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Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby.
Located at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, Picton is your gateway to the South Island’s famed Marlborough District. Once known primarily for its lush farm lands and many sheep stations, Marlborough came to international attention thanks to a new agricultural product – wine. The release of the 1985 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand on the map and changed the world’s focus on winemaking in the Southern Hemisphere. Today, the Marlborough region boasts dramatic sea and landscapes, fascinating wine country, excellent restaurants and a number of the nation’s finest gardens.
Military names abound in this corner of New Zealand – the region is named for the first Duke of Marlborough, while the largest town, Blenheim, is named after his most famous battle. Picton is named for Sir Thomas Picton, a favorite of another general, the first duke of Wellington.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. A compact city, it encompasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. From Lambton Quay, the iconic red Wellington Cable Car heads to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
Napier and Hawke’s Bay have become New Zealand’s premier lifestyle getaways. Located on the North Island’s eastern coast, New Zealand’s oldest wine-growing region boasts a superb Mediterranean climate and golden sand beaches. In recent years, Hawke’s Bay has become a leading producer of fine olive oils and artisanal cheeses. Wildlife lovers and birders will flock to Cape Kidnappers in Southern Hawke Bay: the Cape is home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world.
In 1931, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake leveled Napier. The town rebuilt itself, and today Napier is hailed as the “Art Deco City” for its superb collection of Deco, Spanish Mission and Classical Revival buildings.
New Zealand’s natural bounty is always on display at the Bay of Plenty. It was Captain James Cook who in 1769 aptly named this bay after he was able to replenish his ship’s provisions, thanks to the prosperous Maori villages of the region. Tauranga, the chief city, is a bustling port, an agricultural and timber center and a popular seaside resort. Tauranga is also the gateway to Rotorua – a geothermal wonderland that is the heart of Maori culture. A 90-minute drive from Tauranga, Rotorua is New Zealand’s primary tourist attraction.
Your ship docks near the foot of Mt. Maunganui, which rises 761 feet above the bay. Across the harbor, Tauranga offers scenic tidal beaches at Omokoroa and Pahoia. The region boasts fine beaches, big-game fishing, thermal springs and seaside resorts.
Straddling a narrow isthmus created by 60 different volcanoes, New Zealand’s former capital boasts scenic beauty, historical interest and a cosmopolitan collection of shops, restaurants, museums, galleries and gardens. Rangitoto, Auckland’s largest and youngest volcano, sits in majestic splendor just offshore. Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill, once home to Maori earthworks, overlook the city. One of New Zealand’s fine wine districts lies to the north of Auckland.
Auckland served as New Zealand’s capital from 1841 until 1865, when the seat of government moved to Wellington.
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