Discover new Zealand
Kia ora form NZ
A quick guide
Auckland offers an urban environment where most people live within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping, and you’re beginning to get the picture of Auckland, New Zealand, our largest and most diverse city.
More than just a city, Auckland is a whole region full of things to see and do. With so many experiences close by it’s easy to hop from one adventure to the next.
Nature and Outdoors
Auckland’s diverse landscapes provide countless opportunities to be immersed in nature. In the west, lush native rainforest plunges down the hills to meet the sea on dramatic black sand beaches, while the east’s sheltered golden sand beaches are fringed with red-flowering pohutukawa trees. To the north, the rolling hills of wine country meet stunning coastlines. In the south, you’ll find picturesque country gardens, unspoilt forest and tranquil bays to explore.
New Zealand’s Auckland region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, which provide spectacular panoramic views of the city and harbour. Many are surrounded by lush parkland, making them perfect picnic spots. Rangitoto Island, just a 25-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, is the region’s most iconic volcano and a favourite day-trip destination for visitors, hikers and bird watchers.
Hauraki Gulf and Islands
Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park encompasses an incredible 1.2 million hectares of coast, sea and islands.
The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke Island, a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, farmland and golden beaches – and only a 40-minute ferry ride away from downtown Auckland. Sip on award-winning wines at some of the 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, enjoy fine dining and pick up superb local artwork.
Make sure you get out on the water while you’re here, whether it’s a relaxing harbour cruise, a fishing charter, whale and dolphin spotting, diving, kayaking the gulf(opens in new window) or surfing.
Shopping and dining
Auckland is a shopaholic’s paradise, with everything from top-end designers to open-air street markets. Discover the diverse range of cafes and restaurants offering cuisine from around the globe and check out the buzzing nightlife of the central city. Favourite spots include Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct Harbour, the Britomart precinct and City Works Depot.
Once you’ve seen the city, head out to one of Auckland’s beautiful wine regions where you can sample local wines against the backdrop of vine-covered hills and sparkling ocean.
Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing our fascinating Māori culture.
From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and explosive geysers, Rotorua has it all. The city offers a raft of attractions and experiences for everyone from adventure-seekers to those just looking to unwind.
Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud pools, clouds of steam, and natural hot springs perfect for bathing and relaxing in. After marvelling at the distinctive landscapes and volcanic activity within a geothermal park, enjoy a simple soak in a natural hot stream or indulge in a wellness getaway at a luxurious spa.
1. Wing your way to geothermal wonders – Explore Rotorua’s geothermal valleys from the air with Volcanic Air and step foot onto the summit of Mount Tarawera or view the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave. You can enjoy a scenic floatplane flight over Lake Rotoiti and experience a water landing then soak in the secluded hot pools usually only accessible by boat or a five-hour walk.
2. Get your adrenaline pumping – Head to Velocity Valley for a day of jam-packed family adventure. Here you can ride a BMX bike into a huge airbag, try a reverse bungy, Swoop from 40 metres in the air or race your mates on the Shweeb Racer, the only pedal-powered monorail track in the world. Zip through the water at a speed of 100 kilometres on the Agrojet or try the Xtreme Freefall – it’s like skydiving without the plane.
3. Explore Waimangu Volcanic Valley – Enjoy an up-close-and-personal experience of the geothermal wonderland at Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Explore the valley with a self-guided eco-tour along crater walkways and a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana – the home of the Pink and White Terraces. Kayak your way around the lake and weave your way through Steaming Cliffs on a guided tour.
4. Raft down a seven metre high waterfall – The Kaituna River meanders its way through the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty regions and is home to Tutea Falls, a thundering seven metres high waterfall. Kaitiaki Adventures can take you over the edge during their Grade 4 or 5 white water rafting trips. No rafting experience is needed – just a sense of adventure and a change of clothes.
