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  • November 23, 2017
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Discover Pacific Rim Cuisine and World-Class Wine

Fresh food and fine wine are essential ingredients in a New Zealand experience. New Zealand's wine and food is amongst the best in the world. Taste is paramount. Talented and innovative chefs combine ingredients freshly harvested from garden, land and sea while Pacific influences, organics and indigenous foods create a unique experience – whether that’s fine dining or casual outdoor meals, cellar door tasting, mingling with the locals at farmers markets, or an authentic M?ori hangi experience.

Your New Zealand Travel Specialist

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Travel Information

Flying to New Zealand from the United States is a breeze.

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Destination Overview

New Zealand is a land of immense and diverse landscape. You'll see things here that you won't see anywhere else in the world.

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City Guides

New Zealand's 29 regions stretch more than 1,600 kilometres across two main islands.

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Things To Do

Activities

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Adventure
If adventure sports press all your buttons, get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Bungy, skydiving, caving, canyoning ... New Zealand has every adventure activity and extreme sport you can think of - and some you've never even heard of! All set to a backdrop of mind-blowing landscapes.

Sports
Sports lovers rejoice - New Zealand offers a raft of activities for energetic bodies and minds! Whether you choose to participate or spectate, New Zealand is a sports mad country and you can lap it all up. Join the locals at a game of rugby or relax on a world-class golf course.

Skiing
Ski New Zealand from lake shores to mountain peaks Postcard views at every ski turn, alpine peaks, azure lakes & resort towns jam packed with Kiwi hospitality. That's what you get when you embark upon a ski holiday of a lifetime in New Zealand. In the South Island, home to 3 main ski areas, expect world class ski schools, accommodation close to the snow fields with transport from door to slope and value for money ski deals covering the essentials. Did we mention restaurants galore, adventure activities and wineries close to town?

Water Activities
Thousands of kilometres of coastline, lakes and rivers herald New Zealand as a water sports mecca. Sailing, surfing, diving, fishing – Kiwis love the water and we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to water activities. Indulging your passion for the water is easy to do here in New Zealand and limited only by your imagination.

Walking & Hiking
Hiking New Zealand is the best way to see beautiful landscapes and explore vast wilderness areas. So grab a pack and put on your walking boots.

Home to Middle Earth
New Zealand’s dramatic scenery - golden plains, towering mountains and enchanting valleys - plays the mythical world of Middle-earth on the big screen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy. The similarities between New Zealand and Middle-earth are remarkable. Bubbling brooks intersect with gentle waterfalls; snow-capped peaks cast shadows over lush forest valleys, and ancient glaciers – frozen in time – cascade almost to the sea.

Stargazing
In New Zealand, the heavens appear closer to earth. See constellations and shooting stars in glittering dark skies; much of the country has no light pollution and is home to some of the most accessible observatories in the world. Home to the darkest skies in the world Recently, 4,300 square kilometres of New Zealand’s South Island was recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest reserve of this type worldwide. Covering much of the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region, the Dark Sky Reserve has been labelled as ‘one of the best stargazing sites on earth’.

Backpacking
First things first, there are no rules when it comes to backpacking in New Zealand because with so many incredible activities and experiences in one small country, you’ll never find yourself far from something fun to tick off your bucket list. Trust us. In fact, you could easily find yourself on the beach in the morning and on a glacier in the afternoon via a short two to four-hour drive – and you would probably make new friends at some point along the way. Transport is flexible and affordable, quality camping and backpacker accommodation are located everywhere, and no matter where you turn there’ll be amazing experiences waiting to be had. Whether you’re visiting on holiday or want to work while you’re here, get excited for some Kiwi hospitality and the adventure of a lifetime.

Theme & Leisure Parks
Whether they're fascinatingly informative or thrilling and scary, New Zealand';s theme and leisure parks offer conveniently concentrated fun. Farm parks, wildlife sanctuaries and underwater centres bring the natural wonders of New Zealand so close you can touch them. Feed, ride, watch and learn all about our farm animals and native wildlife. Roller coasters, castles, water worlds and hair-raising rides offer hours of adrenalin-filled entertainment for the young and the young-at-heart. Adventure seekers will enjoy our downhill luges, car and motorbike races, jet boat sprints, and realistic simulator rides. Many of these experiences are found in Rotorua and are in close proximity to each other.

