Dunedin, New Zealand is one of my favourite cities simply because there is so much to do, yet so few people visit! The city lies at the head of the Otago harbour, on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s about five hours due south of Christchurch, New Zealand and about three hours northeast of Invercargill. Besides the excitement of the small city, Dunedin is surrounded by incredible wildlife and landscapes, from penguins to white sand beaches.
Ah, Queenstown, New Zealand. Playground for the snowbirds, haven for summer wine lovers, and absolutely surreal scenery no matter the season. Queenstown developed on the shore Lake Wakatipu in the 1860s first as a high country farm and later as a gold mining town. Only some of the original buildings remain, one of them now the luxurious Eichardt’s Hotel. Queenstown, despite its rugged roots, is most definitely an adventure and luxury tourism-based town. It also attracts the majority of Working Holiday Visa travellers who come to work during the ski season. With a population of only 15,000, it might seem like a small town, but Queenstown is definitely jam-packed no matter the time of year with visitors from all over the world.
There are few cities as interesting as Christchurch, New Zealand, in my opinion. It suffers more earthquakes on a daily basis than most other inhabited places, it’s a little England plopped into the chilly sub-Antarctic South Island, and it’s only one of eight pairs of cities worldwide with an exact antipodal city. There are other unique aspects of the city, too, like how it’s only one of four cities to be planned around a central park. Or how it’s a base for scientific Kiwi, Italian, and American Antarctic explorations. But my favourite thing about Christchurch is how central it is to almost every other landscape in New Zealand.
A lot of people consider Nelson, New Zealand to be the gateway to the northern parts of the South Island. To get to the remote Golden Bay, Farewell Spit, and Wharariki Beach, you must pass through the fertile lands of Nelson and Motueka. And a lot of people do go up there; it’s beautiful. However, Nelson alone is a great place to spend a day or two. There are some great wineries, craft breweries, and orchards in the plains surrounding town. This part of New Zealand is incredible fertile, and produces tons of hops, apples, and grapes. The hops are among some of New Zealand’s exports too.
I’m only a bit partial to Wellington, New Zealand. It’s the first place I moved to when I lived in NZ, and I quickly fell in love with the relaxed, quirky, chill vibe. Wellington attracts a lot of artists, entrepreneurs, and other creative types. Because it’s the capital, it also has a lot of government and tech people. The energy in Wellington is palpable, though, and the perfect place to cap your North Island adventure.
There are few cities in the world that are as complete in one architectural style as Napier, New Zealand. Following a major earthquake in 1931, the city rebuilt completely in the style of the times, which happened to be Art Deco. Today, Napier is a major stop on tours of New Zealand because of this unique aspect.
If you’re seeking exciting cultural activities and geothermal attractions, Rotorua, New Zealand – and the nearby town of Taupo – is where you need to go. The heart of the Bay of Plenty, only 3 hours from Auckland, Rotorua is one of the best places to learn about the Maori culture. It’s also the base for excursions to White Island, an offshore volcanic island. The road between Rotorua and Taupo, aptly called the Geothermal Highway, has plenty of stops to fill an entire day.
Auckland, New Zealand might not be the capital of this tiny country but it’s by far the largest city (population approximately 1.5 million). It’s home to the major international airport, and is therefore the usual first stop on a New Zealand itinerary. Auckland, New Zealand has quite a bit to do, and (with the average flight into NZ being 14 hours long) its a great place to get over jet lag! Additionally, any itinerary that goes north to the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga must return through the city. That being said, three to four days in Auckland is enough time to see the star attractions.
Kia ora! This week and next I’m going to talk about New Zealand cities. While most people are familiar with Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown, there are a few more than that. New Zealand only has a population of 4.69 million, and the majority of them live in the North Island. There are five large cities on the South Island though! New Zealand cities range from cosmopolitan to rugged, from mountainous to sub-tropical, and from international gateways to Antarctic ports.
While most people think of Australia and New Zealand wine, they think of them as new destinations. However, a lot of the wineries in both Australia and New Zealand date back to the 19th century. Many of the early European settlers planted grapes, and while a lot of wineries don’t date that far back, the cultivation of grapes does. Both countries have a huge variety of wine regions, from mere hours from Sydney, Australia to hidden in the Southern Alps. More