New Zealand’s two main islands manage to encapsulate just about everything a traveller could want in a holiday adventure so it’s well worth taking your time deciding where to go and what to do.
Loosely speaking, the North Island is best for cities, beaches, Māori culture and volcanic marvels. Auckland – New Zealand's largest city and the arrival point for most international visitors – sits between two harbours on two oceans with magnificent coastal expanses, sprawling across no less than 48 volcanic cones. Away from the sizzling blend of urban sophistication and multicultural style (the largest population of Pacific Islanders in the world), the lush rain forests and pounding surf to the west and the island sanctuaries of the Hauraki Gulf to the east offer easy city escapes. Take a seaplane to Waiheke Island for lunch at an award-winning winery or head north to visit some of the idyllic 144 islands of the Bay of Islands with its prolific marine and birdlife. Or head south to Matamata to fantastical Hobbiton Movie Set Tours and Rotorua for a Māori culture experience.
For the uninitiated, the South Island serves up the highest snow-capped mountains, most accessible glaciers, shimmering blue lakes, longest braided rivers, thickest rain forests, deepest fiords and vast national parks (30% of New Zealand is protected conservation estate) where you can be as remote or as connected as you choose. Fly into Christchurch and allow enough time to self-drive the routes east or west of the Southern Alps, the great main divide – north to the tranquil coastal beauties of Nelson’s golden beaches, or the sheltered Marlborough Sounds; west to the rugged wild reaches of the West Coast, or adventure south to the year-round alpine resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown.
Experiences come at pretty much every level and style – from walking and cycling the extensive network of short and long trails, hiking on a glacier or an active volcano, to high-speed jet boat thrills, paddling a kayak, scenic flights over magnificent high country or swinging through the trees on a zipline. And, it goes without saying, that all comes with a surfeit of fresh local food, great coffee, craft beer and wine.
New Zealand is a year-round destination with a moderate climate and few extremes. Best times to visit will depend on the activities you want to do but shoulder season is always a good bet if you want to avoid the crowds. The late summer and autumn months of February to April are generally quite... view
New Zealand is an affordable travel destination for those coming from Australia and New Zealand with comparable conversion rates, but eating out and activities can be expensive. Dining at restaurants may cost you more than it would back home, so you may want to budget a little more for this.... view