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Travel ideas

Travel ideas



the magazine for travellers, explorers & daydreamers



30 +

insider tips locals share their secrets

N E W Z E A L A N D E D I T I O N / Issue # 7

Raw beauty

incredible natural wonders


Auckland hotspots / Maori culture /






Travel ideas at t h e f r o n t

04 Map of NZ

Bringing you a bigger, better Trans-Tasman network.

Where we’ve been and what we’ve seen.

06 Travel desk


The latest news from New Zealand: culture corner, eat like a local, record-breaking facts and more.

f eat ur es

10 The best of NZ

Add these experiences to your must-do list now!

Front cover: Karekare Falls, Auckland; Tourism New Zealand. Back cover: Hiking Auckland’s West Coast; ATEED.

Welcome to the latest edition of Travel ideas. In this edition we put the spotlight on picturesque New Zealand. For a relatively small country in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand packs a lot of punch. New Zealand is home to some of the most iconic landscapes in the world: sparkling blue oceans, snow-capped mountains and bustling modern cities. The North Island is blessed with natural attractions and a worldwide reputation for excellence in food, wine, culture and geothermal activity. The South Island is where astonishing history, tempting food and wine, and some of the world’s best nature and wildlife come together with spectacular untouched landscapes. The features in this issue showcase just how versatile New Zealand is as a holiday destination, from adrenaline-fuelled adventures to water experiences and gourmet tours. We’ve got all your holiday planning sorted in this edition as we highlight the region’s many unique experiences, the best ways to get around, and share advice from some of our in-the-know experts as well as local insiders. Happy reading. Tom Walley, Executive general manager

Travel ideas

This special New Zealand issue of Travel ideas is also available online. Download the Travel ideas app from the App Store or Google Play today.

The team

Managing director Jeff Trounce General manager Amy Copley Publisher Alison Crocker Managing editor Kristy Barratt Editor Tatyana Leonov Sub-editor Sophie Hull Art director Dan Morley Designer Michelle Bonamy Printer Offset Alpine


Auckland uncovered

Sophisticated dining, leading local fashion design and aweinspiring outdoorsy excursions.

forest that 46 The time forgot Contemplate magnificent trees hundreds of years old and get up close to rare creatures.

Choose 50 your own adventure

Four writers, four unique experiences. Get inspired by tales of a soul-searching yoga retreat, a long-distance cycling ‘holiday’, a golfing tour and a jam-packed scenic road trip.

60 Water thrills

Outdoor adventurers can get their kicks at these aquatic hotspots, from dolphin encounters to game fishing.

at t he b ac k

24 Raw beauty

64 City scoop

32 Victoria’s secrets

66 Travel planner

34 Coast to coast

70 The challenge

38 Made in NZ

72 Travel clinic

Unforgettable natural wonders across New Zealand.

Christchurch’s historic architecture, distinctive eateries and eclectic emporiums.

Road tripping the Great Alpine Highway.

Prepare your taste buds for the freshest produce and cutting-edge gourmet restaurants.

heart 42 The of tradition Discover fascinating Maori customs and traditions.

Travel ideas magazine has been produced by Hardie Grant Media for Flight Centre. Editor-in-chief Jason Dutton-Smith Editor Cassandra Laffey

What to eat? Where to play? In-the-know Kiwis share their secrets with us.

We highlight the best seasonal events happening all across New Zealand.

NZ on two very different budgets – the Flight Centre experts have it sorted.

The experts at Flight Centre answer your questions about travelling to NZ.

74 Gateways

The four main launchpads for travelling around this diverse country.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine, no responsibility can be accepted by the publisher for errors or omissions, and in particular no responsibility can be accepted for the quality of goods and services, including prices quoted or errors. All material copyright to Hardie Grant Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part either electronically or conventionally without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited.

Travel ideas




Fast facts



Local insight

Road trippin’

Get the scoop on what slopes to ski from a resident Queenstown snowsport instructor.

Explore this rugged region on wheels.



m Eco adventure

Get up close with endangered bird species.

Go on a culinary safari of funky eateries and bars in this eclectic city.





City escape





42 58




Make like a Hobbit and high-tail it to The Shire. BYO camera!



Aoraki Mount Cook, located in the South Island, is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3754m.


Culture vulture

Geothermal gems

Be humbled by Maori culture, learn fascinating customs and unearth ancient love stories in this spiritual town.

Start your road trip in Auckland and discover geothermal wonders from exploding geysers to therapeutic hot pools.


The year New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote.




The amount of flora native to the country.








Zen heaven


Coffee capital

Sip a cuppa or three, loll over brunch or dine with awardwinning wine.












Tee time

Tee off at The Kinloch Club while you enjoy views of Lake Taupo stretching on for miles.

Discover restored architectural beauties in this uber cool South Island city.

Befriend the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin in this beautiful harbour.

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Sign language is one of three official languages in New Zealand, with Maori and English.

Before you jet to New Zealand, visit Travel Money Oz for all your foreign currency needs. With over 100 locations throughout Australia, Travel Money Oz offers great exchange rates with no fees or commissions on cash and EFTPOS debit transactions, and deals with a wide range of foreign currencies, including New Zealand dollars.

NZ teems with rare birdlife, like this little guy!



No part of New Zealand is more than 128km from the sea.

Exchange, get set, go!

flick to the pages indicated for these new zealand highlights, from culinary delights to breathtaking landscapes.

Age-old delights QUEENSTOWN


This is NZ

Travel money cards, like the Multi-currency Cash Passport, are another great way to access your cash on the go safely and conveniently. The Multicurrency Cash Passport lets you pre-load up to 10 foreign currencies (including New Zealand dollars) onto a plastic card, allowing you to access your cash from 2.1 million MasterCard ATMs worldwide and also use as a debit credit card wherever MasterCard is accepted. AKAROA HARBOUR

Dolphin swim

Illustration: Chin Yeuk



The percentage of New Zealand that is covered in national parks, forest areas and reserves.

Nab the best exchange rate against the Aussie dollar by heading in-store to swap your currency, or order your New Zealand dollars or Multicurrency Cash Passport online and collect at your chosen Travel Money Oz location. 1800 248 950

Travel ideas


travel desk Get back to nature on the Omanawanui Track, part of the Hillary Trail on Auckland’s West Coast. NEWS & EVENTS


A 75k m



Wide open spaces

Named after Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand’s most famous mountaineer and explorer, the Hillary Trail on Auckland’s West Coast is a four-day hike through the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The hike weaves through native forest teeming with bush, plants and wildlife, takes in oh-so-pretty waterfalls and black-sand beaches, and allows you to encounter looming, age-old kauri trees. Serious hikers can choose to do the entire 75km self-guided walk and get back to basics with overnight camping in basic council campgrounds. Or, you can choose to stay in a local lodge or B&B and break the trail down into sections to be enjoyed as easy day walks.



Annabel Langbein cooks up a storm in TV show The Free Range Cook.

Words: Tatyana Leonov, Kristy Barratt, Sophie Hull. Photo: Annabel Langbein Media

Dunedin is home to the world’s steepest residential street – Baldwin Street. People race Jaffas down the street as part of a fundraising event once a year. Soak in the hot pools at Polynesian Spa, Rotorua.


It’s getting hot in here

New Zealand is home to 107 geothermal pools and the majority of these are located in the North Island. The natural warm waterholes are a result of geothermal activity – a side effect of volcanoes, to put it simply. Many are still untouched and these are often harder to access (usually via picturesque walking trails or remote roads), making them all the more extraordinary to visit. Kerosene Creek in Rotorua, Hot Water Beach in The Coromandel and Great Barrier Island northeast of Auckland are three great options for those seeking an as-natural-as-it-gets thermal pool experience. Some of NZ’s natural pools have been turned into public leisure spaces – Taupo has good options, including Wairakei Terraces, Taupo DeBretts and Tokaanu Thermal Pools. In Rotorua visitors will also find the lavish Polynesian Spa (New Zealand’s best-known thermal spa), just five minutes away from the Maori cultural centre of Te Puia.

bigger than


The Hector’s dolphin, found only off the South Island coast, is the smallest marine dolphin in the world. The rare grey creatures grow up to 1.5m long and weigh only 40–60kg.

The world’s first commercial bungy jump experience launched in Queenstown in 1988. You can still launch yourself 43m off the birthplace of bungy, Kawarau Bridge.


annabel langbein is new zealand’s leading cookbook author and publisher and the star of an award-winning television series.



Get to know


New Zealand is home to one of the world’s longest place names, which translates into ‘the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.’


si t b ack a n d have a r e ad a bout the l at e st, hottest and newest from new zea la n d

I grew up in Wellington and my fondest childhood memories include my father having this enormous vegetable garden and his own beehives. I moved to the Whanganui River when I was 16 where I led an alternative lifestyle and learned to grow my own food, hunt, fish and cook over a fire. Today I live by the lake in Wanaka. Life in Wanaka is very simple and connected to the earth and the community. When I have a day off my husband Ted and I head up the lake for a picnic. There are so many spots where we can open a bottle of wine and chill out in the wilderness. The food culture in New Zealand is blossoming. We have great supermarkets that offer a global pantry of ethnic flavours and farmers’ markets and artisan producers making exciting foods and wines. Auckland’s foodie scene is thriving and the hole-in-the-wall ethnic cafes are a favourite of mine. We’ll often grab lunch at a Japanese place called Bien in Newmarket, or I’ll pick up a charcoal-barbecued duck from Golden Ducks in the Asian alley off Kent Street, Newmarket. New Zealand is a great place for food because the climate is so different from north to south. Up north it’s almost subtropical so you can grow avocados, limes and even bananas, whereas down south the climate is quite continental, with amazing cherries and apricots. My next NZ travel dream destination is Hawke’s Bay. It’s one of New Zealand’s food baskets – a sunny climate with amazing fruits and wines.

hi k

Record breakers

The waterfront city of Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. And with nearly 16,000km of coastline around NZ, you’re sure to find a slice of beach for yourself, too.

Lake Taupo, a crater formed by volcanic explosions, is the largest freshwater lake in Australasia and is roughly the size of Singapore. It’s a hotspot for watersports and trout fishing.

Travel ideas


travel desk

Discover majestic


For the finer things in life…

nz’s top luxury lodges: fine dining, mingling with fellow guests and outdoor adventures in stunning scenic spots TAUPO, NORTH ISLAND



Huka Lodge

Blanket Bay Lodge

Wharekauhau Estate

If it’s good enough for Queen Elizabeth II (she’s stayed four times), it’s probably good enough for you, too. This exclusive property is located by the Waikato River, close to the mighty Huka Falls. Dining here is an experience in itself – you’ll meet your fellow guests for pre-dinner drinks, then you’ll be whisked away to a private nook for a five-course meal with a menu that changes daily.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a pristine lake, you’ll be hard pressed to take your eyes off the rugged scenery at Blanket Bay. Once you do though, you can enjoy elegant suites with cosy stone fireplaces, fabulous food and adventurous activities such as heli-skiing and horse riding. Despite the rugged backdrop, Blanket Bay is located an easy, accessible 45-minute drive from Queenstown.

This hideaway is situated on a 5000 acre sheep station overlooking Palliser Bay. But don’t worry: you aren’t about to rough it. The main lodge is dripping in antique furniture and each cottage has all the luxury amenities you could care for. So relax in the day spa, learn in a cooking class, or explore one of the 29 wineries nearby. Not unique enough for you? Try a spot of archery or clay target shooting instead.

Head to Huka Lodge for indulgence amid breathtaking scenery.


crystal clear


B cruise through the Less than five per cent of the population of New Zealand is human, proving the country is paradise for animals. At Hamilton Zoo kids can walk among native birds in the country’s largest free flight aviary; and if they’re fans of both birds and reptiles (what child isn’t?), the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park near Waitomo Caves is the place to go. Reptiles include geckos, Otago skinks, tuataras and the endangered New Zealand kiwi bird and the park is home to one of the best nocturnal kiwi viewing facilities in NZ. For more encounters, walk the forest tracks at Sanctuary Mountain in the Hamilton & Waikato region through lush forest to spot one of many native birds such as kaka and kereru. Or visit Auckland Zoo’s Te Wao Nui and take the two-hour behind-the-scenes New Zealand Experience to meet cheeky kea and learn about unique reptiles.

The national museum in Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington is an immersive collection of all things New Zealand – history, wildlife, arts and more. It is also home to the world’s largest rare colossal squid.


For history buffs

One of New Zealand’s most celebrated historic buildings, the Auckland War Memorial Museum also houses a collection of interesting Maori crafts and Polynesian artefacts.


Discover spectacular


Soak up the




Culture corner House of treasures


Natural encounters

Modern madness

The imposing new Len Lye Centre, part of the GovettBrewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye. It re-opened in July 2015.

MtNicholas High country farm

T op t e n



t Top en



Land of giants

Take an otherwordly tour through trees The mystical Waipoua Forest is home to the mighty Tane Mahuta (‘Lord of the Forest’), a sacred kauri tree 50m tall, and other colossal Maori ‘ancestors’, some 2000 years old. Keep a lookout for the Four Sisters, a collection of four tall trees, and join a Maori guide on a Footprints Waipoua day or night-time tour. Or just stroll in from the car park and be amazed. Boardwalks take you around the trees without damaging their ancient feet. IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU’LL LOVE...


Photo: Alamy

Words: Patrick Smith



The Waipoua Forest, with its verdant green feather-like ferns, is a nature lover’s dream.