Casinos
Enjoy the glamour of a night at the casino and the thrill of taking a gamble. Play the machines, try your luck with the dice or test your skill at cards. Kick off with a refreshing cocktail, catch a live show or step out onto the dance floor. You can also savour our fresh Pacific Rim cuisine and award winning wines at one of the many casino restaurants. Auckland's SkyCity Casino is easy to find - just head for the magnificent Sky Tower - one of the tallest in the world (328 metres). SkyCity Casino in Hamilton offers spectacular views of the Waikato River. Dunedin’s casino is located in the historic Grand Hotel, restored to create an opulent Monte Carlo-style atmosphere, and the lively casino at Queenstown is right on the wharf with views of the lake and mountains. The minimum legal age to enter a casino in New Zealand is 20 years.

Hot Pools & Health Spas
There's no better way to click into holiday mode than to soak in a naturally-heated thermal pool or indulge in a relaxing therapeutic treatment. New Zealand is located where two tectonic plates of the earth’s crust meet. This causes a large amount of geothermal activity, allowing warm water to bubble up through the earth’s crust to form hot pools. These pools often contain minerals dissolved from the rocks they seeped through. For centuries locals have enjoyed these hot pools, with some believing that sitting in mineral water helps with medical problems. Others simply enjoy the luxurious feeling of naturally-heated water helping to relax weary bodies.

Arts

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Kiwis aren't only sports mad – many are also passionate about art and culture, getting behind a number of buzzing creative events every year.

Tremains Art Deco Weekend

February, Napier

The beautifully preserved art-deco architecture of the East Coast of the North Island plays host to a stylish celebration every year that’s known as the Art Deco Weekend. Visitors dress in elegant 1920s and 1930s fashion and enjoy a myriad of exciting events, including aerobatic flying displays, a Great Gatsby picnic, dances and free outdoor concerts. Hundreds of vintage cars line the streets of Napier, giving the area a unique and buzzing atmosphere.
 

Auckland Arts Festival

March, Auckland

The bi-annual Auckland Arts Festival celebrates New Zealand’s people and cultural diversity with creations from some of the country’s most innovative artists and performers. Immerse yourself in spectacular dance, theatre, music and visual arts amongst the buzzing atmosphere of New Zealand’s largest city. This 19-day event is family friendly and offers something for everyone. 
 

Matariki

June - July, Nationwide

Matariki is the Maori name for the small cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation that rise during winter. Known as the Maori New Year, Matariki signals a time for connecting and giving thanks to the earth, sky and sea. Matariki celebrations take place throughout the country, and include everything from live music performances, dance, astronomy sessions, lantern parades and carnivals.

Beaches

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If you like beaches and the lifestyle that goes with them, then you're going to love New Zealand.

One of the greatest things about being an island nation is that New Zealand is literally surrounded by beautiful beaches – more than 15,000 km of them, in fact.

New Zealanders are famously laid-back, and the closer you get to the coast, the more chilled-out things become. With all of our major cities situated right on the water, it’s a pretty awesome place to live and visit.

Beaches in New Zealand are extremely diverse and, broadly speaking, can be characterised into two different types – whether they are situated on the East Coast or the West Coast of the country. The coastline along the East Coast is typically white sand and mellow waves; while the pounding Tasman Sea of the West Coast makes beaches on this side of the country somewhat wilder, with black sand. Typically, the further south you go on either coast, the less populated and more remote the beaches become.

Take to the water in a kayak, or hire a board and head to one of the major surfing regions in New Zealand. Or, head out for some fishing – there’s many companies that can get you out on the water and reeling in snapper, kahawai, blue cod and crayfish in a matter of minutes.

