Paris may be the city of love, but Auckland is the city of many lovers, according to its Maori name, Tamaki Makaurau. In fact, her lovers so desired this beautiful place that they fought over her for centuries. It’s hard to imagine a more geographically blessed city.
Christchurch & Canterbury
The good people of Canterbury are probably only half-joking when they say it would be good if the South Island was a separate country, but when you consider the region surrounding them you can understand their parochial pride and confidence.
Marlborough & Nelson
Splashed across the northern end of the South Island, the Marlborough and Nelson regions are many travellers’ first southern contacts after crossing Cook Strait from Wellington.
Rotorua & the Bay of Plenty
It was Captain Cook who christened the Bay of Plenty as he sailed into harbour in 1769, and plentiful it remains to this day, blessed with buckets of sunshine and a stunning sandy coastline. The Bay stretches from Waihi Beach in the west to Opotiki in the east, with a sprinkling of seaside towns and the bustling hub of Tauranga in between.
Auckland is a city of volcanoes, with the ridges of lava flows forming its main thoroughfares and its many cones providing islands of green within the sea of suburbs. As well as being by far the largest, it’s also the most multicultural of New Zealand’s cities. A sizable Asian community rubs shoulders with the biggest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Queenstown & Wanaka
If Queenstown didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. With a cinematic background of mountains and lakes you actually have seen in the movies, and a ‘what can we think of next?’ array of adventure activities, it’s little wonder that the South Island’s premier tourist town tops many travellers’ Kiwi itineraries.
Bay of Islands & Northland
For many New Zealanders, the phrase ‘up north’ conjures up sepia-toned images of family fun in the sun, pohutukawa in bloom and dolphins frolicking in pretty bays. It’s uttered in almost hallowed tones, as if describing a mythical place. From school playgrounds to work cafeterias, owning a bach (holiday house) ‘up north’ is a passport to popularity.
If your New Zealand travels thus far have been all about wilderness and lonesome, one-horse towns, rock into Wellington for a big-city hit. Art-house cinema, hip bars, designer boutiques, live music rooms and late-night coffee shops – it’s all in ‘Windy Welly’.
Dunedin & Otago
Coastal Otago, and its one major city, Dunedin, has attractions both urban and rural, offering travellers a chance to escape the crowds of Queenstown, party down in the South Island’s coolest city, and get up close and personal with the island’s most accessible wildlife.
The West Coast
What a difference a mountain range makes. Hemmed in by the wild Tasman Sea and the peaks of the Southern Alps, the West Coast (aka Westland), is like nowhere else in New Zealand. Opposite ends of the coast have a remote end-of-the-road feel.
The East Coast
New Zealand is known for its juxtaposition of wildly divergent landscapes but in this region it’s the sociological contours that are most pronounced. From the remote villages of East Cape to Havelock North’s prosperous, wine-stained streets, the East Coast condenses a wide range of authentic Kiwi experiences that anyone with a passion for culture will find fascinating.
Taranaki & Whanganui
Halfway between Auckland and Wellington, Taranaki sits out on a limb in more ways than one. Somewhat off the main drag, the region relies upon the fat of the land and the natural riches offshore.
Fiordland & Southland
The bottom end of the South Island has some of the country’s most spectacular landscape. To the west is Fiordland National Park, with jagged misty peaks, glistening lakes and an air of forbidding remoteness.
A small city with a big reputation, Wellington is most famous for being NZ’s capital. It is infamous for its weather, particularly the gale-force winds wont to barrel through, wrecking umbrellas and obliterating hairdos. It also lies on a major fault line. And negotiating the inner-city one-way system is like the Krypton Factor on acid. But don’t be deterred.
The Nelson region, centred upon Tasman Bay but stretching north to Golden Bay and Farewell Spit, and south to Nelson Lakes, is a popular travel destination for both international visitors and locals. It’s not hard to see why.