Whale watch in Auckland or retro shop in Wellington
Though it's the smaller of New Zealand's 2 main islands, the diversity of scenery and attractions makes it enchanting.
In the north, see why Auckland's pretty harbour setting and casual blend of heritage and modernity keep visitors returning. Even if you haven't been here before, you'll likely have heard of Rotorua's hot springs and thermal baths – put them on your list too. There are hectares of orchards and gardens near Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty region, making this an ideal spot to sample home-grown kiwifruit. Enjoy a top cab-sav or merlot in Hawke's Bay and go cruising on a mountain-rimmed waterway the size of Singapore at Lake Taupo. Further south, there are more marvellous vineyards at Martinborough too.
A good starting point for a holiday on the North Island is Wellington – in the far south, it's one cool little capital city. Set between a harbour and hills, it's a creative powerhouse with fine food and brews to boot. It does get a little breezy, so pack a fleece and you're set to explore!