The Lions will kick off their tour with a clash against an as-yet unnamed Provincial Union XV. The ITM Cup is the National Provincial Championship and it is made up of 14 teams. Canterbury are the reigning champions.
The Auckland Blues were the first side to dominate the southern hemisphere's new professional domestic scene in the mid-90s but they've suffered something of a slump recently, have finished in the top four once between 2003-2015.
After claiming their maiden Super Rugby crown in 2015 - there is no doubting that the Highlanders are a team on the rise.
They scraped into the qualifiers by the skin of their teeth in 2014 but followed that up with their first Super Rugby trophy in franchise history in 2015, owing much to the lightning half-back tandem of Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga.
It looked as if it would be the Wellington Hurricanes' year in Super Rugby last season - with club legends Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush all looking set to lift the title before leaving the club.
New Zealand are the No.1 side in the world and in 2015 became the first-ever side to lift the World Cup twice in a row.
Brazil may be crazy about football and Indians even more fervent over their cricket, but rugby is so deeply ensconced in New Zealand culture that it's impossible to imagine one without the other.