WHY WE LOVE IT
- Probably the world's most unspoiled environment, with incredible, varied landscapes spread over the two main islands
- Unique beyond-luxury lodges tucked away in hundreds of acres of countryside; a full-blown culinary boom in progress
- Beautiful, cosmopolitan, vibrant capital city of Auckland, known as the "City of Sails"; windy Wellington; hip adventure-sports-oriented Queenstown; Art Deco Napier
- Bay of Islands and other offshore destinations; Hawkes Bay and other wine regions
- Yachting, bungee jumping, white-water rafting; alps and volcanoes, fjords, lakes and geysers
- Middle Earth—and Narnia—come to life.
- Good buys: wines; Maori art; CDs by Moana Maniapoto and Hinewehi Mohi; fashion from Karen Walker, Zambesi, and ZambesiMan; clothes in possum, mink, and merino wool; all-natural spa products.
WHEN TO GO
Summer, December through February, is high season, plus the fall in wine regions, but the temperate climate means year-round travel is possible in most areas. Try for bargains in early spring, around September.