If you love coastline and the activities that go with it, you’ll love New Zealand. Check out some of the country’s best beaches in the list below.

New Zealand’s best beaches

Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty 

Less than two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Auckland lies the buzzing surf town of Mount Maunganui, where a white sand beach stretches as far as the eye can see. Enjoy the swimming, surfing and cafes here.

Bay of Islands, Northland

Home to 144 islands and hundreds of untouched white-sand beaches, Northland’s Bay of Islands – a three-hour drive north of Auckland - is a must-see for those that love the sand and sea. Take a boat cruise to see the best islands.

Tawharanui, Auckland

Located in the middle of a regional park an hours’ drive north of Auckland, Tawharanui is the perfect day trip if you’re staying in the city. Two small, secluded bays make up the beach, each with small rocky headlands that are perfect for exploring. If there’s an easterly swell the surf can be good here too.

Raglan, Hamilton-Waikato

Perched on the edge of a beautifully scenic stretch of rugged coastline is Raglan, a beach famous for its left-hand surf break and quirky, creative town.  Raglan is a one-and-a-half hours’ drive south of Auckland on the West Coast.

Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson

Perched at the far north of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park glitters with perfect beaches. There’s spectacular hiking and kayaking on offer here – look out for dolphins and fur seals frolicking just off the coast.

The Coromandel

Where do local kiwis go for their fix of stunning white-sand beaches? The Coromandel Peninsula, that’s where.  A two-hour drive south of Auckland, The Coromandel is home to everything from awesome surf to secluded coves and hot water beaches. Bliss.

Piha, Auckland

Only 30 minutes west from Auckland CBD is the beautifully rugged beach of Piha. The surf can be big here so always swim between the flags, or choose to explore the rainforest behind the  where you’ll find lush native bush and secret waterfalls.

Culture

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Maori are the tangata whenua, the indigenous people, of New Zealand. They came here more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Today Maori make up 14% of our population and their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity. 

As a visitor to New Zealand, you can experience Maori culture by visiting a marae with an organised tour, watching a carving or weaving demonstration or learning about fascinating myths and legends from passionate Maori guides.

Experience Maori traditions in action

The best place to observe Maori culture is on a marae (tribal meeting grounds). In Northland, Auckland, Rotorua and Canterbury, organised tours provide a traditional Maori welcome onto a marae, where you'll hear Maori speeches and singing, see carved meeting houses, meet the local people (you'll greet them with the traditional pressing of noses) and enjoy a hangi feast cooked in earth ovens. You need to be part of a tour to visit a Marae. 

Performing arts

Performing arts or kapa haka, which incorporate harmonious singing, rhythmic dancing, and ferocious Maori war dances or haka, are a must-see for any visitor. Many marae visits and Maori cultural tours include a kapa haka performance, with the most renowned place for these shows being Rotorua in the North Island.

Carving, weaving and tattooing

Other traditional art forms like carving, weaving and tattooing are also alive and well in New Zealand. Precious jewellery and traditional weapons can be found in museums, galleries and artists' workshops throughout the country. If you catch a carving or weaving demonstration, you'll see that many of the techniques remain unchanged since ancient times. And if you find a greenstone (pounamu) adornment you like, make sure you ask someone else to buy it for you – it's good luck to receive pounamu as a gift.

Maori stories and legends

From ancient times Maori knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation through storytelling.  The creation of New Zealand is described by the legend of Maui, a demi-god who, using his magic hook, fished up the North Island. There are plenty of places where you can understand and experience Maori legends – you're guaranteed to be captivated.

Events

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Join in the New Zealand nightlife and celebrate our passion for food and wine, sports, music and more at one of the many local events featured throughout the year.

They’ve got a New Zealand events calendar packed with things to do. Kiwis love events and if you want to see unique culture in action get along to one of our stunning natural venues and rub shoulders with friendly locals.

Beautiful vineyards, lush countryside and everything from majestic mountains to fabulous beaches make perfect settings for all kinds of sporting and cultural events, festivals and concerts.

