Sea Kayaks on Beach at dawn, Abel Tasman National Park © Photo Images NZ
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Cape Reinga: where two oceans meet

Witness the majestic power of nature as the mighty Pacific and Tasman collide. 

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Te Paki sand dunes: seriously steep, seriously fun

As if the breathtaking glory of Ninety Mile Beach wasn’t enough, right at the northern end, near the Te Paki Stream, are some seriously steep and seriously fun sand dunes.

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Tane Mahuta: lord of the forest

Stand at the feet of a giant, Lord of the Forest, in Waipoua Forest.

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Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Museum of Waitangi

If you’re a grown-up Kiwi and you haven’t been here yet: shame, bro!

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Kororipo Heritage Park: embrace nineteenth-century Aotearoa

Embrace nineteenth-century New Zealand and discover the place where Maori and Europeans first lived side by side. 

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Hokianga Harbour: the most laid-back harbour hub imaginable

Relax and rejuvenate in the most laid-back harbour hub imaginable.

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Bay of Islands: marvel at the marine life and the beauty of

Marvel at pods of wild dolphins, migratory orca, seals and blue penguins in the pristine big blue yonder.

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Waiheke Island: self-contained bubble of pure pleasure

Feel a world away, retreat into lazy days and drift from vineyard, olive grove to beach.

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Climb Rangitoto: Auckland's most iconic volcano

Summit the city's most iconic volcano, as well as its youngest and largest.

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Matakana Coast: markets, beaches and vineyards

Get away from it all and immerse yourself in a heady mix of arts, artisanal markets, boutique vineyards, olive groves, beautiful beaches and endless rolling hills.

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Te Henga Walkway: a wild and wonderful west coast walk

Walk the rugged cliff top from Bethells Beach/Te Henga to Murawai and drink in the most epic views of Auckland's wild west coast.

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Hot Water Beach: BYO spade

Dig, create your own hot pool, jump in, chill out, repeat . . .

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Timber Trail: cycle in the footsteps of early loggers

Ride in the hard-fought footsteps of early loggers along an old bush tramway through ancient podocarp forest, riding over some of New Zealand's longest and highest suspension bridges while you're at it.

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Forgotten World Highway: a rugged beautiful drive from Taumaranui to Stratford

Drive this remote 150-kilometre highway and pass over four mountain saddles, through a mysterious one-lane tunnel and along a meandering river gorge.

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Chateau Tongariro: style and grandeur at the foot of Ruapehu

Tip your hat to architect Herbert Hall of Timaru who harnessed the iconic, neo-Georgian style and grandeur of European mountain  and Canadian lakeside chateaus and delivered the goods in full to the foot of Ruapehu.

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The Goblin Forest: lush and fantastical forest

Head to East Egmont and walk the Kamahi Loop Track to the renowned Goblin Forest where twisted kamahi trunks lead the way through one of New Zealand's most epic, lush and fantastical natural spaces.

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Len Lye Centre: a remarkable building for a remarkable artist

Celebrate Modernist filmmaker, sculptor, painter and poet Len Lye in this striking single-artist gallery, finalist in the World Architecture Festival Awards, and central to New Plymouth's art and cultural precinct.

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Cape Kidnappers’ Gannet Colony: the exhilarating sight and sound of 20,000 gannets

Traverse beautiful coastline, riverbeds, rolling pastures and native bush before taking in panoramic views and experiencing the exhilarating sight and sound of 20,000 gannets.

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Bridge to Nowhere: stunning walking in the Whanganui National Park

Reach the enigmatic Bridge to Nowhere by walking or biking the Kaiwhakauka Track or navigating the Whanganui River to the Mangapurua Landing and taking a gentle 40-minute walk through beautiful native bush 

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Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre: all that’s good and great and native in the avian category

Climb to the summit of Te Arapiki o Tawhaki for impressive views and experience New Zealand as it used to be on the way with wild kaka, kokako, stichbird, takahe, kakariki and ancient tuatara

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Castlepoint Scenic Reserve: the views, the views, the views

Discover a perfect getaway of blissful walks, long, languorous beaches, exquisite sunrises, sheltered lagoons and fossil-rich reefs . . . and of course the prettiest lighthouse, fondly and simply known by locals as 'holiday light'.

