New Zealand is one of the last places on Earth with a virtually unspoiled natural environment. It is home to jagged mountains, rolling pasture land, steep fiords, pristine fish filled lakes, fast rivers, beautiful scenic beaches, and several active volcanic zones.
These islands are one inhabited by flightless birds seen nowhere else such as a nocturnal, burrowing parrot called the kakapo and kiwi. Kiwi are not only one of the national symbols – the others being the silver fern leaf and koru – but also the name New Zealanders usually call themselves.
The islands of New Zealand are sparsely populated, particularly away from the North Island, but easily accessible. There are sparklingly modern visitor facilities, and transport networks are well developed with Airports throughout the country and well maintained highways. New Zealand often adds an adventure twist to nature: it’s the original home of jet-boating through shallow gorges, and bungy jumping off anything high enough to give a thrill.
Māori culture continues to play an important part in everyday life and government and corporate symbolism with abundant opportunities for visitors to understand and experience both the history and present day forms of Māori life.
Some of the most popular destinations in New Zealand:
Auckland – “The City of Sails”, the largest conurbation, with over a million in the metropolitan area
Hamilton – 128 km (80 mi) south of Auckland and leafy capital of the rich and fertile Waikato on the banks of the mighty Waikato River
Rotorua – famous for Māori culture, geysers and beautiful hot pools.
Napier – “Art Deco capital of NZ”, destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in this style. Famous as a wine region, especially Bordeaux style reds and Cape Kidnappers. Renowned golf course, gannet breeding grounds and wildlife sanctuary.
Wellington – the national capital, known as “The Windy City” – Parliament, the Beehive and the wonderful, totally free and exciting Te Papa museum.
Nelson – safe and friendly, with New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours, surrounded by coastal and mountain scenery, three national parks, vineyards and orchards. Well known for its thriving arts culture and varied cuisine emphasising local produce.
Christchurch – still the “Garden City” and the “Air Gateway” to Antarctica even after the recent and continuing earthquakes. The third largest conurbation with a neat International Airport
Queenstown – adrenalin and adventure capital of the world, where you can ski, skydive, bungy jump, jet-boat, and thrill yourself to your heart’s content
Dunedin – the “Edinburgh of the South”, proud of its Scots heritage, chocolate factory, Southern Albatross colony and its wonderful tramping tracks all within a short drive from the CBD
The Southern Alps of the South Island are stunning and breathtaking to see. In the Mackenzie Country of Canterbury, the snow-capped jagged peaks rising above the lakes are the images seen in many calendars and backgrounds in film. New Zealand’s highest peak is Aoraki Mount Cook. The lakes and mountains continue south, becoming a stunning backdrop for the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy.
Another region where mountain meets water is Fiordland National Park where steep, heavily forested mountains meet the sea. The most accessibleand popular among tourists is Milford Sound. The road in is spectacular and the view even more so when you arrive.
New Zealand has several Glaciers; the most notable are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers in Westland National Park. These glaciers are unique in how close they get to sea level and are sustained by the enormous amount of precipitation that falls on New Zealand’s west coast.
New Zealand is also a geological hotspot and has many dormant and active volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. Rotorua is a place where the smell of sulphur lets you know you’re close to the action. The surrounding countryside has many parks with geysers and hot springs, and Mount Tarawera, the site of one of New Zealand’s more famous eruptions, lies a short drive away.
South of Rotorua is Taupo and Lake Taupo, which was formed in a massive volcanic explosion thousands of years ago. Beyond Lake Taupo is Tongariro National Park, dominated by its three volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapheu. All three mountains are still active. Ruapehu last erupted in 2007 and has a crater lake that can be experienced with a trek in mouatain climbing or hiking.
North of Rotorua is Whakatane, with tours to White Island, a volcanic island just off the coast whch has smoke plumes, green crater lake and the pohutukawa trees thriving on the volcanic rock.