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Nelson’s thriving arts and music scene has helped to establish it as a destination for free spirits and art-lovers. Festivals, studios, galleries, craft markets… Every cranny of this South Island city seems to buzz with artistic energy. Lord of the Rings fans will flip for the Jens Hansen workshop in Trafalgar Square—Hansen is the goldsmith who designed the “precious” guarded by Frodo in the LOTR films.
The Māori call Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau — a maiden desired by 100 lovers,
and a valuable territory fought over for centuries for its fertile land and
natural harbours on the Pacific Ocean (to the east) and Tasman Sea (to the
west). Today, it’s New Zealand’s largest city: A vibrant and diverse place
where nature and urban life go hand-in- hand, with 48 volcanic cones, more
than 50 islands, and 29,000 km of coastline and beaches just minutes away
from the arts and shopping of the central city.
Artists and free-spirits mingle with the rich and famous on this blissful island, a haven of beautiful beaches, gastronomical treasures and small wineries. Browse the dozens of art galleries and craft stores of the Waiheke Arts Trail between dips in the emerald waters. Soar above the landscape on a chartered scenic flight, then refuel your engine with a casual beachfront café meal or an upscale, multi-course affair. Waiheke boasts several boutique vineyards, perfect for sipping, sampling and savoring New Zealand’s fine wines.
The seaside town of Russell is one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. The area teems with a mash-up of indigenous and European history, evident in its architecture and historic sites. Sail around the bay on a chartered yacht or iconic tall ship or explore the multiple personalities of The Gables 1847, which has served as a bakery, bordello and shelter for AWOL sailors on the lam.
City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee. Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.
Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane is the hub of Queensland culture, offering a peek at the past and a glimpse into the future. Visit the historic Windmill and Old Commissariat Store, built by convicts in 1828, or fast-forward to the present (and beyond) with a trip to the new Gallery of Modern Art. Mingle with locals atop Mount Coot-tha, cruise the Brisbane River to South Bank’s sandy beach on the City Cat and make sure to fill the cuteness quota at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, home to koalas and kangaroos.
Margaret River is both a region and a bustling market town famed for its wine, incredible surfing, gorgeous coastline, multi-chambered caves and mysterious karri (eucalyptus) forests. Award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Semillon vintages are produced at the area’s more than 200 vineyards. The annual Margaret River Wine Region Festival is a vintner’s paradise, attracting gourmet enthusiasts from around the globe.