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Cape Palliser: the wild, windblown promontory that is the southernmost tip of the North Island

Climb the steps of Cape Palliser lighthouse and immerse yourself in the rugged charm of Ngawi fishing village, home to the charming lotto pirate ship and the North Island's southernmost point, where there are more tractors hauling crayfish boats in and out of Cook Strait than people.

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Campervanning: the spontaneous way to travel

If the idea of a guided tour brings you out in spots, you’ll be wanting to bring yourself to the spots you most want to see.

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Cook Strait: through one of the world’s roughest stretches of water to spectacular beauty and calm

Enjoy the 70-kilometre rite of passage for any Kiwi of merit through the Roaring Forties and one of the world’s roughest and most unpredictable stretches of water to the spectacular beauty and calm of the Marlbourough Sound.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: where the location itself is a treasure

Explore this waharoa to our natural and cultural heritage, home to three rugby fields' worth of beautifully crafted space, untold treasures and fascinating stories, including the ground-breaking Gallipoli: The scale of our war.

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Kapiti Island Nature Reserve: one of the few accessible island nature reserves in the country

Reckon on a kaka landing on your shoulder or a weka scurrying over your feet, all to the calls of kakariki, bellbird, robin and saddleback.

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Zealandia: the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary

Explore the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with more than 30 kilometres of walking tracks and ample opportunities to spot tuatara, kiwi, hihi, saddleback and tui.

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Things to do > Art and culture

The Beehive and Parliament Buildings

By the standards of contemporary architecture, you might think Parliament Buildings are pretty fancy. All that Takaka marble, the pillars, the columns and porticoes are hardly what you’d see on an architect’s easel these days.

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Homegrown: serving up local musical treats for a decade

You’ve wandered among the wildlife at Zealandia, you’ve soaked up the citylife along the waterfront, observed bustling bureaucracy at the Beehive: now, you are ready to rock!

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Queen Charlotte Track: camp, bike, walk . . . if you can tear your eyes away from the views

Walk or bike between Queen Charlotte and Keneperu sounds and go as hard out or as comfy as you like in this slice of paradise with a seamless network of camping spots, resorts and lodges en route along with water and pack transfers when you need them.

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Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve: enchanting rocky gorge

Explore this enchanted, rocky gorge, an easy drive between Blenheim and Nelson, with its crystal clear river and towering, ancient forests where the dwarves and hobbits of The Hobbit floated downstream in their barrels before drifting ashore on to its sandy beach.

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The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival: sample the local sauvignon blanc on its home turf

Fail to sample the local sauvignon blanc on its home turf and miss out on sipping the exuberant and intense varietal in the sacred space that first introduced New Zealand wine to the world.

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The Nelson market: homemade with heart and skill

Visit this pure, heartfelt celebration of the creative endeavours of the people of the region and their fine local produce, and love it forever.

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Kayaking the Abel Tasman: sheltered coves, granite-fringed headlands, crystal streams and exquisite beaches

Kayak the coastline of Abel Tasman, our smallest national park, and enjoy this absolute giant of exquisite sheltered coves, granite-fringed headlands, crystal clear streams and exquisite sandy beaches.

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Te Waikoropupu Springs Scenic Reserve: the largest freshwater springs in the southern hemisphere

Watch the white sand of the lake bed dance in near-optically pure water at the sacred ‘Place of the Dancing Sands', the largest freshwater springs in the southern hemisphere.

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Farewell Spit: the longest natural sandbar in the world

Experience the striking landforms of Wharakiki Beach before travelling out along the longest natural sandbar in the world and sanctuary to over 90 bird species, including bar-tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones.

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Camping in Golden Bay: a pristine paradise of golden beaches, alpine valleys, tranquil rivers and ocean

Base yourself under canvas in a pristine paradise of golden beaches, alpine valleys, tranquil rivers and ocean as far as the eye can see. 

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Whale watching: close encounters on the water

The Hikurangi Trench, about 80km off the coast of Kaikoura and 3.5km deep, is a place to see a wealth of deep-sea marine life, including sperm whales, orca, blue whales and humpback whales. 

