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Staggering beauty and heart-pumping thrills await in the resort town of Queenstown, which is also known for its Hobbits—much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Queenstown for the kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing. More mild-mannered adventurers can take a quiet cruise through nearby Milford Sound, part of the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area, or sample South Island pinot noir from one of the region's 75 wineries.
Wellington boasts a compact downtown area that’s easy to explore on foot and a wealth of architectural styles, from 19th-century wooden cottages to Art Deco masterpieces. Discover the city’s Maori roots at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea and the Museum of New Zealand. Sip coffee and people-watch in lively Courtney Place, or survey the city from scenic Mount Victoria. When the sun goes down on Windy Wellington, take a nocturnal tour of Karori Wildlife Sanctuary to meet some colourful inhabitants.
The lush parks and golden beaches of Tauranga make it a popular destination for outdoorsy folks and watersports lovers. Here on New Zealand’s North Island, you’ll find a variety of opportunities for surfing, white water rafting, kiteboarding, hiking and golfing. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming holes by Kaiate Falls, which cascade beautifully over the bluffs. Families might like to visit one of Tauranga’s amusement park, take a guided nature tour or swim with dolphins in the Bay of Plenty.