Over a million visitors a year descend on Rotorua, a city where the distinct aroma of sulphur gives away its geothermal nature. Established as a spa town, Rotorua has evolved into one of New Zealand’s biggest hot spots, combining vibrant lakes, historic Maori villages and hair-raising extreme sports. To experience an extra buzz, visit during the Rotorua Bike Festival in February, or New Zealand’s only reggae festival, Raggamuffin.
In recent years the New Zealand capital has really found its stride as a sophisticated hotspot of café culture and fine dining. The city certainly isn’t lacking a depth of history either, with traditional Maori art on display in its many galleries, and a scattering of world-class museums like the outstanding Te Papa Tongarewa. A sweeping coastline with native wildlife is on your doorstep, while nearby hills hide the film locations of some very famous productions.
The city of Christchurch is a marvel of landscaping, creativity and survival. With the shock of two devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the ‘garden city’ is now more innovative and open than ever before. From the quirky container shops and bars to the ever-tranquil meanders of the River Avon, Christchurch offers travelers a unique experience that no other city can.
Whether you prefer to spend your time bird watching or bush walking; shopping or surfing, the diversity of Auckland guarantees that any break here will be spent doing something you love. The region’s main draw has to be its spectacular natural beauty – the deserted islands and beaches, the cinematic Waitakere Ranges – but Auckland’s archeological sites, lush vineyards and city sophistication make it a must-visit destination.
The capital of New Zealand is a fantastic city to spend time in. It has bags of character and allure, with distinct districts going from the hills to the sea to downtown, and it also boasts many classy museums and landmarks.
Beautiful Christchurch is the unassuming jewel of New Zealand's South Island. Built around English university towns like Oxford, Christchurch comes replete with a river called the Avon and weekend punting under willow trees. It is a warm and inviting place that is a compact and cosmopolitan contrast to brassy adventure sports capital Queenstown, the other major South Island destination.
Situated in the verdant southwest of the South Island, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. It sits on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, one of New Zealand's largest bodies of water, and provides access to the country's best national parks and stunning wine and ski regions.
With one and a half million residents, Auckland is easily the largest urban area in the New Zealand. One in three New Zealanders lives in the Auckland metropolitan area, which nestles in a bay on the North Island and boasts two sparkling harbors. Auckland faces the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other.
New Zealand holidays take you hiking across fjords, jet-boating down rivers and smooth sailing on pristine lakes mirroring the sky. From the North Island to the South, book a New Zealand hotel and discover a country of extremes.
An Auckland city break combines urban style, Polynesian culture and on-the-edge activities. Book an Auckland hotel to discover New Zealand’s ‘other’ capital city.
Don’t just stick to the city – Wellington’s surrounds offer unrivalled natural beauty and relaxed rural communities. Drink your fill in the wine towns of Martinborough and Masterton, or head to the rugged hills and coves of the Kapiti Coast. Only happy with high-rises and luxury hotels? Downtown Wellington delivers these and more, with a choice of the bustling CBD or the quieter waterfront and Oriental Bay.
Even the most reluctant shoppers will find something to pique their interest in the streets of Wellington. Start with the Golden Mile, a popular shopping area with all the high street trimmings. Then, if you fancy delving into the more bohemian side of the city, head to Cuba Street – home to vintage fashion, quirky bookstores and lashings of street art. Of course, there are also plenty of weekly produce markets for fresh local veg, seafood and even cookery classes.
Wellington’s culinary scene is world-famous, and for good reason. The city enjoys a healthy supply of fresh produce from both the land and the sea, with specialties including fresh seafood and Wairarapa wine. Take advantage of these superb New Zealand flavors by visiting internationally acclaimed seafood restaurant Martin Bosley’s or well-established eatery The White House, which prides itself on using local free range pork and herbs from its rooftop garden.
From the lofty cable car and Mount Victoria Lookout to coastal seal tours and the verdant marvels of Zealandia, exploring Wellington throws up a whole host of exciting highlights. Every whim is catered for here, with films buffs delighting in the Lord of the Rings tours and culture vultures able to while away endless hours in some of the most interactive museums in the world.
Wherever you decide to stay around Rotorua, there will be a room or camping pitch to suit your needs. If you’re traveling with a tent or caravan, you’ll find plenty of scenic campgrounds, while budget travelers are looked after by a variety of hostels and ‘flashpackers’. Luxury resorts and lodges are also scattered across the region, often with an accompanying thermal spa – although you’ll find even some hostels are geo-thermally heated.
Whether you shop in Rotorua or search for souvenirs in Taupo or Mount Maunganui, there are plenty of local products to delight visitors. Rotorua’s markets are a must-visit, especially the popular Saturday Flea Market, with tasty artisan offerings, and Hot Lakes Craft Market – brimming with local artwork and handcrafted jewelry. Venture outside the city, and Taupo boasts art galleries and local garments aplenty, while Mount Maunganui is your boutique shopping destination.