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The Denniston experience: a real ghost-town experience

Tear yourself away from the spectacular views along The Great Coast Road and take a detour back in time to Denniston, a near-deserted mining town on a bleak, windswept 600-metre plateau, once home to the richest coal-mining seams and the infamous 45-degree Denniston incline.

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Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: monuments to nature’s power and beauty

Experience two of the 140 glaciers that flow from the Southern Alps in this dynamic environment where huge tongues of ice cut through valleys and make for a spectacular sight in the form of the Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe and Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere.

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Pancake rocks and blowholes: 30 million years in the making

Park up on the main highway at Punakaiki and enjoy an easy 20-minute walk into an ancient world of pancake-shaped rock formations 30 million years in the making, along with mighty blowholes and terrific surge pool. 

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The Lake Matheson walk: a photographer's dream

Drive five kilometres west of Fox Glacier township and say hallo to Lake Matheson, a photographer’s dream nestled in ancient forest, best viewed at sunrise and sunset when still waters reflect a near-perfect image of snow-capped Aoraki Mount Cook .

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Okarito Lagoon: wonderful wetland wilderness

Explore the lagoon and river channels by kayak and journey through this divine wetland wilderness into the heart of the rainforest.

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Buller Gorge: swing into action in the deep, meandering canyon

Stop off on State Highway 6 and swing into action in the deep, meandering canyon below where you can zipline your way across the gorge, raft white water rapids, jump on a jet boat or experience our longest swingbridge spanning the mighty Buller River.

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State Highway 6: roadtripping at its best

Drive the length of the South Island, skirting the West Coast and traversing through the Southern Alps, and experience bountiful roadtripping at its very best.

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Oparara Basin: limestone caves with cathedral-like passages and magnificent, magical arches

Discover pristine rainforest, limestone caves with cathedral-like passages and magnificent, magical arches on guided walks through this treasure-chest nook of the Kahurangi National Park.

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Akaroa: where French heritage, colonial architecture and a passion for fine food combine

Take an easy drive south-east of Christchurch and discover the charming township of Akaroa on ancient, volcanic Banks Peninusla, where sheltered harbour, French heritage, colonial architecture and a passion for fine food fuse perfectly together.

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Southern stars: see the rare but spectacular Aurora Australis

See the rare but spectacular Aurora Australis from the only dark sky reserve in the southern hemisphere, the 4300-square kilometre UNESCO Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which includes Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and the villages of Lake Tekapo, Twizel and Mount Cook.

Must-Do's

The Church of the Good Shepherd: the most photographed church with the best views

Visit this iconic church set above the shoreline and stunning views of Lake Tekapo, built in 1935 from local, unchipped rocks found in the area, as a memorial to the pioneers and hardy souls of the Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region.

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TranzAlpine: the rail journey considered one of the best in the world

Feast on one breath-taking view after another on one of the greatest rail journeys in the world, drinking in rolling farmland, snow-capped mountains, deep gorges, serene, ice-fed rivers and lush rainforests, all from the comfort of your seat.

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Christchurch’s street art: an expression of solidarity

This isn’t a couple of cute billboard-type pieces put up in obvious places. This is a thing. There is even a map which shows where the major outdoor artworks in this city are located. 

 

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Aoraki Mount Cook National Park: the symbolic, iconic peak that is the snapshot of the south.

Explore stunning snowy mountainscapes, turquoise glacier-fed lakes and the snow tussock grassland of the alpine valley floor where access to breathtaking landscapes and the Kiwi spirit of adventure is endless.

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The Hermitage: a haven for the adventurous

Not much has changed of the view from the Hermitage from the day it was opened in 1884. Jagged, snowy peaks in every direction, and the fast-flowing Hooker River pretty much flowing past the front door.

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The Grand Traverse: stunning, jaw-dropping, spellbinding, and the rest . . .

The Grand Traverse is a spectacular scenic flight that explores the Aoraki Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini national park, covering about 200km of unforgettable scenery. Stunning. 

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Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct: the capital of all things steampunk

Slightly eccentric, Oamaru is one of those not-as-it-first-seems places. The surprises are all good ones, though!

