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Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most densely populated city, and makes a great base to use while exploring North Island. This is one of the nation’s most cosmopolitan cities, and visitors will find a large number of cultural attractions here such as museums and art galleries, while Auckland also boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.
New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington is set in the stunningly beautiful Wellington Harbour. The main attraction here is The Museum of New Zealand, which is also known locally as Te Papa Tongarewa, while the city’s restaurants, shopping venues, bars and clubs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s particularly noted for its arty culture, small city feel and pretty vistas such as from the funicular in the Botanical Gardens.
The main gateway to the South Island, Christchurch features a strong English atmosphere, making this an enchanting place for visitors to explore. The main city centre is based around Cathedral Square, where visitors will find a whole host of colonial buildings as well as shopping centres and restaurants, while pristine sandy beaches and stunning ski centres can be found just a short drive away. Sadly, the February 2011 Earthquake shattered this, and much of the central district remains under renovation, with some historic buildings in ruins. However, there are some fabulous nearby attractions such as the French settler town of Akaroa.
The oldest settlement on South Island, Nelson is a stunning coastal city and the perfect place for nature lovers to use as a base. A large number of breathtakingly beautiful natural features can be reached from here, including Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay, while the city itself offers abundant attractions including Miyazu Japanese Garden, Tahunanui Beach and Christ Church Cathedral Nelson.
The city of Napier can be found on the North Island’s Hawke’s Bay on the east coast and is famed for its eye-catching Art Deco architecture. Those with a love for beautiful buildings will be in their element here, and taking the Art Deco tour is a must, while foodies are sure to want to meet with other like-minded visitors to indulge in one of the locally run food and wine tours, which introduce them to Hawke's Bay wines as well as locally produced cheeses.
Famed for its intense natural beauty, New Zealand is the perfect destination for those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors. Known as Aotearoa in the Maori language, New Zealand consists of dramatic natural features such as volcanoes, large lakes, mountains and waterfalls, and has earned several evocative nicknames over the years, including the Paradise of the Pacific and God’s own country.
The nation of New Zealand is divided into two halves, namely North Island and South Island, while there are also several smaller satellite islands for visitors to explore. This land of contrasts is a real haven for nature lovers, who can take their pick from soaking up the sun on pristine sandy beaches in the summer months, hiking through the countryside or speeding down stunning ski slopes in the winter.
In addition to its diverse natural beauty, New Zealand is also rich in culture, and the native Maori people still play a prominent role here. Visitors to the country will have abundant opportunities to learn about the unique and fascinating world of the Maori people, which can be seen in their distinctive artwork, music and a wide range of other ways.
The tourist infrastructure is highly developed in New Zealand, and those who want to take part in group activities will have plenty of opportunities to try out adventure activities such as hiking, white water rafting, bungee jumping and much more. However, those who prefer to go it alone will also find that it is easy to hire the vehicle of their choice and set about exploring the country at their own pace.
New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world for visitors to explore. Even in large cities such as Wellington and Auckland the crime rate is extremely low, which means that even solo travellers should be able to stay safe while they take in all that New Zealand has to offer.
When to go
The summer months of November through to April are the best time to visit for those who enjoy spending time in the Great Outdoors, although prices of hotels and other amenities tends to rise at this time of year along with the number of tourists. Between December and February is a particularly good time to visit, as a range of vibrant food and wine festivals are held throughout New Zealand at this time of year.
The skiing season runs from June through to August, with July being the coldest month of the year. While this is the perfect time to head to the Southern Alps and the mountainous northern region of the country, visitors who explore the country’s coastal towns at this time of year are sure to find that most tourist orientated businesses as well as other amenities have closed for the winter season.
Why to go
1. Drive around the Bay of Islands to discover natural attractions such as Ninety Mile Beach and the Kauri forests as well as historic sites like Waitangi and Russell.
2. Visit Lake Taupo to try your hand at trout fishing as well as other outdoor pursuits such as skiing and mountaineering and embark on a hiking trip to witness the beauty of the local volcanic crater.
3. Check out the ski resorts located on the mighty Mount Hutt, or travel here in the summer months to go hiking through the enchanting mountain valleys.
4. Travel to New Zealand in February to get caught up in the magic of Waitangi Day. This is New Zealand’s national day, and the whole country comes to life, with colourful parades, marching bands and all manner of other celebrations.
5. Go whale watching and swim with dolphins in the waters that can be found close to charming coastal town of Kaikoura.
6. Explore Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to take in stunning natural views from the top of Mount Tasman as well as a number of other spectacular peaks.
7. Culture vultures will want to visit New Zealand in November to take part in the 10-day Nelson Arts Festival.
8. Get your adrenaline pumping by white water rafting along the rivers of the enchanting beautiful Fox Glacier Township.