While there are many awe-inspiring escapes within the confines of Auckland, it’s equally as well placed for a number of weekend getaways. For as little as taking Friday afternoon off work, you can get two whole days of joy away from the city – think sailing over the country’s biggest lake, or marvelling at art deco architecture in Hawkes Bay. Hop in the car, hit the road, and take your Friday drinks with a side of fresh countryside air.
The real drawcard in Taupō is its lake; the largest in New Zealand, and a truly spectacular sight. Crystal-clear blue waters are bordered by magnificent cliffs and, in some places, the lake seems so deep you could be left wondering what hides in its inky depths – local Māori certainly did, which is where cultural legend the Loch Ness monster-esque taniwha originates from.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
In the wake of a devastating earthquake in the 1930s, Napier was largely rebuilt. The result is an Art Deco-rich city that feels incongruous from the rest of the country’s architecture, but works so beautifully in this seaside setting. Retro facades aside, the city has a thoroughly modern interior, staking its claim as a dining hub in New Zealand. Should all that building ogling get too much, the beautiful beaches are the perfect place to soak up some rays.
The city base perched just behind the harbour from the pristine beaches of Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, Tauranga is a flourishing port town. A growth in population in recent years has afforded the town some serious new restaurant openings, helping to create a vibrant cultural scene in this picture-perfect beach destination.
This bucolic area of the country has much to offer in the way of edible and quaffable delights. Sample the best of them on this food and wine tour. Departing from the city centre, you’ll be taken to some of the area’s finest independent producers, sampling foods like bespoke cheeses and salamis, and beverages like locally brewed cider and wine from an award-winning vineyard. Your knowledgeable guide will transport you between destinations, filling you in on notable facts and local history as you go along, and having you back in time for a sunset swim.
This much-lauded peninsula is often pinpointed as being home to some of the country’s best beaches – and the masses certainly aren’t wrong. With white sand and crystal-clear water, alongside hidden bays and the infamous Cathedral Cove (you may recognise it from the Chronicles of Narnia films), Coromandel is a destination that epitomises why New Zealand is so often seen as a heaven on earth.
Wind your way through the gravel lanes of the Coromandel Peninsula as your driver deftly navigates these tricky stretches of road to deliver you to some of the most picturesque areas in the area. Dropping you off at Stony Bay, you’ll then traverse the 10km (6mi) coastal path to Fletcher Bay – taking you past crystal clear waters, through lush bushland and with views over to Great Barrier Island, this is a hike you won’t soon forget. Your driver will meet you at the other end, dropping you back to Coromandel Town for a well-deserved sunset drink.
Bay of Islands
Comprising 140 islands amongst glassy waters, the Bay of Islands is an otherworldly idyll at the top of the North Island. The two main towns in the area are Paihia, and the historical port and whaling town of Russell, which was once referred to as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”. History buffs should forego the former for the latter, which is filled with colonial houses and some of the oldest structures in New Zealand.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.