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Fleur’s Place: as fresh as it comes

Once overheard at Fleur’s: ‘Who’s John Dory, Dad?’ ‘He’s a fish, son.’ Fish, famous, fabulous fish is what this culinary outpost is all about.

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Moeraki Boulders: clamber over them for the ultimate selfie

Make the most of the photo op with these huge, marble-like boulders, best seen as low tide, strewn along windswept Koekohe Beach like fanstastically giant turtle eggs.

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Queenstown to Glenorchy Road: a drive to Paradise

Is there a more amazing drive? Forty-five minutes of emerald lake water and bush-clad hills, against a backdrop of snow-touched mountains. 

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Bungy jump in Queenstown: test your limits

Pay homage at the home of contemporary, commercial bungy by strapping on a bungy cord and throwing yourself into the ether or test your limits on a self-release, rough-as-guts 150 kilometre/hour swing.

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Arrowtown: a picture-perfect living museum

Autumn. That’s the time to visit. Thinking about it, much of this part of the South Island takes on a splendid glow at that time of year. None more so than Arrowtown which is, frankly, already right off the cutesy scale as it is. 

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Queenstown Hill Time Walk: a rocky delight

Queenstown Hill, just out of town, is more than worth a peek, and you can make its peak in an hour if you get a wriggle on, and check out the series of information panels showcasing the past, present and predicted future of this stunning part of the world.

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Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw: marvel at the scenery on Lake Wakatipu

Climb aboard the elegant ‘Lady of the Lake’, the last remaining coal-fired steamship operating in the southern hemisphere, marvel at the scenery, sip on a glass of the finest local wine and enjoy every second of the 90-minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu.

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Things to do > Must-Do's

Rob Roy Glacier Track: glaciers, waterfalls and thieving parrots

Mate. Mayyyyyyyyyyyte! The drive there, to the slightly preposterous-sounding Raspberry Creek Car Park, is almost as energy-sapping as the walk to the top of the glacier.  But it's worth it for one of the region’s most stunning walks.

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Things to do > Must-Do's

Otago Central Rail Trail: journey into an ever-changing heartland

The Otago Central Rail Trail is an achievement, an acknowledgement that it’s not just hardy souls and fitness nuts who like to hike the landscape. It’s 150km from Middlemarch to Clyde and takes in just about everything that’s stunning about Central Otago. 

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Te Anau to Milford Sound Piopiotahi Highway: the journey into the heart of Fiordland.

If you want your senses drenched in Fiordland’s wilderness, vastness and beauty, without being drenched in that seemingly perpetual rain, take the Piopiotahi Highway.

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The Routeburn Track: the ultimate alpine adventure

One of the country’s most famous walks so, let’s get the house- (or hut-) keeping out of the way first: you’ll need to book in the heavy season.

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The wondrous wildlife of Otago Peninsula

‘The most accessible wildlife in the South Island’ is the catch-cry here. Well, there are wheeling seabirds, honking sea lions and all manner of other natural noises, but you get the point.

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Olveston House: how the other half lived

Designed by a London architect and built in 1904 – well, this was really something. Ostentatious as all hell, Olveston was also lavishly decorated.

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Larnach Castle: a vision of past and present

If you missed Larnach Castle on your trip out to wing it with the albatrosses, you must have been on Facebook. It stands proud and bold on the highest point of the entire Otago Peninsula.

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Things to do > Must-Do's

Cheese rolls: the sushi of the south

Come to Southland, or Otago and, more specifically Dunedin, take your feet out of your mouth and pop one of these hot and tasty little blighters in it. You will be, from a cuisine perspective anyway, reborn.

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Bluff Oyster Festival: unsophisticated and proud of it!

See, it’s that whole food in situ thing again. Where are the internationally renowned delicacy known as Bluff oysters likely to taste best? Bluff, did you say? You’re good at this! Exactly.

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Southern Scenic Route: a different way of life

Michael Larsen explores the Southern Scenic Route, a drive of unparalleled beauty and an almost contradictory mix of dense woodlands and wild, open southern coast.

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Stewart Island Rakiura: a world away

New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island is a unique, curious place that is well worth a visit.