Explore The Outdoors

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Natural spectacles and unique wildlife encounters are two of New Zealand's biggest draw-cards.

There are few places in the world where, within the space of one day, you can experience mountain vistas, ancient forests, volcanic landscapes and stunning coastline - all whilst spotting New Zealand wildlife found nowhere else on earth.

Whale Watching

You can spot whales throughout New Zealand, including Auckland's beautiful Hauraki Gulf and the wonderful Kaikoura.

Auckland is privileged to witness whales at play in the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Part of the Pacific Ocean, the Hauraki Gulf covers an area of 4000 km² surrounding the Auckland and Coromandel regions.

The park is full of a diverse range of rare and exotic ocean life. For example, the critically endangered Bryde’s whale is one such species that can be found in the Hauraki Gulf. Incredibly, over 25 of the 37 southern hemisphere marine mammals have been identified in the area, which makes up almost a third of the world’s population of these species.

Dolphins

New Zealand has many dolphin species and swimming with dolphins is considered by many visitors to this country one of the best experiences they’ve had.

Dolphins are large, gentle, intelligent creatures who seem to seek out human company, playing, frolicking, even communicating. When you encounter them, swimming or diving, and you spend time with them, you leave entranced, enthralled and, yes, humbled that you had this incredible encounter. You feel privileged.

Of the species, there’s the common dolphin and the large bottle-nosed dolphin which can often be more than three metres in length (it’s all right, they are very gentle). There’s the smaller dusky dolphin is less than two metres long but very playful. And then there’s the Hector’s dolphin, one of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins found only in our waters. There are many dolphin watching and swimming tours. They are all different but the encounters are never less than special. And, to reassure you, the cruise operators take extraordinary care to make sure that the dolphins are not harmed. In many operations part of the tour price goes towards dolphin conservation.

Horse Riding

here is no better way to negotiate the ruggedly beautiful wilderness of New Zealand than on horseback.

Horse Trekking is one of the best ways to truly explore New Zealand – from beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, to snow-capped volcanoes and enchanting native forests. Riding on horseback allows you to get back to nature and enjoy the solitude and harmony of the New Zealand wilderness.

There’s a multitude of horse trekking experiences on offer in New Zealand. Choose from coastal treks along white-sand beaches in Northland or ride under the shadows of snow-topped dormant volcanoes in Ruapehu. If you’re a Middle-earth fan, head to Glenorchy in the South Island, which was used for many filming locations from The Lord of the Rings. Located at the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, Glenorchy offers horse trekking amongst turquoise lakes and the towering peaks of the Southern Alps.

Penguins

New Zealand has three species of penguin. You cannot help but be charmed by these amazing birds that have a character all of their own.

On the land penguins have an ungainly waddle, marching upright like self-important little people. But in the water they take on a new grace, diving and swooping with acrobatic agility.

Of New Zealand's species, the korora, or little blue penguin, is the world’s smallest penguin. You’ll find these little birds, usually when they come ashore at night, in the Marlborough Sounds, Akaroa Harbour, Oamaru, Dunedin and Stewart Island.

The rare hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, is distinguished by its vivid yellow eye band. You’ll find them on the Otago Peninsula, just south of Dunedin and round the Catlins region. Dunedin is where you can find some of the best wildlife tours, giving you an incredible close up view of the penguins, sea lions and fur seals in their natural habitat.

And last, but not least, there’s the Fiordland Crested Penguin (Tawaki). One of the world’s rarest, this beautiful bird lives in the South Island and is found in rainforested areas of Haast, Lake Moeraki, Stewart Island and Fiordland.

Volcanic & Geothermal

Explore places that have been shaped and coloured by volcanic and geothermal forces for thousands of years.

Watch boiling mud pools and feel the heat underfoot from landscapes that hiss with steam.

New Zealand straddles an active fault line where two giant pieces of the earth's surface are in a constant state of collision. In the South Island they meet and push upwards, creating the towering Southern Alps. In the central North Island, one piece is creeping slowly under the other, generating enormous amounts of active subterranean heat and volcanic activity.

Gardens

If you're a keen gardener you will enjoy your visit to New Zealand. A diverse range of plants, both native and exotic, thrive in our temperate climate.

It’s a funny little fact but gardening is rated as one of New Zealanders’ favourite pastimes. Being a long north-south country means that everything from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine grows here. If you’re a keen gardener you will enjoy your visit here.

Many cities and towns have garden tours where you can visit botanic gardens and private gardens alike with the gardeners sharing their love of what they grow and how they grow it. The rural garden tours of Eastland, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Christchurch - Canterbury are often hosted by residents of stately historic homesteads. Visit Kerikeri’s Palmco Gardens and wander through lush sub-tropical splendour. At Matakana’s Villa Tamahunga you’ll see a unique garden that includes olive grove, beautiful bush walks, subtropical pond gardens, rose walk and a sequence of three formally designed terrace gardens below the relocated villa.

Further south, the Hamilton Gardens explores the relationship between people and plants in five themed garden collections. Here, you'll find gardens inspired by places as diverse as India, Italy and China as well as a herb garden and an area devoted entirely to rhododendrons.

Family

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Young or old, there's no shortage of things to do in New Zealand!

Even little ones can go rafting or skiing – these activities aren’t just for grownups. From mini golf to mazes, hot air ballooning to hot pools, there’s plenty for the whole family to experience together.

The great outdoors

New Zealand is best known for stunning untouched natural landscapes – so get out there and embrace them. You’ll find that our mountains, forests and coastlines are all surprisingly accessible. There are countless options for exploring on foot, even with little ones. Easy tracks for day walks abound, whether you’re looking for waterfalls, bush, lakes, cliffs, ocean, forest, or a combination of scenery. Interested in stepping up to some light hiking? There are trails to challenge all levels of trekkers – visit our Walking and Hiking section to learn more.

After sunset, the skies come alive with twinkling lights. Our nightscapes makestargazing in New Zealand a truly magnificent experience. In the South Island, the Dark Sky Reserve has been labelled as one of the best stargazing sites on earth.

Geothermal delights

Underground volcanic and tectonic activity have been shaping our land for thousands of years. As a result, our natural hot pools – particularly around Rotorua – are popular with locals and visitors alike; a soak in the waters of Kerosene Creek or Waiotapu Stream is uniquely relaxing.  Hell’s Gate has the only geothermal mud baths in New Zealand, while Polynesia Spa is world-famous for its lakefront mineral springs. In the Coromandel, head to Hot Water Beach at low tide to dig your own natural warm spa in the sand. Thermal pool complexesare also found at the likes of Waiwera in the north and Hanmer Springs in the south.

Wildlife

New Zealand boasts some of the most unique birdlife in the world – a quarter of our birds are found nowhere else on the planet. As well as the famous flightless kiwi, this is the home of the colourful pukeko and takahe, the melodious tui, and the mischievous kea to name a few. We have three species of penguin, all found in the South Island. You may encounter them in their natural habitats, or in zoos or wildlife parks and sanctuaries.

This is also a fantastic country for whale and dolphin spotting  - the rare Hector’s dolphin is a South Island exclusive. There are sightseeing cruises available wherever these astonishing creatures are found; you can even swim alongside them in the right conditions. See more in our Nature and Wildlife section.

Other family friendly activities include farm tours, horse riding and visiting the Waitomo glowworm caves.

Museums

Get a feel for our history and culture at one of the country’s many museums. Auckland’s MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) is a hit with children and Wanaka’s Transport & Toy Museum appeals to all ages. Every town and city has its own selection of museums, but whatever you do, make time to visit Te Papa – the Museum of New Zealand – in Wellington. Open every day of the year, its collections span art, history, nature, and Maori and Pacific exhibitions, and are renowned for being informative,  innovative, and fun.

Adventure time

There are lots of family friendly activities that still have the thrill factor! Jetboating is suitable for youngsters; even bungy jumping is open to those 10 and over. The minimum age for zorbing – hurtling around in a giant transparent ball – is 6. For something a little more gentle, try the aerial adventure that is ziplining or the part go-kart, part toboggan fun of luging.  