Cape Reinga, Aupouri Peninsula Watch two oceans collide at Cape Reinga, at the very top of New Zealand, from where Maori spirits are said to depart for the underworld via a gnarled old pohutukawa tree. Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua The biggest tree in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is a Californian redwood that’s around 72m tall and 1.7m in diameter. The redwoods cover just 6ha of the forest’s 5600ha, but they’re awesome. Grab a map at the Redwoods Visitor Centre and walk or bike the forests many scenic trails. Travel ideas


T op t e n






City of volcanoes

Discover imposing cones and craters Scope out this big and beautiful city from one of its 48 volcanic cones. Mount Eden, not far from the CBD, is the highest. Walk or drive up from Mt Eden Road for spectacular 360-degree views from the rim of its deep, grassy crater. One Tree Hill is another city cone, rising from beautiful parkland that’s perfect for a picnic or family games. And kids will love exploring the tunnels and old gun emplacements on Maungauika (also known as North Head), Devonport.

Pool party

Jump in hot water The Taupo and Rotorua region is a hotbed of geothermal activity where you can ‘take to the waters’ in mineral-rich pools said to have healing properties at places like Taupo’s Wairakei Terraces. The Pohutu Geyser at Rotorua’s Te Puia is a must-see. Kids might prefer the big outdoor mineral pools, hydroslides and warm water playground at Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs and Pools.

Rangitoto Island Take a ferry to Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s iconic cone in the Hauraki Gulf and take the 4WD road train to the top of New Zealand’s youngest volcano. After walking through pohutukawa groves and past lava caves you’ll reach the summit and be rewarded with 360-degree views of the gulf and city. Guided tours on volcanic islands Te Haerenga run interactive walking tours to Rangitoto and nearby Motutapu Island. Ngai Tai tribal guides will share traditional stories with you as they take you into the depths of Auckland’s most sacred island sanctuaries. You’ll also learn about food harvesting, weaving and the medicinal properties of the island’s flora and fauna.


See Mother Nature at her best at Pohutu Geyser at Te Puia.

Photos: Tourism New Zealand

Enjoy city views from the summit of Mount Eden.


Whether you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings or not, experiencing the oh-so-cute Hobbiton™ Movie Set near Matamata is very cool.





Hanmer Springs About a one-hour-and45-minute drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa boasts 15 open-air mineral and sulphur pools, private indoor thermal pools, a day spa and a separate family fun area with waterslides. Hot Water Beach Dig your own hot pool in the sand at this famous beach on The Coromandel peninsula. Two hours either side of low tide it’s awash with folk mining hot water to relax in. You can hire spades at the local shop.




Journey to a fantasy land Ever since the first The Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001, New Zealand has been known as the Home of Middleearth™. A must for The Lord of the Rings fans: a tour of Hobbiton™ Movie Set (aka The Shire) near Matamata, purpose built for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies. Visit Hobbit Holes, The Mill and the Shire Store, where you can buy items handmade at Weta Studios. IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU’LL LOVE...

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Join a star-studded cast of glowworms as you float along underground streams, through high, echoing chambers and past unusual limestone formations in the 50km underground labyrinth that is the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Take a 45-minute boat ride along the Waitomo River and into the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto where a galaxy of tiny living lights will intrigue and amaze. Then go rafting For a bit of added fun and an adrenaline rush at Waitomo Caves, pull on a wetsuit, grab an inner tube and join a Legendary Blackwater Rafting Company expedition through Ruakuri Cave.

Travel ideas


T op t e n


Bubbling with stories

Bathe in a mud pool and dive deep into Maori culture Hop in one of Rotorua’s therapeutic mud baths for instant tired muscle relief. Rotorua is also a hub of Maori arts and culture; Mitai Maori Village provides an authentic experience. Set amongst natural bush you can see warriors in traditional dress paddle


an ancient canoe (waka) down the Wai-owhiro stream and enjoy a Maori hangi meal. IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU’LL LOVE...

Lake Rotomahana Walk through native bush, past coloured lakes and steaming, sulphurous pools at Waimangu Volcanic Valley, between Rotorua and Taupo, en route to this 800ha lake. Take a cruise on the lake above the legendary Pink and White Terraces that were drowned in the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption. Museum visits and cultural encounters Auckland Museum holds the finest collection of Maori and Pacific artefacts in the world, while in Wellington, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa tells the story of New Zealand’s First People and more with hands-on discovery centres.


05 07


Active types will love winery hopping via bike in Marlborough.

Walk of art

Unleash your inner artist Stroll over artist Paratene Matchitt’s funky City to Sea pedestrian bridge to Wellington’s waterfront, which is dotted with striking art and sculptures. For more great public art, you can do Wellington Sculpture Trust’s self-guided walks. For more details, check out



Weta Cave, Miramar This cave in the Wellington suburb of Miramar is a fascinating window into the work and art of Oscar-winning Weta Workshop, famous for its special effects work on films like The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar and The Hobbit. You can also buy themed clothing, jewellery, handcrafted Gandalfs and Gollums and other unique paraphernalia. Snells Beach, Auckland Follow the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail at Snells Beach, an hour’s drive from downtown Auckland, where works by leading New Zealand artists surround a lovely lake. Max Patte’s Solace of the Wind is a favourite sculpture along Wellington’s waterfront.



Grape escape

See the best of wine country New Zealand’s best-known wine region sits at the north-eastern edge of the South Island. Fly into Blenheim or take the scenic ferry ride from Wellington through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Either way, once you arrive it’s immediately obvious you’ve landed in wine buff’s heaven. Marlborough’s sauvignon blanc is world renowned: “No region on earth can match the pungency of its best sauvignon blanc,” wrote great British wine writer Hugh Johnson. But ‘savvy’ is not the only varietal produced by Marlborough’s 120-odd wineries. Join a guided tasting tour or grab a wine trail map and sniff out a brilliant red or white. If you’re here on 13 February 2016, the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival at Brancott Vineyard is an absolute must.

Get down and dirty at one of Rotorua’s blissful mud baths.


Photos: Tourism New Zealand, Alamy


Hawke’s Bay Food, wine, gorgeous scenery: what’s not to like about Hawke’s Bay? Wine guru Michael Cooper calls the North Island area “the aristocrat of New Zealand wine regions”; the first vines were planted by missionaries in 1851. Mission Estate at Taradale still produces fine wines (try the Jewelstone chardonnay or syrah) and at nearby Church Road there’s an underground wine museum to explore. Matakana, Auckland Just 45 minutes north of Auckland, Matakana is known for its superb wineries and boutique vineyards in rolling countryside. Call in at the cellar doors for a wine tasting or visit one of the vineyard restaurants for a leisurely lunch. Pick up fresh, gourmet produce at the bustling Saturday Farmers’ Market; take a guided tour to explore the area and indulge in delicious food; or hire a car and explore Goat Island Marine Reserve or the nearby beaches at Tawharanui and Pakiri. Travel ideas


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The call of nature


See into space under starry nights in Lake Tekapo.

Explore the underwater world In New Zealand’s South Island town of Kaikoura you’re pretty much guaranteed to get close to a mighty sperm whale or two on a Whale Watch Kaikoura trip. Thanks to a 3km-deep underwater canyon and ocean currents, Kaikoura is marine life heaven. Encounter and/or swim with New Zealand fur seals and dusky dolphins. Buy fresh crayfish (koura) in local restaurants and at roadside ‘bins’.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Zealand. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony See the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment as they waddle up a stony ramp back to their nests after a day out fishing. Oamaru also plays host to the rare yellow-eyed penguin. Northland Whatever marine life piques your interest, from whales and dolphins to penguins and seals, you’ll find them in spades in picturesque Northland. Carino Sailing & Dolphin Charters is the only yacht licensed to swim with and view wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands and the day trip includes an island stopover. Get up close and personal with beautiful marine life in Kaikoura.



Downhill thrills

Fall in love with powder Queenstown is an all-seasons resort, but from the end of June to early October skiers and snowboarders from around the world descend on the town to play and party. They have their pick of fields: Cardrona, The Remarkables, Treble Cone, Snow Park and the cross-country field, Snow Farm. All have excellent facilities and shuttles run from Queenstown and Wanaka, on the other side of the Crown Range. The Queenstown Winter Festival, held at the end of June, is a week-long party on and off the slopes – and a brilliant way to kick off the season.


Whakapapa This is the country’s biggest and busiest ski and snowboard area, located on the northeastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu in the North Island. Think 30 groomed intermediate trails, 24 black and black diamond runs and (thank goodness!) a large beginners’ area called Happy Valley. Canterbury Surrounding Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps play host to mountains teeming with steep chutes, backcountry ski fields, fun terrain for beginners and open bowls for the pros. Mt Hutt ski field is the biggest commercial field in the region, while Craigieburn Valley has a laid-back, easygoing family vibe.


Heavens above

Be a star-gazer for a day The skies above Lake Tekapo in the South Island’s Mackenzie District are so clear and free from light pollution they’ve been declared a gold standard DarkSky Reserve – one of only a handful in the world. Gaze in awe at the star-bright heavens from the Mt John University Observatory on an Earth & Sky stargazing tour. Knowledgeable guides use powerful lasers to point out objects and constellations visible to the naked eye (“there goes the Space Station!”), while big telescopes are at hand for viewing amazing stuff like alien landscapes or the Trifid Nebula. Then enjoy homemade delicacies in the Astro Cafe. Brilliant.

The pure alpine air at Treble Cone is just what you need to recharge your life.



08 Photos: Tourism New Zealand

Lake Pukaki Located south of Tekapo, this stunning lake has a breathtaking view across the water to Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3754m. Take the road up the mountain to The Hermitage Hotel for a drink, lunch or dinner – and wonderful alpine vistas. Better still, check in and make it your base for adventures like guided glacier walks, 4WD tours and scenic flights. Adventuring to the West Coast Take the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to the West Coast through spectacular scenery to the coast’s glaciers, wild rivers and Punakaiki’s astonishing Pancake Rocks. In Greymouth, buy pounamu (greenstone), a Maori treasure found in certain South Island rivers and carved by local craftsmen. Make it a day trip, or check out overnight Scenic Escape packages with accommodation and activities.


Travel ideas




Al fresco dining and garden-to-table produce make Ortolana, in the Britomart precinct, a must-visit.



Travel ideas


CLOCKWISE Viaduct Harbour at night; Silo Park; Westhaven Marina; Karen Walker store at Britomart; seasonal dishes are key at Ortolana; The Store is a casual diner in Britomart.


rustic Italian cuisine at the buzzy Coco’s Cantina on bohemian Karangahape Road. In past decades, Auckland wasn’t known for reinvigorating heritage spaces, but recently a savvy band of architects and developers have created a new urban canvas for restaurateurs, bar owners and independent retailers. In the City Works Depot, once housing workshops for the council’s transport team, a sprawl of industrial warehouses now features some of Auckland’s most interesting addresses. Brothers Beer is a hip and relaxed ode to the booming New Zealand craft beer scene, and The Food Truck channels an easygoing vibe while serving up healthy (but still very tasty) spins on classic American street food. Best Ugly Bagels is chef Al Brown’s take on the classic Montreal-style bagel; toppings such as Marmite and cheddar cheese or organic Central Otago honey from New Zealand’s South Island conspire to add a distinctly Kiwi vibe to the fragrant and smoky wood-fired ambience. A 10-minute walk away, La Zeppa Kitchen & Bar serves

up tasty bar snacks (think antipasto plates and salt-baked olives with chilli) and hosts some of Auckland’s top DJs. Smart use of existing spaces is also happening outside of Auckland’s CBD. A full menu of cool restaurants, gourmet provedores and retailers fills the laneways of Ponsonby Central. Standouts are The Blue Breeze Inn’s funky mash-up of Pacifica style and regional Chinese cuisine, and the flavour-packed treats at Burger Burger. Across the road, The Golden Dawn initially opened as a pop-up bar, but several years on a winning formula of superior bar snacks – the prawn buns with Japanese mayo are legendary – and weekend gigs in the raffish brick-lined courtyard have ensured longevity. Tucked in behind The Golden Dawn, Miss Moonshine’s American barbecue joint shares space with The Street Food Collective, a rotating collection of the best of Auckland’s growing food truck scene. Always evolving, Auckland’s current food scene is both exciting and surprising, and guided discoveries from Zest Food Tours

Photos: ATEED, Jonny Davis

With three expansive harbours, a scattering of islands easily reached by ferry, and an idiosyncratic landscape punctuated by around 50 dormant volcanic cones – don’t worry, none are expected to erupt in the next few hundred thousand years – Auckland is no under-achiever in the natural beauty stakes. Factor in an exciting vibe including new eating, drinking and shopping areas, and New Zealand’s biggest urban area and economic capital is on fast forward to become the South Pacific’s most cosmopolitan destination. Despite the city’s robust growth, it’s still easy to combine very diverse experiences during a visit. Mix and match a leisurely organic breakfast at Little Bird in Ponsonby with shopping for New Zealand designer labels like World and Juliette Hogan, before catching a ferry to Waiheke Island for wine-tasting, sea kayaking or ziplining in the afternoon. A second day could combine abseiling and canyoning in the forested river gorges of the nearby Waitakere Ranges, before returning to the city for cocktails and


are a great way to unearth the city’s diverse flavours. Their Urban Village Delights tour explores one of the city’s hippest strips, Ponsonby, while the Auckland City Tastes tour focuses on the waterfront scenes of Viaduct Harbour and the revitalised Wynyard Quarter and Britomart areas. It’s not only the Auckland Fish Markets and waterfront restaurants and bars of North Wharf driving the emergence of the Wynyard Quarter. Nearby Silo Park focuses on eclectic re-use of a scattering of giant silos once used to store cement. During summer, classic movies are screened outdoors, and Silo Markets feature stallholders selling artisan foods and local crafts. New Zealand wines and craft beer are served from a repurposed shipping container to partner an atlas full of ethnic street food, and regular DJ gigs provide laid-back beats to ease locals into a relaxed weekend state of mind. Views of the elegant bridge crossing to the North Shore are a reminder Auckland is one of the world’s great harbour cities,

and the brave/crazy tourists negotiating the narrow walkway atop the Sky Tower prove that Queenstown is not the only New Zealand city with an adventurous spirit. Visitors can even take a bungy leap of faith from Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge. A short walk from the Wynyard Quarter, Britomart is downtown Auckland’s largest slice of urban renewal. A decade ago the laneways and warehouses were largely empty and under-utilised, but by 2012 a modern overlay had resurrected the area. Britomart’s fusion of heritage and contemporary architecture has seen it evolve to become Auckland’s undisputed fashion hub. Top New Zealand fashion designers Zambesi, Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester all have flagship stores here, and international brands like Ted Baker and Lululemon further reinforce Britomart’s credentials as the city’s designer hub. Other retailers like Made showcase New Zealand’s up-and-coming designers. The Britomart precinct also hosts a collection of top eating opportunities.

