In honour of New Zealand Music Month, fire up a Kiwi playlist as you explore the country's history, culture and contemporary eating and drinking scenes, writes Brett Atkinson
Dominion Road by The Mutton Birds
An art nouveau mural on the corner of Dominion Rd and Valley Rd and a brass plaque at 788 Dominion Rd both claim to be "halfway down Dominion Rd", but despite the confusion, this busy arterial route is one of Auckland's culinary hotspots. Highlights include the Sichuan dumplings at Eden Noodles, yakitori shared plates and natural wines at Omni, and farm-to-table charcuterie and great beer at Churly's Brewpub & Eatery on adjacent Charles St.
I Wish I was in Wellington by The Mutton Birds
This jangling ode to long-distance romance, written by Alan Gregg, paints the harbour city's weather as capricious, but a bit of wind is actually a pretty dramatic background for tackling the Red Rocks/Pariwhero Coastal Walk. If the rain kicks in, shelter in the city in cosy spots like Library Bar or the Venetian-style Ombra. In good weather, catching a ferry across the harbour to Eastbourne and Days Bay is an option.
Te Aro by Nadia Reid
Dunedin singer/songwriter Nadia Reid's sparse and haunting Te Aro offers a great sense of place, especially of the bush-clad environs of the Aro Valley on the southwestern edge of this Wellington harbourside precinct. That's where you'll find Garage Project's Taproom and Cellar Door, both pouring some of New Zealand's most innovative beers. Closer to the harbour, interesting shopping along bohemian Cuba St includes Slow Boat Records, while the neighbourhood is crowned by Te Papa's waterfront location.
Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens by Tiny Ruins
Hollie Fullbrook's wistful song of romantic assignations in Auckland Domain encapsulates catching up amid the rolling lawns of the former volcano also known as Pukekawa. At the Auckland Museum, learn about the city's unique volcanic field, before taking in the excellent Māori and Pacific collections. From the nearby cenotaph, there are great views of Waitematā Harbour and Rangitoto Island, and it's a short downhill stroll to the Domain Wintergardens. Relax in the inner courtyard bookended by two Victorian-style glasshouses.
Riverhead by Goldenhorse
Kirsten Morrell's haunting vocals and a soaring chorus feature on this dark slice of Kiwi pop, and the area's history is showcased at The Riverhead tavern, originally opened for business in 1857, and New Zealand's oldest riverside pub. The best way to get there is by water, meandering through the upper Waitematā Harbour, retracing the riverine paths of early Māori, and traders on sailing ships and coastal scows. Options for boat transport include the Red Boats and the Riverhead Ferry.
Verona by Elemeno P
Karangahape Rd's long-running cafe – established in 1992 and still going strong – is name-checked in this uber-catchy pop-punk hit. Check out newer culinary kids on the block like Bar Celeste, Madame George and Cotto, or catch up and coming acts at Whammy Bar, the Wine Cellar or Neck of the Woods. Just around the corner on Pitt St, Flying Out has all your vinyl and Kiwi music needs covered.
Parihaka by Tim Finn & Herbs
Parihaka tells the story of non-violent action by local Māori in resisting confiscation of their land in 1881, and this rural Taranaki region is bookended by Tasman surf and the perfect volcanic cone of Taranaki Maunga (Mt Taranaki). Nearby at Pungarehu, divert west from Surf Highway 45 to the Cape Egmont Lighthouse, while about 50km to the southeast, the Tawhiti Museum brings alive the region's history and is one of New Zealand's best privately-owned museums.
Geraldine by The Exponents
Exponents' lead singer Jordan Luck was born in Canada but spent his formative years in this leafy South Canterbury town. Explore the region's night sky at the Geraldine Observatory, sample local culinary treats at Talbot Forest Cheese and Barker's Foodstore & Eatery, and don't miss the world's biggest knitted jumper at the town's visitor centre. Just north of town, there are equine adventures with Peel Forest Horse Trekking.
Helensville by SJD
There's a brooding and melancholic quality to this 2015 release by multi-instrumentalist Sean James Donnelly, perhaps inspired by Helensville's proximity to the isolated Kaipara Harbour and the rugged surf beaches of West Auckland. Also nearby is Woodhill Forest, the location for two-wheeled action at the Woodhill Mountain Bike Park, and sky-high canopy adventures and ziplines at Tree Adventures. After all the outdoor fun, adjourn to Liberty Brewing's taproom for a cold beer.
One Tree Hill by U2
While not a Kiwi song per se, One Tree Hill was only released as a single in New Zealand – and was number one for six weeks in 1988. The song was written in memory of Greg Carroll, U2's Kiwi roadie and a close friend of Bono, who died in a motorcycle accident in Dublin in 1986. Bono and Carroll visited the volcanic summit known as Maungakiekie together in 1984, and the peak's cultural significance and Māori history are very evident along the walking path leading to the mountain's terraced summit, one of Auckland's most important pā sites in earlier centuries.