Food

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Indulging in local food and wine is a must-do for many travellers. If gastronomy and the odd tipple are high on your agenda, New Zealand won't disappoint.

New Zealand is a food and wine lover’s paradise. Vineyards stretch throughout every region, chefs put playful local twists on fine cuisine. New Zealand food and wine festivals serve up taste sensations with a side of local music.

World class wine

The Hawkes Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough and Central Otago are signature New Zealand wine regions; explore your pick of 120 vineyards by driving the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. If you’re after a really thorough wine tour, add West Auckland, Gisborne, Canterbury to your itinerary. 

Pacific Rim cuisine

New Zealand food goes way beyond fish and chips and barbeques – our chefs have developed a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine. Expect to indulge in plenty of seafood (like greenlipped mussels, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters and fresh fish), award winning cheeses and of course our famous lamb. You should also expect a laidback, friendly atmosphere wherever you eat; we Kiwis love to keep things casual. 

Fabulous food experiences

For fine dining amid spellbinding scenery, try one of New Zealand’s many remote luxury lodges. For urban eats, try a waterfront restaurant at Auckland’s Viaduct or a bohemian ethnic café in Wellington’s Cuba Quarter. For a truly authentic experience, head to Rotorua for the smoky flavour of Maori food from a traditional hangi earth oven. And if you’re here in the summer months, the wine and food festivals are a must – check out the Kawhia Kai Festival or the West Coast’s Wildfoods Festival for something really adventurous.

Get cooking

Keen to hone your kiwi cooking skills? Take part in a cooking class and learn some local secrets, including Maori cooking using native plants. When shopping for fresh ingredients, remember to stop by a Saturday morning farmers’ market. And for take-home inspiration, pick up a cookbook by one of our celebrity chefs, like Annabel Langbein or Peter Gordon.

Museums

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Museum visits are not about dusty artefacts. In New Zealand, museums provide an educational insight of our culture, history and contemporary themes.

If you want to understand what makes New Zealand tick, visit museums wherever you go. Finding out the why, where, how and who in any town or city adds an extra layer to your travel experience.

Each of our major museums has its own specialities. Auckland Museum is known for an impressive collection of Maori and Polynesian artefacts; Te Papa in Wellington offers a very modern, and often interactive, learning experience; Canterbury Museum has a strong focus on Antarctica; Otago Museum in Dunedin takes an in-depth look at the natural and social history of the South Island. The provincial cities also have plenty to show you - check out Puke Ariki in New Plymouth and the wearable art museum in Nelson.

Small museums also deserve your attention, because they’re often eccentric and surprising. Kauri trees, coal and gold mining, cable cars, caves, toys, volcanic eruptions, army equipment, boats, trains and planes - the subject matter is wonderfully diverse.

National Parks

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New Zealand's 14 national parks showcase more than 30,000 square kilometres of diverse, natural scenery ready to explore by foot, boat, car or air.

Abel Tasman – Known as the finest coastal walk in the country with golden beaches and sculptured granite cliffs surrounded by diverse native forest. Featuring the Abel Tasman Coast Track Great Walk.

Aoraki/Mount Cook – New Zealand's great alpine park with the highest mountains and the largest glaciers.

Arthur's Pass – A park of contrasts, with dry beech/tawhai forest in the east and luxuriant rainforest on western slopes.

Egmont – Dominated by the 2518m high volcanic peak of Mt Taranaki (also known as Mt Egmont), which offers a challenging climb and spectacular views.

Fiordland – One of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere with The Kepler, Milford and Routeburn tracks, each highlighting different aspects of this spectacular park.

Kahurangi – Covering the West Coast at the top of the South Island it includes the Heaphy Track, the longest of the country’s Great Walks. 

Mount Aspiring – Straddling the southern end of the Southern Alps it’s a walker's paradise and a must for mountaineers. The three largest of 100 glaciers in the region flank Mount Aspiring itself.

