Surrounded by tranquil golden beaches, lush forests and dramatic coastal trails, Auckland is a nature lover's paradise. The 48 volcanic cones that dot the surrounding area provide stunning panoramic views of the city and harbor. New Zealand's largest city is also a shopper's paradise offering everything from top designers to local open-air markets. Learn about the indigenous Maori and take home some native art pieces or jewellery. The fine, locally produced woolens also make excellent gifts.
Go walk-about and explore Tauranga, set on the beautiful Bay of Plenty. And indeed there are plenty of things to do. Head to the beach or discover Tauranga's lovely parks and rich history. Visit a village buried by a volcanic eruption and captured in a moment of time - a fascinating yet moving experience. Take a selfie at Hell's Gate, an aptly named geothermal park with boiling pools, fantastic geysers and mud baths, the largest of which is Poutamu, "the stairway to heaven."
Napier calls itself the Art Deco capital of the world, but it's also a leading wine-travel destination. Leveled by an earthquake in 1931, Napier was rebuilt in Art Deco style. Along with Miami Beach, Napier is one of the best examples of this style, with many of its structures well preserved. Take a walk down Marine Parade, a tree-lined ocean boulevard with fountains and gardens, or go out to the country to enjoy the lovely vistas, tour superb area vineyards and relax with a glass of wine.
Travel to a Victorian past as you stroll by the city's Victorian Gothic buildings. Take the cable car up the mountain for a fantastic view, or grab some sunscreen and head to the beach. Great views abound in Wellington: Journey around the spectacular harbor and enjoy its amazing views. See some of the sites where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. Shopping opportunities are plentiful, with arts and crafts, jewellery, fine woolens and leather goods on offer.
Built around a sheltered harbor, Picton is lined with cafés and restaurants for you to choose from (we suggest the fish and chips). Popular attractions in Picton include a maritime museum and an aquarium. But this town is not short on recreational activities. Some of Picton's favourite pastimes include fishing, dolphin watching and sea kayaking. Walk or bike the Queen Charlotte Track or spend the day exploring the scenic Marlborough Sounds. Check out one of the many wine tours (probably after biking the track). Then relax as you browse the local shops that offer a wide range of trinkets, including handmade jewellery, paintings from local artists and woodcarvings. Before leaving Picton, it's time for more fish and chips along the shore. It's the Picton way!
Just 20 minutes from the centre of Christchurch city, Lyttelton is a charming port town with a long history. Back in 1850, the first European settlers landed in Christchurch before heading over the Port Hills to establish their new home. Today, Lyttelton is accessed by an impressive road tunnel. It's a vibrant town, home to a small community of 3,000 residents, filled with bohemian artists, cafés, restaurants and unique shops to discover.
This dramatic South Island coastal town offers a mix of unique natural beauty and fascinating history. Rare, yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and the Royal Albatross all call Dunedin home. Equally impressive is the Victorian and Edwardian architecture that dates from its days as a gold rush town. New Zealand's only castle sits high above the city and offers sweeping views from its famous gardens. Shop for a locally made souvenir, with crafts, artwork, wool and leather items being popular.
Although technically not a sound (it's a fjord), Doubtful Sound is the second longest in New Zealand-and the country's second most famous tourist attraction. It does, however, capture the top spot for being the deepest, at over 1,300 feet. Doubtful Sound sits at the far southwest corner of the country and winds its way for 24 miles, past small islets and lush mountains covered in dense, native rainforest. With a staggering amount of precipitation, up to 240 inches, it's no wonder that it's so verdant, and also why most days are wet and misty with low-lying clouds. But where there is rain, there are rainbows, which makes for spectacular scenes, especially at the many waterfalls, some of which fall over 2,000 feet. Doubtful Sound is also home to fur seals, crested penguins, bottlenose dolphin and whales. Black coral even grows here at relatively shallow depths (35 feet) thanks to the sunlight's inability to penetrate the top layer of freshwater, stained heavy with tannins from the forests.
Sydney's harbor is the hub from which there's much to see and do. You'll want to explore this area, home of the iconic Opera House. Admire the skyline, swim at a harbor beach or cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Want to see surfing? Grab your sunblock and towel and spend the day on world-famous Bondi Beach, or take a scenic walk on the coast from Bondi to Coogee Beach. The Rocks district is a shopper's mecca offering a wide variety of goods, from woodcrafts and unique art to outback fashions.