North and South - Best bits of New Zealand’s islands?

27/02/2015

New Zealand is a country renowned for its jaw-dropping scenery, incredibly rich heritage and immensely friendly people. The only problem with this wonderful country is that there’s so much to see here that it can be difficult to fit everything into one multi-centre holiday, especially when you consider both islands!

Lucky for you, we’ve put together a little taster of what the North and South islands offer with some of the best bits included. Please bear in mind that the places suggested in this feature are based on New Zealand’s summer months which run during our winter.

North Island

Waiheke Island

Just a short ferry ride away from Auckland, you’ll find the charming allure of Waiheke Island. During the summer months, this wonderful little retreat is a real treat for both the eyes and the tongue. Waiheke Island is a combination of secluded little beaches and a wonderful wine region, all rolled into one. Oneroa and Onetangi are the cream of the crop when it comes to relaxing on the sands while you can really just take your pick of the award-winning wineries that are here. 

Spend the morning quaffing wine and then, after a delicious lunch, unfurl yourself on the beach, surrounded by nothing but peace and quiet. A visit to the island’s many famous vineyards makes for the perfect day trip from the cosmopolitan city of Auckland, where you may choose to fly to from the UK.

The Coromandel 

It’s hard to do the Coromandel justice with words, but we’ll try anyway. This peninsula is just full of awesome scenery and incredible places to explore, and in summer it really comes alive with atmosphere. 

The town of Whitianga is blessed with some of the best coastline you’re likely to see anywhere in the world. The Hot Water Beach is a unique experience that you must endeavour to see while the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is nothing short of inspirational. You can explore this remarkable part of New Zealand either on foot or by kayak, both of which are very rewarding.

To experience the famous Kiwi hospitality, head to Coromandel Town where you’ll find an artistic community with a passion for fine food. Easily reachable from Auckland, you’ll find yourself surrounded by heritage buildings, unique crafts and a peaceful ambience.

Hawkes Bay 

If you like your wine, the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand's North Island is perfect for you. The “Wine Country”, as it’s known, is the perfect place to sample North’s impeccable food and wine, and you can also discover the rich heritage of the Maori people at the likes of Te Urewera and Lake Waikaremoana, combining culture with fine cuisine. Why not take the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and explore this sun-drenched part of the county by bicycle?

And while it’s most definitely the place for indulgence, there’s also an abundance of natural wonders to discover (it is New Zealand after all). The Kaweka Conservation Park is a vast expanse of verdant forest that is full of hiking routes suitable for all levels of walker. Cape Kidnappers is another astonishing coastal treat to feast your eyes upon - just don’t forget your camera!

South Island

Nelson

For alternative culture, look no further than the marvellous city of Nelson on the South Island. Creativity is the name of the game here as artists of all types flock to city to set up shop. Of course, this flair emanates into the rest of Nelson and has inspired a unique atmosphere that owes it’s existence in equal parts to Maori and contemporary traditions.

Scenic must-sees include the stunning Golden Bay, the mind-bogglingly impressive Abel Tasman Coast Track and the vast beauty of Nelson Lakes National Park. One thing is for certain, you won’t be left twiddling your thumbs here.

Lake Wanaka

The waters of Lake Wanaka are so blue it will take a moment for you to realise that it’s not some optical illusion - it is that clear!

Perfect for watersports of all kinds, the lake is surrounded by scenery that makes whatever activity you get up to a pleasure. It’s one of the finest places in the country to skydive, so if you’ve got a bit of a thirst for thrills, Wanaka is your ideal destination for jumping out of a plane.

Fiordland

By this point, your jaw is likely to be fairly sore from all the dropping it has done, but when you see the wonders of Fiordland, it will likely be left agape once again.

Spanning 215 km of coastline, the 14 fiords of the region’s West Coast create one of the finest and most unique natural settings known to humankind. A walker's paradise, these rocky peaks soar up from the blue waters of New Zealand in the most remarkable fashion.

The Milford Sound is the most well-known of the fiords and the most accessible, so if you only get chance to visit one, make it this one.

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