New Zealand offers so much, and the LA Times recently pointed out one of the country's most overlooked attractions – the 50 or so islands in and around Hauraki Gulf, off the Auckland coast.
Many of the islands can be reached for the reasonable price of a ferry ride from Auckland. The sand and surf offer all the normal attractions. Many of the islands are wild, uninhabited. Or there's places like Waiheke, whihc, according to the author, is "known for its wineries, galleries and gourmet cafes, (it) is a million miles removed from the untamed beauty of Great Barrier. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, especially the tasting rooms offering Cabernet Sauvignon."
If you make it to Auckland, don't miss these islands.