Saving on the Sights

With Maori culture, I'd spend about 2 to 3 hours here and see one of the live performances as well either the midday concert or the evening Mia Ora performance, which includes a full hangi (earth oven) meal. Hemo Rd., Rotorua. & 0800 494-252 in NZ,or 07 348-9047. Fax 07 348-9045. www.nzmaori.co.nz. Tour with Maori guide NZ 20 (US 11) adults, NZ 10 (US 5.50) children 5-15 midday Maori concert only NZ 20 (US 11) adults, NZ 10 (US 5.50) children Mia Ora Essence of Maori performance NZ 70 (US...

Tramping

Tramping (also known as hiking) is one of the best ways to explore the pristine forests, clear blue lakes, sparkling rivers, fern-filled valleys, and snow-capped peaks of New Zealand. The Department of Conservation (DOC), P.O. Box 10-420, Wellington ( 04 471-0726 fax 04 471-1082 www.doc.govt.nz), maintains more than 8,000km (about 5,000 miles) of tracks (trails) and 900 backcountry huts throughout New Zealand's 13 national parks and numerous scenic reserves. A series of short walks or one big...

Organized Tours Cruises

You can book several half- and full-day tours of the city and its environs at the visitor center. The half-day tours cover sightseeing highlights, while all-day tours usually include something of the east or west suburbs, the zoo, and the vineyards. One company with a good variety is ABC Tours of Auckland, 20A Truro Rd., Sandringham (& 0800 222-868 in NZ s_rogers4 xtra.co.nz). Its City of Sails highlights tour costs about NZ 45 (US 25) for adults children under 12 pay half price. Their Coast...

Lips Get Out on the Water

The Lakeland Queen paddle steamer carries 140 passengers and offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner cruises. The breakfast cruise (about NZ 30 US 17 for adults, NZ 15 US 8.25 for children) departs at 8am the luncheon buffet cruise (NZ 35 US 19 for adults, NZ 16 US 8.80 for children) departs at 12 30pm and returns at 1 30pm. The dinner cruise, from 7 to 10 30pm, provides live entertainment and costs around NZ 60 (US 33). Book at Lakeland Queen Cruises, The Lakefront (& 0800 862-784...

Outdoor Pursuits

BUNGEE ROCKET Bungee Rocket (& 0800 843-746 in NZ or 07 5783057 www.bungeerocket.co.nz), located on the Tauranga Waterfront, is open daily from 10am until late. DOLPHIN SWIMMING Several companies offer the opportunity to get in the water with the common dolphins that live in the bay. Try Butler's Swim With Dolphins, Pier J, Tauranga Marina, Keith Alan Drive, or Salisbury Wharf, Mt. Maunganui (& 0508 288-537 in NZ or 07 578-3197 www.swimwithdolphins. co.nz). They depart Tauranga at 8 45am...

Organized Tours

Start with the sedate Queenstown-Arrowtown Double Decker Bus Tour (& 03 441-4471 fax 03 441-4021), which gives a bird's-eye view of the Wakatipu Basin without leaving the ground. It includes a 1-hour stop in Arrow-town you can also leave the bus there in the morning and go back to Queen-stown on the afternoon return trip. It costs NZ 34 (US 19) per person. For information on Wine Trail tours, see The Wineries, below. For a short introduction to Queenstown itself, consider Queenstown's Horse...

Tps Lost

If you need help finding your way around the city, keep an eye out for the Auckland City Ambassadors (& 09 379-2020 www.aucklandcity.govt.nz). They're decked out in bright yellow jackets and are on the streets in the downtown area daily from 9am to 6pm. The double-decker Explorer Bus tfffiff (& 0800 439-756 or 09 571-3119 www.explorerbus.co.nz) departs from the Ferry Building on Quay Street every half-hour from 10am to 4pm daily. It visits 14 major Auckland attractions for NZ 30 (US 17)...

Other Guided Tours Outfitters Package Deals

In addition to all of the above, you can trust New Zealanders to come up with a tour for just about every specialty. Here are just a few of them if you still haven't found what you're looking for after this, well, I just don't know what to do with you But for just about all the tours you'll ever need, check out www. no shortage of choice there. Among the listings you'll find several for privately guided tours. Agritour, Hamilton (& 07 839-1652 fax 07 838-1652 www.agritour. co.nz) arranges...

Skiing Snowboarding

When the sun warms up in the Northern Hemisphere, skiers and snowboarders come down to the Southern Hemisphere. The ski season generally runs from late June to September. The country has 13 conventional ski areas as an added bonus at Mount Cook, you can fly by ski plane or helicopter to the 2,400m (8,000-ft.) head of the Tasman Glacier and ski down the 13.7km (8.5-mile) run. For up-to-the-minute South Island ski details, check out www.nzski.com. The two major ski fields on the North Island are...

