Shop, sip and soak: Pure indulgence in Auckland and Wellington

Auckland and Wellington are top of the tree when it comes to shopping, sipping and soaking in New Zealand. Expect fashion finds with a distinctively Kiwi flair. Visit verdant vineyards where punchy pinots and cabernets provide the perfect excuse for getting tipsy. And soak in steamy thermal pools so mineral-rich that the Kiwis swear by their hangover-curing properties.

Shopping in Wellington

Minnie Cooper is the name to look for inside Wellington’s ornate colonial-style Old Bank Arcade. Every boutique bag and strappy sandal bearing Minnie’s name is handmade by her Kiwi style gurus. Immerse yourself in old-world gentility at Kirkcaldie & Stains department store on Lambton Quay, where neatly groomed shop staff will sell you everything from shiny cufflinks to Maori wood carvings.

Not content with the ubiquitous tiki greenstone pendant as your take-home memory? Check out Wellington’s Kura Gallery and Ora Design for unusual and contemporary ethnic art, including jewellery fashioned from the shells of paua molluscs.

Shopping in Auckland

Squeeze yourself into hot-off-the-loom Kiwi designs by Karen Walker, Zambesi and Workshop on Auckland’s Vulcan Lane. Zambesi’s outlandish catwalk fashions and deconstructed trouser designs are sure to earn you many an admiring – or puzzled – glance.

One for the blokes: Marvel Menswear in the fashionable Ponsonby district more than lives up to its name, with quirky tailoring and subtle detailing that’s cuffs and collars above the competition.

Sipping in Auckland

Arguably the best of Auckland’s 80 vineyards grace the green hills of Waiheke Island, a scenic ferry ride from the city. Brace your taste buds for the signature salmon smoked over fragrant local manuka wood and old oak barrel shavings at Te Whau Vineyard’s lovely mud-brick restaurant. Or sample the wares at Stonyridge, producers of the smooth and earthy Larose cabernet blend. Stay over in a local B&B to avoid the embarrassment of losing your sea legs on the boat ride home.

Sipping in Wellington

From Wellington, wine buffs should head over the scenic Rimutaka Hill (or under it by train) to the hamlet of Martinborough. Here, intense and complex pinot noirs rule the roost, but the whites – fruity sauvignon blancs, zingy chardonnays and aromatic Rieslings - hold their ground too. Built around a quaint town square, this ‘wine village’ supports more than 30 wineries. Leave the car behind and wobble your way between them on a rented bike, pausing only to sober up over a picnic along the way.

Sip a Falling Water cocktail at Wellington’s hip Matterhorn. It’s a heady combination of local 42 Below vodka and ch’i herbal mineral water, served with a cucumber slice and a wink.

Soaking in Auckland

It’s the morning after the night before and you’re in need of some serious TLC. Start by filling your lungs with fresh sea air on the scenic drive north across the harbour from Auckland to Waiwera Thermal Resort & Spa on the fragrant Hibiscus Coast. In summer, the fiery red blaze of the pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree) more than matches the showy flower that gives this region its name.

With 26 thermal pools set between golden beaches and bush-clad hills, there’s plenty of space here for soothing your soul (and hangover) in perfect tranquility. Waiwera’s mineral-rich waters are so good for you that you can even drink them. Not direct from the pools of course, but from chilled glass bottles available to buy on site.

Before you end up as wrinkled as the proverbial prune, hop out of the pools and into the capable hands of a Waiwera therapist. Top treatments? Try a hot stone massage or mud wrap to finish the day.