Auckland is New Zealand’s largest urban area with a population of just over 1.2 million people. It is not, however, the capital, although it was at one time, until the capital moved to Wellington. Auckland is the centre of commerce and industry, and is perhaps the most vibrant, bustling and multicultural city in New Zealand. Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world, and this cultural influence is reflected in many different aspects of city life.
The city’s landscape is dominated by volcanic hills, the twin harbors, bays, beaches and islands. Its nickname ‘the city of sails’ is very apt. Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.
It is a water lover’s paradise, with some of the best beaches, swimming, diving, fishing, sailing, windsurfing and water sports in the country. Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands. Add a sunny climate and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping – you’re beginning to get the picture of Auckland
Two aspects of the city that will immediately strike any visitor are the sprawling harbour and the dramatic, hilly terrain. Everywhere you go, the sounds and smell of the ocean hang in the air, and green hills and valleys wrap you in a bear-hug embrace. At night, Wellington offers up a spectacular, himmering cityscape that is unlike almost anywhere else in the world. Even after seeing it for the hundredth time, it takes one’s breath away.
Wellington is a vibrant, scenic, windy, cosmopolitan, diverse, eccentric, maddening and hilarious place. It has the some of the best museums, art galleries, restaurants, microbreweries, and coffee houses in the country. Being the first place European settlers arrived, it also boasts lots of historic streets and buildings. Dominating the spectacular waterfront is Te Papa – the interactive, innovative and highly acclaimed national museum that’s one of New Zealand’s key cultural attractions. At night, the city stays up late to enjoy live theatre, music and dance performances.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, with a population of around 400,000. It is also, arguably, the most attractive city in New Zealand, with extensive inner city public and private gardens and parks, the shallow Avon river meandering though the city centre, and a pedestrian oriented downtown centred on Cathedral Square.
From the silvery beaches of the coast to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps,
the Canterbury landscape is impossible to ignore. Big scenery is the order of the day – huge panoramas of ocean or mountains, great sweeps of pastureland and massive amounts of sky. The highest point of the region is the highest point of New Zealand. The spectacular Aoraki Mount Cook stands at 3754 metres (Aoraki is Maori for Cloud Piercer). At the other end of the scale, the submarine trenches off the coast of Kaikoura are thousands of metres deep, providing an ideal environment for the whales, dolphins and seals that live there permanently.
Dunedin’s physical vitality is reflected in the spirit of its people. The population of 120,000 has produced many of New Zealand’s greatest writers, poets, artists and musicians. The city’s strong cultural bias is seen in its modern public art gallery which houses one of New Zealand’s best international art collections, its strong
professional theatre, and its museums and libraries that rank among the country’s finest.
Memorable for its historical architecture, Dunedin is one of the best preservedVictorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. On the doorstep of the city, you can find incredible wildlife – the world’s rarest penguins, a mainland albatross colony, fur seals and sea lions.
The resident student population keeps Dunedin lively. Nature endowed Dunedin with coastal colonies of the shy Yellow- eyed penguins, and the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross. Dunedin’s green belt and its many parks and gardens add to the breath and soul of the city.
Hamilton is situated alongside the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. It is a vibrant, progressive, growing city, with a population of approximately 135,000.
Hamilton is a short distance from many of New Zealand’s major lifestyle attractions: beaches, lakes, hot pools, mountains and caves. With its wide range of recreational opportunities, the city offers an attractive relaxed way of life, great outdoors and a healthy environment.
A half-hour drive will take you to Raglan, New Zealand’s premier and world famous surf spot. A 1.5 hour drive will get you to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Three hours driving will get you to Ruapehu, where the Whakapapa ski fields provide the best snowboarding in the North Island.
Hamilton is a student city with more than 25,000 people involved in tertiary study. The city caters for every student need and has a large range of activities for students. The city is clean and green with very little pollution, traffic congestion or other urban problems.
Students love the fact that Hamilton is so centrally located in the upper North Island, yet offering one of the lowest urban living costs in New Zealand.
Situated on the banks of the Manawatu River nestled at the foot of the impressive Tararua Mountain Range, a growing city of 76,000, Palmerston North is unique. One of New Zealand’s largest provincial cities, Palmerston North has an attractive historic heart. Many of the original stores (built in the 1920s and 1930s)
have been restored and now function as boutiques, cafés and restaurants. For sports enthusiasts, the rugby museum is an essential stop. For exceptional scenery, walk the magnificent Manawatu Gorge.
The city has been able to maintain a complementary relationship between the modern conveniences and technology of big city life, and the quality and ease of small town lifestyle, offering visitors and residents alike ‘the best of both worlds’. Palmerston North is a vibrant youthful city with the active student population. Since 1930 the City’s economic base has been broadened by the establishment of Massey University and the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, hence it bears the distinction of being New Zealand’s `Knowledge City’, all adding to a cosmopolitan atmosphere. By road, Palmerston North is only seven hours drive from Auckland and two hours from the capital, Wellington.