2015 cricket World Cup: Savour matches, enjoy scenic locales in NZ

Mumbai, July 30 (IANS) With seven of its centres set to host the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 matches New Zealand is ready to attract a plethora of cricket aficianados and it is ensuring that visitors enjoy a diverse range of scenery, varied cultural experiences, and a good dose of adventure.

Spread across both the North and South Islands in New Zealand - Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington in the North Island and Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island, will join seven Australian cities to jointly co-host the cricket tournament in the summer of 2015.

All eyes will be on the chosen cities from Feb 14, 2015 to March 29, 2015 as they not only host thousands of players, officials and fans, but are also profiled globally to an expected television audience of more than a billion people, according to Tourism New Zealand.

Here's a sneak peek into the varied landscapes and experiences, which the country's host regions have to offer:

Auckland - New Zealand's biggest city, it boasts of the country's largest sporting stadium - Eden Park, the home of Auckland cricket since 1910. Auckland has a pool of options for land and water activities - from bungee jumping to sailing, casino to wildlife experiences, food and wines - or getting away from it all on island sanctuaries. Within half-an-hour of downtown Auckland, visitors can relax on an island in the Hauraki Gulf, trek through native rainforest, sample wines at a local vineyard or take a walk along a wild, black sand surf beach.

Hamilton - A bustling commercial centre, Hamilton is a fast-growing university city and major events centre. The city lies in the heart of the lush Waikato farming region which provides the setting for The Shire of Hobbiton, made famous by "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogies.

Napier - The country's leading producer of red wine, Napier will host matches at McLean Park, regarded as one of the most batting friendly wickets in the world. Napier is famed for its extensive collection of Art Deco architecture as a result of being completely rebuilt following a massive earthquake in 1931. As well as its colourful heritage story, the city has more than 30 award-winning vineyards.

Wellington - Wellington is New Zealand's creative as well as capital city, and home to one of the country's oldest cricket ground, the Basin Reserve. Within an easy walk of the ground is a vibrant inner city mix of lively cafes and restaurants, boutique shopping, heritage buildings, museums and galleries, and entertainment venues. Nestled between harbour and hills, Wellington is also home to a wildlife sanctuary and has easy access to a variety of outdoor activities. It is also New Zealand's film capital!

Nelson - A sunny pocket paradise, Nelson is famed for outdoor lifestyle. The region is home to many top New Zealand artists and craftspeople, including traditional and contemporary Maori artists. Food, wine and some of New Zealand's best walking tracks and national parks are also part of the Nelson experience.

Christchurch - This one's the garden city. New Zealand's oldest city, Christchurch has a vastly contrasting landscape. It offers myriad outdoor nature and adventure opportunities - from whale watching off Kaikoura coast in the north to cheeky alpine parrots that entertain tourists at mountainous Arthur's Pass. Christchurch is also a centre of art, culture and beautiful gardens - with 700 public parks.

Dunedin - Dunedin's strong Scottish heritage is a unique colonial experience. The region is also incredible for its local wildlife - the world's rarest penguins, an albatross colony, fur seals and sea lions.

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