Ortolana’s Mediterranean-inspired dishes are packed full of seasonal ingredients from the owners’ farm garden in rural West Auckland, while their nearby sister restaurant Milse focuses solely on the important skill set of crafting very grownup and sophisticated desserts. With views across the harbour, nearby Ostro run by top Kiwi chef Josh Emett is just the kind of place to inspire waterborne exploration of Auckland’s sparkling marine backyard. The city’s Ferry Building is close by to the relaxed passage that takes you to the seaside village of Devonport, where strolling through the shops (try the chocolaterie for handmade chocolates and truffles) and checking out artists’ works is a lovely way to wile away an afternoon. The islands that neighbour the city offer an array of exciting activities, native wildlife and world-class vineyards. It’s an uncommon blend of sophistication, vibrancy and adventure that’s driving Auckland’s emergence as New Zealand’s only truly international city. Travel ideas






Best for adventure seekers

From the beaches framing Auckland’s inner harbour, Rangitoto’s graceful volcanic cone is a centuries-old feature on the city’s near horizon. Frequent ferries make the 25-minute trip from downtown, and the region’s youngest and largest volcano is a popular destination for walkers and day explorers. The trail to Rangitoto’s summit takes around an hour, and combined with a full-day tour with Auckland Sea Kayaks, is one of Auckland’s best excursions for active travellers.



Best for explorers

With vineyard restaurants, white-sand beaches and a quirky arts scene, Waiheke Island deserves more than just a day trip. Just 35 minutes by ferry from downtown, accommodation options range from funky rental cottages to luxury boutique properties like The Boatshed. For foodies, there’s wood-fired pizzas at Dragonfired on Little Oneroa Beach and the laid-back Southern Hemisphere rendering of an Italian wine estate, Poderi Crisci. EcoZip’s zipline adventure allows visitors to soar above the island with vineyard, forest and city views. Visitors can explore the island with Fullers ferry company and their Taste of Waiheke, Waiheke Island Explorer and Wine on Waiheke tours. Or jump on board a Vineyard Hopper seaplane from downtown Auckland and take a scenic flight over to indulge in wine tasting and lunch at Man O’ War Vineyards or a three-course a la carte meal at The Boatshed.

Inner-city wining and dining aren’t the only things this cosmopolitan city has going for it, either. The city lays claim to three stunning winegrowing regions – Waiheke Island, Matakana and Kumeu – all located less than an hour’s journey from downtown and offering some of the best experiences for foodies seeking farm-to-table produce. If natural beauty is more your thing, there are volcanic islands, black-sand beaches, hiking trails in regional parks and pretty-as-apicture waterfalls waiting to be discovered (try canoyoning if you dare) a stone’s throw from the city. If you want to amp it up a notch explore the great outdoors on a Harley Davidson or whizz over trees on Waiheke Island on a zipline. If you prefer to take things slow then the region’s cultural and art experiences will keep you entertained for days. Join a city art and culture tour, explore the galleries, and soak up the rich Maori culture. Auckland has an experience to satiate everyone, whether you’re a foodie, nature lover, adventure seeker or history buff. Here are six of our favourite day trips to inspire your sojourn in this eclectic city.


Photo: ATEED

Active types will love kayaking from Auckland to Rangitoto Island.



Best for foodies

Every Saturday morning, Matakana hosts one of Auckland best farmers’ markets. Organic coffee combines with free-range bacon and egg rolls for breakfast, and takeaway highlights with a local or organic spin include zingy cider, handmade sausages and Italian cheeses. Fifty minutes from downtown Auckland, Matakana’s market is just a taste of nearby attractions for foodie travellers. Food fossickers will love Mahurangi Oysters’ farm tours; they guide you through the art of harvesting, shucking and eating oysters. Meanwhile, Bush and Beach’s Great Tastes of Matakana tour visits award-winning local vineyards. Nearby Tawharanui and Scandrett Regional Parks offer active opportunities for swimming, walking and mountain biking to offset the area’s gourmet allure.



Best for nature lovers

Less than one hour’s drive from the city centre, the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park has more than 250km of walking and hiking tracks, including shorter hikes and the four-day Hillary Trail. At Kitekite Falls you can take a tour with AWOL Canyoning and canyon into a giant set of cascading waterfalls. While over at Muriwai Beach a huge cliff-top gannet colony makes for perfect picture opportunities from August to March. For more beach time, head to Piha, Bethells or Karekare, and stop in at Arataki Visitor Centre to pick up hiking maps of the area. Options to explore West Auckland include Bush and Beach’s Coast and Rainforest Walk or Time Unlimited Auckland West Coast Tours.



Best for island hoppers

Opened to the public in 2011 after being used as a Salvation Army rehabilitation centre for almost a century, Rotoroa Island is one of the Hauraki Gulf’s most undeveloped islands. The collection of heritage buildings, including the former jail and the old school house, are a highlight. As are the pristine beaches and opportunities to see endangered wildlife. There’s comfy dormitory accommodation in the former Superintendent’s House, or private digs in stylish holiday homes.





Best for history buffs

A mere 30-minute drive west of Auckland delivers you to Kumeu, the city’s oldest wine-growing region and home to boutique vineyards, orchards and rolling farmland. The area’s well-established wineries are the legacy of Croatian settlers in the late 19th century, and Hallertau in Riverhead is one of New Zealand’s best craft breweries. Here you’ll also find the country’s oldest riverside tavern, The Riverhead, ideal for a hearty lunch and tipple overlooking the water. Other foodie favourites include The Tasting Shed (try the market ceviche) and laid-back cafe Provenance.


Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Auckland. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


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Tongariro National Park

Photo portfolio


Photo: Gareth Eyres

Words: Tatyana Leonov


New Zealand’s oldest national park is also one of its most diverse – close to 80,000ha of gob-smacking beauty. Jagged mountains flank rolling alpine meadows that seem to stretch to the horizon, vivid aqua-green lakes shimmer amid camel browns and dusty greys – it’s an assemblage of stunning landscapes, each one wildly different from the others. Tongariro National Park was awarded UNESCO Dual World Heritage in 1993, an acknowledgement recognising both the area’s important Maori cultural associations and its natural beauty. It is also home to the three active volcanoes – Mt Ruapehu (North Island’s largest mountain), Mt Ngauruhoe (New Zealand’s youngest volcano) and Mt Tongariro (famous for the 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing, renowned as one of the greatest day treks in the world).

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Milford Sound

One of New Zealand’s mostvisited destinations, the fjord of Milford Sound on the South Island is a tapestry of everything dramatic – massive raindrenched granite bluffs, toothy cliffs draped with fast-flowing waterfalls (it’s the wettest populated area in the country) and a mist that rarely lifts, causing that magical ethereal effect. Most visitors need at least a few hours to just gawk, but there are plenty of tour options too, including scenic flights, bus and boat trips, kayaking and trekking. Visitors can also enjoy the unforgettable 53km Milford Track walk, renowned as the ‘finest walk in the world’.

Lake Tekapo


Mine Bay

Photos: Olof Olsson, Sarah Sisson, Getty

Fringed by Mt John and the Southern Alps, the azure blue water of Lake Tekapo attracts visitors from far and wide. The lake gets its remarkable colour because of fine glacial rock-flour hovering in the lake and looks almost mystical set against a backdrop of soaring snow-capped mountains. Photographers come in droves, but so do adventure enthusiasts, as there’s plenty to do. During the warmer months hiking, fishing, kayaking, horse riding and mountain biking are popular, while in the wintertime skiing, snowboarding and ice skating take precedence.

Visitors cite the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay as one of Lake Taupo’s most outstanding attractions – and rightly so. The 10m tall artworks are only accessible by water, so joining a boat cruise or kayaking to the unique artworks is the best way to get up close and personal. Although the carvings look like early Maori relics, they’re not that ancient at all. After extensive training with Maori elders, Maori artist-carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell (with the help of four assistants) created the dramatic artworks over four summers in the 1970s. Travel ideas



Waitomo Caves

Welcome to New Zealand’s greatest underground playground! World famous for the thousands of tiny Arachnocampa luminosas (a glowworm species unique to New Zealand), the underground amble along the Waitomo River through the caves is unforgettable – there’s something truly magical about gazing at the galaxy of glowworms that are speckled throughout, not to mention the dramatic rock formations. The caves are also a great base for underground escapades. Adrenaline junkies can try their hand at cave abseiling (called rappelling), go on an underground eco-tour, or even black-water raft their way through the incredibly stunning cavern complex.

Just 20 minutes southeast of Rotorua, Wai-O-Tapu, meaning Sacred Waters, is a wonderland of geothermal activity. Voted by TripAdvisor as one of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World, the area has been sculptured by volcanic activity thousands of years in the making. From geysers and bubbling mud to the spectacular colours of the world famous Champagne Pool, this is a must visit!

Abel Tasman

New Zealand’s smallest national park (and also New Zealand’s only coastal national park) is the opposite of small when it comes to holiday experiences. Sightseers can trek, cruise, sail, kayak or simply relax in the sun and take in the impressive vistas. The Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s nine Great Walks, is a very popular expedition where hikers traverse 60km of rugged beaches and coastal forest terrain over the course of three to five days – wildlife sightings (blue penguins, fur seals and dolphins to name a few) are usually part of the deal.


The Coromandel

Photos: Sarah Sisson, Todd Sisson, Tourism New Zealand


The Coromandel is a pocket of bush-and-beach paradise, just one-and-a-half-hour’s drive from Auckland. Here visitors relax in warm thermal pools, swim and surf on the many idyllic beaches, cycle, trek, fish, cruise… the list goes on! The locals follow ‘Coromandel time’, a nod to the peninsula’s laid-back lifestyle (visitors get used to it pretty quickly, too). A short walk from Hahei Beach (about two hours return), Cathedral Cove is one of the most picturesque spots in the region. It’s here visitors will find Te Hoho, a large pumice breccia rock segment that has been sculpted into a dramatic shape by wind and water over the centuries. The surrounding Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is a watery paradise for snorkellers and divers, packed with vibrant sea life. Travel ideas




Sir Edmund Hillary honed his climbing skills on Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain), before his successful endeavour on Mt Everest. Although most visitors don’t climb Mt Cook, the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to some of the best alpine hikes in the country. There are plenty of leisurely walks that weave their way through sprawling wildflower fields and native bushland. Of course there are some serious ascends too (the park is home to 23 peaks over 3000m high) for those who prefer their hikes on an incline.


Photos: Sarah Sisson, Getty

Mt Cook

For marine life encounters, the enchanting and picturesque seaside settlement of Kaikoura is the place to travel to. In fact, it’s one of the best places in the world for whale watching with plenty of giant sperm whale sightings year round. Visitors to this South Island wildlife paradise can also see dusky dolphins, native sea birds and many other interesting species of marine life on a daily basis; touring by boat, flight or by land. With wetsuits provided, visitors can even join the playful dusky dolphins and cute fur seals in their natural ocean environment. Travel ideas



Secrets Victoria’s


Knox Church has been beautifully restored and its heritage has been preserved. Cathedral Square is a popular spot. Harlequin Public House features an impressive and innovative drinks list. The grand facade of the Isaac Theatre Royal. The extensive Christchurch tramway system is a great way to get around the city.


Victoria is on a roll. Fanning out from the heart of Christchurch, the northern gateway of Victoria Street has been setting the pace as a guiding light in the revival of the post-quake urban landscape. In fact, Queen Victoria is a prevailing theme du jour, now synonymous with stoic restoration and daring re-creation. As the ruling monarch who presided over the city’s foundation, her symbolic legacy is steeped in the city’s streetscape. From her lofty stone perch, she continues to survey her realm across the velvety grassed expanse of Victoria Square, a muchloved public space nicknamed the city’s ‘front lawn’. It’s bordered by the city’s ‘living room’, Christchurch Town Hall, the subject

Diverse detours 32

of a guts-and-glory restoration project. South of Victoria Square, another grand old lady has just been resurrected, the Isaac Theatre Royal. The triumphant restoration of New Zealand’s last surviving Edwardian-style theatre now throbs with live productions, stirring the soul in Christchurch’s premium entertainment venue. At the far end of Victoria Street, another beacon of inspired restoration shimmers in the sunlight: Knox Church, freshly rendered in a copper and concrete façade, while preserving its wondrous wood-panelled heritage. Plus, the glorious Victoria Clock Tower, first erected to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, is back to her radiant best, after a million-dollar face-lift.

The Garden City is your launch pad for a legendary South Island road trip. Within 10 minutes from Christchurch city centre, the Port Hills begin with a network of walking and biking tracks and views that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to Southern Alps. Whether it’s cinematic alpine scenery, luminous lakes or epic coastlines, the road is calling.

