City: Abel Tasman National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
With 225 km² it is the smallest, but undoubtedly also the loveliest national parks of New Zealand: with... golden sandy beaches, dense rain forest, clear ponds and sand dunes. The park is a hiking region par excellence, without extreme terrain or sudden weather changes, and therefore one of the most popular. In the high season, the New Zealand summer, thousands come here to relax. The most popular and most crowded of all hiking routes is the Coastal Track, which takes three to five days to complete. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, simply choose one of the many other trails or make your way through the coves with your kayak and tent.
The south entrance of the park can be reached at Marahau Beach, where the Park Café does not only offer food and drink, but is mainly used to exchange information. The north entrance is at Toaranuie. Most motels are located in Motueka and Kaiteriteri, campsites can be found in Marahau and Totaranui.more
City: Auckland in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
On nice summer days, when countless boats in the harbor offer a wonderful sight against the background... of glass and chrome, you can easily tell why Auckland is called the "city of sails". It is a lively, trendy city, also at night. Nearly one third of New Zealand's population lives here, including many Maori, the indigenous people of the country, who make Auckland the most Polynesian of all cities in New Zealand.
If you want to see the beauty from above, you can do so from Sky Tower. Parnell is a popular quarter for taking a stroll. In the beautifully restored houses you find many restaurants and shops but there are also historical sights like Ewelme Cottage, St. Stephen's Chapel and Kinder House. A spectacular experience awaits you in Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World: Visitors walk through an acrylic tunnel while stingrays, sharks and turtles swim around them. In the associated Antarctic Encounter you can learn about life at the South Pole.more
City: Christchurch in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The serene, beautiful garden city has a British charm to it. In the biggest city of the southern island... life is laid-back and relaxed, there are no rush hours, no huge shopping centers, no ostentatious glass and chrome façades on the new office buildings. Instead you find neo-Gothic architecture from the 19th
century, numerous parks and neat residential districts.
Cathedral Square with Christchurch Cathedral is the heart of the city. In front of the cathedral the Wizard delivers his performances several times a week – the elderly gentleman has turned into a living landmark of Christchurch. The Arts Centre with its little shops, studios, cafés and restaurants invites you to take a stroll. A lot is going on here at the weekend when traders set up their stalls for the Weekend Market. The Avon River runs through Christchurch and is best explored by stakboat – cozy and in proper style. Christchurch's prominent role in Antarctic research is illustrated in Canterbury Museum.more
City: Bay of Islands in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
North of Auckland on Northland Peninsula, the Bay of Islands with countless sandy beaches and coves,... islands and islets, clear waters and excellent sailing and fishing grounds attracts many visitors. No wonder that the area has developed into one of the most popular holiday regions of the country.
Paihia is the touristic center, where the worthwhile national memorial site Waitangi National Reserve commemorates the historic agreement between the Maori and the European settlers. Kelly Tarlton's Shipwreck Museum exhibits finds from sunken ships. Not far from Paihia, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived at the Bay, left a colorful public toilet in Kawakawa. Other resorts are Russell and Kerikeri. Popular activities in the bay include boat tours and sailing trips through the world of the islands, swimming with dolphins, diving tours to the last resting place of the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" and a trip to Ninety Mile Beach.more
City: Rotorua in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
First your nose will smell the stench of sulfur, then you notice steam coming from the cracks in the... asphalt and you see boiling hot pools and quietly bubbling mud holes: The city lies on an active fault at a giant lake of the same name, the region is a center of volcanic activity. Rotorua is also deeply rooted in Maori traditions. For centuries the indigenous people were living with the hot springs, now they market them with all tricks. As an introduction, a visit to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History could be interesting. Rotorua is also the perfect place to try a hangi, a traditional meal from the earth oven.
In the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve & Maori Cultural Centre the main attraction is the Pohutu geyser. The complex also includes the Arts & Crafts Institute, where Maori are trained in the traditional art of woodcarving. Visitors are invited to watch, shop and visit a reproduced Maori village. You can also take a relaxing bath in the Polynesian Spa.more
City: Fiordland National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The almost endless, otherworldly wilderness of Fiordland in the southwest of the south island was originally... created by glaciers: imperious mountains, forested hills, valleys, clear lakes and mystical fjords. The area is now a magnet for hikers, who can choose from different trails, the most popular one being Milford Track, which takes four days. The gate to the National Park is Te Anau, at the lake of the same name, with a campground, hotels, restaurants and the famous glow worm caves.
