers and tractors parked on the beach.

The towns have their own individual character and charm. Martinborough is the centre of the local wine industry - take a tour of the vineyards - while Greytown has an architectural charm and is a favourite weekend getaway for Wellingtonians.


Wellington is New Zealand's capital city and one of the most picturesque. You get the most dramatic view of the city when you fly in to the airport from the north. Flying up the harbour you get a picture of a city of bush, and hills with houses perched-sometimes seemingly impossibly-on them.
Wellington is known as New Zealand's arts and cultural capital. If you enjoy the arts this is the place to visit. Visit the galleries. Go and see the world-class New Zealand Symphony Orchestra or the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Keep and eye out for the public sculpture - there are many interesting and contemporary pieces around the city - or follow the Writers Walk along the waterfront.
And it's on the waterfront that you'll find Te Papa Tongarewa. Te Papa, as it's colloquially known, means 'our place' and it presents New Zealand's story through art and interactive display. Te Papa is a must visit.


The river city of Whanganui was one of the first to be founded in New Zealand. The name Whanganui,meaning 'big river' comes from the great river that flows through it. The city is picturesque and has much to show the visitor. Prominent heritage buildings in the city include the Wanganui Opera House and the Sarjeant Art Gallery. Visit the regional museum and see the magnificent collection of Lindauer portraits and Maori treasures. And have a look at one of the more unusual attractions, the earthbound elevator that rises to the top of Durie Hill.

But the real heart of this place, both physically and spiritually, is the Whanganui River. In early times the river was an important transport route for Maori and European settlers. Today, the Whanganui National Park is a place of river adventures where you can zip up the river by jetboat or cruise it by paddle steamer. For a kayaking experience, try the 'Whanganui Journey' which starts in Taumaranui and ends in Pipiriki, taking you through stunning bush-clad hill country and long narrow gorges. Time, indeed, to go with the flow.
South Island

Two-thirds of South Island are mountains. The rest of the landscape comes from those mountains. The dense rainforest and tumbling rivers of the West Coast are caused by the air rising over the Southern Alps. The vast Canterbury Plains and braided rivers come from of millions of years of alluvial deposits eroded from the mountains. Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds are mountains that have 'sunk' into the sea. And the stunning opaque turquoise lakes are from suspended glacial sediments.
The result is an island of truly diverse and magnificent landscapes. It's a landscape - and indeed a country that lends itself to adventure. Go skiing in the Queenstown-Lake Wanaka or Canterbury-Mackenzie regions in winter or mountain climbing in the summer. Hike the thousands of kilometers of walks. Jet boat a white water river. Take a leap of faith with a bungy. Or take a trip to see some of the world's rarest wildlife.
There are many tours that will show you the sights and wonders of the South Island but if you want the freedom to wander as you will, having your own transport-a rental car or motor home-is the way to go. And for accommodation you'll find everything from the luxurious to the clean, cheap and cheerful.

Central Otago

Central Otago is a powerful landscape, sunny, dry and brown with weathered ancient mountains, alpine herb fields and fast flowing rivers. In the 1860's this was a place of gold; you can still pan for it, in amongst the miners'old trails, stone cottages and relics of mine machinery.
But the gold today, in Central Otago, is wine. Pinot noir, that most fickle of grape varieties, excels in these southernmost vineyards and most of the wineries will welcome you for tours and tastings. Many tourists hire a motorhome. This way you can see some of the region's more remote sights; incredible scenery that you will often have to yourself. Go wildflower walking in Alexandra, take a cruise on Lakes Dunstan and Roxburgh, or for another form of transport entirely, go biking along the Central Otago Rail Trail. The 150 km trail follows the route of the old railway and you cycle from station to station staying in places little touched by modern hustle and bustle.
Canterbury stretches from ocean to the Alps, a land of plains and peaks. It is a place of variety and innumerable attractions where, within two hours of an international airport, you can ski, play golf, bungy jump, go whitewater rafting, mountain biking, wind surfing, whale watching, and visit world-class vineyards and gardens.

A must-see is New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Go hiking in Arthur's Pass National Park or just wander around the picturesque bays and villages of Banks Peninsula. And then there's New Zealand's second-largest city, Christchurch known as 'The Garden City'.

In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake. Much of the central city with its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed. But it remains a beautiful city, a city where you can cycle alongside the river, stay in good hotels and indulge in fine sophisticated dining, and a city where, just 15 minutes from the centre you can scramble up mountain bike tracks or ride a wave at a surf beach. The buildings may have been damaged but the soul of the city and the welcoming spirit of the people remain very much intact. Don't miss visiting Christchurch.

Dunedin - Coastal Otago

The Otago coast stretches from the Waitaki north of Oamaru to the mighty Clutha River south of Dunedin, Unlike its Central namesake, coastal Otago is moist, green and often misty with its population seeded evenly along its shores.

Start at the north. The Waitaki district is a place of haunting natural beauty with green pastures and small picture-book fishing villages. Stop in at Oamaru and look at the historic whitestone architecture, an amazing townscape that towers over a modest community.
Head further south, and you join the Southern Scenic Route, a tourism must of the South Island that follows the wild coast down to Invercargill and then north-west to Manapouri and Te Anau.


Fiordland is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. Carved by glaciers over 100,000 years the landscape is one where waterfalls cascade hundreds of metres into deep black fiords; where ancient rainforest untouched by man clings to mountains and where shimmering lakes and granite peaks look as they did a thousand years ago.
Nestled below towering mountains, Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. 45 kilometres long and covering 193 square kilometers, the crystal clear blue waters are perfect for jetboaters and sailors and kayakers to explore.
In winter, skiers flock here from all over the world for superb skiing and snowboarding at Cardrona and Treble Cone, cross-country skiing at Snow Farm and heli-skiing high in the Harris Mountains. But Wanaka is much more than a winter destination. Year round activities include fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving. Visit the nearby towns of Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra, go shopping, or simply sit in a café and watch the world pass by.


Located at the top of the South Island, Marlborough enjoys high sunshine hours and a temperate climate so that visitors can experience all of Marlborough's diversity through the season. No matter what time of year, there is always something going on in Marlborough.
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine growing region and the home of world-renowned sauvignon blanc. There are over 40 cellar doors in Marlborough, why not take advantage of a pre-arranged wine tour with a local operator and visit a selection of the region's top wine producers. You can map out your own route: self-drive, travel in style in a chauffeur- driven car or mix your daily exercise with your tasting in a cycle tour. Whichever mode of transport you choose be sure to stop at a winery restaurant along the way.
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