Restaurants in Rotorua can satisfy any craving, whether you’re after cracking pub grub or more exotic flavors. Step away from the typical fast food restaurants that crowd the center and head to Tutanekai Street, Rotorua’s buzzing foodie plaza. If you fancy something a little different, try the north end of Fenton Street, where Korean, Japanese and Mongolian restaurants abound.
Like many areas of New Zealand, Rotorua offers a plethora of adrenaline activities, from bungy jumping to jet boating. However, be sure to check out Rotorua’s big three: raft the Kaituna River, mountain bike through Whakarewarewa Forest and climb into a giant inflatable ball for a zorbing experience. Fancy something a little more chilled? Discover the Maori traditions at Tamaki Maori Village, or fish the Tongariro River – a world famous angling spot.
Queenstown itself is a mixture of high-energy party streets and quiet suburban enclaves, while just outside of the town, accommodation options provide great links with the Otago back country and the region’s major natural attractions. Whatever you’re after from your accommodation in Queenstown you’re sure to find something that fits.
Quirky art culture and high-end postmodernism are the somewhat mismatched hallmarks of Queenstown’s thriving souvenir and craft scene, while the shopping mall retail park that features in the town centre and nearby Frankton district have ensured that even those looking for high street stores in this mountain setting won’t be disappointed.
Amidst the tight-knit streets of downtown Queenstown, where the untameable energy of the city’s thrill-seeking adventure demographic seeps unceasingly into the nightlife party venues, there’s also a real variety of culinary gems to discover. Serving everything from home-grown New Zealand traditionals to Mediterranean fusion and east-coast surf and turf, there’s something on the menu for everyone, while those coming specifically to unravel the culinary delights of South Island are sure to leave with a grin.
With such a plethora of adventure travel on its doorstep, Queenstown itineraries are predictably awash with the tastes of adrenaline and energy. ‘The great outdoors’ comes part and parcel to any trip here, while some of the more refined New Zealand activities, from wine tasting to scenic excursions, are always reassuringly close to hand.
Framed by the aptly-named Remarkables Mountains and nestled next to the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu, the iconic all year resort has become the most coveted adventure destination in New Zealand. Today adrenaline junkies arrive in search of Queenstown’s seemingly boundless offering of outdoorsy pursuits, while the patchwork of craggy limestone canyons, superlative wine country, gushing rivers and former goldrush towns, make this one a veritable bucket-list regular.
With many city center hotels destroyed in the earthquake, central accommodation in Christchurch has been in high demand over the last few years. There are the usual international brands downtown, but if you fancy something different, head to the seaside suburb of Sumner. To the north, Waipara Valley offers a hazy retreat for the wine tasters, while Banks Peninsula is surprisingly easy to reach and delivers breathtaking coastal views and quirky campsites.
The Canterbury region has a thriving local industry that produces plenty of sought-after foods and crafts. City center markets swell with locally raised lamb, artisan cheese and freshly baked bread. For gems and gifts, Akaroa is your stop, with French-styled jewelry boutiques and cutesy craft shops. Canterbury as a whole boasts a huge art scene, so you’re never far from a gallery. But if you want good old high street stores you might be surprised – the city’s Re:START project is far from ordinary.
Christchurch’s foodscape is somewhat altered since the 2011 earthquake, with creative cuisine rising to the surface like bubbles of air in a hot sauce. Several classic fine dining restaurants are undisturbed in the city center, while quirky and innovative cafes and eateries have popped up in areas such as Addington and Ferrymead. Sampling local produce is easy, from New Zealand lamb in the city to shrimp and salmon on the coast.
Whether you’re after relaxation or rough-and-tumble, Christchurch and its surrounding region of Canterbury cannot fail to impress. In the city, take a scenic stroll through the greenery of the many parks and gardens, then hop on the gondola for a panoramic vision of ocean and Alps. Drive out of the city and encounter a myriad of activities, from the country sophistication of the vineyards to the wild clear skies of Lake Tepako.
From the luxury hotels of Downtown Auckland to the welcoming beachfront motels of Orewa, you’ll find the region offers plenty of diversity when it comes to accommodation. Luxury retreats, resorts and private apartments are available for those looking to splurge, while a generous spread of city hostels, simple motels and beach campsites takes care of the lower budgets.
Pick almost any area of Auckland and you’re guaranteed to find a quirky little boutique or a weekly market. But there are certain spots that shopaholics head to, such as Britomart for cutting-edge fashion or Karangahape Road for alternative souvenirs. The region is also pleasantly rife with farmer’s markets and fresh seafood stalls, plus quaint country towns offering local wine, honey and handmade crafts.
You might find it hard to choose your favourite place to dine in Auckland – there’s definitely no shortage of culinary corners here. For outstanding seafood, head to the waterfront, with both Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour boasting more than their fair share of quality fish restaurants. Away from the water, supplement your meal with a splash of cabaret on Karangahape Road or dine and shop in Ponsonby or Parnell.
Covering such a vast area, it’s not surprising Auckland offers a huge range of things to see and do. From hiking through scenic regional parks and trekking up volcanoes for panoramic views of the city, to sailing, jet boating and island-hopping in the Hauraki Gulf, the region provides endless entertainment. Cultural days out are also in plentiful supply – head to colonial towns brimming with history, independent art galleries, award-winning wineries and thriving farmers’ markets.