5. Feel the warm embrace of Māori culture – Gain insight into Māori culture and the myths and legends of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at Te Puia. Here you can witness Pōhutu Geyser explode hot water into the air, and see students create traditional carved masterpieces at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, then top off the day with a hearty hāngī.
6. Zipline through a 119-year-old forest – Zipline your way around prehistoric native forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours and weave your way through the trees as you walk across 20 metre high suspension bridges. If you’re wondering what to do at night, head to Redwoods Treewalk and step into a captivating world of colour and light on the Redwoods Nightlights tour. This is an experience the whole family will enjoy.
7. Mountain bike the Whakarewarewa Forest – The network of nearly 200 kilometres of purpose-built mountain biking trails in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is world-famous and received Gold Status by the International Mountain Biking Association. They have also been voted the best mountain biking in the Southern Hemisphere by Red Bull. Let the team at Mountain Bike Rotorua take care of all of the logistics and get ready for some epic riding.
8. Race downhill on the luge – Strap on a helmet and feel the rush of a speedy downhill ride in your own luge at Skyline Rotorua. Start slow on the beginners scenic track through the Redwoods Forest, and work your way up to the more challenging intermediate and advanced tracks. Enjoy the views as the chair lift takes you back to the top, take the whole family or race your mates to the bottom.
9. Indulge in a therapeutic hot pool or mud bath – Settle into the lakeside setting at Polynesian Spa and soak in the mineral spring hot pools that can relieve aches and pains and nourish the skin. Or cleanse your mind and body with the ancient practice of lathering geothermal mud over the body, followed by a soak in the sulphur spa at Hell’s Gate.
10. Become a human bubble – Have you ever imagined rolling down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball? Tick it off your bucket list and head to ZORB Rotorua, the only place to zorb in New Zealand. Choose from four thrilling tracks – go straight down the hill, tackle the six corners on the Sidewinder Track, swing and drop your way down on the Big Drop Track or take on the extreme Mega Track, the steepest in the world!
The subtropical Northland region of New Zealand stretches upwards from Auckland to the very top of New Zealand. Take a journey along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway to the iconic Bay of Islands, as well as the Kauri Coast, the Far North, and Whangarei.
Northland is a story of two coastlines – the west coast is rugged and soulful while the east coast is relatively more sophisticated and urbane.
In the beautiful Bay of Islands you can take a boat cruise, view dolphins, dive, fish or just relax in the sun. Be sure to visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites.
1. Learn about the Treaty of Waitangi – Take a guided tour through the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds where you can be challenged by Māori warriors, admire the giant waka (Māori war canoe) and expansive views over the Pacific Ocean before enjoying a hearty meal cooked in a hangi (earth oven). Discover fascinating exhibitions and state-of-the-art learning spaces at Te Kōngahu – Museum of Waitangi.
2. Dive into the Poor Knights Islands – Just offshore from Tutukaka lies the Poor Knights Islands – rated one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. Explore a mecca of diverse fish life, colourful underwater plants and rocky volcanic outcrops. Go snorkeling or diving with Dive! Tutukaka, or explore via stand up paddle-board.
3. Explore the top of the North – The Tasman Sea meets the mighty Pacific Ocean at Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, a must-see when in New Zealand. Tours are operated by a number of companies, including Fullers GreatSights. Near the tip of Cape Reinga are the Te Paki Sand Dunes, the largest of their kind in the Southern Hemisphere. While the climb to the top is a challenge, it’s made all worth it with the adrenaline rush of surfing down them via boogie board. Not far is Ninety Mile Beach, a seemingly never-ending stretch of sand stretching along the western tip of the North Island. Officially a highway, the best way to explore the beach is by guided coach tour from Kaitaia or Paihia.
4. Discover the Waipoua Forest – Embark on an intimate tour with Footprints Waipoua, one of two New Zealand experiences featured in Lonely Planet’s guide to authentic travel ‘Code Green: Experiences of a Lifetime‘. Come face to face with Tāne Mahuta – God of the Forest and New Zealand’s largest Kauri tree. Experience the ancient forest with local Māori guides and learn how the forest plays an important role in the lives of local Māori and the eco-system. Learn more about our kauri forests and kauri trade at the Kauri Museum.
