How to Spend 10 Days in New Zealand - United Hub

How to spend 10 days in New Zealand

By The Hub team

Plan your trip to New Zealand with this action-packed travel itinerary.

There's a jaw-dropping landscape around every corner in New Zealand. With its wild coastlines, mountain-ringed lakes, and cinematic Middle Earth vistas, the country is the ultimate adventure-lover's island getaway — and a bonafide Instagram dream. For many, the journey here ventures into trip-of-a-lifetime territory, with travelers packing in as much as they can in a short amount of time. The truth is, you could spend months in New Zealand, and still leave wanting to explore more.

The best time to visit New Zealand is between December and May, the country's summer and fall seasons. Ten days allows for ample time to explore the both the North and South Island, on a self-drive itinerary that lets you control the journey. Here's how to do it.

Day 1: Auckland

Fly into Auckland on the North Island and pick up a rental car at the airport (remember to drive on the left!) before heading to the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour. New Zealand's largest city is as metropolitan as this country gets, especially in the downtown CBD (Central Business District). Dig into local Orongo Bay oysters at Depot Eatery, then ride 1,000 feet up to the top of the Sky Tower for sweeping North Island views. A 20-minute walk leads to the bohemian Ponsonby neighborhood and an array of funky boutiques and buzzing cocktail bars on Ponsonby Road.

Piha BeachPiha Beach \Shutterstock

Day 2: Auckland

Wake up early and drive an hour west to the stunning, black-sand Piha Beach. Kick back and watch surfers conquer impressive Tasman Sea breaks, or hike up the relatively-steep-but-short Tasman Lookout Track for the best coastline views. Head back to Auckland (leave your car at the hotel) and walk over to Queens Wharf to take the Fullers ferry to Waiheke Island. The 35-square-mile island is home to nearly two-dozen wineries (chalk it up to dry summers and very agreeable soil conditions), and it's easy to book a private tour or buy a ticket to ride a hop-on, hop-off wine-tasting bus.

Hobbiton VillageHobbiton Village \Shutterstock

Day 3: Rotorua

New Zealand takes scenic drives to new levels — there's rarely an “Are we there yet?" moment as you cruise past lush, rolling countryside dotted with grazing cows and sheep. (There are more sheep in New Zealand than people.) From Auckland, it's a three-hour drive to Rotorua; the route takes you through the heart of Middle Earth. Tolkien fans have to stop in the town of Matamata, home to the Hobbiton Movie Set, for a two-hour tour of some Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit filming locations. In Rotorua, check into the Treetops Lodge & Estate, before a twilight stroll at the Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua.

Champagne Pool, a geothermal pool in RotoruaChampagne Pool, a geothermal pool in Rotorua \Shutterstock

Day 4: Rotorua

Rotorua is one of the North Island's biggest tourism hubs, and there's a lot to do here when it comes to adventure and Maori culture. Learn about the Maori — the indigenous people of New Zealand — at the Mitai Maori Village, go whitewater rafting on the Kaituna River, or soak in the area's geothermal mud pools in Kuirau Park.

Gondolas at Skyline QueenstownGondolas at Skyline Queenstown \Shutterstock

Day 5: Queenstown

It's easy to get between the North and South Islands — flights are frequent and inexpensive. Wake up and drive back to Auckland, return your car, and fly to Queenstown. Established during the island's 1860s gold rush, Queenstown overlooks Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain rage. Ease into the South Island portion of your trip with an afternoon exploring this quaint, postcard-worthy city: take a gondola ride at Skyline Queenstown, linger over dinner at Rata (or grab a burger at the extremely popular Fergburger), and sip nightcaps at Little Blackwood. Queenstown is popular with backpackers, so there are plenty budget and hostel options, as well as several surrounding guesthouses. For something more upscale, the city's grande dame is Eichardt's Private Hotel, which holds court over the lake.

Milford SoundMilford Sound \Shutterstock

DAY 6: Queenstown

Queenstown is the gateway to Fiordland, the country's rugged, Southern Alps-lined southwest corner. No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to Fiordland's crown jewel, Milford Sound. (Rudyard Kipling once called it the eighth wonder of the world.) You can drive to Milford Sound from Queenstown, but it will be a long day, with at least eight round-trip hours in the car and lots of white-knuckle mountain passes. Other options: Book a coach tour, or spring for a helicopter or floatplane ride from Queenstown to the sound. The latter option has you back in Queenstown by early afternoon — plenty of time for a bungee jump (which was invented here) or a jet-boat ride down the Shotover River. This is the adventure capital of the world, after all.

Queenstown's wine regionQueenstown's wine region \Shutterstock

Day 7: Queenstown

Queenstown is also a popular gateway to even more stellar winetasting. Spend a day winery hopping in the Central Otago Wine Region, known for its bold Pinot Noirs. (Most hotels and lodges can arrange a tour.) Stop for lunch in Arrowtown, a quaint gold rush village along the Arrow River outside of Queenstown.

