All Blacks Experience

Indagare ambassador Jim Klaus recommends the All Blacks Experience at the Sky Tower and says it's a fun multimedia guided tour that teaches about rugby and the history of the team: "It's great for a rainy morning, as it takes a couple of hours." Take a guided tour and learn what it takes to be an All Blacks player. Learn the story behind the All Blacks haka, and test your rugby skills against All Blacks and Black Ferns in the interactive zone.

Exterior View - Auckland Art Gallery , Auckland, New Zealand - Courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Auckland Art Gallery

Established in 1888, Auckland Art Gallery is the largest art museum in Aontearoa, NZ. It holds the most extensive collection of New Zealand and international art in the country, and houses 35 exhibition spaces over three levels. With exhibitions that present modern and contemporary art, works by Maori and Pacific artists, international collections, as well as programs for both old and young, visitors are bound to walk away with a fresh perspective.

In 2024, New York philanthropists Julian and Josie Robertson gifted a collection of 15 works from influential modern European artists, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, transforming the collection.

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Exterior View -Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Set in the middle of Auckland’s downtown park, the grand Auckland Museum gives visitors a crash course in Kiwiana. Spend an hour here, and you’ll have boned up on enough Maori culture, native flora and fauna, and New Zealand history to see you through your trip. (Cultural tip: New Zealand was not populated by convicts). After your visit, grab lunch in nearby Parnell, Auckland’s oldest suburb.

Elephant at Auckland Zoo , Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland Zoo

With the greatest number of exotic and native species in New Zealand, the Auckland Zoo strives to build a future for and improve the understanding of wildlife. From hippos to tigers to the beloved kiwi, visitors can see some of the world’s most impressive species while learning about conservation of these and many other creatures in wild spaces.

Interior View - Buried Village , New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Buried Village

In the early 19th century, Europeans who came to visit New Zealand usually were drawn by a single destination: the Pink and White Terraces near Lake Rotorua. Formed by geothermal waters, the terraces were often referred to as the eight wonder of the world. Most of these early-day visitors were based in the town of Te Wairoa, on the shore of Lake Tarawera, from which they would set off to see the Pink and White Terraces. All was destroyed in 1886 when Mount Tarawera erupted in a blast so powerful that it could be heard on South Island.

Today, Te Wairoa, known as the Buried Village, can be visited for a glimpse of this slice of New Zealand history. The family running this archeological site has done a fantastic job excavating the ruins of the village, as well as a large amount of relics and day-to-day objects that were discovered, including china, wine bottles and decorative objet of the historic Rotomahana Hotel, which was also destroyed in the eruption.

The 12-acre grounds also abuts hiking trails through a native bush, one of which leads to a beautiful waterfall. The Buried Village is not worth an extra trip from Taupo, but if you're based in Rotorua and want to learn about this fascinating part of the North Island's history—this region was effectively the cradle of New Zealand tourism — it's worth a morning of exploring. (Come early to avoid sharing the beautiful grounds and surrounding forest with bus tours.)

Man Fishing at Fly Fishing Taupo ,  New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Fly Fishing Taupo                      

Lake Taupo, the size of Singapore, is surrounded by glorious rivers and streams that are blessed with larger number of trout, making it a heavenly spot for fly-fishermen and women. One of the reasons the fish populations are so healthy is that you cannot purchase trout or find it on restaurant menus here. All fish consumed has to be caught privately, which has limited overfishing and poaching seen in other fishing destinations. There really isn't a bad time to fish in Taupo - during the winter months, the fish enter the rivers to swim upstream and spawn, while during the summer, you can also fish in the shallows of the lake.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced fly fisherman/woman, it pays to go with an expert here, since the terrific Taupo guides can take you off the beaten path and into more rugged back-country terrain. Indagare Tip: One of the great joys of fly-fishing is that even first-time novices can master the movement quickly and, with the help of a guide, can end up catching quite a few trout (catch and release), which is an undeniable high. Contact Indagare's Bookings Team to be connected with the area's best guides.

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waterfall at Huka Falls , New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Huka Falls

The best way to visit this impressive waterfall, close to Taupo town, is to take a hike or bike ride that kicks off or culminates at the Falls. You can admire the Huka Falls—which are the waters of the massive Waikato River being pressed through a narrow ravine here—from a narrow footbridge that spans the river. To get even closer, there are several boat rides, including a rapid jet that does speedy tricks beneath the Falls and the more leisurely River Cruise ( a better way to get photographs of the turquoise-green extravaganza).

Wine at Martinborough Wine Tour ,  Wellington & Wairarapa, New Zealand

Martinborough Wine Tour

Vintners have been cultivating in Martinborough since the late 1970s, but the region started emerging from the shadows of New Zealand's more famous wine-making areas (Marlborough and Hawke's Bay) only recently. Particularly the Pinot Noirs have been making a huge impression – in 2010 a vintage from Schubert winery was named the World's Best Pinot at the Decanter Wine Awards, beating out competition from Burgundy (incidentally, the Martinborough soil conditions closely resemble those of the famous French region).

