New Zealand city guides
Where's a good place to enjoy outdoor pursuits? The best destination for nightlife? New Zealand's cities all offer something different - the key is finding one to suit your interests. Here's a guide to some of NZ's most exciting study destinations.
Since the America's Cup was held here in 1999 and again in 2002, the dollars have flooded into Auckland bringing with it a super-stylish, cosmopolitan city and its own purpose built village, the Viaduct Basin which thrums with hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants and superyachts!
The easiest way to get a taste of this spicy city is to get on the Auckland Explorer Bus. The Auckland Museum is also a not to be missed experience; it stands in the Auckland Domain on the edge of an ancient volcano and is home to the largest collection of Maori and Polynesian artifacts in the world. Auckland's Sky Tower which, at 110 metres tall, is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere and affords spectacular views over the city. Locals love to get outside, whether that's riding a bike, going for a jog, surfing, sailing or simply wandering in the many green and pleasant parklands of the Auckland Domain and Cornwall Park. And the good news, most of Auckland's fun is free!
You wont go hungry in Auckland. From affordable restaurants and cafes to world-class restaurants, great eateries are plentiful in Auckland. Italian, French and Mediterranean cuisine is popular here; and there is a wonderful selection of Japanese, Thai and Pacific Rim restaurants, specializing in high-quality locally produced ingredients. Head to the Viaduct Basin and along Ponsonby to explore the heart of Auckland's dining scene.
The nightlife in Auckland is amongst the best in New Zealand, with clubs, bars, theatre and live music there really is something for everyone. Students and the funky folks of Auckland hang out in High Street in the Inner City, the yachties and the rich of Auckland love the Viaduct Basin, whilst Ponsonby is home to most of the all-night clubs and bars.
Heading out of Auckland's centre, catch the Fullers Ferry to Devonport, a charming village which offers a breath of fresh air with all the attractions of a holiday destination, including white sandy beaches and cute cafes and restaurants. West of Auckland takes you to the wine-growing regions to sample some locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the 110 wineries of Greater Auckland. And a trip to Waiheke Island, a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland, will take you to a little piece of paradise, with lush bush-land, rolling green hills and exquisite white-sand beaches.
The country's capital Wellington is also the cultural and artistic capital of New Zealand, and home to the exciting and burgeoning film industry, which has earned Wellington the nickname Wellywood. Like Auckland, the city is bursting with amazing eateries, trendy bars, excellent cafes, great shopping, and all-night clubs, in spite of its relatively small population. It's a good-looking city, the surrounding hillsides are dotted with Victorian housing, overlooking the beautiful curved harbour. The Inner City is compact, walkable, and filled with many gleaming, glass fronted high rise building, reminiscent of Singapore or Hong Kong perhaps. The focal point of the city centre is the NZ$317 million Te Papa national museum which has opened up the harbour front to visitors and brought a museum which tells the fascinating story of New Zealand's history, art and culture, and is believed to be ahead of anything else of its kind in the world!
Most of the attractions within the city are an easy walking distance, so it's easy to spend a day wandering through the leafy Botanic Gardens, catching the Cable Car about the city and stopping in the shops at Willis Street or Cuba Street.
Cuba Street is one of the hippest places to eat, especially if you're on a budget, or looking for fantastic ethnic cuisine. Choose from one of the many excellent Turkish, Indian, Thai, Mongolian, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian and Greek restaurants... the list goes on. By night Courtenay Place comes alive with heaps of late night bars and dance clubs. For a more cultural experience the Downstage Theatre at Courtney Place is first rate. Wellington is also home to the biggest cultural event in New Zealand which happens every other year and stages the most talented Kiwi artists.
Around Wellington, Wairarapa makes a great weekend getaway. It's a spectacular home to some of the best boutique vineyards in the world and is just an hour from Wellington. Wellington is also where you cross from the North to the South Island by ferry. It's just three hours to Picton and the glorious Marlborough region.
Leafy avenues, lined with pretty Victorian buildings fan out from the centre of the city and punters drift along the Avon River admiring the beautiful private gardens of Christchurch. Yes, New Zealand's third largest city, also known as the Garden City, has a reputation for being a rather refined and English place. Certainly it's more conservative than Wellington and Auckland but it's a green and pleasant city, with a river and an abundance of huge parks and gardens. But there's more to Christchurch than meets the eye. It's a mecca for outdoor adventurers, with heaps of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horse trekking and skydiving, to name a few. Thanks to its temperate climate with some of the lowest rainfall in New Zealand and the relatively flat terrain it's the perfect city to explore by bike or on foot.
By night, 'The Strip', as it's known, is the centre of the café and bar scene which gets pretty lively later on. The city also has some excellent eating spots and lovers of seafood and lamb won't go hungry in the many cafes and restaurants serving wonderful fresh produce. The Canterbury region is renowned for its wines and Christchurch is within easy reach of over 40 local wineries.
Two hours from the city and you can visit the ski fields of Arthur's Pass or take in the dramatic alpine scenery on one of the many short walks. Kaikoura is also two hours away, to the north and the stunning landscape of the French harbour town of Akaroa is just an hour away.
Dunedin is the South Island's coolest city. Located in the Otago province at the south if the South Island it's a funky little city with dramatic scenery (and weather!), charming stately homes, a strong indie music scene, and a student population who love to party! Amongst the well-preserved Edwardian and Victorian buildings you'll find a thriving population of musicians and artists; some of the best student pubs in New Zealand, and the world's steepest street - Baldwin Street!
It's a quirkly place with a strong Scottish history; Dunedin is the ancient Gaelic name for Edinburgh. Evidence of the Scottish settlers who arrived here in the 1800s remain, as the city boasts a whiskey distillery, kilt shop and a haggis maker too!
Highlights include the Otago museum which features some great Southern Maori collections, and a gallery which tells the story of the Southern region. The stately Railway Station is definitely worth a look for its large square clock tower and impressive mosaic floor. The station is also the gateway to the popular Central Otago Rail Trail, an unforgettable 6 day bike trail that takes you through stunning scenery and quaint Otago townships!