A night sky over Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie RegionA night sky over Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie Region \Shutterstock

Day 8: Mackenzie Region

While North Island scenery deals in rolling hills and wide-open spaces, the South Island delivers spectacular mountain ranges and gorges. Today, drive two-and-a-half hours north to the Mackenzie Region, in the center of the South Island. The region is one of the world's International Dark Sky Reserves, which means stargazing here is incredible — especially if you check into a place like Skyscape, a small house made entirely of glass in the middle of a 6,000-acre sheep and beef farm. The remote, middle-of-nowhere accommodation is well worth the splurge.

Hiking in Mount Cook National ParkHiking in Mount Cook National Park \Shutterstock

Day 9: Aoraki/Mount Cook & Christchurch

Start the day with a 45-minute hike on the Governors Bush Walk in nearby Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (home to New Zealand's highest mountain), before the four-hour drive northeast to Christchurch. Don't rush it — the joy of a South Island road trip is in taking it slow, pulling over to gape at amazing views whenever the mood strikes, which is often. (Many travelers actually rent campervans and drive around the country in those — it's legal to pull over and sleep on the side of the road in many parts of New Zealand.) In Christchurch, check into The George, a boutique property on the Avon River.

Sidewalk cafes along New Regent's Street in ChristchurchSidewalk cafes along New Regent's Street in Christchurch \Shutterstock

Day 10: Christchurch

Spend the morning exploring Christchurch, the first British Colonial settlement on the South Island. The city is still rebuilding from a devastating 2011 earthquake that caused severe structural damage, but several new attractions and public spaces will open in 2018, including a food hall and a new public library. In the afternoon, hop a one-hour flight back to Auckland to connect to your late-evening flight back home.


This article was written by Amy Cassell from Islands and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Marvelous sites to local hideaways: the expert’s guide to Toronto

By Nick Harper

Canada's largest city spreads out along the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, and it's a dynamic, multicultural and inclusive experience like almost no other place on earth. Not only is Toronto a thriving living city,it's also become one of the world's truly must-visit destinations. Regularly ranked as one of the greatest places to live, Toronto is the cultural center of the country and home to the biggest events, the most pro sports and the greatest concentration of theaters and restaurants.

Recent decades have seen regular multi-million-dollar upgrades to the city's public spaces, with a slew of great museums, iconic architecture and the redevelopment of the now glittering lakefront adding to the city's appeal.

Add in an ever-growing number of world-class hotels, upbeat nightlife that runs from dusk until dawn and a vibrant and diverse culinary scene influenced by the eclectic makeup of the city's people. Bright and bustling, cosmopolitan and cultured, unpredictable and energetic, Toronto has become one of the greatest cities on earth.

What you see and where you go will depend on the length of your stay. A week is good, longer is better. But even a long weekend will give you a taste of 'The Six' — one of the city's many nicknames, reworked recently as 'The 6ix' by one of its most famous sons, Drake.

However long you stay, you can't hope to see it all. So, consider what follows a starting point for your first visit…

City Hall, Toronto City Hall, Toronto

The checklist sites

No visit to The Six can be considered complete without ticking off several of Toronto's true heavyweight sights. All of the following are in or within easy reach of the city's compact, walk-able and very vibrant center.

The CN Tower is unmissable in every sense, a vast freestanding spire that looks down upon the city and takes its place as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the Modern World'. Head up for the city's best 360-degree views, or get your heart racing on the EdgeWalk — a journey around the circumference of the tower's main pod, 116 stories high and tethered by a harness.

Back on solid ground, Ripley's Aquarium is almost right next door to the CN Tower and is home to 16,000 aquatic animals and the Dangerous Lagoon. A moving sidewalk that whisks you through a long tunnel surrounded by sharks and stingrays is guaranteed to make your heart race all over again.

Ripleys Aquarium Ripleys Aquarium

Also close to the CN Tower is the Rogers Center, home to Canada's only baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Visit on game day for the full experience, or take the stadium tour to go behind the scenes and through closed doors.

In a city of so many museums and galleries, the Royal Ontario Museum stands out. Not just because it's home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, but as much because it hosts exciting Friday night events that include dance, drink and top DJs.

Two other must ticks include the Art Gallery of Ontario, which houses 95,000 works of art and is free for visitors under 25, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which taps into Canada's national obsession in stunning depth.

Art Gallery of Ontario Art Gallery of Ontario

Casa Loma is a must-visit Gothic castle in the heart of the city. North America's only castle is filled with artworks and treasures from Canada and beyond, but its big pull is the network of hidden tunnels to explore as they stretch out beneath the city.

Casa Loma Casa Loma

Toronto's multi-cultural makeup is visible all across the city but reflected best in its remarkable culinary scene (see Where to eat and drink). The city's 'fresh and local' mantra is perfectly showcased at St. Lawrence Market, one of the world's greatest food experiences. Pay it a visit and grab a peameal bacon sandwich — a Canadian staple invented in Toronto and now considered the city's signature dish.

