The lore surrounding New Zealand’s dynamic culture, landscape, and recreational activities has made New Zealand a perennial bucket-list favorite for travelers around the world. It would be a challenge not to marvel at its majestic beauty, from rugged mountain peaks in the south to lush green hills in the north. Experience this enchanting country east of Down Under in these four far-flung—and distinctly magical—vacation destinations.
Auckland has it all—beaches, harbors, art, music, shopping, a nearby wine region, and even a base jump (with wires) off the city’s tallest tower. The largest city in New Zealand, Auckland boasts luxury shopping in Newmarket and the historic Britomart precinct plus hundreds of stores along Queen Street. You’ll want to hit Ponsonby Road for funky fashions and chic cafes, and Parnell Village for high-end boutiques and art galleries. Once you’ve had your retail fix, hop a ferry to Waiheke Island for wine tasting, hike a volcano on Rangitoto Island, or ride to the top of Sky Tower for panoramic views.
Visit Rotorua and you’ll encounter a place like no other. From its fascinating Maori culture to its geothermal wonders, this incredible area is famous for its stunning beauty and outdoor activities. With gurgling mud pools, explosive geysers, and natural hot springs, it literally qualifies as New Zealand’s coolest “hotspot.” But before you unwind with a soothing mud bath or a dip in a hot pool, you can zipline through forests, mountain bike on amazing trails, and experience authentic Maori culture by booking a tour of a marae (tribal meeting place).
Adrenaline junkies, take note: This is where you belong. From bungee jumping and whitewater rafting to skydiving, rock climbing, and mountaineering, Queenstown is an adventure lover’s paradise. In winter, enjoy backcountry skiing in the dramatic Southern Alps. In the warmer months, paraglide off Coronet Peak ski field, jet boat through the Shotover Gorge, and canyon swing over the Shotover River. Don’t forget your GoPro! Once you’ve had your fill of thrills, you can slow it down with wine tasting, a luxurious spa day, or a quiet walk through unspoiled wilderness.
Some places make you go “Ahhh.” This gorgeous wine region in the north of the South Island is one of them. You can spend your days unwinding with long walks along the coastline at Abel Tasman National Park. Or dine on locally grown produce and artisan fare at one of the area’s “slow food” restaurants. Book a leisurely cruise on Marlborough Sounds and wend your way through hidden bays and coves before stopping in the picturesque village of Picton. And don’t leave without sampling a vintage or two of the region’s Sauvignon Blanc, famous the world over!