Exploring The Peninsula

Personally, I prefer Northland, but Coromandel has an intangible, rustic quality that makes it rather alluring. Certainly, from a purely physical point of view, there's nothing quite like the sight of New Zealand's famous pohutukawa in full scarlet bloom (in Dec and Jan), against black rock and white beach, for mile after endless mile. There are good walks around Paeroa (near the Karangahake Gorge), Waihi, Whangamata, Tairua, Whitianga, Colville, Coromandel, and Thames. Information on the...

Hot Steamy

Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve, 1 Jacks Pass Road (& 0800 442-663 in NZ, or 03 315-7511 www.hotfun.co.nz), have attracted visitors for over 100 years. The complex boasts seven open-air thermal pools, three sulfur pools, sauna and steam rooms with plunge pool, four private thermal suites, a 25m heated freshwater pool, a family activity pool with two waterslides, a gym, and therapeutic massage facilities. The water in the pools is maintained at a temperature between 89.6 F and 104 F (32 C-40...

Tips Aprs Ski Where to Stay Dine

Located at the base of two ski fields, the quaint Cardrona Hotel Restaurant & Bar, Highway 89, 24km (15 miles) south of Wanaka (& 03 443-8153 www. cardronahotel.co.nz), was established as an inn back in 1863 at the height of the gold rush era. These days, it's a popular spot for a summer afternoon drink in the garden, and in winter, it takes on the ski crowd that plays the hardest and stays the longest. It's chock-full of character blazing fires, large wooden dining tables, and big simple...

In Thorndonkelburn

Eight Parliament Street fjftff Finds This lovely fisherman's cottage is very easy to recommend. Thomas and Christine Grasenack have created a colorful, artistic paradise that puts you comfortably in the heart of everything. There are three bright, fresh rooms with the smartest little bathrooms you could wish for. The en-suite room has doors opening to the private rear patio (also accessed off the living dining room). The kitchen is modern and well stocked with tea- and coffeemaking facilities....

Tauranga Bay of Plenty

208km (129 miles) SE of Auckland 86km (53 miles) NW of Rotorua Tauranga is no longer the sleepy place of my childhood holidays. Somewhere along the way, it has transformed itself into a sort of miniature version of Australia's Gold Coast. Today, it is New Zealand's second-fastest-growing area after Queenstown. It has a population of about 82,300 and boasts 2,400 hours of sunshine per year. Tauranga and its nearby beachfront neighbor, Mount Maun-ganui, are confident, thriving urban centers, and...

Moments Sunrise at Mount Hikurangi

At 1,839m (6,033 ft.), Mount Hikurangi is the first point on mainland New Zealand to see the sunrise each day. It is sacred to the Maori, and climbing treks on the mountain are by permission only through Ngati Porou Outdoor Pursuits, Wainui Road, Gisborne (& 06 867-9960 or 021 676-910). There is an excellent alpine hut on the higher reaches, allowing early-morning climbs to see the sunrise. Hut fees are around NZ 5 (US 2.75) per person bookings are essential. Four-wheel-drive tours are also...

Where To Stay

There are over 17,000 visitor beds in this small town, ranging from backpackers to new apartments, international-class hotels, and luxury lodges. It pays to book well in advance. Should you arrive without reservations, head for the Queenstown Travel & Visitor Centre, in the Clocktower Centre, Shotover and Camp streets (& 03 442-4100 fax 03 442-8907), and ask for assistance. The rates below include 12.5 GST and free off-street parking unless otherwise noted. Eichardt's Private Hotel Finds...

Where To Dine

As well as the cafes and restaurants reviewed below, don't forget about all the winery restaurants. You'll find them listed on the free winery map from the visitor center. Sadly the wonderful Marlborough Terranean has closed its doors after years of excellent service. In its place you'll now find Caf Zest, 31 High St., Picton (& 03 573-6616), a good basic caf with a small but tasty menu. It's about the only other eatery in town worth worrying about after Expresso House (below). Expresso...

Taking In The Views

There are three good lookout points from which to view the city and its environs Mount Cargill Lookout, 8km (5 miles) from the city center (turn left at the end of George St., then left on Pine Hill Rd. to its end, and then right onto Cowan Rd., which climbs to the summit) Centennial Lookout, or Signal Hill (turn onto Signal Hill Rd. from Opoho Rd., then drive 3km 1.8 miles to the end of Signal Hill Rd.) and Bracken's Lookout (at the top of the Botanic Gardens), which was named after poet...