In between these time-honoured landmarks, distinctive, edgy and expressive architectural statements are redefining the skyline, adding contemporary sparkle to the elegance of the Victoria precinct. It’s the boom in distinctive boutiques and playful eateries that underpins the area’s new-found verve. With a huge variety of entertainment and dining establishments, from Irish bars to Latin-fusion fare and South-East Asian cuisine with a local twist, you’ll love exploring the Victoria Precinct, where the future has re-framed the familiar. Venturing out of the city’s heart you will discover more culinary delights around every corner. Travelling around the Canterbury region you’ll often see small

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on Christchurch and the latest New Zealand deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Photos: Dennis Radermacher -, Alamy,

Words: Mike Yardley

roadside signs for the products of artisan producers – so keep an eye out and stop in and get yourself some unique local delicacies. Whether it’s honey, organic fruit and vegetables, handmade chocolates or preserves, flavour triumphs in fresh food that’s been produced with love and care. Or explore one of the regions many local farmers’ markets for fresh produce, fine foods and homemade treats. Be sure to stop in at Akaroa, the stunning historic French settlement nestled in the heart of Banks Peninsula, a unique micro-climate for growing sublime produce. Ranked as number two on The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go list in 2014, Christchurch is full of unique experiences in the revitalised city bustle and the region beyond. From the Pacific Ocean, ancient volcanic peninsula and wondrous marine life, across patchwork plains – home to lush vineyards and braided rivers, then rising to glacial lakes and the majestic Southern Alps, you’ll find something special in Christchurch and the Canterbury region. Travel ideas




On final approach to Christchurch from Australia, they’re the speed bumps of the sky. Strutting imperiously, the jagged Southern Alps are like a topographical greeting party, providing travellers with a turbulent, ill-tempered welcome on descent. Stand on any beach around Christchurch and those fine grey sands between your toes began life on those peaks. They are the fragments of ancient greywacke rock, eroded from the Southern Alps and washed down the wide rivers that run across the Canterbury Plains before reaching the Pacific coast. Bring the geology lesson to life in vivid 3D and trace nature’s story in reverse,


The long road ahead: imposing mountains and rugged scenery abound on a South Island road trip.


as a trusty transporter of eroded rock and alluvial soil tumbling down from the mountains. This luminous turquoise river snakes between shingle banks ablaze with golden gorse and broom. Steadily climbing through the Craigieburn Range and the Bealey Valley, the mountain hamlet of Arthur’s Pass, huddled between soaring peaks, thickly-clad in beech forest and spritzed with gushing waterfalls, heralds my arrival into alpine wonderland. I stop to ponder the sudden plunge in temperatures and interact with the cheeky kea parrots while marvelling at the mistswirling peaks and gnarly alpine cottages hunkering beside the highway.

Photo: Imagebrief/Kamrul

Words: Mike Yardley

with an epic road trip from the Garden City to the West Coast. Pulling out of Christchurch on a crisp, clear morning, I power across Canterbury’s pastoral patchwork, on State Highway 73, as the high country shuffles into view. Within 90 minutes of leaving the city, the chequerboard expanse of cultivated fields waving with wheat, and pastures thronging with plump dairy cows and frolicking sheep, suddenly gives way to alpine awe. Threading through the high country, I rendezvous with the upper reaches of the Waimakariri River, one of the great braided rivers that created the plains,

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Road tripping the West Coast is an invigorating experience; Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki; the Fox Glacier is a must-visit; aqua blue lakes and snow-capped mountains abound.


The majesty of the Southern Alps hits full-tilt sensory overload as you reach the highway summit of Otira, where I gasp in sweet surrender at the snow-cloaked mountains carpeted in ancient podocarp forest. ‘Welcome to the West Coast’, the roadside sign cheerfully exclaims, as I dart westward down the twisting highway, shadowing the Grey River, to its namesake town of Greymouth. Not a likely contender in the urban eye-candy stakes, Grey, as the locals call it, pulsates with hearty hospitality and smiling locals. Check out some of the landmark watering holes, such as Revingtons, or take a tour of the pioneering Monteith’s Brewing Company. From Greymouth, I zip 70km north, to one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural rock stars, Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks. This remarkable geological formation, which does indeed resemble a gluttonous stack of pancakes,

Photos: Mike Yardley, iStock, Tourism New Zealand

Natural attraction to the max!

turns on a spectacle to eclipse Las Vegas’ Bellagio Fountain, when the tide is high. Nature’s riot of stone and sea is thunderous, with the ocean surging into the caverns and booming ferociously through the blowholes. I take a 30-minute easygoing stroll on the Truman Track, which weaves its way through pristine native forest, leading right to the edge of the Tasman Sea coastline, with a stunning seascape. Nestled at the base of Paparoa National Park, it’s hiking heaven with a forest groaning with ancient rimu, beech and matai, and striking nikau palms. Heading south along the West Coast Highway (SH6), the scenicmetre gets close to bursting, as you’re wedged between the pounding Tasman surf and the towering Southern Alps. Pull over at Knights Point where the coastal panorama is celestial. Essential stops include Hokitika for its cluster of artisan studios, specialising in pounamu (jade) sculpture, glass-blowing art and gold. Be sure to also call into Ross, a cute-as-a-button settlement with a storied past steeped in gold mining. The historic village features an authentic clutch of colonial buildings, including the old Ross jail, bank and miners’ cottages. Shantytown is a re-created gold-mining town from the 1860s, complete with pub and post office. There’s a spoil of interactive experiences to try your hand at, including gold panning and sawmilling. I treat my inner-child to a miniature train ride. New Zealand enjoys the unique distinction of being the only place on the planet where glaciers slope down to within 20km of the coastline. In the family of glaciers, the little sister is Fox, located in a steep-sided glacial valley, while its big brother, Franz Josef Glacier, is the real pixel burner, thanks to its serpentine-shaped slithering magnificence. Both glaciers have been in the grips of the stretch and squeeze machine. I remember






Three more South Island road trips






as a child, Franz Josef’s toe nearly reached the roadside. Until 2008, the glaciers were growing 70cm a day. Things have changed and they’re now in rapid retreat mode. Across the road, the dark, inky waters of Lake Matheson deliver absurdly supreme mirror reflections of the snow-topped peaks, with Mt Cook and Mt Tasman the mouthmelters. From glacier country, tootle south on the Haast Pass highway through more primeval rainforest before dropping down into Central Otago’s golden folds, where the azure lakes, pinot noir and adrenaline-buzz of Wanaka and Queenstown await.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on road tripping around New Zealand. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Top of the South From Christchurch, take a northerly road romp alongside the Pacific coastline. The vineyards of the Waipara Valley are home to a horde of boutique wineries. Blenheim beckons, with its world-acclaimed sauvignon blanc, before reaching the picturesque port of Picton. Further around the northern-most part of the South Island is the Nelson-Tasman region, the craft brewing capital of New Zealand. Stars and snow A riveting road trip connects Christchurch to Queenstown, showcasing so many of the South’s winning attributes. Tekapo’s glacierfed lake is a show-stopper, but so are the heavens at the Dark Sky Reserve, where the chandelier of constellations seem to be fitted with LEDs. Marvel at Australasia’s paramount peak, Aoraki/Mt Cook, before traversing the golden Mackenzie wilderness to reach Wanaka. Take the Crown Range route to Queenstown, and call into the historic Cardrona Hotel for a refresher. Southern Scenic Route Linking Queenstown with Dunedin, this blockbuster route threads its way around the dramatic Catlins coast. The wildlife is wondrous, with fur seals parked along its shores, and a powder-keg of rugged natural wonders include Curio Bay, where fossilised tree stumps, more than 170 million years old, are clearly visible on the bay’s rocky shelf. Savour the Catlins – take your time.

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Made in NZ


Collecting the day’s catch at Fleurs Place on the Otago coast.



boast the lion’s share of eateries, you’ll find delicious, innovative kai (food) in the most unexpected places – like Lyttelton, for example, home to Roots, which the country’s leading food magazine Cuisine named 2015 New Zealand Restaurant of the Year. And then, of course, there’s wine. Let’s hit the trail...

Chefs get busy preparing food at old-school deli The Fed, in Auckland. Elephant Hill produces some sensational drops from its winery in Hawke’s Bay. Tuck into freshly caught seafood at Fleurs Place. Rustic, bistro grub is the order of the day at Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar. At talked-about venue The Grill, the meat is pasture-fed. Owner-chef at Roots restaurant, Giulio Sturla. Sustainable seafood is key at Sean Connolly’s The Grill. The casual vibe at Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar is what continues to lure customers in time and time again. Photos: Aaron McLean, Kieran Scott, Richard Brimer, Charlotte Clements

New Zealand’s food and wine scene is as varied as its lush landscape. Kiwi chefs have created a Pacific Rim cuisine that brings together the best of the region’s culinary influences and capitalises on ingredients such as tender grass-fed beef and lamb. While Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown

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Vine dining

Fine food and wine go hand in hand, and sometimes food follows the vines. From Auckland in the north to Central Otago in the south, you’ll find winery restaurants and cafes serving up everything from picnic platters to wine-matched gourmet dinners, often in a delightful vineyard setting.


Seaside dining at The Oyster Inn is a fun, friendly affair; gorge yourself silly on locally caught oysters at Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar; travel back to 1930s New York at The Fed; dine on seasonal produce at Polo; Elephant Hill’s winery restaurant boasts stunning views of the vineyard; choosing which wines to sample at Pegasus Bay will surely prove tricky.


Miro, a tiny vineyard at Onetangi on Waiheke Island, has a lovely restaurant, Casita Miro, housed in a quirky, sun-warmed ‘glasshouse’. Share delicious Spanish tapas or an authentic paella accompanied by a glass of Miro pinot gris or a Spanish sherry. The rustic-French Terroir restaurant at Craggy Range winery in the Hawke’s Bay area makes for atmospheric dining, especially with a whole fish or chicken spit-roasting inside the grand stone fireplace. Craggy Range wines are made to complement the food; just follow the suggested wine matches. There’s nothing rustic about Elephant Hill’s restaurant at Te Awanga, also in Hawke’s Bay. Chef Ashley Jones dishes up contemporary food in a cool, modern setting. How about half a dozen oysters (shucked to order) with a 2013 sauvignon blanc, followed by wild rabbit Wellington with a glass of Le Phant Rouge? Named Cuisine magazine’s Best Winery Restaurant yet again, Pegasus Bay, one hour’s drive north of Christchurch, has it all: a delightful setting indoors or on the lawn, gorgeous wines (try the zingy Bel Canto riesling) and a scrumptious lunchtime menu. Winemaker’s platter or five-course wine-matched dinner? Swiss-born winemaker Hans Herzog makes organic single-vineyard wines on his Marlborough vineyard while his wife Therese runs Herzog Bistro and their much-lauded gourmet restaurant.

Sea fare

Laneway cuisine

Cafe culture




Try chef Shane Yardley’s take on classic fish and chips or his fabulous seafood stew at FISH at the Hilton, on Princes Wharf in Auckland. Yardley’s credo: “Fresh produce simply and knowledgeably prepared – and cooked.” Love prawns? Head to Killer Prawn, Whangarei. Share a plate of tempura prawns and fresh oysters or tuck in your bib and attack a bowl of prawns in spicy tomato and rosemary broth. Oysters are not all they serve at The Oyster Inn, perfectly positioned at the seaside on Waiheke Island, but their local Te Matuku Bay blighters, raw or battered with wasabi mayo, are pretty amazing. Oyster buffs can also enjoy them fresh in Clevedon and Matakana, but true fanatics fly south in May to guzzle the plumpest molluscs at the annual Bluff Oyster & Food Festival. At funky Fleurs Place, in Moeraki on the Otago coast, the day’s catch may be blue cod, gurnard, sole, flounder, groper or crayfish but it’s always super-fresh: fishing boats deliver straight to the celebrated Fleur Sullivan’s rustic jetty. Nin’s Bin, a roadside caravan selling cooked crayfish and mussels, has been a fixture on the main road north of Kaikoura for generations. No fuss, just great seafood at a great price.

Ex-Nobu chef Nic Watt runs MASU, a Japanese robata-style restaurant where marinated meats and fish are cooked over a charcoal grill with a mix of theatre and artistry. Dishes come in smaller portions designed to share – chummy and extremely tasty. Choose from 40-odd brands of sake wine. The Grill by Sean Connolly had hardly opened before it won a slather of best new restaurant awards. Connolly, a sometime Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Chef of the Year, takes pride in offering “a relaxed, uncomplicated atmosphere… that complements our fresh, honest fare”. Using mostly locally sourced ingredients, the emphasis is on pasture-fed meat and sustainable seafood. Al Brown, co-founder of Wellington’s iconic Logan Brown Restaurant, has branched out to become a TV personality and author, but his Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar proves he’s lost none of his mojo. It’s casual and bustling with top-notch bistro grub and fast service. Across the street is Peter Gordon’s Bellota, reckoned by many to be Auckland’s best tapas bar. A long, authentic menu of small eats from a Spanish chef is complemented by an international wine list. It’s packed on Friday nights.

Cuba Street is Wellington’s cafe central. Among popular haunts is Floriditas, cool and classy (with amazing cupcakes); Olive serves good Mediterranean food and artisan beers; Plum has classic Kiwi grub; Midnight Espresso is the place to go for terrific coffee and mainly veggie counter food; and Fidel’s is cheap, funky and busy. Eat slow food at Polo, in Miramar, a lunchtime favourite with cast and crew working on The Hobbit at Sir Peter Jackson’s nearby studios. Likewise, Maranui Café is a 1940s-style joint with a deck overlooking Lyall Bay: Viggo Mortensen learned to surf there. Federal Delicatessen (aka The Fed), in Auckland’s Federal Street, is Al Brown’s take on a 1930s New York Jewish deli serving up breakfast latkes and a robust late-night Reuben sandwich. Chim Choo Ree, in Hamilton’s old brewery building, serves an excellent lunch at very reasonable prices in a lovely light-filled setting. Try the beetroot and gin-cured salmon with crispy chicken skin and dill crème fraîche. The rice pudding mousse is to die for! Jester House, in Tasman, near Nelson, is a fun place with serious grub: it has been New Zealand Cafe of the Year for the past two years. How about twice-baked three-cheese soufflé or a wicked chocolate fudge brownie?