St. Lawrence Market St. Lawrence Market

Afterwards, walk off the calories by wandering the historic cobblestone and car-free Distillery District. Once a vast whiskey distillery and an important spot during prohibition, historians mention that even Al Capone would visit the Distillery to load alcohol destined for the States[9] . This iconic landmark now distils creativity within the 19th century buildings now home to hip restaurants, bars, independent boutique stores, galleries and theaters. Visit in December for the Toronto Christmas Market.

Finally, don't even think about returning home without having had a picture taken with your head poking through an 'O' of the multicolored, 3D Toronto sign at City Hall — the most Insta-worthy location in a city of so many. You'll need to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

If you stay long enough, take a ferry and hop across to Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario just south of the mainland. They're home to beaches, a theme park and a breathtaking view of the city's skyline and will very happily fill a full day of your stay.

The bucket list

You absolutely cannot leave Toronto without having witnessed the power of the Niagara Falls and its hypnotic mist up close. Trying to visit the Falls from the States is a trip on its own, but it's almost non-optional when you're less than two hours away in Toronto. Take the trip, buy the T-shirt and tick off one of the world's must-see sights.

Explore like a local

Away from the sleek, gleaming towers of downtown lie many of Toronto's less obvious but no less essential attractions. West Queen West is Toronto's hippest neighborhood and artistic heart, a one-mile strip of very chic galleries, stores, restaurants and boutique hotels. Kensington Market is a fantastically chaotic neighborhood and perhaps the best example of the city's famous multiculturalism. It's not a market as the name implies, but a collection of independent shops, vintage boutiques, art spaces, cafés, bars and restaurants from every corner of the globe.

The Bata Shoe Museum is one of the city's quirkiest collections, an unexpectedly fascinating exhibit that retraces the 4,500-year history of footwear. And as you wander the city, you can't fail to notice that Toronto's walls are alive with graffiti. Take a free 90-minute walking tour through the back alleys of Queen Street West and down Graffiti Alley to gain a better understanding of the city's street art scene. If you visit during the sunnier months, escape the hustle by heading just east of the center to High Park, the green heart of the city where forests, walking trails, picnic spots and even a zoo await you. Ideal to unwind after a long day of urban adventures.

The essentials

When to go With the sun shining, May through October is a great time to visit, but the city is alive through all four seasons. The Spring and Autumn months are ideal as the humidity and visitor numbers are lighter, while Toronto comes alive through the colder months through a wide array of winter celebrations. One of the most spectacular is the Aurora Winter Festival, a six-week celebration that sees the Ontario Place, West Island transformed into four mystical worlds. Whichever season you choose, plan to stay for at least five nights to get a true flavor of the city.

Toronto skyline view Toronto skyline view

Where to stay To be at the heart of most of the attractions you'll want to see, aim for downtown. One of the best options is the Marriott City Center, not only because it's located right next to the CN Tower but also because it's attached to the iconic Rogers Center where the Toronto Blue Jays play and countless concerts and popular events are held.

Toronto Blue Jay stadium Toronto Blue Jay stadium

Opt for a Stadium room and you'll look out onto the field. If you want to experience Toronto's non-stop nightlife, the Entertainment District is the place to be. If you're looking for a luxury experience, discover Canada's first St. Regis hotel in the heart of downtown.

Where to eat and drink Nowhere is Toronto's incredible diversity more evident than in its food scene — taste Toronto and you're tasting the world. The city is brimming with restaurants and cafés serving everything from high-end fine dining to comfort food from an informal neighborhood joint — plus every option imaginable in between.

For fine dining, consider Alo, Canis and Edulis. Book a table at Canoe, Lavelle, The One Eighty or 360 at the CN Tower and you're guaranteeing a view as spectacular as the food. Or experience the city's remarkable fusion food at DaiLo (French-Cantonese), El Catrin (Mexican-French) and the unexpected mashup of Rasta Pasta (Jamaican-Italian).

The above suggestions don't even scratch the surface of a food scene to rival any city on earth, with options to suit every taste and any budget.

How to get around Toronto is perfect to explore on foot or via a growing network of cycle routes. For a quicker journey, buy a Presto card to use the TTC, Toronto's subway, streetcar and bus system.

How to get there Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with United and you're around 15 miles west of the city center. The most comfortable route in is via the Union Pearson Express, which runs every 15 minutes and gets you downtown in 25 minutes ($13).The TTC is a cheaper option at under $5, but it can take an hour and a half and involves a number of transfers, while a taxi will take around 30 minutes and cost $45.

United flies to Toronto from numerous U.S. cities including our Hub city locations. Book your trip via united.com or by downloading the United app.


Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to Melbourne (MEL) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives

Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

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