Centre Place (501 Victoria Street, Hamilton 3204) – located 1 ½ hours south of Auckland (in the suburb of Hamilton central), this shopping center has over 100 retailers – mainly local and regional stores (such as Farmers). The Body Shop and Vodafone are among the few recognizable international retailers there. Unlike other malls (which typically offers Hollywood films), this one has an upscale cinema which screens art house and festival movies (with its chandeliered interior stressing such ambiance).
Andiamo (194 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, Auckland) — Located on the vibrant Jervois Road in suburban Herne Bay Auckland, Andiamo has established a reputation for fine Italian cuisine and seafood, sourcing the best available seasonal produce which is prepared and cooked in a modern bistro style highlighting the natural flavors.
The Menu is based on reliable favorites and generational dishes. Pure and simple flavors and authentic recipes are prepared with honesty and stand the test of time. The Menu comes to life with a selection of meats, seafood, simple and flavorsome dishes and authentic pasta.
Auckland Botanic Gardens (102 Hill Road, Manurewa, Auckland Central, Auckland) – located just 20 minutes from Auckland’s CBD, visitors can explore a garden that can delight, inspire, entertain and relax the senses. The collections of natives and exotics are complimented by lakes, the award winning Potter Children’s Garden and a growing collection of large scale outdoor sculpture by New Zealand artists. Pack a picnic or enjoy lunch at Cafe Miko (located in the Huakaiwaka Visitor Centre with views out over the gardens). Enjoy the changing center displays introducing you to the beauty and fascinating facts about plants. View many of its sustainable initiatives from vegetated swales to green roofs. Hours: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm (8:00 pm Summer). Free admission.
Kia Ora Guided Walks (Level 3, Library Building, 1136 Arawa Street, Rotorua Central, Rotorua 3010) – located in the town of Rotorua (a 2 hours & 45 minute drive southeast of Auckland), visitors can connect with the culture, people, history and landscape that make Rotorua unique. Visit Ohinemutu, the birthplace of Rotorua – home to the iconic St Faith Church and spiritual surrounds. Revel in the stories of days past as you trek through the picturesque Government Gardens. The guided walks provided here range from 45 minutes to 2 hours (catering to visitors of all age groups). Our guides will share the legends and history of Rotorua and give you an insight into our Māori culture.
The 2 hour guided walk includes the Rotorua Government Gardens, Rotorua City and the famous Ohinemutu Māori Village including St Faiths Church. The 45 minute guided tour is of Ohinemutu Māori Village, St Faiths Church and the Māori carving workshop. Daily tours available. Hours: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm (Monday-Friday), 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (weekends). Admission: $24 per adult (Ohinemutu Māori Village Walk), $30 per adult (2-hour Rotorua Guided City Walk). See the following website for details: http://nzmaoritourism.com/listing/kiaora-walks/
Bungalow 8 (corner Market Place and Customs Street West, Viaduct, Auckland) – for those spending time in the Viaduct area, this is one its trendier bars. It boasts a New York-style interior, and a huge balcony overlooking the water. Even international celebrities like Richard Branson make pit stops there.
Air Force Museum of New Zealand (45 Harvard Avenue, Wigram, Christchurch, Christchurch – Canterbury, 8140) –– for those visiting the city of Christchurch (15 hour drive from Auckland, or a 1 ½ hour flight from there), the Air Force Museum of New Zealand holds the national collection of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The Museum’s role is to preserve and present the history of New Zealand’s military aviation through its collection. The collection is very diverse and includes objects covering the early days of New Zealand military aviation both prior to World War I and during this major conflict; the interwar years which saw the formation of the RNZAF in 1937; New Zealanders who fought in the RAF and in other Allied air forces during World War II; the RNZAF’s campaign in the Pacific, and the post-war period to the present day. The collection also includes objects from former enemy forces. The collection is owned by the RNZAF Museum Trust Board. Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission: free.
New Zealand, like nearby Australia, is perceived by many as being a relatively young country – compared to the Far East nations (which boast civilizations going back thousands of years). Historians suggest that New Zealand was first settled by the Maoris (an eastern Polynesian ethnic group) in the 13th century A.D. The first European encounter with this country was in 1642 – when Dutch explorer Abel Tasman first came across it, in a brief and hostile encounter with locals. The country got its present name from Dutch cartographers, who just a few years after Tasman’s voyage, recorded its existence as “Nova Zeelandia” (naming it after the Dutch province of Zeelandia).
Since then, Europeans were not known to have explored New Zealand until British explorer James Cook mapped virtually the entire coastline of the country during his voyage there in 1769 – and anglicized its name to New Zealand. With Australia (New South Wales)’s Governor declaring New Zealand a part of his domain in 1788, the British Crown eventually declared sovereignty over all of New Zealand in 1840. By 1853, the British Parliament granted self-governance to the country. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, as British settlements grew, the indigenous Maori population was disenfranchised with the confiscation of most of their lands.
With New Zealand being part of the British Commonwealth, its economy went through both periods of growth (especially during the 1950s & 1960s) and recession in more recent decades. Nevertheless, because New Zealand is still an advanced western economy, it still attracts its share of immigrants from the Far East and other Pacific islands.
Since agriculture and extractive industries have played traditional roles in the country’s economy, tourism is becoming a growing factor as well (with both direct and indirect contributions to New Zealand’s GDP being 8.7%). At present, tourism is the country’s second-largest export sector – behind dairy. Interestingly, the “Lord of the Rings” movie series (which was filmed in New Zealand) has been a major tourism draw over the years. In 2004, for example, 6% of tourists traveling to New Zealand cited the film series as being a major factor in their decision to visit that country (between 120,000 and 150,000 visitors). Since that year, an average of 47,000 international tourists has visited a “Lord of the Rings” film location each year.