With its vast mountains, volcanic sands and fascinating Maori culture, New Zealand is one of the most fascinating places to visit.
Here, we’ve picked our top experiences to ensure you don’t miss out if you’re heading to this spectacular island for a timeshare break this year.
Rotorua Maori experience
Soak up the fascinating Maori culture by visitng the city of Rotorua in the Bay Of Plenty, a city where a sulphur smell lingers from the local geothermal activity. Enjoy traditional meals cooked in a hangi (earth oven) and watch the Maori dance performances including the traditional nose-rubbing welcome ceremonies and famous haka.
Waitangi and the Bay of Islands
Just across the bridge from the Bay Of Islands’ Paihia, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are where modern New Zealand was born. The visitor centre charts the history of the agreement between the Maori and Pakeha (European settlers). It’s also worth stopping by the northern tip of the country to see Cape Reinga, where Maoris believe spirits depart for the underworld after death.
Art deco Napier
New Zealand’s devastating 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake killed 256 people and destroyed the city of Napier. However, when they rebuilt it, Art Deco was very much in fashion, so the new-look city has a spectacularly unique look. We particularly love the National Tobacco Building, but have a wander to see which little details you can spy among the buildings.
Back in 2011, earthquakes took their toll on Christchurch, traditionally the most English of New Zealand’s cities. The rebuilding process has seen the city take on a cooler, more creative edge, with temporary venues and cultural spaces popping up – sometimes in shipping containers. You can also enjoy Antarctic expeditions from Christchurch, which are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The southeastern corner of New Zealand has a real Scottish vibe, particularly at Larnach Castle, where a 19th-century businessman built a home in keeping with his ancestry. Visit the castle to marvel at the pristine gardens and antique furniture and it’s also possible to stay overnight or linger for a spot of afternoon tea.
Lord of the Rings
Famously, the filming of this epic, other-worldly trilogy took part across New Zealand. However, some of the key scenes were shot on the South Island around Queenstown. The beech forest near Glenorchy doubled as Lothlorien, while the Ford of Bruinen river crossing into Rivendell is near Arrowtown and Gandalf rode up to Isengard along the Rees-Dart track in the Mount Aspiring National Park.