Nelson Lakes – Protects the northern-most Southern Alps and offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small.

Paparoa – Most famous for the Pancake Rocks and blowholes of Dolomite Point, near the settlement of Punakaiki.

Rakiura National Park – Explore pristine beaches, sheltered inlets, and coastal forest, and see seals, penguins, kiwi, weka and many other birds. Makes up about 85 percent of Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Te Urewera – Most famous for its remote, rugged forest and lakes, it includes the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.

Tongariro – A dual World Heritage area and a place of extremes and surprises; featuring active volcanoes and the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk.

Westland Tai Poutini – Extends from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps to the rugged and remote beaches of the wild West Coast. 

Whanganui – Tramping tracks through wild lowland forests and riv

Restaurants

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Talented Kiwi chefs, innovative cuisine, top wines, are helping New Zealand develop a reputation in the world of fine cuisine.

The creative individuals inspiring this food revolution include not only internationally and locally renowned chefs, but also dedicated producers of award-winning New Zealand wines and foods.

Luxury lodges

Fine cuisine is an essential part of the experience offered by luxury lodges throughout New Zealand.

Over the southern hemisphere autumn / winter season, weekends for high-end foodies are a regular feature on the calendar for luxury destinations Huka Lodge (Taupo), Kauri Cliffs (Northland), The Farm (Hawke’s Bay), Matakauri and Blanket Bay (Queenstown).

North Island gastro destinations

Visitors to Auckland can sample Peter Gordon’s cuisine in ‘dine with Peter Gordon’ at the bottom of the SkyTower, or have a casual meal just around the corner in Gordon’s tapas style Bellota bar.

Top Auckland restaurants include the likes of ClooneyMerediths and The French Café but some of the city’s top hotels are also renowned for their cuisine.

The Langham Auckland has added eight new restaurants offering a culinary journey of world cuisine, while The Heritage Auckland has an ethical take on dining with a new vegetarian / vegan eco-gastronomy menu designed for sustainability and health.

International traveller awards often recognise Wharekauhau Country Estate - on a 5,000-acre working sheep station in the Martinborough wine-growing region - for its warm country hospitality and cuisine that features produce from the kitchen garden and home-produced texel lamb.

Wellington’s vibrant dining scene includes award-winning restaurants such asMartin Bosley’s - a waterfront icon where Chef Bosley creates his own style of cuisine wizardry. There’s also a huge choice of more casual dining in the city’s prolific cafés.

South Island gastro destinations

Christchurch’s Pescatore - overlooking Hagley Park from The George Hotel - is an iconic southern gastro destination with a wine list described as ‘outstanding’ by Wine Spectatormagazine. Under head chef Reon Hobson, Pescatore offers contemporary dining that marries classical cuisine with the latest food techniques.

A couple of hours south of Christchurch, Fleur’s Place is a little restaurant on the jetty in Moeraki Bay - a beach that’s otherwise famed for its curious rock formations, and which also supplies the fish for Fleur Sullivan’s celebrated kitchen. Like the menu, the restaurant is a simple rustic construction built with taste.

In nearby Oamaru, gourmets should also check out Riverstone Kitchen - winner of the Cuisine magazine 2010 NZ Restaurant of the Year - and Fleur’s newly-opened Loan & Merc slow food restaurant in the whitestone heritage precinct.

Among Queenstown’s plethora of fine and casual dining options, luxury hotel The Rees under the direction of young British chef Ben Batterbury offers an exceptional regional dining experience. Batterbury - who developed his talents at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford - has created the 'True South' menu based on premium local produce matched to an enormous private wine cellar. 

Shopping

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Go shopping in New Zealand and immerse yourself in bustling markets, artisan foods, designer labels and gifts infused with cultural uniqueness and beauty.

If shopping is one of your favourite pastimes, it could easily occupy much of your trip. But then you'd risk missing out on all the other things there are to see and do in New Zealand.

