Known for its vineyards and outdoor adventures, New Zealand also offers more urbane pleasures. This trip combines the best of city and country on the North and South Islands.
Days 1–3 Nearly a third of the nation’s 4.5 million live in Auckland, a stylish city on the North Island. Stay at the Hilton, which overlooks Waitemata Harbour, and have a sushi lunch at Ebisu. A 35-minute ferry ride will take you to Waiheke Island, where you can rent a moped or car at the landing and cruise from beach to beach.
Days 4–5 Outside the city, it’s a big-sky, small-world place. Head south on the Thermal Explorer Highway past rolling hills to the Hawke’s Bay wine region, where Black Barn Vineyards has an art gallery, a restaurant, and lodging. Fifteen minutes away, you’ll find Elephant Hill, another winery serving meals along the coast. Outdoor tables here have a view of a thin ribbon of blue sea. Back on Highway 2, continue south four hours to Wellington, the capital, where the intimate Ohtel is around the corner from Whitebait, the perfect spot for oysters.
Days 6–7 From Wellington, hop the ferry to Picton on the South Island and drive four hours south to Christchurch, the island’s largest city. It’s worth the journey for seafood at Fiddlesticks. An hour farther south, Akaroa is the only former French settlement in New Zealand. There are street names in French and charming sidewalk cafés. After taking in the town, spend the night at the nearby Kokopu Estate, which has two lovely cottages and a room for rent.