Exploring Karamea ggg

Caught between the wild Tasman Sea on one side and the bush-clad mountains of Kahurangi National Park on the other, Karamea (pop. 650) is a thin slither of subtropical paradise. As the gateway to the Kahurangi, it offers a host of natural attractions, and it is to Karamea that Heaphy Track walkers go at the end of their 4- to 6-day tramp. Much of the coastline is wild and rugged, with rocky points and narrow beaches backed by steep cliffs. Nikau palms, rainforest, and dairy-farm pastures all...

Whats New in New Zealand

New Zealand has had a booming 2 years in tourism. Despite international downturns in travel because of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and SARS, New Zealand has welcomed over two million visitors for the first time. There has been huge growth in all tourism sectors, and the mood looks set to continue. The airlines, though, are still up in the air at least in terms of who's who. The proposed merger between Air New Zealand and Australia's Qantas is still awaiting approval Britain's...

Exploring The East Cape

State Highway 35 between Opotiki and Gisborne is a memorable 334km (207-mile) journey. The road is etched into the coastline and the traveler is rewarded with an everchanging vista of the South Pacific. In summer, scarlet pohutukawa trees border the bright blue bays, and all along the way you'll see deserted white-sand beaches where there are innumerable opportunities for walking and fishing. Make sure you get a copy of Jason's Pacific Coast Highway Touring Guide (www.jasons.com), free from...

Finds Cathedral Cove

This gorgeous sheltered cove is part of the Hahei Marine Reserve and famous for its large sea cave. The beach and cave are accessible by walkway from Hahei. Charters (& 07 866-7167 www.corocharters.co.nz), who offer half- and full-day excursions. GOLF The Mercury Bay Golf & Country Club, Golf Road, Whitianga ((& 07 866-5479), is an 18-hole course greens fees are about NZ 20 to 30 (US 11- 17). Matarangi 18-Hole Golf Links & Resort (& 07 866-5394 www.matarangi.co.nz) is one of New...

Sleeping Among the Grapes

There are a growing number of vineyard accommodations for visitors to choose from. Le Grys Homestay & Premium Wines ( , Le Grys Vineyard, Conders Bend Road, Renwick ( 03 572-9490 www.legrys.co.nz), offers a divine mud block cottage for NZ 225 (US 124), plus NZ 45 (US 25) each extra person and a room in the main house for NZ 140 (US 77). The moderate rates (NZ 130- 140 US 72- 77) at the Black Birch Lodge, Jeffries Road, Blenheim ( 03 572-8876 barnsley ihug. co.nz), include breakfast, and all...

Near Hagley Park

The George Christchurch (fXfXH Value The George is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, and its attention to detail is hard to fault. Sleek, cool, and modern, it typifies the new breed of boutique hotels that focus energy on individual guest needs. The George has also annexed an old adjacent homestead, which is now The Residence it has two luxury suites and one studio apartment, plus a formal dining room, lounge, and kitchen for those booking the whole property. I can think...

Taking to the Slopes

There are excellent ski fields within 2 hours of Christchurch. Closest among them are the five main fields of the Arthur's Pass area Porter Heights, Mount Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn Valley, and Temple Basin all 1 to 11 2 hours from the city. Porter Heights (& 03 3184002 www.porterheights.co.nz) is the closest commercial field. It has the longest downhill drop in New Zealand, and although the facilities are pretty basic, it has a variety of terrain and stunning views. Good for all...

Wine Tours

Vin de Pays Wine Tours (& 03 357-8262 www.vindepays.co.nz) has a range of options from NZ 80 to 95 (US 44- 52). Its tours visit Waipara and Akaroa wineries, all of which offer tastings and many of which have restaurants. The day trip to Akaroa also includes a visit to a cheese factory and lunch at a quality restaurant. Colmonell Wine Trail jp (& 03 314-6805 or 025 227-6120) has a wagon trail ride through Waipara wineries for NZ 25 (US 14) reservations are required. Just leap into one of...

Essentials

GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND By Plane Air New Zealand (& 06 833-5400) provides daily service between Napier Hastings and Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with connections to other key centers. The airport is a 5-minute drive from Napier City and a 20-minute drive from Hastings. The shuttle service (& 06 879-9766) into Napier costs about NZ 12 (US 6.60). By Coach (Bus) InterCity (& 09 913-6100) and Newmans (& 09 9136200) provide daily bus service between Napier Hastings...

Bubble Bubble Toil Trouble The Geothermal Attractions

When you enter this region, you quickly realize there's something hard at work under your feet. Steam rises out of gutters and along roadsides, and you can never be entirely sure where the next hiss and roar are going to come from. Volcanic and geothermal activity has always played a major role in the landscape here, so be sure to experience it yourself. The visitor center has information on shuttle services to the main geothermal areas. These usually cost between NZ 15 and NZ 30 (US 8.25- 17)...

