It’s official. New Zealand is Australia’s favourite overseas destination by a comfortable margin(1). And when you consider flying time to Auckland (AKL) with Air New Zealand from Sydney (SYD) is just three hours, the same as Alice Springs and shorter (and often cheaper) than Darwin or Perth, it’s an easy decision for a quick weekend or long-weekend getaway. Air New Zealand also flies directly from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to various cities across the ditch.
Auckland’s gorgeous harbour, easy transport, green zones and top class restaurants stocked with world-beating local wines conjures quite an attractive recipe. From black sands and pounding surf to island bird sanctuaries, olive groves, wineries and a theatre decorated with 400 elephants, Auckland and its Hauraki Gulf Islands offers plenty for Aussies looking for a quick getaway.
But if, like so many Aussies, you’ve done Auckland once or twice already, how about a direct flight to Wellington? The capital of New Zealand, known locally as 'the coolest little capital in the world' (Lonely Planet) is home to beaches and hip urban bars and is easy to explore and fun to experience. There’s live theatre, filmmaking, crafts and galleries, breezy hillside walks, cycling or harbour paddling. What’s more, the coffee and food is legendary and the distance between downtown bustle and quiet reflection is never far.
In Wellington’s Cuba Street Mall you’ll find lively buskers, vintage shopping and plenty of cool places to just hang out. Browse Matchbox Studio for jazzy earrings by local designers, sip coffee at Felix cafe or try Aromaflex for the heady aroma of essential oils. Graffiti morphs into artwork in nearby Bute Street and don’t miss Friday night markets with its very affordable and scrumptious international takeaway food. For a special experience, visit New Zealand’s foremost museum, Te Papa, housing outstanding exhibitions of local art, history, culture and photography.
New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown, is also a doddle and for airline nerds, the landing at the international airport (ZQN) is one of the most exciting and spectacular anywhere in the world. Queenstown has some of the best ski runs in the southern hemisphere as well as kayaking, bungy jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting and hiking.
It's also a much sought-after destination for lovers of fine food and wine and gateway to the celebrated Central Otago wine district with more than 200 vineyards within a 90 minute drive. For a simple pleasure, cruise on Lake Wakatipu aboard the gracious, century-old steamship the Earnslaw.
Flying up to 12 Air New Zealand flights from Sydney per week, Christchurch (CHC) is now well recovered from the devastating earthquakes and is still New Zealand’s ‘garden city’. Set on the sprawling patchwork of the Canterbury Plains and known for innovative architecture, vibrant street art, new and unique dining and shopping outlets, Christchurch has a new look, while old favourites continue to appeal to visitors.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics