Michael Brown has the heads-up on the best South African side-trips and booking your World Cup tickets.

Cape Town

Okay, it's across the country from where the All Whites will be playing their pool matches, but it's hard to justify a visit to South Africa without a stop in Cape Town.

The city, hemmed in between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, is arguably South Africa's most beautiful. It is also home to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in jail), the V&A Waterfront, the Winelands (South Africa's premier winemaking area) and some sublime white-sand beaches.

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One note: it pays to be wary when swimming - not only because shark diving is a popular pastime, but the water is frikkin' freezing.

The Winelands

If you're headed to Cape Town in South Africa's Western Cape, take time to trek around the vineyards that dot the region.

There are 14 trails to follow in the Western Cape, taking in hundreds of wineries and vineyards. The trails include Route 62, the world's longest wine route, with 69 stops for you to explore.

Tour the world's first brandy routes in the Boland and the Klein Karoo and in Elgin, the Green Mountain Eco Route is the world's first biodiversity wine route.

Kruger National Park

Kruger is not only the largest game reserve in South Africa but one of the biggest in Africa - it's bigger than Israel.

It's situated in the country's northeast, near Nelspruit, where the All Whites play their second World Cup pool match against Italy.

KwaZulu Natal/Durban

A favourite destination for South Africans, Durban has great beaches to go with the great climate (it's not known as Surf City for nothing).

They're a pretty laid-back bunch on the east coast - except when their Sharks rugby team isn't doing so well.

The area is also the gateway to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and some amazing game reserves.

Sun City

Sun City is a mini Las Vegas, complete with the decadence and fantasy of its American counterpart.

It also has four hotels, two golf courses, a wave pool, game reserve, a number of casinos and a crocodile farm. It's not far from Rustenburg, where the All Whites play their first World Cup match against Slovakia.

Braais

Not so much a destination as an excellent way to feed yourself. South Africans love their meat, in fact they can't get enough of it, and a lot of it is cooked on braais (barbecues).

They take it pretty seriously, and if you extend your World Cup visit as far as September 24, you'll be in South Africa for the national Braai Day.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is its patron and there's even an official song, Our Heritage.

If that's not cultural enough for you, try some biltong (cured meat made from anything from shark to ostrich).

IF YOU GO

The eyes of the world, and particularly those of football fans, will be on South Africa as it hosts the Fifa World Cup in June. And for the first time in 28 years, New Zealand will be there, giving Kiwis an extra reason to pack their bags for South Africa.

The All Whites have drawn Slovakia in Rustenburg on June 15, defending world champions Italy in Nelspruit on June 20 and Paraguay in Polokwane on June 24. New Zealand's games are being played in three of the smaller venues and accommodation will be limited and travel more difficult than if it was a major centre. The team, for instance, have opted to base themselves in Johannesburg and travel to each game.

If you want to go it alone, match tickets can be bought directly from

and they are now being sold on a first come, first served basis. But if you can't face organising everything yourself, there are a number of organisations and agencies willing to do it for you.

Your best bet is Emirates, the official airline of the World Cup, which is offering a number of tailor-made travel packages specifically designed to follow the All Whites, and which include flights, accommodation, ground transportation and match tickets, for from US$5274 (about NZ$8300).

Emirates flies four times a day from Auckland to Dubai and onward to South Africa, with three services to Johannesburg and one a day to both Cape Town and Durban.

Fares start at $2313 economy return or $8093 business class return.

Fares valid until March 5 for travel June 4 to July 18. See

for details.

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For destination and activity ideas visit southafrica.net. For information on the World Cup visit fifa.com.