5. Walk in the foot steps of great ancestor, Kupe – Manea, on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour, shares the stories and traditions of the great ancestor, Kupe. Experience a 75-minute multisensory journey of guided storytelling – through large scale artworks, film, performance, digital interaction, and the spectacular Hokianga environment. Explore more of the Hokianga.
6. Cycle from Coast to Coast – Soak up the sun by peddle power as you explore old historic settlements, coastal views, lush forests and fascinating cultural sights on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, stretching from the Bay of Islands’ east coast to the Hokianga Harbour in the west.
7. Explore the Islands – Glide across the glistening waters of the Bay of Islands on Explore’s Discover the Bay Trip. See the spectacular scenery, get up close to the Cape Brett cliffs and travel through the iconic Hole in the Rock. Stop at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island to explore the islands swimming spots and fully licensed cafe.
The Bay of Islands has a vast range of activities including scenic heli-flights, boat cruises, walking tracks, kayaks, paddle boarding, and sailing.
8. Enjoy a drink at the Duke of Marlborough in Russell – A short ferry ride from Paihia, Russell a charming seaside town steeped in early New Zealand history. The country’s first capital, Russell is home to the Duke of Marlborough bar & restaurant – which holds New Zealand’s first liquor license. Enjoy a glass of New Zealand wine while overlooking views of the bay. Northland has a range of food and beverage offerings including wineries, produce stalls, and farmers markets. With its subtropical climate, the North makes for a great place to source fresh produce.
9. Visit the Whangarei Falls – Located 10 minutes drive from Whangarei City centre, you’ll find the wonderous Whangarei Falls. A 26m high waterfall surrounded by park, native New Zealand bush and walkways. Other renowned walking tracks and waterfalls in the Northland region include Rainbow Falls, Mount Manaia, Te Paki Coastal Track, and the Cape Brett Track.
10. Northland Journeys – Explore the region more with Northland Journeys on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. Choose from one of seven half-to-full day road and water-based journeys that give self-drive visitors a reason to stay longer, see more, and do more along the way. Discover the roads less travelled – spectacular coastlines, marine reserves, kauri forests and two oceans that collide make the North an iconic destination.
Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington, New Zealand, was recently named “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet.
.Surrounded by nature and fuelled by creative energy, Wellington is a compact city with a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine. Fuel your visit with strong coffee and world-class craft beer – Wellingtonians are masters of casual dining, with plenty of great restaurants, night markets and food trucks.
Relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the many museums, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbour and surrounding hills. Try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top.
On the waterfront itself you’ll find New Zealand’s national museum. Te Papa, as it’s colloquially known, means ‘our place’ and is one of the best interactive museums in the world.
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, hours from the nearest town, Milford Sound is where plunging cliffs and raging waterfalls meet inky dark waters. This is New Zealand’s wild side at its absolute best.
Famously described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages.
Breathtaking in any weather, the fiord’s cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres.
When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
Explore Milford Sound on a coach and cruise tour, go kayaking, or lace up your walking shoes and tackle some of the stunning tracks in the area.
Cruise Milford Sound
Boat cruises – during the day or overnight – are an excellent way to experience the Sound. Adventurous types might also like to head out sea kayaking, diving or flightseeing. To learn more about the local marine life, visit the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove and marvel at the black coral, 11-legged sea stars and delicate anemones.
Go kayaking in Milford Sound
Milford Sound & Fiordland’s land-before-time landscapes are best explored by kayak. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bottlenose dolphin or fur seal.
Kayaking offers paddlers an unforgettable opportunity to see the region’s spectacular fiords at sea level as well as explore untouched waterways and lakes.
Paddle up close to the thundering Sutherland Falls, which rank as some of the tallest in the world, and see if you can spot some of the local resident wildlife – dolphins, seals, and the Fiordland Crested Penguin call the region home. For the truly adventurous, enjoy an overnight kayaking adventure in Doubtful Sound.
