10 things: New Zealand

With Waitangi Day (New Zealand’s National Day) just around the corner, KH lets you in on 10 things she loves about the 'land of the long white cloud' Swimming with dolphins in Akaroa This picturesque town on the south island was once a French colony – something the French street names, bear testimony to. There’s much to see and do in Akaroa but arguably the standout experience is sharing the water with some of the 600-700 Hectors dolphins (the world’s smallest and rarest breed), that inhabit the harbour.

Whale watching at Kaikoura
The small seaside settlement of Kaikoura is the place to view sperm whales (as well as seals and dolphins), up close. The whale watching boats use hydrophones (underwater microphones) to locate the distinctive clicking of the sperm whale, which abounds around the rocky coastline of the peninsula. Think about factoring in a visit to the excellent Kaikoura Visitor Centre – the multimedia presentations on Kaikoura’s sea life are spectacular.

Tucking into a Maori meal
Be sure to try a Maori hang, at least once. Traditional hangi food is a feast of meat, seafood and vegetables (including the Maori staple sweet potato) cooked on heated stones in an earthen oven (‘hangi’). Most hotels host a ‘hangi’ – often accompanied by Maori music and folk dancing.

Partying up a storm in Wellington
Looking to party hearty? The country’s capital, Wellington, is where it’s at. Dubbed the ‘windy city’, (owing to the winds that can whistle through the Cook Strait), Wellington is home to an ever expanding range of bars, cafes and restaurants. But it’s not all about pubs and clubs: the capital also does culture. Don’t miss the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) which covers every aspect of New Zealand’s land, life and loves.

Heading to Hanmer Springs
This tranquil little alpine village offers an array of activities: try your hand at hiking, horse riding, rafting, fishing and climbing then soak away any aches and pains in the thermal springs. These are said to be particularly helpful for arthritis and rheumatism owing to the high acidic content.

Taking a trip to Taupo
The resort town of Taupo enjoys a sensational setting on the shores of Lake Taupo – New Zealand’s largest lake. Taupo has a reputation for offeringgreat adventure and rightly so: for thrill seekers, the famed bungee jump off a 45m high platform will appeal and is open to all: there’s no age limit and over 65s go free!

Exploring Auckland – aka the ‘City of Sails’
Not for nothing is New Zealand’s largest city known as the ‘City of Sails’: there are more boats per person in Auckland than in any other city in the world. Take a cruise on the Waitemata Harbour, go racing on an America's Cup yacht, sign up for a dolphin-spotting excursion or enjoy a gentle ferry ride to one of Auckland’s seaside suburbs.

Thrills and spills in Queenstown
New Zealand’s premier tourist resort has a remarkable range of activities to choose from. However if you’re after the ultimate Queenstown thrill, opt for the ‘Awesome Foursome’ – an adrenaline pumping day that combines a helicopter ride with jet boating, white water rafting and A J Hackett’s famous bungee jump. It’s not all thrills and spills tho: less hair raising activities include scenic walks and lake cruises.

Chilling out in Christchurch
The South Island’s biggest city is also one of the most attractive in the country and the perfect place to indulge in a little R&R – either in one of the numerous leafy parks and gardens (Christchurch is called ‘the Garden City’) or at a street side cafe in Cathedral Square. This spacious, pedestrian-ised square acts as a stage for buskers and break dancers, alongside atheists and religious fundamentalists who battle it out verbally on a daily basis.

Catching the All Blacks in action
New Zealanders love sports – especially rugby. The national team, the All Blacks, are better known to most Kiwis than pop stars and politicians. Matches are played at a variety of venues including Eden Park (Auckland), North Harbour Stadium (North Shore City), Westpac Stadium (Wellington), AMI Stadium (Christchurch), Waikato Stadium (Hamilton) and Carisbrook Stadium (Dunedin).