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Blending beachy recreation with all the delights of a modern, diverse and thoroughly multicultural city, Auckland sits on the lucid blue-green waters of New Zealand’s north island. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, its two harbours will tempt you with waterfront walks, and the chance to breathe fresh sea air deep into your lungs while absorbing spectacular views of Auckland’s grand harbour bridge’s span.
Take in the true scale of Auckland’s magnificent cityscape by ascending 192 metres to the Sky Tower, and looking out over the city’s gleaming silver towers, which reflect on the abundant waters below. Views over the bay and adjacent islands await, and you can share elegant cocktails at this dizzying height, above the mingling yachts of Viaduct Harbour. Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the area at Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tāmaki. Set beside tranquil fountains and handsomely landscaped flowerbeds of Albert Park, the French-Renaissance building houses New Zealand’s most extensive art collection, and exhibits works from Māori and Pacific artists. New Zealand is world-renowned for its captivating natural scenery, and day trips across the sparkling bays, to nearby islands like Waiheke, Tiritiri Matangi, and Rangitoto, are always tempting. Discover lava caves, grape-laden vineyards and flourishing wildlife in the Hauraki Gulf’s islands. You’ll also find an exceptional 360-degree panorama over the city, to the horizon beyond, from the heights of ancient Mount Eden. The spectacular dormant volcano rises improbably from a city suburb, and also lends its name to Eden Park – the unusual, translucent stadium of New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks.
Tauranga is the principal city of the Bay of Plenty. The founders of Tauranga, 19th-century missionaries, left a legacy of well-planned parks and gardens for today’s residents and visitors to enjoy.
With a population of around 35,000 and located on the north island, Gisborne exudes history at every turn. Maori for “Great standing place of Kiwa”, Kiwa was a leading figure aboard the Maori ancestral canoe, Takitimu, which ran aground in Gisborne around 1450 AD. After landing, Kiwa became a coastal guardian, eventually marrying Parawhenuamea, the keeper of the streams. View less
The union point of three rivers and the first place to see the sun, the city is filled with light and laugher and gracefully squeezes surfer’s beaches with the district’s colonial past. Captain Cook made his first landfall here, John Harris set up his first trading station in the then village and today, Gisborn is the major centre of Maori cultural life.Suffice to say then that the city is a watery wonderland. With its picture perfect beaches, what savvy traveller does not want to add being among the first people in the world to say they have watched the sky change colour as the sun bursts from out of the sea. A place of nature, spectacular beach cliff views are all just part and parcel of everyday life here, and easy walks from the centre of town to the Titirangi Reserve will award you with yet more unbelievable 180˚ vistas from Poverty Bay to Gisborne City; stretch your eyes with the panorama, while stretching your legs on one of the many enjoyable walks.A perfect place to stroll, amble and wander, like much of New Zealand Gisborne keeps a healthy respect for history and nature and enjoys a very laid back feel.
Napier, with its pleasant Mediterranean climate and famous art deco architecture, is a charming and lively seaside resort located on the eastern side of North Island.
Sprawling around a hook-shaped peninsula, Wellington is a vibrant and energetic seaside capital. A compact, well-stocked city of buzzing bars and chatting cafes, New Zealand’s capital is a bright and breezy place with an infectious, easy-going atmosphere. Known as the creative hub of the South Pacific, there are shows to see, art installations to enjoy, and rich flavours to savour here. The sounds of rare and beautiful birdlife fill the hills around the city, and the bush of the green belt provides easy-to-access sanctuary, strolls and cycle rides. View less
The Botanical Gardens break up the buildings, even more, while an iconic, cherry-red cable car rumbles up Wellington’s slope to the city’s best viewpoint, looking out over the city’s scenic harbour from above. Zealandia has provided an urban home for rare and endangered birdlife, bringing many species back from the brink. Varied museums cover everything from Maori traditions to earthquake simulations and even the real-life Kraken – a displayed colossal squid. Wellington is only New Zealand’s third-biggest city, but spend some time here and you’ll realise that’s a blessing. Eminently strollable, you can stop in at countless cool cafes to top up your caffeine levels whenever your energy is flagging – the smell of a fresh artisan espresso is never far away. The wines grown nearby are revered, and the city’s craft beers are also making waves. Wander the breezy waterfront, and admire the surfers riding the wind-whipped rollers of the self-proclaimed ‘coolest little capital in the world’.
Lyttelton, South Island’s leading port, is connected to Christchurch by road and rail tunnels. Wooden houses cling to steep streets above the harbor, bustling with cargo vessels, freighters, sailing yachts and sightseeing launches. Several 19th-century churches add to the town’s historic attractions. The Canterbury pilgrims, who arrived in four shiploads at Lyttelton in 1850, made a historic trek across the Port Hills to establish Christchurch. Today, walkers still enjoy the old Bridle Path trail. Hundreds of modern-day pilgrims make the nostalgic hike between Lyttelton and Christchurch annually on the Sunday nearest December 16.
