Writer Ian Brodie shares his pick of the 10 best places to spend your summer holiday in New Zealand.
Opito Bay, Coromandel
The jewel in the crown of the Coromandel Peninsula. Here, the pohutukawa
smother their red New Zealand Christmas flowers over the golden sands, and civilisation seems to be a long way distant. Sit on the beach with Pink Floyd or Mike Oldfield on your iPod and savour the beauty.
Maitai Bay, Northland
Every year, many thousands of tourists visit the nearby Cape Reinga, but here at Maitai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula is a wonderful curve of pure white sand. The epitome of a tropical island, it is such a shame that many Kiwis travel overseas instead of tasting what is here on their doorstep.
The cafe culture centre of the country. Arts, good food, friendly people and enough sightseeing to fill a fortnight. Visit the Weta Cave at the centre of Wellywood, browse for a good book in Dymocks and then satisfy your taste buds at Leuven.
Paradise & Closeburn
The Central Otago sun beats down all day on these two gems. Take one of the most scenic drives in the world between Queenstown and Glenorchy, spending a night on the lakeside at Closeburn first. In summer there is a sweet smell of native herbs in the air and the gentle calling of birds. Continue to the aptly named Paradise and feel the weight of the mighty Southern Alps as they surround you with their presence.
A small camping ground with a cricket pitch in the middle and a real local pub means Luggate must feature in the top ten. Swim in the Luggate Creek, taste the best pinot in the world at some of the nearby vineyards, then catch a trout in Lake Hawea. Return to the cricket ground and watch the locals take on Central.
Charleston, West Coast
Surrounded by the best native bush in the country, the small bay at Charleston features a colourful seafaring historic past combined with some wonderful picnic spots. If you want to surf, spend a day at Tauranga Bay; and if you want to be amazed at Kiwi technology, visit the deserted coal mining town of Denniston.
Warm nor'west winds fan the grapes surrounding this beautiful Victorian village. Visit Ata Rangi Estate for a wonderful lunch, drive and then walk to the Putangirua Pinnacles (the best example of badlands in the country) and shop for antiques in nearby Greytown.
Purakanui Bay, The Catlins
The scenic coastal route from Balclutha to Invercargill is rapidly becoming a highlight of many overseas tourists' visits to this country. At Purakanui Bay the high white cliffs look down on to a beach that is almost always deserted. Whether the weather is a benign zephyr from the west or a howling southerly from the Antarctic, this sheer diversity of our climate never ceases to amaze me.
Leaving Raetihi and travelling northwards, make a detour to the Ruatiti Domain. This is an ideal place to pitch a tent and I always imagine idle holidaymakers lazing in the grass beside the river with a novel cast to one side as the sound of busy insects lulls them into a slumber.
Kaikoura is well known for its various marine tours to see whales, seals and dolphins. However, there is much more to this beautiful tourist town. Drive a little way either north or south on the magnificent coast road and watch the interplay of light on the colourful shifting kelp. Back in Kaikoura, walk along the beach and watch the seals close by in their native habitat.
In the evening, take a stroll to The Pier Hotel and take a seat at the outside bar. Order a bowl of fresh mussels and crayfish, wash them down with a cold beer and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.