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.
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.