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New Zealand Insider Tips

New Zealand | New Zealand offers some of the most unique and delicious culinary choices and experiences. Bluff oyster season runs from March to August with the ability to find and choose your own, while some say New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the best with harvest taking place during March and April. Try Whittakers Chocolate, in particular their Dark Ghana flavor, or Pineapple Lumps, a chewy pineapple base covered in a layer of chocolate. Enjoy a sweet tasting fizzy drink called the L&P (short for Lemon and Paeroa) or pick up a Tui cold, the local brewery offers a new East India Pale Ale. For those wanting more daring culinary treats, try a taste of Marmite served on toast or Paua (shellfish) with its rich and strong flavor.

New Zealand | Featuring more than 120 vineyards, stunning scenery and indulgent food experiences, cruise the classic New Zealand Wine Trail, and sample world-class wine varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Bordeaux.

New Zealand | Discover Tourism New Zealand's powerful global campaign featuring Oscar winning director James Cameron of Titanic, Avatar, Aviator, and more. James and his wife Suzy own a coastal estate near Wairarapa. He's in New Zealand developing the next two Avatar movies which will be filmed in New Zealand with Weta. Click here to view his engaging video.

New Zealand | New Zealand's distinctive Pacific Rim cuisine blends of European, Asian and Polynesian flavors. Traditional Kiwi cuisine utilizes ingredients from the surrounding waterways and pastures including mussels, bluff oysters and lamb. A local favorite is the Hokey Pokey - a creamy vanilla ice cream laced with pieces of honeycomb. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Pavlova, a meringue dessert topped with cream and fresh fruit.

North Island, Auckland | For a fun day trip, hop on the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island. Just 40 minutes away, this quirky island is only 12 miles long and only six miles wide at the widest point. You can actually stand at the peak and see both shorelines at the same time. With only one stop light, the island is really easy to get around via taxi, van or bus, plus they have fantastic wine tasting. Our favorite was Stoneyridge Winery, located at the peak with spectacular winery views and a delicious Malbec and the Wild on Waiheke Brewery, which has beer and wine flights and a bunch of activities including bocce ball, volleyball, a giant chess set and an Archery and Clay Shooting range. ~ Chenoa Hopkins, Marketing Project Manager

North Island, Auckland | Enjoy an authentic journey on an official America's Cup yacht in Auckland, the City of Sails, and set sail in Viaduct Harbour while helping the crew hit the grinders.

North Island, Auckland & Rotorua | Consider renting a car in the North Island of New Zealand and enjoy the scenic drive from Auckland to Rotorua or Lake Taupo. The rolling green hills are absolutely beautiful, go on for miles and we found ourselves stopping along the side of the road constantly to take pictures. You can drive down via the town of Hobbiton and stop for brunch, after a few days in Rotorua, return back via Waitomo to visit the Glow Worm Caves or go Blackwater Rafting. The freedom of being on your own schedule, plus how easy it is to find major attractions like Te Puia, The Agrodome, Whakarewarewa Thermal Area, Lake Rotorua, The Polynesian Spa (just to name a few), make it an ideal way to see the countryside. ~ Chenoa Hopkins, Marketing Project Manager

North Island, Rotorua | Maori first used the area's famed hot springs for cooking and bathing, and Rotorua soon became known as Cureland. Prepared for special occasions, the Maori hangi uses a wrapped wire basket containing chicken or seafood and vegetables placed in an underground pit with hot stones. Delight in this cultural feast in Rotorua.

North Island, Martinborough | Toast Martinborough takes place each November, showcasing nine vineyards and incredible chefs to offer wine and food pairings of unrivaled flavor and sophistication, supported by a collection of musicians. No matter how festival-goers spend the day - whether it's ticking off the bubbles bars, comparing the new release Rose and Sauvignon Blancs, working through the older vintages of Pinot Noir, or simply chatting to the winemakers - Toast has every option covered. Experience the unique atmosphere of each vineyard by riding the complimentary shuttle buses continuously circling the route, or follow the thread of people making their way on foot.

North Island, Auckland & Rotorua | Want to feel like you are part of movie? The Hobbiton Excursion is a must for both fans of the movies and movie lovers in general, either as a day excursion from Auckland or as part of a transfer to Rotorua. You feel like you are part of the movie! Learn insider information on scenes and the cast, plus visit several major locations including The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and of course, Hobbit Holes. It made me want to watch the movies all over again! ~ Andriana Ramos, Destination Specialist

North Island, Rotorua | For an exceptional cultural experience, visit Te Puia in Rotorua. Not only will you experience the authentic Maori song and dance of the Te Arawa tribe, including the Haka (warrior dance) and a delicious Hangi dinner, the Centre is also an institute for tribes to learn time-honored traditions of wood carving, stone and bone carving and weaving. Members of the tribe still live on the grounds, which is also home to a Kiwi enclosure and conservation effort, the famous Pohutu Geyser and a number of streams and mud pools. We even saw local children cliff diving into one of the warm springs. The highlight of the evening was after dinner; we were taken back up the Pohutu Geyser. They light up the geyser as you sit on the hot rocks with a cup of hot chocolate and listen to your guide tell you stories of growing up on the grounds, fun stories about his personal history and also tales of the Maori beliefs of the nighttime sky as he points out specific stars and consolations. ~ Chenoa, Marketing Project Manager

South Island, Queenstown | One of my many favorite wineries to visit is Valli, just outside Queenstown. At one of the world's largest wine competitions in London, Valli scooped the award for Best Pinot Noir in the world, an unprecedented three times - a feat achieved by no other winemaker. To wet your appetite, think deep-purple pink color, fresh cherry and grinding sweet spice aromas, mixed with a touch of kirsch. Extraordinary, in all aspects, this is a truly graceful, exceptional world class Pinot in a beautiful youthful stage of evolution.

South Island, Kaikoura | This town has a fascinating history; archaeological remains indicate that Moa hunters inhabited the peninsula 900 years ago. The Maori name Kaikoura translates to meal of crayfish and it is crayfish for which the region has traditionally been famous for. Today, the emphasis is on the conservation of marine life. Kaikoura lies within the Southern Hemisphere Whale Sanctuary. One of the most popular activities is a swim with the dolphins and whale watching experience. I highly recommend this excursion to anyone who is comfortable in the water. Full wetsuits are provided because it is cold. It took us about 30 minutes out in the open ocean to find a pod of dolphins, then we were able get out and snorkel around. The dolphins were interested in playing around with us and it was such a unique experience to view them in their natural habitat rather than a pool. ~ Patty Granger, Business Development Manager

South Island, Queenstown | Not to be missed in Queenstown is the Gondola Ride & Dinner; it was exciting too! Start with a lovely trip to the top of the Gondola for a delicious buffet dinner, then take a thrilling ride on Luge carts that you access by chairlift. You luge back down to dinner through banked corners, tunnels and dips. The views from the Gondola make it worth the price. Queenstown is a lovely city and I would recommend at least three nights to fully explore the destination. ~ Patty Granger, Business Development Manager

South Island | There's a reason so many movies and shows film in the southern part of New Zealand's South Island. Its beautiful scenery is unlike anywhere else on earth, making it the ideal backdrop for everything from The Lord of the Rings, to Avatar, The Piano, and now, A Wrinkle in Time, starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. Adapted from Madeleine l'Engle's beloved children's novel, the story is a science-fantasy epic that traverses time and space and, you guessed it, some pretty epic scenery along the way. A Wrinkle in Time set up shop in Wanaka, a small town with easy access from Queenstown and a travel hot spot and must-visit for anyone with their eye on New Zealand.

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