Waikato Bay of Plenty

The Coromandel Peninsula Coromandel OWhitianga The Coromandel Peninsula Coromandel OWhitianga You don't have to be a gardener to appreciate the serenity of the Japanese Garden or the beauty of the herb garden. Hamilton Lake and its 56-hectare (138-acre) reserve is also a pleasant place for a quiet wander. It's just outside the central business district. The Waikato Museum of Art & History , Victoria and Grantham streets, Private Bag (& 07 838-6606 www.waikatomuseum.org.nz), and Exscite...

Queenstown After Dark

Midwinter in Queenstown is a night owl's paradise. There's plenty happening all year, of course, but once the town fills up with international visitors, anything can, and often does, happen. Queenstown now has two casinos. Sky Alpine, Beach Street amp 03 441-0400 www.skyalpine.co.nz , has over 70 gaming machines and the usual table games such as roulette, blackjack, and baccarat. Also here are Wild Thyme Bar amp Restaurant and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. It's open daily...

Where To Stay In Hamilton

The nicest inner-city motel is the Anglesea Motel jftjf, 36 Liverpool St. amp 0800 426-453 in NZ, or 07 834-0010 www.angleseamotel.co.nz . Studios start at NZ 120 US 66 , and divine spa-bath studios cost NZ 135 to 195 US 74- 107 . Near the airport, Hamilton Airport Motor Inn , Airport Road amp 0800 106-679 in NZ, or 07 843-8412 www.airportinn.co.nz , has rooms from NZ 95 to 130 US 52- 72 . Backpackers can try YHA Hamilton, 1190 Victoria St. amp 0800 278-299 in NZ or 07 838-0009 www.stayyha.com...

Side Trip To Bluff

If time permits, take a drive to Bluff to find Tiwai Smelter Tours, NZ Aluminium Smelters Ltd., Private Bag, Invercargill amp 03 218-5440 www.comalco.co.nz . This free tour is much more interesting than you might think and is available weekdays at 10am, with only three tours per week. Bookings are essential there are special clothing requirements for safety reasons. Children under 12 will not be admitted. Bluff's Maritime Museum, Foreshore Road amp 03 212-7534 bluff museum netscape.net.nz , is...

Other Highlights

Forgive me for not walking up Baldwin Street, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the world's steepest street. I couldn't face the 270 steps that take you to the top, or the footpath and its impossible gradient. Just minutes from the city center, this little street tricks you with a gentle beginning. It then rears dramatically skyward to come to a dead end on the hillside. If you're hale and hearty and have something to prove, this could be a good test, and I believe the...

Finds Inner City Comforts

If you want true inner city, check out the delicious Metro Suites jf, situated above Caf Metro on the corner of Kilmore and Colombo streets, opposite the Town Hall amp 03 366-4067 www.metrosuites.co.nz . It has two spacious rooms one opulent and traditional, one modern and minimal. US 125- 187 and NZ 845 US 465 for a suite. It's much smaller and more intimate than the Heritage or the Crowne Plaza. Crowne Plaza Christchurch The Parkroyal re-branded as Crowne Plaza in 2002, but it's still...

Kids Especially for Kids

If you're ready to let the kids loose, head for Capital E, Civic Square, Victoria Street amp 04 913-3720 www.capitale.org.nz , open daily from 10am to 5pm. This wonderful place combines a varied program of exhibitions, events, and theater especially designed for families. It's all about fun, entertainment, and education. Call for current programs and admission prices. Lollipop's Playland amp Cafe Level 1, Wellington Trade Centre, Victoria and Ghuznee streets amp 04 384-4466 www.lollipops.co.nz...

Very Expensive

Takaro Lodge finds Built 30 years ago by American millionaire Stockton Rush and later abandoned for many years, Takaro has recently come to life again as new Zealand's only true health retreat not that you have to be a health fanatic to savor its sublime comforts, magical setting, and first-rate cuisine Set in over 1,000 hectares of farmland and native bush, it provides the best and most unique accommodations in this part of the country. Each of the 10 suites is designed according to the five...

Exploring Gisborne

To get a panoramic view of Poverty Bay, the city, and the harbor and rivers, head for Kaiti Hill Lookout. It's signposted at the northern end of Gladstone Bridge and you can drive all the way to the brick semicircular lookout point. There's a statue of Captain Cook looking out to Young Nick's Head at the opposite end of the bay. At the foot of Kaiti Hill is one of New Zealand's largest carved Maori meetinghouses, Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae f. Visits can be arranged by appointment 06 868-5364 ,...