Rhythm and Vines Fesitval, Gisborne

If you can picture yourself sitting in a hillside vineyard on New Year's Eve with a good bottle of local wine, the sun setting over the east coast, the soundtrack provided by the likes of LCD Soundsystem, 2ManyDJs and Editors, get over to the three-day Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne, the first city in the world to see the sun rise each new year.

One-day passes costs from NZ$60 (£27), three-day passes from NZ$135. The event takes place at the Waiohika Estate, Gisborne, 29-31 December; rhythmandvines.co.nz

The Hillary Trail, West Aukland

Named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to conquer Everest, and opening on the second anniversary of his death (11 January 2010), this 70km, four-day walking trail covers some of the most spectacular bush and beach terrain on Auckland's west coast, including the Waitakere Ranges and Anawhata beach, a place Hillary called "the most beautiful on earth".


Te Waonui Forest Retreat, Franz Joseph

For those who want environmental kicks with luxury on the side, try this five-star 100-room eco-hotel, built from sustainable materials and enveloped by rainforest, just minutes from the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers on the west coast of the South Island.

00 64 3 357 1919; scenichotelgroup.co.nz; doubles from NZ$520

Freedom camping around Eastland

If your pockets aren't deep enough for five-star eco-hotels, why not bring your room to the view? Wild camping is illegal in most parts of the UK but is famously commonplace in NZ. All you need is a tent or a campervan for a front seat in some of the world's most scenic vantage points. The Eastland region of the North Island is wonderfully remote, as is the Southern Scenic Route at the tip of the South Island.

For information on best practice when wild camping, see camping.org.nz. For the Southern Scenic Route, see southernscenicroute.co.nz. For campervan rentals from NZ$50 a day visit maui-rentals.com

The "Small Five" wildlife trip

The New Zealand tourist board is turning the concept of the "Big Five" upside down by developing its own "Small Five" list. This aims to promote awareness and conservation of five of its smallest and most endangered indigenous creatures: the kiwi, the Hector's dolphin, the yellow-eyed penguin, the tuatara (like a lizard) and the kea (a kind of parrot). If you've ever wanted to go kiwi-spotting on Stewart Island, or swim with the Hector's dolphin in Porpoise Bay, this may be your very last chance.

Discover the World (01737 218800; discover-the-world.co.uk) offers an 18-night "Small Five" self-drive holiday from £2,228

Get into hot water, Coromandel

Forget forking out all your spending money on a posh spa. Head to Hot Water Beach on the north-eastern tip of the North Island's Coromandel Peninsula and dig your own spa pool for free. The beach gets its name from the hot springs that filter up through the sand, and for two hours either side of low tide it is possible to dig a hole to form a pool whose water can reach a steamy 75C. No spade? No worries: there is spade hire in summer for NZ$5.


Nicky Woolf

The GuardianTramp

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