There’s something about the air in the Land of the Long White Cloud. It’s clear and crisp; pure and refreshing...

The land itself – whether it’s the craggy coastlines and rolling hills of North Island or the towering mountains, fjords and glaciers of South Island – is essentially raw and untouched, the water clear and sparkling, the vistas wide and infinite. But it’s the Kiwis’ attitude to their environment, multi-culturalism, even their cuisine – that’s even more refreshing.

Food here is born of a love of fresh, local ingredients, while their world-beating wines carry none of the usual snootiness. This attitude is reflected in the way they relax too, with an unbridled passion for sport and adrenaline-fueled activities.

100% pure fun? You bet!​​



Wellington’s star attraction – and a cracking day out – is the spectacular Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Here you’ll learn all about the country’s history, secrets and culture, as well as Maori legends. 


For a relatively-small country, New Zealand adds up to a big destination, so to really make the most of it, Tara Lloyd suggests the ideal way to visit...

The country is split into the North and South Islands, of course – and the two couldn’t be more of a contrast. Plan to see the North first, flying into Auckland and staying at my favourite boutique hotel in the city, Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour. 

Known as the City of Sails, Auckland sits between two stunning harbours, overlooking a sparkling maritime playground and surrounded by 48 extinct volcanic cones offering superb views over the city and its coastlines. It’s regularly voted one of the best lifestyle cities in the world (and it’s easy to see why!). 

Aucklanders love their food too, so the restaurants here are especially good; and don’t miss a trip up the Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest structure – its views are fantastic, especially when you're sipping a cocktail in the Sky Lounge and watching the sun set.

You’d think it would be hard to tear yourself away from such an idyllic setting… but when you know the next stop is fabulous Hawkes Bay, it’s not so difficult. 

Stay at Cape Kidnappers, a dramatic outcrop of land discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, and home to the world’s largest colony of gannets. The scenery is simply stunning; I actually think the best way to see it is from a hot-air balloon, but you’ll find all sorts of other ways to explore. Hawkes Bay is also a long-established wine producing region, and a trip to one of the many wineries is a must. 

If you like architecture, make time for a trip to Napier too – known as the ‘Art Deco Capital of the World’, its 1930s streetscapes are the result of being totally rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931. The best time to visit is in February, when it celebrates Art Deco weekend.








From here I’d head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands for a few nights. 

It’s utterly gorgeous; almost 150 islands dotted along the East Coast of North Island are an unbelievable haven for wildlife and the perfect place to get active whether it’s sailing, fishing, diving or just walking on the beautiful beaches. My favourite activity though is a scenic flight to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of NZ.

Stay at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, with its stunning panoramic views... and one of the world’s best golf courses.


​There’s more natural beauty at your next destination, Taupo. After booking in to Huka Lodge, just 300m from the famous Huka Falls (NZ’s biggest and most impressive), you’ll find plenty to explore here at the North Island’s volcanic heart. 

​Lake Taupo is the playground for jet-boating, kayaking, rafting and scenic cruises, while the trout fishing around here is among the best in the world. And although the biggest mountains are on South Island, you can’t fail to be impressed by the landscape here. 

You’re not far from Rotorua either, centre of the Maori culture and with an even more dramatic landscape of steaming lakes, geysers, mud pools and multi-coloured terraces – definitely well worth a visit! 



​After all that adrenaline-pumping action, you’ll need somewhere to chill for your last couple of days… and I know just the place. A mere 45 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, Glenorchy is the epitome of ‘small-but-perfectly-formed’. 

This tiny town is at the head of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the magnificent scenery now so familiar from Lord of the Rings (the trilogy was filmed around this area)… and it’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. 

It’s the perfect spot to just sit and take in the surroundings, but I’d also recommend a helicopter trip to Milford Sound for a picnic lunch on a glacier – it feels like a suitably spectacular way to finish off your time in this extraordinary country!







From here, you could head further south to the capital, Wellington, with its museums and galleries, fine dining, lively arts scene and stunning harbour. 

Personally though, I’d make a longer transfer deep into the South Island, a complete contrast to the North, with less than a quarter of NZ’s population: it’s all wide open spaces with plenty of room to breathe amidst the grandeur of its mountains and the serenity of its lakes and glaciers. This is the essence of the New Zealand experience, and nowhere sums it up more than Queenstown. 

The self-proclaimed ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps on Lake Wakatipu, its activities are as awe-inspiring as the scenery. This is where the bungee jump was invented; there’s no end of kayaking, skiing, river surfing and sky diving adventures, and the helicopter rides will make you gasp time and again. The best place to stay? Eichardts, right at the heart of the town’s lively restaurant precinct.


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