There is tangible proof behind why Auckland feels like such a welcoming place.
In the most recent rankings of the world’s ‘most liveable cities’, the City of Sails comes in equal third. The esteemed Mercer survey of 231 cities puts the lively, waterside New Zealand metropolis alongside such global heavyweights as Zurich, Vienna, Munich and Vancouver on a range of measured benchmarks that includes recreation, transport and the environment.
As a visitor to Auckland, you are struck by the warmth of the locals and the energy of a city clearly moving ahead.
And most of the action is centred around the waterfront. With more than 30 bars and restaurants hugging the water’s edge, Viaduct Harbour is a wonderful place to start soaking in the atmosphere of this vibrant city.
A short stroll away, the Britomart Precinct is a very chic and relatively new development that along with the Wynyard Quarter and North Wharf, have transformed the city. Here in a super stylish, ultra-modern urban oasis, you’ll hear the strains of live music and savour the swirling aromas of the city’s famous food culture.
For an altogether more genteel Auckland experience, the short ferry ride to Waiheke Island is a must.
This gorgeous place with sweeping views back over the city skyline is a 92-square kilometre hedonist’s haven with numerous wineries and olive groves, acclaimed restaurants, beautiful beaches, forest and cycle trails.
Waiheke received world attention in 2016 when Conde Nast Traveller rated it among the top 20 islands in the world!
There is so much to see and do, you might want to plan ahead. Choose from wineries, sea kayaking, Segway touring, mountain biking, pottery classes, sailing, stone carving workshops, horse treks, walking tours, snorkelling, zip-lining, jet ski hire …
While Waiheke is the feature island within Hauraki Gulf, make sure to enjoy a cruise around all this spectacular waterway has to offer. Whales and dolphins, in particular, are the star attractions of many cruise experiences.
What might surprise you about Auckland is its proximity to wonderful beaches. But be prepared, these are not what you’d call ‘classic’ coastal vistas. Take your pick of either black or pink sand!
If you head to the west, the stunning black sand of Piha, Karekare and Muriwai will leave a distinct impression. Coloured by volcanic minerals and iron oxide, the sand and towering peaks and outcrops that surround you are a stark and constant reminder of the seismic upheaval that created these shorelines.
The rugged west coast is also famous for its many spectacular walks through ancient native forests. Piha is flanked by the Waitakere Regional Parkland where well sign-posted tracks offer plenty of choice for ‘trampers’ – all within one-hour of the Auckland CBD.
Northeast of the city, the pink sands of beautiful Pakiri Beach are also the gateway to the Matakana Coast Wine Country where 28 different wine styles are produced and cellar door experiences await.
Experience the best of Auckland and Bay of Islands on Scenic’s ‘Bay of Islands’ tour over 6-days, roundtrip from Auckland.
Around 600-kilometres south of New Zealand’s biggest city lies its capital. Wellington is perched on the southern edge of the North Island with a population roughly one-quarter of Auckland’s.
But its comparatively diminutive status is in size only because you’re also spoilt for choice in this part of the country. In fact, Lonely Planet recently called Wellington the ‘coolest little capital in the world’.
Also the nation’s capital of culture, its centrepiece is the incredible Te Papa Tongarewa – New Zealand’s national museum. Unfolding the country’s rich history with six spectacular distinct exhibitions, Te Papa is the most visited museum in all of Oceania.
For a more modern celebration of New Zealand and its contribution to the arts, join a fascinating tour of the Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop, the creative geniuses behind the models and animations of blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar and The Hobbit trilogy.
With free time to explore the city, want to know where the locals go? Try Hannah’s Laneway in the centre of town (between Leeds and Eva Streets) for artisan foods and funky shops. For a bit of intellectual exercise, stroll the Writers Walk along the waterfront. This discovery tour features 15 text sculptures that encapsulate the work of famous figures of New Zealand’s literary history.
Well worth a visit just 10 minutes from the city and set in a lush, deep valley, Zealandia is an incredible 225-hectare eco-sanctuary and conservation project that protects the country’s most precious animals.
Explore the delights of the ‘Coolest little capital in the world’ on Scenic’s ‘Northern Explorer’ beginning in Auckland and finishing with 3-nights in Wellington.
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New Zealand’s third largest city, Christchurch locals are deservedly proud of their beautiful city.
With its heritage trams traversing the city, flat bottomed punts gliding along the meandering Avon River, cycleways crisscrossing the green spaces and a gondola ride into the hills, this is a city to explore in a number of ways. Whichever route you take, make sure to include the magnificent Botanic Gardens which sit among the world’s best.
Glorious Victorian buildings made of striking basalt and lime dominate the downtown area of Christchurch and the whole city is majestically framed by the Southern Alps.
One of the great benefits of any visit to the South Island’s oldest city is the access it provides to explore the wider Canterbury region. Undoubtedly, the most spectacular way to do this is aboard the Tranz Alpine train which is regarded as one of the world’s great rail journeys.
Take your reclined seat and gaze out the panoramic windows and glass domed ceilings and skylights to soak in those incredible vistas of the Southern Alps and sweeping plains as you head to the interior. These are views you will never forget.
Another short trip option from Christchurch is a visit to fascinating Akaroa, a charming seaside town on the renowned Banks Peninsula. This artistic enclave is a tiny, virtual outpost of France set amongst gorgeous scenery.
The town takes its name from a Māori dialect meaning “Long Harbour” but it was the arrival of the French in the early 1800s that shaped its course – and that of the nation’s. It is said the increasing French presence in Akaroa – initially for whaling – forced the nervous British Crown to fast-track the Treaty of Waitangi; the agreement between the Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs that still underpins New Zealand’s sovereignty today.
Akaroa is a reminder of what might have been, and you’ll find all the street names still in French and you’ll definitely pick up a crusty baguette and tasty fromage and naturally, some fine wines to accompany them.
You will be charmed by its many boutiques, cafes and restaurants as you gaze out over the Harbour and reflect on this picturesque little town’s place in New Zealand history.
Explore Christchurch over 9 incredible days on Scenic’s ‘Southern Highlights’ tour roundtrip from Christchurch.
Ultimate New Zealand Tour
To experience Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in the same tour and truly immerse yourself in the wild beauty, extraordinary friendliness and sheer magic that is New Zealand, Scenic’s 24-day ‘Ultimate New Zealand’ tour will leave you in love with the land of the long white cloud.
After falling in love with Auckland, discover ancient kauri forests and the spectacular beauty and historical significance of the Bay of Islands.
Explore ‘Middle Earth’ before taking in the geothermal wonders of Rotorua. Continue with a visit to Wellington before hopping on a ferry to the South Island.
Sample crisp Sauvignon Blanc in its place of origin and marvel at diverse marine life along the east coast before arriving in Christchurch. This city will delight with its resilience and positive outlook before you take one of New Zealand’s great train journeys – the TranzAlpine.
Franz Josef Glacier is a highlight, as is the energy and passion of Queenstown. Milford Sound is simply breathtaking and Dunedin’s English feel will leave you charmed, as will the spectacular scenery surrounding the Church of the Good Shepard in Lake Tekapo.
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