New Zealand Attractions
Tongariro National Park
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park in the heart of the North Island is a spectacular mountainous area with three active volcanoes, Tongaririo, Ngauruhoe and the 2797 m high Mount Ruapehu, which is home to a large ski area. Numerous very well developed hiking trails invite you to take a tour through the fantastic landscape. The 30-mile Tongariro Northern Circuit is one of New Zealand’s four Great Walks, though most visitors only walk the 1-day Tongariro Alpine Crossing section .
On the South Island, at the foot of the western slopes of the Alps, lies one of New Zealand’s most unspoilt natural areas. It rains around four meters a year on the sparsely populated west coast, and the breathtaking mountain, jungle and lake landscape is home to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. You can take part in guided ice walks on both glaciers. Helicopter flights over the glaciers are also possible.
- Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in New Zealand, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the country.
Every evening in Oamaru (Internet: www.visitoamaru.co.nz ) you can watch the resident tiny blue penguins (small penguins) returning to their nests (Internet: www.penguins.co.nz ). The old town, which is well worth seeing, with many buildings from the Victorian era is a listed building, as is the harbor district. The best way to explore the city is to take a ride on the Oamaru Steam and Rail heritage railway (website: www.oamaru-steam.org.nz ).
The main attractions in Rotorua are the Geysers and the Hells Gate Geothermal Park (website: www.hellsgate.co.nz ). Rotorua is also an important center for Maori culture – here you will find an arts center where young Maori learn the traditional arts of bone and wood carving. One can also visit a marae (a Maori gathering place not normally open to pakeha, foreigners) or enjoy a hangi (an earth-cooked feast) (website: www.whakarewarewa.com ).
The Marlborough Sounds
To the north of the South Island are the sheltered bays and lush green fields of the Marlborough Sounds. The fjord-like waters with their numerous peninsulas are particularly popular with kayakers, sailors and anglers. The region is also famous for its wines, including world-renowned names such as Cloudy Bay, Montana, Hunters, Fromm, Le Brun, and Highfield. The fresh white wines such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are particularly recommended.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands, made up of 144 islands, is one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday regions and is particularly well suited for diving, fishing and sailing. The well-known artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who has lived in Kaurinui since the 1970s, is buried here. Places worth seeing are Paihia, Kerikeri and the small town of Russell, which was New Zealand’s first capital from 1840 to 1841.
Northland beaches north of Auckland are popular with swimmers and sunbathers. Inland is Northland Forest Park, home to some of the oldest trees in the world, including the famous Kauri. Cape Reinga, New Zealand’s northernmost point, offers breathtaking views of the Pacific and Tasman Seas. A spin on Ninety-Mile Beach should only be dared by drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles.
Whale watching in Kaikoura
The former fishing town of Kaikoura in the north-east of the South Island has dedicated itself to eco-tourism. Only about 1.6 km off the coast, the seabed drops steeply to 1,600 m, favorable current conditions attract numerous sea creatures. Here you can watch several different species of whales on guided tours and swim with dolphins.
The Scottish university town of Dunedin (Gaelic for Edinburgh) has a distinctly Gaelic flair. This is most clearly reflected in the streets named after those in Edinburgh and of course Wilson’s Whiskey Distillery (the world’s southernmost wine distillery) and the Speights and Emmerson’s breweries . On the nearby Otago Peninsula, one can see the rare yellow-eyed penguins, the huge yet elegant royal albatross and numerous fur seals.
Te Urewera National Park
Between Hawke’s Bay and the Bay of Plenty is UNESCO World Heritage-listed Te Urewera National Park, the North Island’s largest native forest. The park is home to some rare bird species that are all but extinct elsewhere. Another attraction is the magical Lake Waikaremoana, which is home to the 27-mile (43 km) Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk.
The state capital, Wellington, is a compact metropolis with a lively core. The city is a center for culture, art, restaurants, theatre, fashion and nightlife, and the numerous shops and pedestrian zones invite you to stroll through the city. A cable car goes up Kelburn Hill, 160 m high, which offers a magnificent view. Wellington has one of the most beautiful harbors in the world and is the departure port for ferries to the South Island. The Botanical Gardens, the National Museum (Maori art) and the Houses of Parliament are other places of interest. The Te Papa Museum (Internet: www.tepapa.govt.nz ) with its cultural and historical exhibitions is definitely worth seeing .
Abel Tasman National Park
Although the Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest national park in New Zealand, it is the most visited. The park offers a rugged coastline, long golden beaches, crystal clear waters, a colony of seals and numerous bird species. Hikers can choose between the magnificent Abel Tasman Coast Track (a three to four day trip) or the 38km Abel Tasman Inland Track, or guided kayaking trips along the coast are also available.
The heavily Scottish city of Invercargill lies in the middle of the green and fertile province of Southland in the very south of the South Island. Worth seeing is the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (website: www.southlandmuseum.com ), which houses a number of live tuatara, New Zealand’s extremely rare prehistoric lizard. The nearby Bluff serves the delicious Bluff Oysters.
Peaceful Lake Taupo was formed by the powerful Oruanui eruption over 25,000 years ago. Today, numerous species of trout live in the lake, making it a popular destination for anglers. The lake is also a popular sailing area. On a kayak tour you can see the 10 m high Maori sculpture carved into the rock, which is said to protect the lake from volcanic activity.
Explore New Zealand by train
There are numerous scenic train routes in New Zealand (website: www.kiwirailscenic.co.nz ). Arguably the prettiest runs from Christchurch up Arthur’s Pass into the Southern Alps and down the other side to Greymouth on the west coast. This breathtakingly beautiful route can be experienced in one day (there and back) with the Tranz Alpine Express. The train stops in the tiny hamlet of Arthur’s Pass, which is a good base for rock climbing, canyoning and hiking in nearby Arthur’s Pass National Park.
White Island (Bay of Plenty)
On a guided tour you can explore the volcanic island of White Island in the Bay of Plenty, whose sulphur-covered surface resembles a bizarre lunar landscape. The volcano is still active, so some safety precautions must be observed. There are about a thousand smaller earthquakes on the island every day and the landscape is constantly changing due to the volcanic activity.
The most impressive peak in the New Zealand Alps is the inclining tent-shaped Mount Cook (3754 m), also known by the Maori name Aoraki (piercing the clouds). The mountain is at the center of Mount Cook National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the park there are more than 20 mountains that are over 3000 m high. Hikers can go on one to five day tours alone or with a guide.
Hawke’s Bay is an internationally renowned wine region. About 70 wineries (ranging from large commercial estates to small family businesses) invite you to wine tasting. This region is particularly known for its red wines, particularly its Pinot Noir. The reason for the excellent quality of the wines is the high number of annual hours of sunshine, which also ensure numerous visitors to the cities of Napier and Hastings.