Touring in Martinborough is easy, thanks to the close proximity of the cellar doors (tasting rooms). You can practically visit on foot, though many choose to rent bikes, complete with saddle bags for holding purchased bottles, of course. If you just need a one-stop-shop, head to the Martinborough Wine Center in the center of town, which also has a lovely café and restaurant for lunch (know that it's cheaper to buy directly from the cellar doors).

There are more than 23 wineries in this region. Here are some of Indagare's favorites to visit:

  • Schubert (57 Cambridge Road)
  • Ata Rangi (14 Puruatanga Road)
  • Martinborough Vineyard (Princess Street)
  • Te Kairanga (89 Martins Road)
  • Escarpment (Te Muna Road; by appointment only)
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Exterior View -   Orakei Korako ,  New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Orakei Korako

The thermal wonderland of Wai O Tapu, midway between Taupo and Rotorua, may be the more famous geothermal site, but the hidden Orakei Korako is worth a visit to escape the crowds. Located across serene Lake Ohakuri (there's a ferry boat that runs visitors over on demand, not a set schedule), this field is a steaming, stunning reminder of the area's geothermal activity.

Visitors walk on wooden paths along the terraced fields, ranging in color from deep purples to chalky whites, alongside bubbling hot pools and craggy fault scarps covered by steam. Orakei Korako has 35 live geysers, and if you're lucky you can witness Diamond Geyser spew boiling water high into the sky. The self-guided walk takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you spend at each area. The native bush and trees, looking like the set from Jurassic Park, is also impressive.

Orakei Korako is located a 30-minute drive north of Taupo and from Huka Lodge and Acacia Cliffs Lodge.

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Exterior View - Rotorua Museum ,  New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Rotorua Museum

Rotorua doesn't figure on everyone's itinerary – particularly first-timers – but if you are based here for a few days, spend some time in the Rotorua Museum located near the re-developed waterfront. The Rotorua area is rich in Maori culture and history, and the museum's multimedia exhibitions are informative and well-presented.

There's a large collection of Maori treasure, including massive carvings, as well as a great art collection of fine art, largely by New Zealand artists. Don't miss the many representations of the Pink and White Terraces, an incredible terraced geothermal field with hot pools that was destroyed during a volcanic eruption in 1886. After a visit, take a stroll in the elaborately planted Government Gardens that surround the museum.

People at Royal New Zealand Ballet , Wellington & Wairarapa, New Zealand - Courtesy Royal New Zeala

Royal New Zealand Ballet

New Zealand's resident ballet company came onto the international scene when star dancer Ethan Stiefel, a former principal with both New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater, took over as artistic director in 2011. The repertory of the company includes everything from contemporary new commissions to tried-and-true classics (Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote). Stiefel no longer heads the company, but the fact that the Royal New Zealand Ballet has since toured in the U.S., the U.K. and Italy must be credited to his more big-picture approach to the dance world. The performances in their hometown of Wellington are extremely popular – if you know you will be in town during one of their runs, be sure to organize tickets well in advance.

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Sky Tower

Auckland's iconic Sky Tower rises to nearly 1,100 feet and hosts a number of the city's vertigo-inducing activities. There's the Sky Walk on the 53rd floor, where you walk the perimeter of the tower along a four-foot platform. You're suspended by a safety harness, of course, but this is still not for the feint-hearted (or those with vertigo). Also on the 53rd floor is the Sky Jump, where dare devils base jump (attached to a wire, so there's no bouncing up and down like with a bungee) 630 feet into the abyss.

Less adventurous travelers can still enjoy 360-degree panoramas from the Observation Deck on the 60th floor, which has a few glass panels along the floor that cause a rush of excitement when walked over. The Sky Tower is part of so-called Sky City, a convention center with a casino, several restaurants and bars, but it all feels much like a no-descript mall, so there's no need to linger once you've had your fill of panoramas.

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Interior View - Te Papa New Zealand Museum , Wellington & Wairarapa, New Zealand

Te Papa New Zealand Museum

Banish all thoughts of a dusty museum – the Te Papa is an incredible place where you can easily spend a day learning about New Zealand culture, nature, history and contemporary life in interactive and beautifully presented exhibitions. Children especially will be entertained thanks to hand-on displays, which incorporate sight, sound, smell and touch into a visit. Much like in the Museum of Natural History in New York, there are whole sections devoted to animal life, including the skeleton of a 69-foot blue whale. There are also dramatic explanations of how the country came to exist, the massive volcanic eruption of 1886, and many Maori treasures, including a massive carved doorway.

The six-story building sits right on Wellington's waterfront and its cafés and gift shops are also of a surprisingly high quality. In short, if you are passing through Wellington even briefly, it would be a huge loss not to make a point of visiting this fascinating museum.