An excursion by bus and boat to Doubtful Sound is a very impressive experience. The most famous of the fjords is Milford Sound, the only one that can be reached by car. It extends over 16 km to the Tasman Sea, framed by steep vegetated rock walls. The 1692 m high Mitre Peak, which is reflected in the clear water, dominates the fjord. Close to the landing place for the nearly two-hour drive to the Sound, that should not be missed in good weather, you can see the 160-m-high Bowen Falls.more
City: Wellington in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Like in an amphitheater, rows of colorful houses line up on the steep green hills, the stage being... a magnificent natural harbor, where boats of every size bob in the waves. In the city center modern skyscrapers glitter in the sun. The capital has a unique style and way of life.
For a first impression you can take a cable car to Kelburn Heights from Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, or walk up Mt. Victoria. The best-known building in the government district is undoubtedly "The Beehive" – in the beehive-like rotunda, the politicians have their offices. The impressive National Museum
Te Papa Tongarewa presents interesting facts about the country and its original inhabitants, the Maori. The Waterfront has turned into an attraction, with small cafés, trendy restaurants, cultural centers and a view of the modern City to Sea Bridge. In Thorndon, Wellington's oldest suburb, artists and celebrities have settled. Here you can walk in the footsteps of the famous writer Katherine Mansfield.more
City: Westland National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Westland National Park protects the wild, untamed nature of the West Coast. Against the background of... New Zealand's highest mountains (Mt Tasman and Mt Cook), without any doubt, the main attraction are two blue-white glaciers of an almost eerie grandeur: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.
Thousands of visitors already marveled at this natural wonder, which is unique in the world. The glaciers flow down from icy heights through the green rain forest up to 200 m above sea level. Until the mid 1980s both glaciers were receding, but now they move forward again.
If you start on a tour to the glaciers on your own, you should pay attention to existing barriers, as the zone around the ice is very unstable. Anyone who wants to can also go into the ice, but only with an experienced guide. If weather permits, a sightseeing flight over the glacier is a worthwhile experience. At Fox Glacier so-called Heli-Hikes are offered: a helicopter takes you to the glacier to go
City: Stewart Island in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Most New Zealanders consider the third largest island in the country the end of the world – very few... of them ever set foot on it. For nature lovers and hikers in good physical shape, however, it is paradise. Most of the 700 islanders live in Halfmoon Bay, in Oban, the only town on the island. Here you also find good accomodation and pubs. There is no bank on Stewart Island, so make sure bring enough money!
The hiking trail network is about 250 km long, on the road there are self-catering cabins only. For the North West circuit you need at least eleven days, eight-days for the Southern Circuit. The Rakiura Track, one of the so-called Great Walks, is less stressful and only takes three days. By boat you can reach the uninhabited Ulva Island, a bird reserve, home to Tui, honeyeaters, fantails and Wekas, just to mention a few species. Other possible excursions include the salmon farm in Big Glory Bay, a former whaling station in Prices Inlet or Kiwi Spotting, where you can see kiwis out in the wild.more
City: Queenstown in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
New Zealand's number one holiday destination is a paradise for those who love sports and adventure: bungee... jumping, sky dive tandem, tandem hang gliding, pipeline bungee, balloon jumping, Nevis highwire, actionflite, fly by wire, river surfing, river rafting, jet boating, canyoning ... Whatever craziness you can imagine, you'll find it here! You need good nerves and a well-filled wallet.
Those looking for a little more peace and quiet can take the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak (over 470 m high) and enjoy the wonderful view over Christchurch and the elongated Lake Wakatipu to the peaks of the Remarkables. In the mountain station the nature film "Kiwi Magic" is shown. Real kiwis can be watched in the Kiwi & Birdlife Park near the station. The steam boat "TSS Earnslaw", in whose belly workers still shovel coal, crosses the lake to Walter Peak Station, a typical upland sheep farm with a magnificent view of the lake. Here you can relax in the quiet countryside at a barbecue or on horseback.more
City: Dunedin in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Scottish Presbyterian settlers arrived at the east coast of Otago in the mid 19th century with the vision... in mind of building a "new Edinburgh" on the shores of the South Island. The discovery of gold then brought the settlers the fortunes that were required in order to be able to construct some of New Zealand's most stunning buildings in their "new" hometown. The best way to discover these buildings is via a walk from George Street across the Octagon and along Princes Street. The impressive Dunedin railway station is one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand, and its sheer grandeur brings back the time when Dunedin was the richest city in the country.