At the head of one of New Zealand’s loveliest harbours lies gracious, dignified Dunedin. It was envisioned by its Scottish founders as the “Edinburgh of the South”. The city boasts a wealth of fine Victorian and Edwardian buildings, complete with spires, gables and gargoyles. Its Scottish heritage is evoked in street names and the sturdy appeal of its handsome stone buildings. Dunedin’s unique charm prompted one of its most famous visitors, Mark Twain, to write, “The people here are Scots. They stopped here on their way to heaven, thinking they had arrived.” True to its heritage, Dunedin boasts the country’s only kilt maker and whisky distillery, as well as a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns in the heart of the city.
Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for towering Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls, which plummet down its sheer sides. The fiord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins. Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory offers views of rare black coral and other marine life. Boat tours are a popular way to explore.
Mount Wellington’s looming, cloud-wisped form is an ever-present sight as you explore booming Hobart, the cosmopolitan capital of Australia’s most southerly state. A former British penal colony, nowadays Australia’s second-oldest city is a place to live the free and easy life. Encircled by dramatic cliffs, landscaped gardens and rolling vineyards, Hobart is also well stacked with cultural pursuits including museums, and respected – if controversial – galleries plastering new and old art to their walls. View less
With fresh sea breezes and a fabulous location, Hobart is a creative place, where you can browse the produce of local artisans in Saturday’s massive Salamanca Market – which draws visitors from all across Tasmania and beyond. Eat at waterfront restaurants, or rise up Mount Wellington’s slopes to appreciate the remoteness of Hobart’s location. From this elevated platform, you can look down across views of flowing forests, undulating mountains and endless ocean swallowing up the city. Further away, animal sanctuaries introduce you to the island’s famous inhabitants, including the famous Tasmanian devil. Thirsty? Hobart has a long brewing tradition – so enjoy a refreshing ale poured from the country’s oldest brewery. The climate’s blend of generous sunshine and cool Antarctic breezes helps Hobart to produce its acclaimed wines, and thick clumps of pinot noir grapes hang from vineyards dotted along the valleys nearby. Taste the wines, accompanied by a platter of artisan cheese and sausage. Whiskey aficionados aren’t left in the cold either, with international award-winning distilleries close by.
Port Arthur is a village and historic site in southern Tasmania, Australia. Sitting on the Tasman Peninsula, it was a 19th-century penal settlement and is now an open-air museum. Ruins include the huge penitentiary and the remaining shell of the Convict Church, which was built by inmates. Solitary confinement cells in the Separate Prison building were used to inflict mental punishment in place of floggings.
Breathe in deep – here in Burnie, you’re tasting untouched air that is some of the cleanest anywhere in the world. Nearby Cradle Mountain once registered some of the world’s purest air – and the breezes here are purified by miles of uninterrupted ocean, stretching south to Antarctica. Tasmania itself is a place of sweeping National Parks, soaring granite mountain ranges and lakes reflecting spectacular scenery in glass-smooth surfaces.
With dense eucalyptus forests coating the hills, and hikes rewarding with deserted sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that Burnie life revolves around getting outdoors and exploring the natural splendour of this shield-shaped island state of Australia. If mountain hikes sound a little strenuous, spend some time getting to know the island’s adorable wildlife. Visit Fern Glade Reserve to see the spade-like beaks of platypuses gliding through the waters, or the Little Penguin Observation Centre where Burnie’s own colony of adorable penguins waddle playfully. West Beach’s golden sand is also close by, perfect for lying back and soaking up some sun, or for watching on as surfers skip across the curling waves. Burnie has always been a place where things get made – in the past this came with a tinge of grey industry, but the city has now reinvented itself as a hotspot for all things creative. View the island’s most revered works, learn how to fold your own paper creations in workshops, and marvel at skilled local creators working hard in their studios at the Maker’s Workshop. Great food is also on this maker’s city’s agenda – feast on freshly shucked oysters, and award-winning cheeses. Later, you can toast the artisan spirit of Burnie with a glass of cool climate wine, or by swirling a nightcap of single malt – some of the world’s best whiskeys are produced here.
With its glorious harbour, lavish golden beaches and iconic landmarks, Sydney is Australia’s showpiece city. Creative and curious, discover the world-class cuisine, indigenous culture, and irresistible beach life that make Sydney one of the world’s most dynamic, exciting destinations. Sydney’s sparkling harbour is the heart of a richly cultural city. Overlooked by the metallic curves of the masterpiece of an Opera House, and that grand arched harbour bridge. Take it all in from the water, and admire the iconic landmarks, which are set before the city’s gleaming skyline backdrop. View less
If you’re feeling adventurous, take the legendary climb up the smooth curve of the bridge – nicknamed the Coathanger – to soak in the shining city’s spread from a unique perspective. Spread out to tan on one of the world’s most famous stretches of sand – Bondi Beach. Restaurants and bars burble away in the background, while the sun beams down, and surfers curl and leap over pure rollers. Swim in spectacular salty ocean pools, or wander the beautiful Bondi to Coogee coastal walk for more of this sun-gorged stretch of prime coastline. Leaving the thrills of Australia’s largest city behind is surprisingly simple – take to the skies to be flown above skyscrapers and rippling ribbons of waves, out to majestic peaks, sheer cliffs and iconic rock formations – like the Three Sisters of the Blue Mountains. Or, drop in on wildlife sanctuaries caring for the country’s animals – from hopping kangaroos to adorably cute, cuddly koalas.
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