Indagare Tip: Start with the innovative film-cum-movie set-cum exhibit Golden Days, which depicts some of New Zealand's most fascinating historic events of the last 1000 years (in 13 minutes).

Most incredibly, it is open every day of the year and free of admission, although most visitors make a donation to this wonderful place.

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Mountain at Tongariro National Park , New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park

Even before The Lord of the Rings put this national park, a 30-minute drive south of Taupo, on the map (much of the finale was filmed here), it was one of New Zealand's best known. The nearly 200,000 acre park comprises three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe the latter of which stood in for Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's films (it truly looks like the type of cone-shaped volcano a child might draw).

For avid hikers the park is renowned for its challenging, multi-day Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike, which can also be done in an abbreviated version in the course of a day (hikers should be very fit; there's a reason the word "alpine" is in the description). One of the highlight of this hike are the spectacular Emerald Lakes, which appear like visions of lush, green life in the middle of the barren volcanic landscapes. Travelers staying in Taupo should arrange for a transfer and pickup, as the trail does not loop; you can start out at Mangatepopo Hut, then walk the hike's most scenic 5-6 hours, including the Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake, and finishing back near Route 46, where you can get picked up.

Families with kids not up for the challenge should consider heading to Whakapapa ski area, where during the spring, summer and fall, you can take a chairlift into the eerie landscapes – black rocks, barren fields, seemingly endless expanses — and have an easier walk in the scenery that stood in for Mordor (and needed little CGI).

Top View -Top Golf – North Island , New Zealand - North Island, New Zealand - The Farm at Cape Kidnapper's

Top Golf – North Island

The North Island abounds with great golf course, but the two best ones are associated with resorts run by the Robertson family: Kauri Cliffs, up north in the Bay of Islands, was created by David Harman and centers around incredible, 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean (it's a par 72 PGA Championship course). The other stunner is located in Hawke's Bay region at Cape Kidnappers. That one was designed by Tom Doak, a golf architect icon, and is currently rated number 38 in the world by Golf magazine. The fact that players golf with views from a 600-foot-tall cliff certainly helps with the Wow factor.

Editors' Picks

Victoria Street Farmers' Market

This Sunday morning market is always packed with local shoppers seeking the freshest produce in the area. A maze of stacked cartons overflowing with juicy fruits and succulent vegetables leads toward the pier, lined with an eclectic variety of food trucks selling everything from paella and dumplings to French toast and microbrew coffee (a Wellington favorite). The Market is open every Sunday between 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Sea View -Waiheke Island ,  Auckland, New Zeala

Waiheke Island

The idyllic Waiheke Island is only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland's waterfront, but feels world's away, with its sandy beaches, green pastures and hilltop wineries where it's easy to while away an afternoon. The ferry arrives in Matiatia Wharf on the western coast, about a five-minute drive from the main village of Oneroa. Waiheke is just 35 square miles — for comparison: Shelter Island is only slightly smaller at 27 square miles — but it's hilly, so make use of the excellent bus network or be prepared for a challenging bike ride.

Oneroa is a cute little village, with some nice shops and restaurants (a favorite is the Oyster Inn), as well as two good beaches: Oneroa and Little Oneroa. Waiheke is famous for a few terrific wineries, including Mudbrick (home to a supremely romantic restaurant), Man 'O War and Cable Bay. There are also some stunning hikes all across the island: a great one is the Southern Walk, which snakes from Oneroa to Cable Bay winery, then past a massive sheep paddock and along the coast all the way back down to Matiatia Wharf.

A perfect Waiheke day would be to arrive early, spend some time at the beach, have a nice meal in Oneroa, take a long hike with coastal views, and end at a winery like Cable Bay or Mudbrick, with sweeping views across the island and toward Auckland. In-the-known visitors book a night or two at the Boatshed, a tiny luxury lodge that feels like the perfect mash-up of Martha's Vineyard and Montauk.

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Exterior View - Weta Workshop ,  Wellington & Wairarapa, New Zealand

Weta Workshop

Fans of Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films might want to plan in time to visit the Weta Workshop, the special effects company that has been working with the director since his early film days (this area is known as Wellywood). In some ways, it is ironic that Weta is now most famously associated with the two Tolkien trilogies, as the company has worked on countless other blockbusters, including Mad Max: Fury Road, Elysium and District 9. But for Peter Jackson enthusiasts, the 2.5-hour tour focused on Lord of the Rings lore is worth doing: Weta produced sets, costumes, armor and miniatures for the films and much of the memorabilia is in display here. After a tour, visit The Larder for a local lunch.

Areial View - Wynyard Quarter , Auckland, New Zealand - Courtesy Luke Thurlby

Wynyard Quarter

Waterside dining, markets and an outdoor cinema are just a few of the reasons to visit Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter. A whopping 88-acre waterfront precinct, the Wynyard quarter gives visitors lots to see and do. Enjoy the fresh air and sun, visit the iconic Wind Tree, or simply take in the stunning views of the harbor before diving into a fresh seafood dinner.

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