The British and Irish Lions Tour in New Zealand is the most exciting sports event happening in the country this year. It all kicks off on 3 June at the Toll Stadium in Whangarei. The tour sees the Lions travel through Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Rotorua, Hamilton and Wellington. With the red army moving through so many different towns and cities, the fans will get the opportunity to see both the North and South Islands and discover what makes New Zealand such a wonderful place.
1. Sample Some Famous Sauvignon Blanc
One of the most famous wine regions in the world and synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc is Marlborough. Sample some of the locally crafted wine and enjoy a hearty lunch at one of the many cellar doors. The gateway town of Blenheim has plenty of quality accommodation on offer. A little further west is the town of Nelson, a perfect location to spend a few days enjoying some of the adventurous activities or even just driving around the picturesque setting.
Stirling Falls – Milford Sound
2. Jump off the Sky Tower in Auckland
In Auckland, you’ll find the tallest man-made structure in the country that actually allows you to take a dive off it. If you don’t feel like doing the Sky Walk or the Sky Jump, you can always just take in the panoramic views stretching 80kms from the Sky Tower.
3. Visit Beautiful Queenstown
When you head down South for Game 3, it’s the perfect opportunity to visit Queenstown. This haven for travelers offers extreme sports, wildlife parks and wine tours against a beautiful backdrop of Lake Wakatipu. Vino lovers will be delighted by the thriving Pinot Noir wine in the area – you can indulge in a pleasant afternoon of wine, cheese and scenery in the Gibbston Valley. For those with the need for adventure – jet boating, skydiving, bungy jumping, paragliding can help fulfill any adrenaline fix you require. Alternatively you could try out the 14km Station 2 Station Cycle Trail which is suitable for all ranges of fitness. To get the best views of Queenstown and surrounding mountain ranges then jump aboard the Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise.
4. Appreciate the Architecture of Dunedin
It is known for its eclectic mix of architecture – from the Flemish Baroque-inspired Railway Station to the modern town centre called The Octagon, there’s plenty to see in Dunedin. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, visiting Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory is a must-do while you’re here.
5. Don’t Miss Out on Milford Sound
This is definitely one of the most iconic locations in New Zealand. The three-hour drive to Te Anau gives you access to Milford Sound. Enjoy fascinating scenery, dramatic landscapes, ancient beech forests and Mirror Lakes – the popular photographed scene where the surrounding snow-capped mountains and glaciers are perfectly reflected by the clear waters.
6. Enjoy the Thermal Wonders of Rotorua
While Rotorua is known for many things, the volcanic landscape, bubbling mud pools, erupting geysers and steaming hot springs are definitely its most valuable offer. There are plenty of popular natural hot springs like Kerosene Creek and The Bridge. If you’re looking for a break from the winter cold, try the Polynesian Spa with its delightful collection of hot pools. Rotorua is also home to Wai-o-Tapu, Waimangu, Whakarewarea and Hell’s Gate geothermal parks where you can witness the Earth’s power that lies beneath the ground.
7. Behold the Beauty of Man-made and Natural Wonders in Hamilton
In the city of Hamilton, you’ll find one of the most awarded gardens in the world, The 58-hectare Botanical Gardens. A little further south of the city is the breathtaking Waitomo Caves formed more than 30 million years ago, and is renowned for two things: the twinkling glowworms and black water river rafting. Finally, if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, visit the actual movie set of Hobbiton in Matamata, a 45-minute drive from Hamilton.
Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown
8. Learn about NZ Culture in Te Papa Museum
When you descend on Wellington for Games 8 and 9, take the opportunity to see Te Papa Museum which is home to a wonderfully diverse selection of exhibitions. It houses both a national museum and an art gallery with artefacts that tell New Zealand’s rich history.
9. Take a Tour of Weta Workshop
Peter Jackson’s award winning design studio is located in Wellington. Here, movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Avatar came to life. Discover the process, props and people behind all the magic that built these imaginary worlds. Tours are offered through both the Workshop and the Weta Cave.
No matter where you go in New Zealand for the Lions Tour, expect to be greeted by friendly, welcoming Kiwis and spectacular sights.