Sweet as ... girls can do just about anything they desire or imagine in New Zealand.
For WAGs on a break from the guys or a ''girls-only'' holiday, there should be no time to waste on everything from ‘Sex & The City-style’ shopping to cocktails at sunset, walks on the beach, wine trails, chocolate therapy, luxury spa treatments, farmers markets and more.
But it could be a problem choosing where to go and which activity to do first.
Shop till you drop
Any shopper worth her Manolos will love dropping her credit card in Auckland, the home of some of New Zealand’s best shopping.
From Ponsonby to Newmarket to Parnell, many of New Zealand’s top designers have their flagship boutiques in Auckland’s fashion quarters, including Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Trelise Cooper, World, Zambesi and Stella Gregg.
And Wellington - New Zealand’s creative capital - is not just home to some of the best art galleries and museums in the country, it’s also a trendy fashion spot where many up-and-coming designers have their own little boutiques.
Fashion designer Alexandra Owen - who’s been profiled in the New York Times - is based next door to Wellington’s arty Museum Hotel. Owen’s smart tailoring and sculptural designs are hugely popular in the southern hemisphere.
In the South Island, Dunedin is a fashionable Gothic-style city that’s home to long-time Kiwi designer Margi Robertson of Nom*D, and a raft of quirky local fashion and jewellery designers.
For those on a modest budget, shopping malls in main centres throughout New Zealand also offer plenty of shopping excitement in a wide range of local and international chain stores.
Hitting the high life
Night-life in New Zealand has a class of its own - naturally enough for the country that hosts the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup, an international quest for the ultimate winning cocktail recipe.
Out-on-the-town anywhere in New Zealand there’s an ever-increasing menu of fancy cocktail tipples based around exotic New Zealand ingredients such as kiwifruit, tamarillo, feijoa and manuka honey.
In Auckland, the central city Sale St bar made international headlines when the barman created a cheeky cocktail tribute to Scottish songbird Susan Boyle - a vodka base topped with creamy frangelico and sprinkled with chocolate shavings (say no more).
For a more expansive night-time experience, Auckland’s Sky Tower rocks around the clock with the SkyCity casino and a collection of glitzy bars, cafés and restaurants, including celebrity chef destinations - Peter Gordon’s ‘dine’, Sean Connolly’s The Grill, and Al Brown’s The Depot. And, with two hotels on-site, rooms are just down the corridor.
Wellington’s iconic Matterhorn restaurant bar - often referred to as one of the top bars in the world - was a regular hangout for Hollywood stars Sir Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom while filming the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Many of those stars are now back in town for The Hobbit.
Watch out for the stars, too, in Queenstown - the year-round resort where the night life is legendary, and celebrities are regularly spotted out and about.
Getting into hot water
Thermal spas in New Zealand are more than just a relaxing warm bath - they are also a cultural and therapeutic experience that includes soaking in steaming mineral waters or wallowing in warm mud in natural outdoor surroundings.
Tourists have long frequented the legendary hot springs and bubbling pools of sulphurous mud in New Zealand’s central North Island where Rotorua is the most famous destination. But the South Island also has Hanmer Springs - another unique experience where hot outdoor pools keep bathers warm even while snow falls around them.
Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa is built on natural hot springs that have been frequented by locals since the early 19th century. There are 26 pools and an international day spa offering unique local therapies. Nearby Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora resorts also offer special mud baths and mineral hot pools with therapeutic and relaxing properties.
Whitianga, on the Coromandel Peninsula - east of Auckland - has New Zealand’s newest thermal pools. The Lost Spring is a series of intimate pools in a semi-tropical forest setting where guests can sip cocktails as they lie back listening to native songbirds or indulge themselves in the day spa.
Hot Tubs Omarama, in the South Island’s Mackenzie Country, offers a starlight hot tub experience - a Kiwi version of Japanese ‘onsen’ bathing that’s the ideal conclusion to a day on the slopes of the Southern Alps.
Or take a steamy dip under a West Coast rainforest canopy at Franz Josef’s Glacier Hot Pools. The complex includes a range of small public and private pools, and a dedicated spa facility. The twin glaciers - Franz Josef and Fox - originate in the Southern Alps and terminate in rainforest near sea level.
Hit the wine trail
No girls’ break in New Zealand would be complete without sampling some world-class wine.
Serious wine buffs and casual tipplers will all enjoy the Classic NZ Wine Trail, a self-drive food and wine experience through some of New Zealand’s most picturesque countryside.
The 380km year-round trail traverses the main wine regions - Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa on the east coast of the North Island, and Marlborough at the top of the South Island - and is considered one of the best wine drives in the world.
Along the way there are more than 230 vineyards and wineries each with a distinctive story, and an extensive range of boutique accommodation, cafés and restaurants offering warm country hospitality.
In the market place
Farmers markets - a good place to meet the locals and sample fresh flavours - offer another Kiwi experience that’s certain to lure female visitors.
Markets provide an insight into the regional heartland, the laid-back New Zealand way of life and real Kiwi tucker. The markets are filled with fresh vegetables and fruit, much of it organic - including homemade jams and preserves, fresh bread, flowers and plants, boutique wines and beers, and gourmet treats.
Many stalls also offer heritage varieties that aren’t stocked by supermarkets and other retail food outlets. Each market reflects regional differences in the fare on offer - fresh seafood and whitebait in the south, and kumara and sub-tropical fruit in the north.
To complete the culinary experience, dessert fiends will find some unique temptations in New Zealand - where sweet treats are given a sugary Kiwi spin.
The pavlova - a meringue-like dessert cake - is an iconic Kiwi creation, made from egg whites with a crispy crust, soft light inner and topped with fresh whipped cream garnished with fruit.
A favourite Kiwi dessert, ice-cream is enjoying a renaissance with a burgeoning array of gourmet outlets. Hokey-pokey - vanilla ice-cream with lumps of honeycomb caramel - and boysenberry are the classic Kiwi flavours, but connoisseurs now have a dizzying choice.
Local gourmet chocolatiers are just as inventive - Schoc Chocolat in Greytown sells chocolate with a therapeutic or herbal twist, and Kanohi in Rotorua infuses Belgium chocolate with local flavours such as peppery horopito, spicey piripiri and sweet manuka honey.
Classic NZ Wine Trail
NZ farmers markets
NZ fashion designer Alexandra Owen
NZ fashion designer Margi Robertson