The regions of Christchurch and Canterbury are set against the majestic backdrops of both alps and ocean.
From lush vineyards and wild coastlines to sky-piercing mountains and pristine glacial lakes, Canterbury is a region of remarkable contrasts and a haven for those seeking incredible scenery and adventure.
Journey through the Southern Alps by train, investigate the night sky in the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve or get up close with whales in Kaikōura.
Watch the steam rise amid murmurs of conversation as you sit back and relax in Hanmer Springs’ natural hot pools, explore boutique galleries and hidden bays in Akaroa and Banks Peninsula or enjoy the delights of the North Canterbury wine region.
Or, take in the turquoise lakes, powerful glaciers and the sky-piercing alps of the Mackenzie district and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
The region of Christchurch-Canturbury stretches from Mackenzie country around Lake Tekapo as far north as Kaikōura. Between rugged coastlines and mountainous national parks, you’ll find never run out of things to do.
See street art in Christchurch City
After the devastating earthquakes in 2011, Christchurch was rebuilt as a more creative and funky urban centre. Wander through the streets admiring the colourful murals that tell stories of the city’s resilience and indomitable spirit.
Walk the Hooker Valley Track
The Hooker Valley Track, in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, is one of the finest half-day walks in the region. You’ll get to spot the peak of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook, across a glacial lake scattered with ice bergs.
Stop by Lake Tekapo to gaze at the stars
The deep blue depths of Lake Tekapo make this an irresistible stopover on your Mackenzie Country road trip. Make sure you step outside at night time to catch a glimpse of the spectacularly clear skies and bright stars.
Go whale watching in Kaikōura
Hop onboard a boat in Kaikōura for your chance to see passing sperm whales, orcas, and dolphins.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most exciting destinations. Surrounded by towering mountains, positioned on the edge of a lake, Queenstown is a hub of adventure, thrumming with adrenaline and an omnipresent sense of fun.
Whether you like to indulge your inner explorer or simply relax and enjoy the finer things in life, you’ll be able to craft your perfect itinerary from Queenstown, the perfect base for exploring the area.
With a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, Queenstown is the home of the ultimate adventure bucket list. There’s skiing from winter right through to spring, and activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round. It is also a renowned cycling destination, providing everything from easy scenic tracks to backcountry trails, road rides to heli-biking and the Southern Hemisphere’s only gondola accessed downhill mountain biking.
If hardcore adventure isn’t your thing, there are plenty of mellow options available. Experience one of the many walking and hiking trails, sightseeing tours or indulge yourself with spa treatments, boutique shopping and excellent food and wine.
A popular holiday spot at any time of the year, Queenstown is renowned for its four distinctive seasons. Winter brings crisp, blue-sky days, spring retains the snow but blooms into longer, warmer days, summer offers sunshine and long twilights, and autumn a burst of brilliant red and gold.
Head out of Queenstown and the drama of the Central Otago landscape unfolds around you. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan you’ll recognise many Middle‑earth™ locations here. Nearby Arrowtown’s gold-mining history is alive and vibrant; visit the Lakes District Museum or go gold panning. At the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu is rural Glenorchy and Paradise Valley. From here it’s a short drive into the Mt Aspiring National Park and the start of some of New Zealand’s great walks.
There are two words that best describe Hawke’s Bay and they are Wine Country – but there is much more than wine to this sunny region.
Blessed with fertile soils and a warm, temperate climate, Hawke’s Bay is among New Zealand’s leading producers of wine; notably red wines – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah – and stunning chardonnays. Hawke’s Bay is the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, and is a popular place for bicycle wine tours with many of the region’s 30+ cellar doors, and numerous artisan producers, connected by 200km of flat, easy riding cycle trails.
Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s Art Deco capital, with the cities of Napier and Hastings rebuilt in the architectural styles of the time following the devastating 1931 earthquake. Year-round guided tours and vintage car rides are surpercharged each February as tens of thousands flock to participate in the week-long Art Deco Festival.
Notable landmarks include Cape Kidnappers, home to the world’s largest mainland colony of gannets; Lake Waikaremoana, where the walking track is among New Zealand’s nine Great Walks; and Te Mata Peak, with its 360 degree views of Hawke’s Bay and spectacular walking tracks.
Explore wineries, sample locally-produced fare and marvel at the Art Deco architecture. Check out these top experiences in Hawke’s Bay.
Sip award-winning wine
Often likened to Bordeaux in France, Hawke’s Bay is famed for its full-bodied red wines. Hire a bike and taste your way around some of the region’s 72 vineyards, including the award-winning Te Mata Estate Winery(opens in new window) and Craggy Range(opens in new window). Stop for lunch at Church Road Winery(opens in new window) or Mission Estate(opens in new window), New Zealand’s oldest winery.
Stroll along Marine Parade
Stretching 3km of Napier coastline, Marine Parade is the best place to take in the sea views with a walk or bike ride along the promenade. Stop for a bite to eat in one of many cafes and bars that line the walkway, or call into MTG Hawke’s Bay(opens in new window), a museum, theatre and gallery in one.
Taste artisan fare
Visit a local farmers’ market(opens in new window) and stroll among the stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, artisan bread, cheese and meats, before finding a shady spot to picnic. You’ll also find seasonal produce for sale by the roadside, often just with an honesty box for payment.
Explore Art Deco architecture
When a devastating earthquake destroyed Napier in 1931, the city was rebuilt in the style of the times – Art Deco. Relieve the opulent era of jazz, boaters and beads at the annual Art Deco Festival(opens in new window) or take a guided tour of the spectacular architecture in a vintage car(opens in new window) or by road train.
Visit the gannets at Cape Kidnappers
With sweeping views, dramatic cliffs and Australasia’s largest mainland gannet colony, it’s little wonder Cape Kidnappers is so popular with visitors and locals alike. Visit the impressive sandstone headland on foot, on a tractor trailer or paddle there by kayak.
Hike or bike up Te Mata Peak
At nearly 400 metres above sea level, you are guaranteed panaromic views from the summit of Te Mata Peak. Hike, bike or drive to the top and marvel at the hang gliders soaring high above the majestic Heretaunga Plains.
Attend the Food and Wine Classic
Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Class (F.A.W.C) is a highlight in the Hawke’s Bay calendar. Taking place twice a year, restaurants, cafes and pop-up venues get in on the action, promising delicious food, award-winning wine and great entertainment.
Explore the cycle trails
Hawke’s Bay Trails combine more than 200km of tracks that are helpfully split into themes (water, landscapes and wineries). You can visit all of Hawke’s Bay’s attractions by bike – cycle by the seaside, venture to the vineyards or explore the countryside. With flat, easy trails for all levels, it’s the best way to experience the stunning region.
Dunedin is a region of unique landscapes and fascinating cultural history. Enjoy getting close to rare wildlife and soaking up the quirky city vibe.
Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin wears its Scottish heritage with pride. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
There is so much to see and do in Dunedin from the heritage buildings to the rare wildlife to the spectacular landscapes. Drive up the Otago Peninsula where the views are endless, and the beaches are beautifully rugged. Nestled at the foot of Taiaroa Head is the Royal Albatross Centre(opens in new window), the only place in the world on the mainland where you can view Northern Royal Albatross in their natural habitat.
On Dunedin’s doorstep, you will also find incredible wildlife including the world’s rarest penguin colonies. On the beaches, you will find the fur seals and sea lions just lazing around and enjoying their natural habitat.
Dunedin’s heritage extends to a real castle, high on the hills of the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle and much-loved piece of Dunedin history.
Head further south, and you join the Southern Scenic Route, a must-do of the South Island that follows the wild coast down to Invercargill and then north-west to Manapouri and Te Anau.