The Otago Museum (419 Great King Street, daily 10 am-5 pm, http://www.otagomuseum.govt.nz), opposite the University of Otago, is a great destination for rainy days. It features live butterflies and a tropical rainforest as well as an exhibition on Tangata Whenua, the history and culture of the local Maori, and various exhibits that detail the past of New Zealand, Dunedin and the Otago region. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery is located right at the Octagon, in the center of town. Many of the major figures in Western art since the 15th century are represented, with high points including paintings by Machiavelli, Claude Lorraine, Rosa, Monet, Pissarro, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner and Burne-Jones. The museum's collection, however, not only includes an excellent selection of British and European paintings, but also a variety of artworks by some of the most notable New Zealand artists of the past and present (30 The Octagon, daily 10 am-5 pm, http://www.dunedin.art.museum). Olveston House up on Royal Terrace provides an insight into the lifestyle of wealthy citizens in Dunedin around 1900 (42 Royal Terrace, tours daily 9.30 am, 10.45 am, 12 pm, 1.30 pm, 2.45 pm and 4 pm, http://www.olveston.co.nz).
One of the most popular day trips that can be undertaken when in Dunedin leads out to the Otago Peninsula. Besides the stunning drive along Otago harbor, the highlights include a visit to the Royal Albatross and seal colonies at the tip of the peninsula, Taiaroa Head, or the Yellow-eyed Penguin colony at Penguin Place near Wellers Rock. The aquarium at the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre in Portobello and the manors at Glenfalloch Gardens and Larnach Castle are also definitely worth a visit when traveling around the Otago Peninsula.more
City: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The road to the small town of Mount Cook runs along beautiful Lake Pukaki. The glacial feed to the lake... gives it a distinctive aquamarine color. The town serves as an ideal starting point for adventures in the national park. The majority of New Zealand's mountains that exceed 3000 m, five of the largest glaciers in the country and, of course, Aoraki (Mount Cook), New Zealand's highest mountain at 3754 m, are all located in the park.
Several walking tracks lead up to the high plateau and mighty glaciers, thereby traversing sub-alpine vegetation and golden tussock. If you're not the trekking kind, but want to take a look nonetheless, maybe you'd like to book a room at The Hermitage (http://www.hermitage.co.nz) and a scenic flight across the Tasman Glacier – the longest glacier in New Zealand.more
City: Coromandel Peninsula in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The Coromandel Peninsula is located opposite Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. Many years... ago, the Coromandel lured countless fortune hunters with the promise of a luscious gold and Kauri wood bounty. Today the region lures fans of the great outdoors and eco-tourists. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Thames, a former gold-mining settlement, is the largest town in the region. Amongst other things, it offers visitors two gold-mining museums and guided tours through one of the richest goldmines of the 19th century. The small township of Coromandel Town has established itself as center for alternative lifestyle. The Driving Creek Railway in Coromandel Town offers tours into the rainforest (http://www.drivingcreekrailway.co.nz). A cul-de-sac leads up to Port Jackson and Fletcher Bay at the scarcely populated northernmost tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. SH 25 leads to the east of the peninsula. The township of Whitianga, at the center of Mercury Bay on the eastern coast, is a lively holiday resort that offers visitors a variety of water sport activities. The little town of Hahei is the starting point for walks to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Digging a hole into the sand at Hot Water Beach will cause the hole to fill with hot water - and allows you to make your own, personal hot water bath right on the beach. Tairua and Pauanui offer a variety of accommodation possibilities and some great restaurants.more
City: Mount Taranaki in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Mount Taranaki (2518 m) is a snow-capped volcano that towers high above the south-western cape of the... North Island. It is almost perfectly conical in shape – just as if it had been drawn with a drafting compass – and is surrounded by pristine rainforest. The three shelter huts at approximately 900 m can be accessed by car, and serve as ideal starting point for walks to the many scenic viewing points. It is also possible to discover the flora and fauna of the Egmont National Park (which also offers two more volcanoes) in multi-day trips.
The mild climate benefits a variety of gardens. September to November is the best time to view blooming rhododendrons and azaleas in the Pukeiti Gardens, 20 km south of New Plymouth, the largest town in the region (http://www.trc.govt.nz/pukeiti-home). The Tupare Gardens in New Plymouth and Hollands in Kaponga are also open to visitors. If you are interested in culture, you might like to pay a visit to the Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth and view its exhibitions on prehistoric fauna, Maori artifacts and settlement history (daily, 9 am-6 pm, Wednesday until 9 pm, Saturday/Sunday until 5 pm, http://www.pukeariki.com).more
The Banks Peninsula is a worthwhile day trip that can be undertaken from Christchurch. The peninsula,... part of an ancient volcanic system, towers over the low altitude Canterbury Plains. Over many years, the sea water eventually carved natural harbors into the flanks of the rough volcanic mountains. These then became home to settlements like Lyttelton and Akaroa.