The Federal Street dining precinct is Auckland’s trendiest new food hub. Running between the SKYCITY Casino and its Grand Hotel, it’s an upmarket laneway of eateries run by some of New Zealand’s top chefs.

Photos: Kieran Scott, Richard Brimer, Pegasus Bay Winery

You’re never too far from the sea in New Zealand so you should expect to find some decent seafood on the menu. You won’t be disappointed. Fish and chips on the beach? A bowl of rich mussel chowder? A dozen Bluff oysters? Half a crayfish? Dive right in.

Wellington calls itself the coffee capital. There are certainly plenty of places to imbibe: Wellington has more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York City. That said you’ll find cool cafes and good coffee all around the country.

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The heart of tradition


Te Puia, with its geothermal valleys, is the spiritual heart of Rotorua.


Photo: Tourism New Zealand

Words: Lee Mylne

Noses press gently together; breath is exchanged. An intimate, and ultimately formal, greeting that visitors to New Zealand can expect from Maori hosts, the hongi signifies the joining together of guest and tangata whenua (hosts). Built on the shores of Lake Rotorua, the city of Rotorua is an amalgam of ancient culture and modern amenities, surrounded by natural beauty. It is most famous, however, for the geothermal

activity evident from your first few minutes in the city; few visitors allow the first whiff of sulphur in the air to pass unremarked. Boiling mud pools, erupting geysers and hissing steam vents create dramatic landscapes that can be easily viewed in safety. One of the best places to do this is in the steaming geothermal Te Whakarewarewa Valley, home to Te Puia, where visitors have the opportunity

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to experience Maori customs, traditions and their honourable way of life where family comes first. As I walk through the entrance to this natural wonder, framed by 12 tall carvings that I later learn represent celestial guardians, it’s clear that this will be an engaging and fascinating experience. Soon I am taking off my shoes to enter one of two intricately carved meeting houses that form part of the Rotowhio Marae. The larger, Te Aronui a Rua, was built by students and graduates of Te Puia’s carving school between 1967 and 1981. For fascinating insight into Maori ancestral history and living culture, Te Puia offers guided tours. Te Puia is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where you can watch students learning the arts of weaving, wood, stone, bone and pounamu (New Zealand jade) carving, and waka (canoe) building. There is


The imposing carved entrance to Te Puia. Feathers are woven into Maori cloaks, which are worn to indicate prestige or honour. Ta moko (Maori tattoos) are unique in design and significance. Matching costumes add to the unity of kapa haka (Maori performance art). The haka has many unique forms. A majestic waka (Maori watercraft) glides through the water towards Te Wero Bridge, which connects the Wynyard Quarter to central Auckland. Performing kapa haka is a spiritual experience for children, too.

Legend tells the love story of Tutanekai, who played his flute to guide Hinemoa, the beautiful daughter of a chief, to Mokoia Island.”

Photos: Tim Whittaker, Tourism New Zealand, Destination Rotorua


‘Pokarekare Ana’, which you are sure to hear sung during a visit to New Zealand. Hinemoa and Tutanekai’s descendants later became the first Maori guides in the city, a tradition that continues. Some of today’s guides can trace their genealogy back 25 generations, and will share stories of how their ancestors survived in this land, as well as their ancient beliefs and creation stories. Another evocative Maori legend tells that Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley was formed when two sisters, Te Pupu and Te Hoata (the goddesses of fire), travelled beneath the earth while searching for their brother Ngātoroirangi. As they got closer to him, the sisters lifted their heads above the surface, creating geysers and other geothermal hotspots. In the Whakarewarewa Valley, silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and two spectacular geysers

also a nocturnal kiwi bird enclosure where you can meet Kenny and Nohi, the resident birds. But the highlight of a visit is the boiling mud pools and the regular eruptions of Pohutu Geyser, which explodes up to 30m high, and is just one of more than 500 geothermal wonders. Lake Rotorua is the largest of the 16 lakes in the region, and the tiny Mokoia Island in its centre is close to the hearts of local Maori. Legend tells the love story of Tutanekai, who played his flute to guide Hinemoa, the beautiful daughter of a chief, to Mokoia Island almost 300 years ago. Banned from seeing Tutanekai, Hinemoa swam the 4km to the island and they were never parted, bringing peace to their two tribes. Their story has been immortalised in the Maori ballad

– Pohutu and Te Tohu (also called the Prince of Wales Feathers) – can keep you fascinated for hours. Te Puia has walkways between the major thermal attractions, making it easy to walk between them and not miss anything. At Te Puia’s Pikirangi Village, named after an ancestor who fought to defend his lands, guides will show how Maori traditionally used the hot pools for cooking, washing, bathing and heating. The model village is based on a traditional settlement, with houses made from punga trees, food storage houses, and cooking tools, including a hangi pit (earth oven). After a visit to Rotorua, it is easy to feel that you’ve truly been embraced by the Maori tradition of manaakitanga, which means ‘feel the spirit’, a warm and individual welcome to visitors.

The haka: need-to-know before you go Outside New Zealand, the Maori war dance or haka is most often associated as a game-opener for New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks. The haka acts as a way to build unity in the performers, or as a warning or challenge to opponents. It can also be a message of celebration when performed for friends, for example at a wedding. There are many forms of haka, performed for different occasions.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Rotorua. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

More Maori experiences Taiamai Tours Heritage Journeys The Ngapuhi, New Zealand’s largest tribal Maori group, run interactive waka experiences in the Bay of Islands offering visitors insight into ancient customs, rituals and traditions.

Time Unlimited Tours Full-day tours of Auckland, including Maungawhau (Mt Eden), the city’s highest volcano, giving a Maori perspective on New Zealand’s largest city.

Potiki Adventures Focusing on contemporary Maori culture, these Auckland day trips include flax weaving lessons and a traditional Maori fortified village.

Tamaki Maori Village Experience a tribal challenge, then a powhiri (formal welcome) at this recreated traditional fortified village in Rotorua. Inside the village, there are demonstrations of games, poi dancing and weaponry. Dinner is a traditional hangi.

Te Papa Tongarewa New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, is home to 16,000 treasures, the largest Maori collection in New Zealand. A Maori Highlights tour is run daily and the permanent ‘Mana Whenua’ exhibition explores the relationships Maori have with the land. Don’t miss the stunning contemporary Te Marae (meeting place).

Maori Tours Kaikoura Learn the true meaning of manaakitanga (Maori warmth and hospitality) on these surprising, enriching and extremely personal tours run by Kaikoura couple Maurice and Heather Manawatu. Guests are encouraged to participate in a genuine cultural experience.

Mine Bay rock carvings Hop on a boat trip around the Western Bays of Lake Taupo and see intricate Maori rock carvings created in the late 1970s, one of which is more than 10m high and took four summers to complete.

Travel ideas



The forest that




Photo: Sanctuary Mountain

An inquisitive kaka: a large forest parrot with a brown coat that loves to whistle.


From the lookout tower at the top of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari you can gaze out over a forest canopy that is hundreds of years old. Like most forests in New Zealand, the canopy is untouched. Unfortunately it’s a different story at ground level in most of New Zealand’s ancient forests, which is what makes this place so special. Sanctuary Mountain, in the Hamilton & Waikato region, allows visitors to travel back in time and see what New Zealand used to look like before European settlers introduced mammals. Seeing some of New Zealand’s unique and critically endangered creatures is without a doubt the highlight of the experience. Getting up close to the nation’s iconic kiwi bird is an activity that many visitors rate highly. Throughout the year rangers are required to perform health checks on the resident Western North Island Brown Kiwis, and guests who book in advance can come along and get to know one of these gorgeous little creatures. Observing New Zealand’s own living dinosaur, the lizard-like tuatara, in its natural habitat is another highlight, while spending time with a gang of large and cheeky parrots is an interesting way to start (or finish) the educational experience. Surrounded by one of the longest pest-proof fences in the world, this ancient forest offers a sanctuary for numerous populations of New Zealand’s most endangered species, from birds and bats to frogs and reptiles. Sanctuary Mountain is the largest ecological mainland ‘island’ in New Zealand (there are several others) and a guided tour of the grounds offers visitors an insight Travel ideas



Sanctuary Mountain’s stars The kaka These parrots, while quite large, are hole-nesters, making them especially vulnerable to stoat predation. They were reintroduced to Sanctuary Mountain in 2007 and today there are a dozen or so breeding pairs.

High-tail it to the lookout tower for views over the canopy of lush trees. Boardwalks enable you to get up close to the birdlife in the park. The North Island brown kiwi is an endangered species. The colourful and flightless takahe is indigenous to New Zealand. Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari from afar. The intriguing, lizard-like tuatara.

into how the introduction of livestock, pets and unwanted tag-a-longs, such as mice and rats, has affected New Zealand’s pristine natural environment. You fast come to learn that it’s another world beyond the pest-proof fence. As we slowly wind our way up the mountain, our knowledgeable guide delves into stories about the natural habitat; he points out birdlife, educates us about orchids and brightly coloured fungi, and finds a few giant wetas (an insect species that is endemic to New Zealand) for us to study. Since the completion of the pest-proof fence in 2006, 14 unwanted mammal species have been eradicated from Sanctuary Mountain, including hedgehogs,


cats, rats, ferrets, rabbits, possums, deer, pigs and goats, allowing New Zealand’s endangered species to flourish in their natural environment. The sanctuary also runs breeding programs for several of the endangered species, including the kiwi, tuatara, kaka parrot and takahe bird. As we wander through the grounds, we spot a few bright kakarikis and several rare creatures along the way, including the beautiful and petite honeyeater-like hihi (also called stitchbird), endemic to the North Island. Once we climb up the lookout tower we are met with stunning vistas of the beautiful canopy below, made all the more rewarding now that we are more knowledgeable about

I’m a living dinosaur!

The tuatara Once present throughout New Zealand, since the introduction of rats to the mainland, the tuatara’s existence has been squeezed to the offshore islands. Fifty were reintroduced to Sanctuary Mountain in 2012 and are now breeding.

the creatures that are able to again call this forest home. We assemble afterwards in a clearing to meet and greet our afternoon tea companions, the resident kakas. About 40 of these mischievous parrots, with a penchant for whistling, arrive to snack on nuts in their feeding stations and entertain us all with their antics. Having a close encounter with these unusual, inquisitive creatures is a wonderful reminder of how unique New Zealand’s wildlife really is – and why it’s worth trying to turn back the clock to save it. Our guide sums it up perfectly: “Hopefully everyone who takes a tour of Sanctuary Mountain will take away just a little bit of the passion.”

Photos: Sanctuary Mountain, iStock, Alamy, Tourism New Zealand


The takahe The takahe is one of Sanctuary Mountain’s biggest success stories. Thought to be extinct, a few of these beautiful birds were discovered in Fiordland by a tramper in 1948. Sanctuary Mountain now boasts two breeding pairs and two chicks.

Top North Island eco-adventures

Waiheke eco zipline, Waiheke Island Waiheke Island’s EcoZip Adventures experience starts at a scenic high point with stunning outlooks across the harbour to Auckland city. On one of three ziplines, you’ll zoom over vineyards and virgin forest to the bottom of the valley. After the adrenaline rush a guided hike back up the hill offers an opportunity to learn about the natural environment and the history of Western settlement. Tongariro National Trout Centre This informative centre is perfectly positioned next to one of New Zealand’s most-loved trout rivers, the Tongariro River. Here you can see and feed wild trout in their natural environment while the kids can experience hands-on learning about the country’s freshwater ecology. There’s an underwater viewing chamber, too, giving you a sneak peek at trout swimming freely in their habitat. Tiritiri Matangi Island, Auckland Tiritiri Matangi Island is an island sanctuary that lies 4km off Auckland’s eastern coast. It provides a pest-free habitat for rare and endangered species, including some of New Zealand’s most tuneful songbirds, such as the takahe, kokako and North Island robin.

Habitat Tours, Auckland Habitat Tours have a range of half-day, full-day and day-night tours through Tawharanui Regional Park and the Waitakere Ranges. Tawharanui Regional Park is a haven for native bird species, and a walk along the white sandy beaches and coastal forests is a scenic exploration. A hike through the Waitakere Ranges, on the west coast of Auckland, will have you navigating lush rainforests and a wild black-sand coastline. Rainbow Springs wildlife park, Rotorua Rainbow Springs is a sanctuary in Rotorua, which runs New Zealand’s largest kiwi hatchery, raising chicks from eggs found in the wild.You can view kiwis in a purpose-built outdoor nocturnal house or pay a little extra for a behind-the-scenes experience, which takes you through the hatch and nursery rooms. Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, The Coromandel Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is an excellent place to explore New Zealand’s diverse marine life. The reserve is special because many habitats normally found in much bigger areas are found in this quite small area.You can explore on a glass-bottom boat, kayak, take a diving tour or the snorkel trail (from Gemstone Bay).

Travel ideas

The kiwi Western North Island Brown Kiwi Conservation programs around New Zealand focus on rearing the chicks until they are at a stoat-proof age and Sanctuary Mountain is part of the nationally managed breeding program. There are 66 kiwis in the program.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre to find out more about eco-tourism adventures and the latest New Zealand deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.



Photo: Tourism New Zealand

Cycling is a great way to explore the beauty of New Zealand. With a world-class network of pristine cycle trails, catering for all fitness levels, you can explore unique landscapes by bike.


