With sun-drenched beaches, snow-capped mountains and subtropical rainforests, New Zealand consists of two main islands and hundreds of islets lying between the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. It’s a magical combination of immense natural beauty and cosmopolitan cities enhanced by a famously welcoming culture.
What to See?
New Zealand’s pocket-sized capital of Wellington is on North Island. Draped around a spectacular natural harbour and backed by bush-covered Mount Victoria, it is a charming city of oceanside esplanades and botanical gardens. It’s home to the fascinating Te Papa Museum, packed with Maori art and interactive exhibits.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, a lively metropolis of waterfront skyscrapers squeezed around two bays and surrounded by beaches and rainforest. It’s the springboard to whale spotting trips among the volcanic islands of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Down on South Island, Christchurch sits on Pegasus Bay and is emerging from recent earthquake devastation as a forward-looking, cultural hub packed with art galleries, free museums and the serene Hagley Park gardens.
The bubbling mud pools, steaming hot springs and geysers of Rotorua are iconic New Zealand sights, along with majestic snow-capped Mount Cook and the mighty lakes and glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park.
What to Do?
You’re never far from the great outdoors on trips to New Zealand. Christchurch is the perfect base for hot-air balloon trips over the Pacific and adrenaline-pumping, white-water rafting down the Waimakariri River. To swim with dolphins, see little penguins and try your hand at sea kayaking, head to nearby Akaroa.
Sandwiched between mountain ranges and Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is another South Island adventure playground. Here, families on New Zealand vacations enjoy mountain biking or skiing, shoot through rapids on jet boats, zip line through the forest and leap from the world’s first bungy jump. It’s also a gateway to hiking trails and helicopter flights among the dramatic seascapes and cascading waterfalls of Fiordland National Park.
Where to Eat?
The quality cuisine in restaurants across New Zealand majors in seafood from its oceans and tender lamb farmed in its fertile hinterlands. Influenced by the traditional Maori hangi feast of meats and vegetables smoked over hot stones, barbecues are an integral part of Kiwi family life.
And no visit to New Zealand would be complete without sampling fruity red wines in vineyards on Waiheke Island or delicious sauvignon blanc whites at cellar doors in Marlborough, the country’s premier wine-producing region.