First stop is Auckland, once a nondescript gateway to the North Island, it’s now a city buzzing with hip bars, trendy restaurants, yachts, beaches and relaxed surf-loving dwellers. Dive headfirst into the easygoing Kiwi lifestyle with a couple of nights in this ‘City of Sails’, then hop on a ferry to nearby quirky, cool Waiheke Island with its resident artists, secret coves, boutique wineries and chic retreats. In the far north, stunning Bay of Islands is a definite must-visit during the summer months or head to the Coromandel Peninsula for sublime beach action. In the country’s geothermal heartland, the geysers around sulphur-rich Rotorua are captivating whilst the surf-washed beaches of Gisborne and the east coast lead to oenophile heaven, Hawke’s Bay. Farmers’ markets, wineries and cellar doors, fish and chips on the beach: living like a local becomes second nature in this diverse region. Wind your way through the pretty vineyards in Martinborough then refuel in the capital, Wellington, a bite-size harbour city brimming with cafés and culture; the perfect stop en route to the majestic South Island.
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