Choose Adventure YOUR OWN

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You can’t hold your breath in New Zealand’s South Island. Just when you think you have discovered the brightest blue in the land of lake-water blues you turn a corner and another one bursts forth, forcing a sharp inhale. Aro Hā Wellness Retreat sits on 21 acres on the shores of one of those lakes, Lake Wakatipu. Legend has it that the inland lake’s unusual rise and fall of about 10cm every 25 minutes or so is caused by the breathing of a sleeping giant. Aro Hā is all about breath. Slowing it down and noticing it. I am not good with breath; I hold it for minutes without realising. My urban stressed-out lifestyle is not built for mindfulness, it is built on adrenaline in a constant state of fight or flight. Which is why I find myself exhaling on the Aro Hā yoga studio floor each morning at sunrise in a desperate bid to reconnect with myself. Clearly I, and 10 other guests, have come to the right place. The wellness retreat has been loved up by almost every Condé Nast Traveller award possible since opening in January 2014. But Aro Hā isn’t just about luxe. Sure the architectural design has won numerous sustainable design awards and the lodge boasts trillion dollar views, but simplicity is the key. I am woken each morning from my exhausted slumber to salute the sun on a yoga mat before sitting down to a raw vegan breakfast created from the produce grown on the property’s land. So far, so good, right? Then comes the daily hike, a 10 to 17km trek through pristine forests, alongside running glacial waters, up mountain peaks, down rocky valleys. At some point on the trek the retreat guides

Aro Hā is all about simplicity: think clean lines, natural spaces and wholesome food.


Words: Rachael Oakes-Ash

suggest we stop our chatter and walk apart for 20 minutes in a state of silence. Twenty minutes morphs into half an hour, which morphs into 45 minutes, which honestly feels like just five. Aro Hā doesn’t just preach mindfulness, it lives it, and the resort design reflects this in simple spaces. The warmth of a wood fire, the intake of a fabulous lake view from an infinity hot tub, a picture window in the yoga room that paints an image few artists could truly capture. Nature is held in high regard and shared with guests, like me, looking to detox from the stress of urban living. It is all the dream of Americans Chris and Beth Madison and their co-founder Damian Chaparro. They spent two years scouring the globe to find the right patch of pristine earth to create their wellness dream. Aro Hā is where they found it, setting up a $32 million hydro- and solar-powered sustainable retreat that is more about passion than profit. The afternoons are spent having a massage or soaking in hot and cold waters at the resort’s fitness spa before yoga rounds off the day and dinner is served. It doesn’t take long to de-stress when your body is supported with good-for-the-soul food, exercise, meditation and a daily yoga practice. My head hurts on day two as the toxins from caffeine, sugar, processed foods and too much computer time leave my body along with emotions held deep down. Come day three I am running like a mountain goat up the morning hills, filling my lungs with fresh air with every step. By day five there is a rhythm to my breath I had long forgotten. I think they call that Zen.


Kayaking on Lake Wakatipu. Stunning lake views abound from the infinity hot tub. Sub-alpine hiking is a popular wellness activity. With a design made of stone, wood and glass, Aro Hā seamlessly blends into its natural landscape. Sweeping lake views from the wooden yoga studio add to the Zen-inspired experience. Organic produce is grown on site and 110 plant species are incorporated into the clean vegan cuisine. Daily sun salutes invigorate the mind and body. The sauna features a glass window with views.

Photos: Aro Ha

A breath of fresh air

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The scenic route

I begin my journey on Auckland’s west coast, 40 minutes from downtown, with a stroll along the vast stretch of volcanic black sand framed by dramatic rocky terrain at Piha beach. The surrounding Waitakere Ranges Regional Park boasts over 250km of walking and hiking tracks through lush native rainforest, past cascading waterfalls and a magnificent coastline. Auckland is the perfect place to start my North Island road trip and less than an hour out of the city, heading south, I pass through the pristine green pastures of Clevedon. The scenic route to Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula is a gorgeous drive via peaceful paddocks and coastal wetlands. I’m driving through the ‘Ring of Fire’ – a route marked by many volcanic landmarks on a six-day, 880km trip. First stop, the famous Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel. I visit before low tide to dig my own hot pool in the sand that fills with warm geothermal waters, then head to the seaside town of Whitianga to embark on a scenic boat cruise to the magical Cathedral Cove. Back on the road, a spectacular drive along the coast presents a procession of beaches fringed with pohutukawa trees. Arriving in the Bay of Plenty region, from Whakatane I explore the crystalclear waters of the bay and visit New Zealand’s only active island volcano, White Island. Just 50km offshore from Whakatane and accessible by boat, helicopter or seaplane, the island is a moonscape of iron oxide reds and vivid sulphur whites.



Photos: Tourism New Zealand, Getty

Huka Falls in Taupo are a nature lover’s dream. In-the-know visitors flock to Hot Water Beach two hours either side of low tide for bubbling hot water baths. The drive through the picturesque Coromandel region is definitely dreamy. All travellers who visit Rotorua rave about the plethora of geothermal attractions. The magnificent Lake Taupo is the crater of the world’s largest volcanic eruption of the last 5000 years. Auckland’s volcanic black sand beach, the beautiful Piha, is loved by everyone who visits.

Words: Ben Rogers

Gently rolling hills take me to Rotorua where I find sparkling lakes, stunning scenery and world-renowned geothermal attractions, including the colourful Wai-o-Tapu (or Sacred Waters) in one of New Zealand’s most extensive geothermal fields. A visit to the famed Champagne Pool and the Lady Knox Geyser is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Soaking in the thermal waters of the Polynesian Spa is the perfect way to relax before continuing my journey to the largest freshwater lake in Australasia, Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo was created nearly 2000 years ago by a volcanic eruption so big it darkened the skies in Europe and China. I stop at Orakei Korako to explore evidence of the lake’s fiery birth in the geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools. Heading north, I stop at the 2014 International Garden of the Year, Hamilton Gardens, and then enjoy a charming cruise up the Waikato River. I relax, surrounded by the tranquillity of this waterway that runs through the heart of Hamilton city (which I later discover hosts a vibrant dining scene). The final day of my New Zealand driving adventure starts with a stop at Hobbiton™ Movie Set near Matamata to explore the magic of the real Middle-earth™, before heading back to Auckland. This journey has taken me through a number of landscapes, from coast to country, and to some of the most other-worldly places on the planet.

The area around Lake Taupo is full of geysers and hot pools.

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55 55


The Otago Central Rail Trail follows a 19thcentury railway.


Tiger Hill’s roar is far worse than its bite. I’ve been cycling for two hours on the Otago Central Rail Trail and I’ve arrived at the base of its most frighteningly named climb. I’m anticipating a grind, a flurry of gear changes, as I ascend through its slopes, but within minutes I’m parked at the top of the hill. Resistance has been minimal. More than 120km of cycling rolls out ahead of me and I’ve just climbed the trail’s steepest hill – a barely noticeable two per cent gradient. Praise be to the railway builders who knew how to tame tigers like this one. Following the course of a 19th-century railway through longabandoned goldfields, the 152km Otago Central Rail Trail has long been the crown in New Zealand’s cycling network. It’s a kind journey with more pubs than climbs as it horseshoes through valleys between Clyde and Middlemarch, inland from Dunedin. For 75km the gravel trail gently rises; for the next 75km or so it gently descends; quid pro quo. To truly savour it, I’ve broken the ride into three easy days. From the top of Tiger Hill, the trail opens out into a broad, bucolic valley. Hills rise from the valley’s edges, but the trail stays faithfully flat as I roll into my first night’s stop in tiny Lauder. Since opening in 2000, the Otago Central Rail Trail has revitalised this once little-visited region. B&Bs have sprouted along its length, and in places such as Lauder – home to a hotel,


Words: Andrew Bain

a school-turned-B&B and little else – pubs have outlasted the towns. There are around a dozen hotels along the trail’s length, and a pub on average about every 12km. A few kilometres out of Lauder the next morning, the trail changes its shape. Turning from the valley, I find myself riding directly for the hills, but once again the trail’s railway origins are my friend. Instead of rising over the Raggedy Range, the rail trail cuts through the hills, burrowing into Poolburn Gorge, arguably the most spectacular section of the ride. Through the gorge, the trail holds a flat line, crossing high railway bridges and disappearing into a pair of long tunnels. In the momentary night of the tunnels, the lights on my bike are like shooting stars through the darkness. Classically New Zealand rural country – yellow grasslands that sway in the breeze, large flocks of sheep – rolls out beyond the gorge as the trail climbs to its highest point and descends the next morning into the second of its gorges. The dramatic rock walls of the Upper Taieri Gorge frame the high reaches of New Zealand’s fourth-longest river, and once again I find myself tunnelling through cliffs and riding over railway bridges (the trail crosses more than 70 bridges). Below me, willow trees and poplars line the banks of the Taieri River. As the sun pierces into the gorge, the autumnal trees’ glow is as golden as the region’s history. It’s a rich ride, indeed.

Photos: Andrew Bain, Alamy, iStock

The trail less travelled

The Otago Central Rail Trail rides through classically rural terrain. The rail trail crosses more than 70 bridges along its 152km route. Bike racks in the tiny town of Lauder make for a rewarding stop-off point for cyclists. The trail traverses open country, winding through rock walls and bucolic valleys. Autumn is a popular season for cycling the route. Remnants of the 19th-century railway are a feature of the trail. Nicknamed the ‘Ale Trail’, there are many pubs, such as the laid-back, country-style Chatto Creek Tavern, that dot the track route.

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Fairways to heaven

I’m getting the feeling I’m being watched even though there’s not a soul around. I’m mid-fairway on The Kinloch Club, New Zealand’s most challenging golf course. Beside me Lake Taupo, the country’s largest lake, stretches on for miles. I can see Mt Ruapehu volcano on the horizon, while to my right, gentle sloping hills rise and fall beyond fields of famously green fields of pasture. Sheep and cows stare as they chew grass, while wild geese cross the fairway. But with so many great courses off the beaten track in New Zealand’s North Island, theirs will be the only eyes on me as I golf my way across the entire island. Though the Queenstown area attracts much of the golf world’s attention, there are courses across the North Island that rank in the top 100 courses in the world. I’m on one right now and yet there’s no one else on the course (bar the wild fauna). The Kinloch Club is New Zealand’s best links-style course – the only course in New Zealand designed by golf superstar Jack Nicklaus and yet, despite my lifelong affiliation with the game, I’ve never heard of it before. It’s not for the faint of heart – tee-offs require heart-inmouth strokes across thick heath and schist rock outcrops. With more than 400 courses throughout the country, New Zealand is now second only to Scotland for the number of golf courses per capita. That’s a lot of golf courses for only a tiny patch of terra firma, and with quite possibly the prettiest landscape on earth, it’s easy to see why New Zealand has become a beacon for golfers the world over. After finishing my game at The Kinloch Club I drive 15 minutes and play the largest international four-star resort in the North Island, Wairakei Resort. I love the diversity of the



Photos: Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers

Scenic Cape Kidnappers is one of the world’s top-rated courses. Playing The Kinloch Club is about finesse, not power. The newly opened Lodge at The Kinloch Club features earthy and luxe accommodation. Style and sophistication go hand in hand at Navigate Oceania, The Kinloch Club’s chic lounge bar. Wairakei golf course in Waikato. Holes 14 to 16 at Cape Kidnappers. It’s easy to lose yourself on The Kinloch Club’s par 72 course. Wild fauna and no crowds make teeing off at The Kinloch Club a pleasure.

Words: Craig Tansley

New Zealand golfing experience: at Kinloch it felt like I was playing the most rugged of Scottish links layouts, but just a few kilometres east I’m playing a course that feels tropical with navy blue lakes that run beside a nature sanctuary. This trend continues throughout the North Island as I fast come to realise that no two courses are the same. I leave the Taupo region and make my way east towards the coast at Hawke’s Bay, a three-hour drive away. It’s here I find myself on one of the world’s top-rated courses, Cape Kidnappers. Built among a series of finger-like ridges that jut out towards cliffs that drop directly into the sea, Cape Kidnappers is an incredibly scenic course. You’ll have to steel yourself to hit tee shots from the end of one ridge to the start of the next. I finish my North Island golf odyssey at the striking ocean-side golf course Kauri Cliffs in Northland, above Auckland. Built on a 2500ha property overlooking the Bay of Islands, including private beaches, waterfalls and kauri forests (some trees here are over 1000 years old), many tee shots require a hit across a gaping chasm, hundreds of metres above the Pacific Ocean. But there are many more courses in between these gems; layouts that stretch on through varied coastal and mountainous terrain, empty too except for eavesdropping livestock.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on New Zealand adventures and the latest deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

On the green at ocean-side Kauri Cliffs in Northland.

Travel ideas



Water thrills







01Sail away

With more than 15,000km of coastline and harbours dotted with islands, New Zealand is the perfect place to hoist the mainsail and shout “ahoy”. Good places to start are Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Islands. Crewed voyages range from a leisurely cruise on an historic square-rigger to several days on an ocean-going maxi-yacht. Take the helm of an authentic America’s Cup yacht on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour for the ultimate sailing thrill with Explore tours.

02 Ferry across the water

For a more sedate water exploration, cruise the sparkling waters of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour with Fullers ferries and learn about the city’s best-loved landmarks with commentary from the knowledgeable crew. As well as a brief stopover at volcanic Rangitoto Island, highlights include views of the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline – and a free ticket to Devonport, which can be used anytime. Hop across and spend time exploring shops, cafes and galleries.

05 Ride the falls

04 Canoe to paradise

06 And so below

Kayaking is an excellent way to explore New Zealand’s coastline and waterways. Paddle out with the dolphins from the sheltered waters of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour to volcanic Rangitoto Island. As part of Auckland Sea Kayaks Sunset Tour you can kayak to Rangitoto then take the one-hour hike to the summit to watch the sun set over the Waitakere Ranges. Post hike a hearty, healthy Kiwi-style dinner will be awaiting you at the water’s edge.