As far as spread of attractions and entertainment options, Wellington is about the best city in New Zealand for the enjoyment factor. It is beautifully laid out, with busy city thoroughfares, a delectable waterfront and lush hills all within the city, making it an ideal destination for walkers.
Unlike Auckland, Wellington is compact and easy to navigate for shoppers and there are all kinds of shopping options, from top-end designer gear and crafts to second-hand goods. There are also some excellent markets in Wellington and it is fun to shop any time of year.
Christchurch is a compact city with much to offer. Parks and gardens provide tranquility while the cosmopolitan restaurant scene buzzes with happy crowds seven nights a week. The city's great arts scene means that a diverse range of people live and work here and a sense of tolerance and festivity hangs in the air.
Wellington has a huge number of snack bars, cafés, coffee shops, restaurants and food courts per head, and the best thing is that most of it is all within the city center. You can get everything from traditional Maori fare and the best New Zealand venison and lamb, to top quality seafood and a variety of ethnic cuisines.
Locals in Christchurch love to go out at night and the bar and restaurant scene here easily holds its own with that of larger places like Auckland and Wellington. Some people claim the nightlife in Christchurch is the best in the country certainly it is the most eclectic and diverse.
Like so much of New Zealand, Christchurch is blessed with access to the finest and freshest natural produce. The red meats here are treated with justified care while dairy products and wines are world class. Locals here love to eat out and the choices are wide, from à la carte fine dining to fish and chip shops that provide quick service with a smile.
Possum fur gloves are as warm and cozy as they are unique and they make for a real conversation point when brought back home. They are just part of the array of wonderful things to buy in Christchurch which also includes sheep and lamb wool sweaters and bat leather key rings.
Christchurch combines its Gothic architecture, sedate gardens and parks with an exciting sense of the urban. While the sightseeing here is tranquil and old world, the arts and cultural scene in Christchurch is cutting edge and vibrant and there are dozens of outstanding restaurants offering South Pacific and fusion cuisine.
The New Zealand capital is in-keeping with most of the rest of the country, in that it is safe and has little in the way of violent crime. Petty theft will always be a worry no matter where you go and bear in mind that New Zealand's summers and winters are switched with those of the northern hemisphere.
The New Zealand capital has a wealth of heritage preserved in its ancient buildings and streets, more so than any other city in the country. A combination of its setting on a hillside overlooking the water and profusion of high profile government buildings and museums has led to this status.
Like any medium-sized New Zealand town, Queenstown is nice and compact and all shopping areas are readily accessible on foot. Most of the action is downtown, which is charming and nice for ambling about. The shopping here can be quite pricy; a testament of the quality as opposed to taking advantage of tourists.
Queenstown is largely devoid of traditional landmarks and period buildings, with most of the allure coming from the beautiful natural surroundings and the genuine feel of the place. Although not right in the town, Bob's Peak and The Remarkables mountain ranges are musts to gain a perspective over the town.
The ‘Adventure Capital of the World' is all about the outdoors and extreme sports. AJ Hackett set up the world's first bungee jump in Queenstown and the place has continued the theme to also offer whitewater rafting, jet-boating, hiking, mountain biking, and so-called Fly By Wire.
Queenstown is well turned out with an excellent tourist infrastructure and hospitality; good transport options, and some of the most accessible, high quality shopping and dining in the country. It is also a safe town, save the extreme sports, yet reading up on the place for tips on weather and transport will make your stay more rewarding.
Queenstown has a fantastic selection of restaurants for such a small town and every where is virtually within walking distance. There are well over 100 eateries here with choice of food going from the very best New Zealand lamb and seafood, to Pan-Asian cuisine, Middle Eastern snacks, fine French and Italian food, and the best of British.
Shopping in Auckland is a real treat and can be an experience that sums up today's New Zealand. Eccentric local fashion designers run funky boutiques right across the road from outdoor markets serving up simple barbecue foods and traditional community handicrafts while fast food chains and 24-hour supermarkets can be found on every other corner of town.
The Auckland dining scene is similar to Sydney's with an abundance of dining options based on fresh produce and seafood, but without Sydney's top end of ultra-expensive restaurants. Like most cities in the South Pacific, Auckland restaurants tend to specialize in fusion cooking with an Asian flavor, though all cuisines are represented.
What Auckland lacks in natural wonder tourist attractions — no small feat in nature-rich New Zealand — it more than makes up for with man made sightseeing attractions and a truly vibrant sense of life that illuminates many of the city's interesting spaces.
Auckland has a thriving restaurant scene with diners enjoying fresh seafood and world-beating New Zealand white wines well into the wee hours seven nights a week. Elsewhere, live hip-hop bands are all the rage while nightclubs, discos and New Zealand's busiest gay scene light up the night.
Auckland is an easy city to visit as the pace of life here is decidedly egalitarian and laidback. A multi-cultural but decidedly modern city, Auckland offers visitors friendly hospitality, high-tech conveniences and plenty of diverse recreational options.