Explore museums in Auckland and Wellington for a unique insight into our culture and history. Witness the deep connection between the people and the land in Rotorua and Lake Taupo, before journeying to the Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa regions to see stunning examples of our rich architecture and to taste award-winning wines.
Head south to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland where you can experience the best of Maori world and soak in natural hot springs. Places such as Te Puia offer cultural experiences that combine dramatic Maori performances (including the haka) with delicious Maori food and arts. It is also a geothermal reserve and home to the famous Pohutu Geyser.
Drive south from Rotorua to Lake Taupo and take a boat, kayak or cruise around the secluded coves and beaches of this stunning lake. The Western Bays of the lake feature intricate and huge Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, accessible only by water and a must-see. After a busy day exploring, head to one of Lake Taupo’s many naturally-heated hot pools to recharge your weary muscles.
In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly levelled the city of Napier. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered the Art Deco Capital of the world. To get in touch with the history of this region, visit the Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata (an exhibition which celebrates the Maori history of the East Coast) at the local museum. The acclaimed vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach of Napier. It is also the perfect spot to sample the popular artisan fare.
On your way to Wellington, visit the Wairarapa region, teeming with country charm and world-class vineyards. Part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, it is home to the village of Martinborough, which has become the gourmet capital of the lower North Island. It has more than 25 boutique vineyards and several fabulous eateries. You can walk or cycle to most of the local vineyards and attractions.
Drive south over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington, a compact and cultured city that is full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for exploration on foot. Enjoy museums and galleries, including Te Papa, an innovative national museum and a world leader in interactive experiences. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty along with cafes and restaurants that are bursting with local charm.