Photos: Tourism New Zealand, Dive! Tutukaka

Whether you’re into scuba diving, boating, fishing, kayaking or surfing, there’s plenty of ways to get wet in New Zealand. Here’s our pick of the top places to soak up the action – on, above and below the water.

03 Active day out

Board an inflatable ‘funyak’ canoe and drift downstream into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park to Paradise and on to Glenorchy on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, near Queenstown. Funyaks, available from the Dart River adventure company, are safe and easy to paddle. Explore the hidden streams and rock pools of the South Island’s magnificent Dart River, then travel the backcountry route visiting some of the famous filming locations featured in The Lord of the Rings movies.

Jet boating is a uniquely New Zealand invention. Marvel at the water-level views of the spectacular Lake Taupo on board the Hukafalls Jet, while torpedoing down the river to play in the tail of the mighty white water of Huka Falls – the closest you can get without actually going down the falls. Get ready for the trademark heart-pumping turns and 360-degree spins. Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, is about the size of Singapore.

The late undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau once said the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, off New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, is one of the world’s top five diving locations. Dive wrecks, including the sunken Rainbow Warrior, drop-offs and sub-tropical reefs in clean, clear waters with Dive! Tutukaka. Explore huge kelp forests, swim with school fish or alongside dolphins. Learn about Maori history, the world’s largest sea cave, and the tuatara, the world’s only living dinosaur. Travel ideas




07 Swim in the glow See a glowworm galaxy!

Under the green hills of Waitomo near Hamilton lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The cave walls are also covered with galaxies of glowworms and stalactites and stalagmites formed over centuries by dripping water. The easiest way to see the caves is on a boat tour, but for a more adventurous experience try black-water rafting and swim and float through the caves on a rubber tube, or abseil or zipline through the darkness.


08 Soak your cares away

Located at the juncture of two tectonic plates, New Zealand has a large amount of geothermal activity, with warm water bubbling up through the earth to form hot pools. Locals have enjoyed these soothing pools for centuries, 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. For the experience of bathing in heated glacial waters, head to Tekapo Springs, about three hours’ drive from Christchurch.

Photos: Tourism New Zealand, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company




09 Punting on the Avon

11 Bag a big one

10 Hang five (or 10)

12 Swim with the dolphins

Punting refers to what has become one of the most iconic sights in the Christchurch region: a Venice-style gondola trip down the Avon River’s serene waters. Step aboard a classic-style punt boat – a flat-bottomed boat pushed along by a pole. Accompanied by a guide in full Edwardian-themed clothing, you’ll head on a leisurely romantic cruise past some of Christchurch’s key highlights and local landmarks, which take on an entirely new life from the water.

There’s always a great surf break somewhere along New Zealand’s vast coastline. Follow Surf Highway 45 around the Taranaki coast for top surfing conditions. Further north, Raglan, in the Hamilton & Waikato region, has achieved legendary status thanks to its epic left-hand point break at Manu Bay. Other North Island locations, such as Piha, Muriwai, Waipu and Gisborne, are pumping when conditions are right. In the South Island check out Kaikoura and Dunedin.


Fishing fanatics will be in heaven in New Zealand. December to June is big game fishing season. Head out from Russell or Tutukaka in Northland, or Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty and chase some seriously big fish, including marlin, yellowfin tuna and kingfish. New Zealand’s clear rivers and lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing brimming with rainbow and brown trout. Lake Taupo in the central North Island is world renowned for its trout fishing.

There is only one place on the planet where you can swim with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin – the Hector’s or New Zealand dolphin – and that is the beautiful sheltered setting of Akaroa Harbour in the South Island. The dolphins are friendly and curious so they will usually come close to the boat. Once in the water the dolphins swim around and beneath you, as if to welcome their new-found friends. There’s perhaps no better experience on earth.


Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on New Zealand water thrills and the latest deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas


city scoop TRAVEL GUIDES

City scoop we c hat t o i n-the-k now locals abo ut their top t ip s on w he r e to eat, d rink and p l ay




Flame Bar and Grill

This place does the best ribs in town, by far. If you’re in the mood for hot chocolate, then Patagonia Chocolates is a fantastic spot. It has amazing ice cream, too.

For some après-ski, this is an awesome little bar with a great alpine feel. It’s just off Cow Lane. Or try Harry’s Pool Bar for a few pool games and delicious pizza. PLAY

The Remarkables

From learning to ski or snowboard to shredding down the chutes or making a snowman, head on up to The Remarkables and have fun in the snow. DAY TRIP Arrowtown

If you have a day off skiing, Arrowtown is worth a day trip. Go for a walk along Arrow River and through the quaint main street; there are awesome shops and great food. SECRET TIP

Insider info

Make time to go for a walk around the Queenstown Gardens to take in the scenery. Grab a Frisbee from town and have a go at the Frisbee golf course up there.

Why I love it…

The food is amazing, the scenery is amazing and the people are amazing. And there’s always something cool going on.” Adie Lawrence, ski instructor at The Remarkables


This is an unlikely shopping precinct that has risen in a gritty industrial area following the Canterbury earthquakes. Visit Gustav’s wine bar for shared plates and Cassels & Sons’ The Brewery for craft beer.

This is the place to see and be seen. Pasta dishes combine with an excellent wine list to make you think you’re in Italy. There are also good vegetarian options and shared plates.

The Port Hills

An extensive network of tracks for running, walking and riding with sweeping views of the Southern Alps, Lyttelton Harbour and the Kaikoura Ranges – and close to the city. DAY TRIP

Canterbury High Country Drive by The Lord of the Rings location

Mount Sunday and visit the Clydesdaleloving Erewhon Station, at the headwaters of the Rangitata River. SECRET TIP

Insider info

Christchurch is the capital of food trucks. Talented chefs and bakers cruise around the city offering tasty bites.

Why I love it…

In one day you can ski a Canterbury slope, then head to Sumner Beach or Taylors Mistake for fish and chips.” Yvonne Martin, editor of Avenues magazine

1885 Britomart

AFTER DARK Ancestral

Head out the back to the garden bar, take a seat on the heated concrete benches, grab some yakitori and get the knowledgeable staff to recommend a wine or sake. Bliss.


Piha Beach


My idea of play is to head out to the west coast beaches and go for surf. With its black sand beaches, Piha has been a magnet for travelling surfers from around the world.

City Gallery Wellington

This is a beautiful building with some really progressive exhibitions that showcase inspiring international and local art.



Waiheke Island


World-class vineyards, breathtaking views and pristine beaches make this the crown jewel in Auckland. Check out Stonyridge Vineyard, nestled among olive groves.

The one-and-a-half-hour train trip will take you through the Rimutaka Range, emerging in Wairarapa. Wine tours can be organised and will take you from Featherston station to the vineyards surrounding Martinborough.


Insider info

See the sun rise on the east coast and watch it set on the west coast. There are not many countries in the world where you can travel from one coastline to the other in one hour.

Why I love it…

Originally from Glasgow, to me Auckland still retains its small-city status but punches way above its weight.” Norrie Montgomery, photographer


Eat Streat

This is the new entertainment area and it’s a symbol of how far Rotorua has come. The restaurants, bars and cafes all have a really fun energy. Try Leonardo’s Pure Italian or have alternative fusion cuisine at tapas-style restaurant Atticus Finch. AFTER DARK Brew

On any given night you can head down to this local craft brewery pub to listen to a live band. Ponsonby Rd lounge bar has DJs spinning cool tunes and soulful jazz music. PLAY

Kaituna River

Go rafting on the river and see a seven-metre waterfall. Rotorua has some of the best white-water rafting in the world. DAY TRIP

White Island

This is New Zealand’s most active volcano, also called Te Puia o Whakaari. The only way to visit it is via the phenomenal Frontier Helicopters experience.




Nikau Cafe

I’m obsessed with good scrambled eggs and this cafe does the best around. Creamy eggs, thick toast and crispy bacon with a nice strong flat white – it’s a great start to a day exploring the capital!

This place is usually pumping around 11pm, hosting many top local and visiting international DJs. Tyler Street Garage is another popular venue that fills up fast.



The Tannery





Rhino’s Ski Shack



King of Snake

Southeast Asian at its best, the food here is impeccably presented and served in an edgy environment, washed down with fine wine or the King of Snake signature cocktail.



Photos: iStock, Tourism New Zealand



Insider info

Hit The Service Depot to check out Children of Vision; it’s a store-within-a-store with the best local and international clothing around.

Why I love it…

Wellington is a beautiful city that has really embraced its waterfront, and the compact size means it’s easy to get around.” James Dobson, fashion designer at Jimmy D

Insider info

There’s no better place to enjoy getting into the outdoors. You can go mountain biking, fishing, sailing and wake boarding!

Why I love it…

In its purist form, the culture of Rotorua is about family and love. It’s what makes this place so special.” Takurua Mutu, director at Multi-Day Adventures


This is definitely a place to check out as it has steered away from what you would expect from a traditional cafe. It serves great coffee and food with an original approach. 

Mulligan's Public House

Spa Thermal Park

This Irish pub has events on every day of the week, from trivia and poker nights to live bands. For nightclubs try Elements, and for craft beer head to Lakehouse Taupo. PLAY

Just five minutes from the town centre, this park has naturally occurring geothermal hot pools and is a must-do when in Taupo. DAY TRIP

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

This seven-hour hike is located in Tongariro National Park. For outdoor lovers, there’s no better place to explore. Tour companies can pick you up from the town centre. SECRET TIP

Insider info

Visiting Taupo is for the tranquillity; our lake, forest, mountains and rivers allow you to get back in touch with nature. You can walk up Mt Tauhara, a 10-minute drive from town, or go kayaking down Waikato River.

Why I love it…

It’s a beautiful place to live, particularly in summer as people go boating, jet-skiing and picnicking around the lake.” Shay Clark, general manager at Lakehouse Taupo

Travel ideas


y o u r g u i d e t o w h at’s o n i n n e w z e a l a n d







2015 2016


Wearable Art

The idea? No matter how extreme, if it can be worn it can win. This internationally renowned design awards show sees designers from all over the world enter extravagant ‘wearable’ art in the form of garments over the 18-day event.

02 BOI Walking



Held over the first weekend in October, choose from more than 20 different walks led by local guides in and around Russell, the ideal base for discovering the Bay of Islands. Each walk takes a maximum of 20 walkers and features a mix of highlights, from cultural experiences to breathtaking photo opportunities.

17 Diwali Festival


A vibrant, family-friendly event attracting people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds thanks to its live music, Indian street-food stalls, Bollywood dance competitions, dance performances and fireworks.



Seafood Festival

See live celebrity chef demonstrations, listen to funky live music, bask in the sunshine by Halsey Wharf and tuck into the freshest seafood (think lobster, crayfish, regional oysters) at this three-day festival. Waitemata Harbour plays host to the event and a portion of the funds raised are donated to charity.



24 World of

24 Auckland


28 The Hilton Lake OCTOBER, TAUPO

Taupo Masters Golf Event

Tee off at some of New Zealand’s best courses, including The Kinloch Club and the Centennial, at this three-day event. Enter the tournament as a team or as an individual. Live entertainment will also be on offer.

A running festival that takes place at the foot of The Remarkables mountain ranges and offers several distances, from 10 to 42km.

27 New Zealand


Millennium Cup

This three-day sailing regatta for superyachts is held in conjunction with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week and features a selection of challenging courses that weave in and around the islands. Fun, yet competitive, it’s become the South Pacific’s premier superyacht regatta.

06 F.A.W.C!


Summer Series

Meet some of New Zealand’s best-known chefs, producers and winemakers at the Food and Wine Classic, a series of pop-up foodie events over 10 days – such as murder mystery nights with ‘death by dessert’ – held around Hawke’s Bay. Previous local participating venues have included Sileni Estates and Elephant Hill.

01St Jerome’s


28 Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge NOVEMBER, LAKE TAUPO

There are 18 event categories on offer at this popular cycling event, including on- and offroad options and the everpopular 160km Bike Barn Solo – a one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo. Each year around 8000 riders participate, so book your spot early.

Laneway Festival

What started as a series of weekly shows at a tiny Melbourne bar in 2004 has bloomed into one of the most anticipated annual music festivals in Australia and New Zealand. With local and international indie acts, Laneway Festival never fails to deliver an amazing line-up.



With its carnival-like vibe, this knockout tournament brings together more than 280 players, 90,000 fans, 16 NRL teams and NZ$2.6 million in prize money. Eden Park will host the event and fans can expect to choose from over 31 games during the course of the two-day event.


Queenstown International Marathon

19 Hamilton Gardens

06 NRL Auckland Nines

21Air New Zealand

Photos: Tourism New Zealand, iStock, Photosport


travel planner

Art Festival

12 Rotorua Bike Festival FEBRUARY, ROTORUA

From world-class mountain bikers to young families, this 10-day action-packed event is open to everyone and offers more than 30 events to choose from, including the leisurely dress-up ride ‘Frocks on Bikes’ and the two-hour free Rotorua Ride to Recycle.

The Hamilton Gardens, Waikato’s very own International Garden of the Year, is the spectacular setting for theatre, music, art, dance, comedy, circus and street performances for 10 days every summer. The 2016 festival runs from the 19–28 February 2016.

SUMMER 20 Challenge


12 February


Coast to Coast

It’s the ultimate test of fitness: a 243km course covered in one day via foot, bike and kayak as part of the World Multisport Championship race. Other options include a two-day tandem event or the 30.5km mountain run. You’ll need a decent level of fitness for this vigorous challenge.

Wanaka Triathlon

Set against the stunning alpine backdrop of the Southern Alps and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area, the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon is one of the world’s toughest courses. Be one of around 1500 professional and amateur athletes competing, or line the gorgeous route and cheer those racing along.

