Inspired by some of New Zealand's rugby greats, discover 15 must-do experiences for rugby fans.
Former-All Black lock Ian Jones grew up in sub-tropical Northland where getting out on the water is a year-round activity. Ian says diving the stunning Poor Knights marine reserve, fishing in the Bay of Islands or boarding a thrilling jet boat to famous Hole in the Rock are some of his top picks for the region.
Dominating Auckland's skyline is the fascinating Rangitoto Island, one of 48 volcanic cones in the city and home to the world's largest pohutukawa forest. Rangitoto is just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland or try taking a sunset kayak. Climb to the volcano's summit for spectacular panoramic views across the Waitemata Harbour.
Just 45 minutes west of Hamilton lies the the laid back, surfie town of Raglan, where former All Black Brent (Buck) Anderson began his working life. With black sand beaches and one of the world's longest left-hand surf breaks, Raglan attracts surfers from across the globe. Even for non-surfers Raglan's bohemian vibe and relaxed atmosphere is worth the trip.
Ever wondered what's behind the All Blacks’ famous pre-match war dance? Learn how to perform the haka yourself and discover the proud history of this ancient ritual. Taste an authentic Maori hangi, watch the grace and beauty of a poi dance or discover the art of traditional carving during a Maori cultural experience in Rotorua.
With white sandy beaches, the glistening Bay of Plenty is the perfect place for a break between games. A walk up Mount Maunganui offers dramatic 360-degree views across one of New Zealand's favourite holiday towns. Afterwards reward yourself with a post-climb ice cream or a gentle soak in the Salt Water Hot Pools.
Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in Australasia covering an area the size of Singapore, making it ideal for trout fishing. Take a cruise or a kayak to the lake's remote Mine Bay and check out the Māori rock carvings. Or experience the region's many other activities such as hiking, mountain biking or skiing.
Visit Cape Kidnappers the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. Board an overland 4X4 and see the gannets perform their unique mating dance set against some of the region's most spectacular landscapes. Or explore the Art Deco architecture, world-class vineyards and tranquil beaches of the Hawke’s Bay region.
For those looking to escape the city crowds, former All Black captain Graham Mourie says the Wairarapa is a must. Just a short drive from Wellington, this cluster of small towns is rich with boutique vineyards amid wide open plains. Graham recommends Martinborough for lovers of Pinot Noir or visit Greytown to check out the area's many charming antique shops.
Wellington is home to an amazing array of craft beers, from the basement of a former police station to a thriving ex-petrol station, there are beers to suit every taste. Take a beer tour to find the city's tastiest brews. Beyond the bars the capital has a lot of other activities to offer, check out Te Papa the national museum or visit the Weta Cave Workshop; a must for film fans.
Just a short hop across Cook Strait is Nelson, the birthplace of New Zealand rugby. The first match was played here in 1870. These days art and fashion give the region a unique flavour with the World of Wearable Art Museum a highlight. Nearby, Marlborough (New Zealand's biggest wine region) offers diverse landscapes, great walking trails and exceptional food and wine.
The ultimate tourist experience for any rugby fan has to be a scenic flight across the Canterbury region with legendary Richie McCaw at the controls. The ex-All Black captain now pilots for Christchurch Helicopters and delights in showing visitors his home patch. There’s also plenty to do on the ground from skiing the alps to playing golf on a world-class course.
Former All Black prop Kees Mueews has a long list of must-do activities for his home region Dunedin. Discover some of the world's rarest species on Otago Peninsula, eat fish and chips overlooking dramatic surf at St Clair beach, or tour the new Emerson Brewery. For a pre-game 'curtain raiser' check out the local Nude Blacks, a naked rugby team made up of rugby mad locals.
Every picture tells a story and Milford Sound in Fiordland is no exception. The area is one of the New Zealand’s most photographed regions and one of the wettest places on earth, but that’s all part of the appeal. The rainfall fuels numerous waterfalls making the Sounds magical in any weather. Take a relaxing boat cruise and see the cascading falls up close.