New Zealand is a land of immense and diverse landscapes

You’ll see things here that you won't see anywhere else in the world. Within a day or two’s drive you can see spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hills, subtropical forests, a volcanic plateau, and miles of coastline with sandy beaches. Much of these landscapes are protected by National Parks with thousands of kilometres of walks and trails opening their beauty to the public. New Zealand's position straddling two tectonic plates has given us awe-inspiring geothermal areas and volcanoes, some of which are still active. Lake Taupo is the result of one of the largest and most destructive volcanic eruptions in the world. Visit Rotorua and you will see this geothermal activity close up with spouting geysers, hot water pools, and bubbling mud. New Zealand has 15,000 kilometres of blissfully uncrowded coastline with a diversity all of its own. The West Coast is rugged and untamed with many black-sand beaches, while the East Coast has gentle gold-sand beaches, quiet coves and harbours dotted with islands.

Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and main transport hub

Make sure you stop and enjoy the shopping, dining and natural wonders Auckland has to offer. Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and main transport hub. The region is home to some 1.5 million people and is also the largest Polynesian city in the world. Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping, and you’re beginning to get the picture of Auckland, New Zealand, our largest and most diverse city. More than just a city, Auckland is a whole region full of things to see and do. Best of all, with so many experiences close by it’s easy to hop from one adventure to the next.

A stunning natural playground

Auckland’s diverse landscapes provide countless opportunities to get immersed in nature. In the west, lush native rainforest plunges down the hills to meet the sea on dramatic black sand beaches, while the east’s sheltered golden sand beaches are fringed with red-flowering pohutukawa trees. To the north the rolling hills of wine country meet stunning coastlines and in the south you'll find picturesque country gardens, unspoilt forest and tranquil bays to explore.

Volcanoes

New Zealand's Auckland region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, which provide spectacular panoramic views of the city and harbour. Many are surrounded by lush parkland, making them perfect picnic spots. Rangitoto Island, just a 25-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, is the region's most iconic volcano and a favourite day trip destination for visitors, hikers and bird watchers.

Hauraki Gulf and Islands

Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park encompasses an incredible 1.2 million hectares of coast, sea and islands – and there are so many ways to explore it. The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke Island, a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, farm land and golden beaches - and only a 35-minute ferry ride away from downtown Auckland. Sip on award-winning wines at some of the 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, enjoy fine dining and pick up superb local artwork. Make sure you get out on the water while you're here, whether it’s a relaxing harbour cruise, a fishing charter, whale and dolphin spotting, kayaking or surfing.

Shopping and dining in Auckland

Auckland is a shopaholic's paradise, with everything from top-end designers to open air street markets. Discover the diverse range of cafes and restaurants offering cuisine from around the globe and check out the buzzing nightlife of the central city. Favourite spots include Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct Harbour, the Britomart precinct and City Works Depot. Once you've seen the city, head out to one of Auckland's beautiful wine regions where you can sample local wines against the backdrop of vine-covered hills and sparkling ocean.

A city like no other

New Zealand's indigenous Māori people called this land Tāmaki Makaurau, a maiden desired by a hundred lovers. It was a place fought over for its vast riches, including its forested hills, productive volcanic soils and harbours full of seafood. The name still holds true, as Auckland's lifestyle is ranked amongst the best in the world. In fact, Auckland is rated the third most liveable city in the world on the Mercer Quality of Living scale and has just been named as one of the top 10 most liveable cities in the world by The Economist. Come and experience it for yourself. A few days in Auckland, building in a tour or two, is the perfect beginning to your New Zealand vacation.

Rotorua

Rotorua, the place of fascinating Māori culture, hot springs and boiling mud pools. No visit to New Zealand would be complete without stopping here. Rotorua is one place where the turbulent forces that formed New Zealand are most evident. This city, on the Volcanic Plateau, has one of the world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity and sits squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire. Rotorua, New Zealand, is also the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled here more than 600 years ago and their presence offer the visitor numerous cultural experiences. Try a hangi feast – cooked in the steaming ground, take a tour of an authentic pre-European Māori village or treat yourself to an indulgent spa therapy. If adventure is your thing, Rotorua has many attractions to get the adrenalin flowing; everything from skydiving and lugging to zorbing and one of New Zealand’s best mountain bike circuits. It’s also a big trout fishing area with fishing on the lakes and tributary rivers and if you’re unlucky there you can sight some of the huge trout (but, alas, not catch them) at Rainbow and Fairy Springs. With its international airport, Rotorua is also the gateway to the North Island’s skifields for excellent skiing and snowboarding at Mt Ruapehu in the winter.

Christchurch, your gateway to the Canterbury region

A vast land of patchwork plains, soaring peaks, alpine lakes and unique, once-in-a-lifetime activities. Christchurch is the exciting urban hub of the Canterbury region, and it’s a city that is rapidly changing. You’ll find the iconic activities – like punting on the Avon River and riding the historic tram – as well as brand new shops, bars, restaurants and artistic creations, like the transitional cardboard cathedral. Skiing is the favourite pass-time in winter here, with Mt Hutt and Porters ski fields within easy reach of Christchurch. Further south the Mount Cook Mackenzie region has the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve; head to Lake Tekapo to experience this area's beautiful night sky. This is also a fantastic ski area, so take some time to experience the boutique ski fields. Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is home to New Zealand’s highest peak and longest glacier. The Tasman Glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world with an accessible terminal lake; take a boat trip with Glacier Explorers to touch icebergs as you visit it. The TranzAlpine is classed as one of the most beautiful short train journeys in the world. Departing daily from Christchurch, the train winds its way through Arthur's Pass before reaching the West Coast, returning the same day. It's a must-do while you're in Canterbury. Kaikoura, 2.5 hours north of Christchurch, is the place to watch whales play. Nearby Hanmer Springs is an alpine resort with thermal pools rich in healing properties. Whatever your type of adventure might be, you'll find something unique and exciting in Christchurch and the Canterbury region.

Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s top visitor destinations

If you come to the region you’ll understand why. The town sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu among dramatic ranges. The lake and mountain landscape make it suited to all kinds of adventure. There’s skiing in the winter and activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round. If hardcore adventure isn't your thing, there are plenty of mellow options available. Experience one of the many walking & hiking trails, sightseeing tours or indulge yourself with spa treatments, boutique shopping and excellent food and wine. Head out of Queenstown and the drama of the Central Otago landscape unfolds around you. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan you’ll recognize many of the locations of Middle-earth here. Twenty minutes from Queenstown, Arrowtown’s gold-mining history is alive and vibrant. Visit the Lakes District Museum or go gold panning. Forty minutes from Queenstown at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu is rural Glenorchy and Paradise Valley. From here it’s a short drive into the Mt Aspiring National Park and the start of some of New Zealand’s great walks.