New Zealand's individuality is not only expressed through stunning landscapes and scenery. If you have a long list of gifts to buy you'll be impressed by the high quality, and range, of souvenirs on offer. From gorgeous pounamu (jade) ornaments and jewellery, hand-crafted glass and local wood products, to beautiful merino or possum knitwear and sheepskins - you'll easily find something special for even the hardest-to-please. 

For a little indulgence fill your suitcase with a selection of other delicious Kiwi goodies. Premium, botanical skin care products, New Zealand manuka honey, world-class wines or artisan olive and avocado oils. You'll also find a great range of Kiwiana (quirky Kiwi icons) and arts and crafts at local markets along your way. 

If you're not limited to only buying gifts for others and fancy yourself a fashionista, indulge in a little retail therapy and seek out New Zealand's world-class, home-grown designers. Karen Walker, Zambesi, Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester and World are some of the well-known Kiwi labels on the international fashion circuit.

For younger, edgy fashion look out for labels Huffer, Ruby, Madame Hawke and Storm. And stores Icebreaker, Untouched World and Macpac specialise in top-quality gear perfect for exploring the great outdoors.

Sports

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Sports lovers rejoice - New Zealand offers a raft of activities for energetic bodies and minds!

Whether you choose to participate or spectate, New Zealand is a sports mad country and you can lap it all up. Join the locals at a game of rugby or relax on a world-class golf course.

Golf

New Zealand has a long history with golf as Scottish pioneers introduced the game over a century ago. In recent times, New Zealand's become home to world class courses and state of the art facilities.

With dramatic scenery, greenery, long stretches of coast and soaring mountains, New Zealand is a natural playground. Golf courses such as Kauri Cliffs and Jack’s Point have been designed to make the most of the natural terrain and to show off the best scenery.

Rugby

From grass roots to international super-teams, rugby forms the sporting backbone of New Zealand, and Kiwis are proud and passionate rugby fans.

Rising from cities, small towns and country paddocks, no part of New Zealand’s landscape is quite complete without a set of Rugby goal posts. There are signs of the sport at every corner, whether it’s a young boy perfecting his kick at the park or a proud supporter wearing his team’s shirt to the mall, you can’t help but be captivated by the game.

Rugby was introduced to New Zealand in 1870 by Charles Monro. Born near Nelson, Monro studied in England before returning home. He introduced the game to friends in Nelson, which lead to the first rugby game being played at Botanical Reserve, Nelson (a sign now stands on the ground to commemorate the game).

Today, rugby is part of Kiwi culture, with four major events dominating our annual sporting calendar. You can hear the mighty Haka echo throughout stadiums as the All Blacks take on our sporting rivals in the Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup competitions. Locally, regional teams battle it out for the title of national rugby champions in the Super 15 and ITM Cup competitions. 

Motorcycling

If you were born to be wild, rent a motorcycle and cruise New Zealand’s famously scenic roads.

Imagine sweeping along the graceful, rainforested curves of the West Coast highway to Haast, or blasting along the Desert Road past the huge volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. With well-engineered and maintained roads, New Zealand is beautifully suited to two-wheel travel.

Motorcycle rental companies can tempt you with favourite marques such as Harley Davidson, BMW, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki. One-way hire may be available, depending on the rental company you choose.

If you don’t want to go it alone, touring companies operate guided or semi-guided adventures in both the main islands. You can even organise a dirt bike tour or an elegant cruise in a side-car. Some companies also offer pillion tours for non-riders.

You can legally ride in New Zealand for up to 12 months if you have either a current motorcycle licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). 

Cycling & Mountain Biking

New Zealand is a great destination for an active cycling or mountain biking break, with accessible riding trails and tracks near most cities and towns. You are guaranteed a cycling holiday to remember, with a fresh experience, panoramic view or beautiful landscape to be found around each bend.

The mostly off-road 23 Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail introduce both recreational cyclists and passionate mountain bikers to nature, national parks and constantly-changing scenery. Make interesting detours to enjoy arts and culture, a warm l

What kind of vacation would you like to take?