Travel ideas


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y o u r g u i d e t o w h at’s o n i n n e w z e a l a n d

09 Crankworx Rotorua

14 The Ultimate



Arts Festival

A celebration of people, place, culture and art, the 19-day Auckland Arts Festival features more than 900 local and international artists that inspire the coming together of communities to laugh, cry and be amazed.

10 BMW NZ Open


A cornerstone event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the four-day BMW NZ Open will include a minimum field of 140 amateurs and 140 professionals playing. Hosted at two spectacular golf courses – The Hills and Millbrook Resort, both in Arrowtown – visitors will enjoy stunning scenery, too.

Balloons Over Waikato

In a bid to find the world’s best all-round waterman, each competitor’s skills and endurance will be tested in different surfing disciplines over eight days. The Auckland waterfront will host spectators and exhibition events.


Queenstown Winterfest

Queenstown will be abuzz as more than 45,000 people arrive to celebrate the beginning of winter. With street parties, fireworks, entertainment, comedy, family-friendly fun and plenty of snowy mayhem, winter has never been more fun.

Golf Open



Super Rugby



Attracting balloonists from all over the world, this five-day festival is a gorgeous spectacle from the air or the ground. Watch mass hot air balloon ascensions just after sunrise and head to the ‘Night Glow’ at the University of Waikato on the Saturday evening for live music and a light and sound show featuring the beautiful balloons.


16 March

It’s super rugby season again which means you can catch your favourite Kiwi footy stars from the Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs as they take to the field for some action-packed sport. Keep checking the leaderboard to see which player is topping the list.



NZ International Comedy Festival

A talented and, let’s face it, hilarious line-up of comedians, from Noel Fielding and Ronny Chieng to Ed Byrne and DeAnne Smith, have previously graced the stages at this comedy fest. Throughout the festival new shows are constantly added, so keep your eyes peeled – and book your tickets early.


F.A.W.C! Winter Series

Foodies rejoice! The Food and Wine Classic is a month-long series of one-off, out-of-the-box food and wine events set in stunning locations throughout Hawke’s Bay. Get your fill of cheese platters, scrumptious mains and desserts and, of course, wine. Select vineyard restaurants will also offer decadent menus with wine pairings – think duck with tamarillo, cinnamon, bok choi and dates paired with a 2009 reserve tempranillo.

10 Auckland Writers MAY, AUCKLAND


A delight for writers and readers alike, this five-day festival brings the very best local and international fiction and non-fiction writers together with audiences to explore ideas, share stories and experience brilliant conversations. Photos: Tourism New Zealand, iStock

02 Auckland

Mountain biking’s cranking world tour celebration brings biking legends together with fans and the next generation of riders over five days. Expect heartstopping competitions, concerts, culture and loads of fun.



New Zealand International Film Festival

Film buffs and doco fans are in for a treat at this event as more than 150 new features, shorts, documentaries and animated films are screened at various locations across the country. There will also be the chance to attend ‘meet the filmmaker Q&As’ to learn more about the art of filmmaking from the experts. Don’t forget the popcorn!


Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival



Semi-Permanent is a platform for creative folk seeking art and design inspiration. From exhibits and competitions to workshops, all-night parties and talks from world-renowned guest speakers, the event is hosted annually in some of the world’s biggest cities, including New York, London and LA.

Chocoholics, this one’s for you. Highlights include Cadbury Jaffa balls, which have been made in New Zealand since 1931, being hurled down the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street. Head along to a chocolate tour, take a cooking class, or be adventurous and try a chocolate facial.



Restaurant Month

Visitors brave the cold and locals come out of hibernation in August to enjoy wining and dining throughout the city as part of Restaurant Month. There’ll be foodie-inspired events (30 in total) and dining offers galore to ensure you find delicious deals that won’t break the bank. Venues such as hip Orleans, exotic Cafe Hanoi and funky Odettes Eatery will all take part.

Travel ideas


FROM LEFT Enjoy panoramic views from Auckland’s Sky Tower; Maori carvings are dotted all over the country; the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf are a must-see; take a luxe helicopter ride over stunning Milford Sound; Azur Lodge, Queenstown; Mudbrick Restaurant & Vineyard on Waiheke Island.






Experience one: The Auckland Explorer bus is a great way to see the best of the city. At around NZ$45 for a 24-hour pass (way cheaper than a taxi!) this hop-on hop-off option includes sightseeing with guided commentary as well as transport to all the major attractions, such as the Auckland Museum, Parnell Village, the Sky Tower and Auckland waterfront. Speaking of the Tower, why don’t you check out the best outlook of Auckland while you’re there – 360-degree views for up to 80km and at a price of only NZ$28 per person. Or take to the water on a Fullers Harbour Cruise and take in views of the city’s major icons: the Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower. The cruise includes on-board commentary, morning or afternoon tea and a free return ferry ticket to Devonport, so you can visit the seaside village, at a cost of around NZ$40 per person. Experience two: North Island touring is the best way to get a taste of what the region has to offer, from geothermal hot pools to the breathtaking Bay of Plenty region. Take the six-day round trip self-drive tour, departing from and returning to Auckland, and on day three when you arrive in Rotorua you can finish with

For the luxury lover

a soak at the Polynesian Spa – Lake Spa. If you choose to spend more time here, get yourself a Te Puia day pass for a great mix of geothermal touring and Maori cultural experience. It costs NZ$44.90 per person – bargain!


Auckland City Oaks Fancy a central CBD location and free wifi? Yes, please! Most rooms at the Auckland City Oaks have balconies and a supplied continental breakfast pack included in the rates. Secure undercover parking directly below the property with easy access to guest rooms makes this hotel the perfect ‘home away from home’. Ibis Rotorua The Ibis Rotorua is a great value hotel that is excellently located close to the lake shore. Plus, it’s a short five-minute stroll to the city centre restaurants, shopping and some of Rotorua’s most popular tourist attractions. Guests are also able to access facilities at the neighbouring Novotel Rotorua Lakeside.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice on budget New Zealand holidays and the latest deals. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.


Photos: iStock, Tourism New Zealand, Azur Lodge

For the budget savvy

Whether you’re hitting Auckland’s city hotspots or the geothermal highlights of Rotorua, these options won’t break the bank.


Natural treasures, great food and cultural insights await in New Zealand. What’s more, if you have the money to spend – and helicopters and fine wines are your style – you’ll find plenty to satiate your love of all things luxe.


Experience one: The stunning beauty of Waiheke Island is just a 40-minute ferry transfer (or private transfer) from Auckland city. Given its easy accessibility, a visit here is a must if you like the idea of being indulged. Stop at Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant for lunch overlooking the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf and enjoy sampling their premium wines. Or for absolute indulgence the Gourmet’s Food and Wine Tour is a must. For those who simply can’t get enough of this extraordinary island, you can spend a night or two at the luxurious Delamore Lodge. With its heated infinity pool, jacuzzi, sauna and spa treatments, you won’t want to leave. Experience two: Queenstown, in the South Island, offers something for all travellers to enjoy. To truly experience the magnificence of the city, take a private helicopter flight to The Remarkables or choose a snow landing on a nearby mountain peak. We work with local providers to cater to almost any New Zealand itinerary and one of my favourite experiences is the helicopter flight over the breathtaking Milford Sound fiord. Stop for a champagne

picnic before enjoying a cruise on the Sound. While in Queenstown, be sure to stop into Vudu Cafe for the city’s best coffee and pastries.


The Hilton Auckland The Hilton Auckland is perfectly positioned 300m out to sea on the end of Princes Wharf, yet is also located within walking distance of many restaurants and cafes in the Viaduct Harbour area. Choose from an array of suites for uninterrupted views across Auckland Harbour. All rooms feature private balconies and spacious bathrooms. Azur Lodge Queenstown With a totally secluded hilltop setting, yet located an easy five-minute drive into town, Azur Lodge in Queenstown is the ultimate in luxury accommodation. All nine villas are very private, with breathtaking lake and mountain views. Airport and town transfers are included, as are evening drinks and canapés, afternoon tea and a gourmet breakfast each morning.

Getting there

There are many luxury New Zealand holidays on offer. Simply chat to your Flight Centre consultant about your needs. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas


travel clinic

Travel clinic

when i t com e s to h ol id ay queries , l et ou r e xp e r ts show th e way

I’d like to hire a car and do a road trip around the North and South Islands. Do you have any tips on the best hire car companies? There are a couple of different car hire options in New Zealand depending on whether you are more budget or convenience driven. The most cost effective when it comes to the rate per day is Ezi Car Rental. They are older vehicles than some of their competitors (three to six years) but this means that they can deliver a cheaper price. Ezi Car Rental has an NZ$230 fee for travelling one-way across the islands. You will need to pay to take the car on the Interislander ferry at your own expense. It’s also worth noting their car depots are not located at the airport so a shuttle will pick you up and take you to your car. If you’re after more convenience, car rentals such as Thrifty will make your trip hassle free. Their depots are at the airport and there is no one-way fee as long as you’re hiring the car for a minimum of three days on each island. There’s no need to pay for the car to go across on the Interislander ferry as there are convenient depots at the ports where you can leave and pick up your car at no extra expense. DANA WISSEMANN, TRAVEL CONSULTANT, FLIGHT CENTRE BEENLEIGH, QLD


I’m going on a ski trip to Queenstown with my mates. What slopes should we ski?

Hiring a campervan or car is the best way to travel around the North Island and see the sights. I’d suggest touring the North Island via the sixday ‘Ring of Fire’ self-drive tour. There are so many natural beauties to check out, as well as culture to enjoy, and this drive takes it all in, from Rotorua and Lake Taupo to the stunning Coromandel Peninsula and Hamilton & Waikato region. During peak times ( July and Dec–Jan) it’s always highly recommended to pre-book your accommodation. I’d recommend giving yourself about two weeks to see everything, but in six days you can certainly cover the highlights.

Queenstown has lots to offer when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. If it’s your first time hitting the slopes I would recommend starting off at Coronet Peak as it has great beginner slopes and a ‘magic carpet’ to get you up the hill. It’s also a great place to get set up for your week of skiing with a large hire shop and helpful staff. After that try out The Remarkables for steeper slopes and a few jumps. My personal favourite slope to ski is Cardrona – it’s a great all-rounder offering lots of different runs, a terrain park and it’s not usually over-crowded. Finish off your ski day at Fergburger in Queenstown for seriously good burgers!





Take a cable car ride up to the Botanic Gardens and let the kids explore and play in the playground.”

My family (two adults and two kids aged under five) are visiting Wellington for three nights. What are your top family-friendly tips for things to see and do while there? Wellington is a great choice for families. If your kids love animals, Wellington Zoo is the perfect place to start your activities – especially if the kids are fans of The WotWots because the cartoon is set in this zoo. Similarly, Staglands Wildlife Reserve just out of Upper Hutt is a great family-friendly place with lots of animals to get up close and personal with. I would also definitely recommend you take a cable car ride up to the Botanic Gardens and let the kids explore and play in the playground. After all that, have a ‘fluffy’ (babycino) in the cafe. Weta Wokshop is a huge drawcard where you can see the props of the Middleearth™ movies, although coming face to face with an Orc might be a bit daunting for some littlies! ANNIE LINDSAY, TRAVEL Photo: iStock


I’m travelling to the North Island with my wife. What’s your suggestion for how to get around?

If I only have 24 hours in Auckland what are your three must-do activities?

Te Mata Peak in the Hawke’s Bay region is nearly 400 metres above sea level.

My boyfriend and I love to find off-the-beaten-track experiences whenever we travel. What are your top lesser-known recommendations for travelling around New Zealand? Avoid the bigger (by New Zealand standards) cities and go regional. I recommend travelling to the smaller cities and towns for beautiful wineries, the freshest produce and friendly locals. Hawke’s Bay is a massively underrated area of New Zealand and my home town of Havelock North is a tiny village where you can go on horseback tours of beautiful wineries with the sweeping Te Mata Peak as your backdrop. Hastings has amazingly extensive markets with a Thursday night market in summer and the farmers’ market every Sunday morning where local farmers and small shop owners gather to sell their goods – nothing is better than bringing a blanket and having a picnic.





Auckland is a great city for a 24-hour transit. I’d recommend taking the Auckland Airport bus straight to Britomart for some retail therapy. Britomart is right by the harbour and offers a great mix of restaurants, cafes and chic designer boutiques. Next, since you’re already right by the ferry building, take a day trip over to Waiheke Island for a spot of wine tasting or, for adventure seekers, go canoyning in the Waitakere Ranges. Finally, head to the Sky Tower for breathtaking views all over Auckland. JOSH STENT, TRAVEL CONSULTANT, FLIGHT CENTRE IVANHOE, NSW

Do you have a travel question you need answering? Tweet it to @FlightCentreAu #AskTheExperts on Twitter.

Getting there

Visit your local Flight Centre for more advice and the latest deals on New Zealand. Go to or call 131 600 24 hours.

Travel ideas



Sensational cities these four vibrant cities are the ideal launching points to experience every corner of nz

There’s something for everyone in this sparkling harbourside city, from dining hotspots and watering holes to incredible views from the Sky Tower and the wineries on Waiheke Island.



Embrace the laid-back charm of Wellington with a ride in a historic cable car, learn about Maori culture at Te Papa Tongarewa museum and sip world-class coffee.

CHRISTCHURCH Amid a vibrantly revived Christchurch, ride the scenic gondola, go punting on the Avon River, spot a rare kiwi bird at Orana Wildlife Park or indulge in the arts at the newly restored Isaac Theatre Royal.


Illustration: Chin Yeuk

There’s no time to waste in NZ’s adventure capital: jet boat around Lake Wakatipu, be a snow bunny on the Southern Alps or try a spot of skydiving. To recover, relax at a scenic winery with a top tipple.



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