Why you should visit New Orleans: culture, cuisine and all that jazz

World famous for its music, art and food, New Orleans is a treat for body and soul.

If you’re planning a trip to the US, be sure to carve out some time in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just over an hour’s flight from Houston, this vibrant 21st-century city set on the Mississippi River is one of America’s cultural capitals with a unique history that created its present diversity.

Claimed originally by the French, New Orleans was taken over by the Spanish in the late 1700s, reclaimed in 1800 and sold to the US by Napoleon in 1803. Creoles, the American-born offspring of the European settlers, created a cosmopolitan culture rich in music, art and cuisine.

Until New Orleans’ first road was built in 1958, the city had more canals than Venice. This isolation sheltered the city from external influences and promoted creativity. A melting pot of French, African and American cultures, this city attracts visitors from around the globe.

Feeling upbeat

In the 1800s, the diverse range of racial groups in New Orleans used music as a unifying force. The world is still enjoying the results. Thanks to a revolutionary fusion of the American songbook, spirituals, ragtime and blues, the ‘Big Easy’ claims the title as the birthplace of jazz.

Check out New Orleans Jazz Museum for the full story, and visit Preservation Hall, one of the world’s most respected music venues and the spiritual home of New Orleans jazz. You may also like to check out the Marigny neighbourhood, a locals’ hang-out spot. In-the-know tourists gather at Spotted Cat, d.b.a, Blue Nile, Café Negril and Snug Harbor for live music, with bands playing until 4am.

Word on the street

If the music doesn’t stir your gumbo, there’s still plenty to do and see. The famous French Quarter is New Orleans’ historical heart, and Antoine’s restaurant and Café du Monde are the places to eat while you’re there. Also check out Bywater, known for its street murals, quirky boutiques and bohemian vibe, then wander down Oak Street in the Carrollton neighbourhood, a hotspot for music, food and festivals. Alternatively, peruse the New Orleans Museum of Art, or go in search of wild alligators with Cajun Encounters Tours.

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Air New Zealand offers non-stop flights from Auckland to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and (from 29 October, 2020) New York*. Onward connections available to New Orleans with alliance partner United Airlines. Visit to book.

Fly non-stop to the USA with Air New Zealand, visit

**Subject to final regulatory approvals and crewing agreements.*

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