Today, Lyttelton is one of the most important ports in New Zealand's South Island. It serves as one of the first stops on a roundtrip around the peninsula. The windey (and often windy) Summit Road leads around Lyttelton Harbour and to picturesque Port Levy and along to Akaroa via Pigeon and Okains Bays.
The stunning little town of Akaroa is situated on the shores of Akaroa Harbour and used to be a settlement of the Maori, prior to french settlers founding the town in the 19th century. A variety of historic houses, pretty gardens and little churches make a tour of the town worthwhile. The best views are from the Garden of Tane in the center of town.more
City: Kaikoura in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The small settlement of Kaikoura, located approximately 2.5 hours from Christchurch, has devoted itself... entirely to eco-tourism. What used to be a whaling town up until 1964 is now the point of departure for whale watching tours. Up to 20 m long sperm whales can be found off the coast all year round. The whales come here to dive deep down into the undersea Kaikoura Canyon and hunt for squid at depths of over 3280 ft (1,000 m). Following their strenuous dives, they rest at the surface of the sea and can be identified easily by their characteristic tail fins and the water fountains they spray high up into the air. The up to 8860 ft (2,700 m) high, snowcapped Kaikoura Ranges serve as a perfect backdrop for this exhilarating display of nature's wonders. Depending on season, it is also possible to see humpback, pilot, and blue whales off the coast. Southern right whales, Hector's dolphins and dusky dolphins are known to also pay a visit to the sea off Kaikoura (Whale Watch Kaikoura, toll-free (in NZ): 0800655121).more
City: Milford Sound in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The town of Te Anau serves as the perfect starting point for a trip to New Zealand's most famous fjord... (or 'sound' as these are more commonly known as in New Zealand) – Milford Sound. The 120 km "Milford Road" (SH 94) is probably one of the most beautiful – and challenging – drives on the planet. Breathtaking views, 'Mirror Lakes', sheer cliff faces, serpentines and waterfalls that plummet down mountainsides…this drive has it all.
The last leg of the trip is accessed via the Homer Tunnel, a tunnel which is 4200 ft (1270 m) long and leads right through the awe-inspiringly beautiful mountains and pierces the Main Divide at the Homer Saddle. Several serpentines and bends later, you can finally cast your view on world-famous Mitre Peak. The peak appears to shoot straight out of Milford Sound, and its near vertical cliff faces become increasingly intimidating the closer you get to them.
A 90 minute boat tour takes you out into the sound and lets you get right up close to the peak – and thereby close to one of the most iconic symbols of New Zealand. Several bus tours which incorporate such a boat tour embark from Te Anau on a daily basis. If traveling by car, it is advised to either leave early in the morning or later on in the afternoon, as the popularity of this destination attracts huge crowds of tourists between 11 am and 3 pm. However, if you are not interested in the boat trip, time your journey accordingly, and arrive around 5 or 6 pm, you might just have the Sound all to yourself.more
City: Paparoa National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The name 'Pancake Rocks' derives from their unique shape - which indeed resembles a stack of piled-up... pancakes. Horizontal limestone plates have been formed by erosion into bizarre looking cliffs. Waves, caused by the powerful 'Roaring Forties', the westerly winds that hit the region, come crashing into the cliffs and cause great water fountains to shoot up from the so-called 'Blowholes' - often situated several meters inland.
The 'Pancake Rocks' are part of the Paparoa National Park, which further consists of Nikau tree rain forest at lower altitudes and silver beech forests at higher altitudes. Hikers often explore this area via the 'Inland Pack Track' (2-3 days) which was created in the times of the Gold Rush. The 'Fox River Tourist Cave' allows cave lovers to explore the inside of the karst hills in the area. Cape Foulwind situated north of the Paparoa National Park is home to a seal colony. Beautiful bays and a two hour walk along the magnificent coastline make this a more than worthwhile stopover.more
City: Northland in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The large peninsular north of Auckland is characterized by its subtropical climate, rugged coastline,... picturesque little harbors, long sandy beaches, historic sites and the last great kauri forest in New Zealand. Whangerei, the largest city in Northland, is the ideal place to start a roundtrip around the region, and Mount Parahaki provides the perfect view across the city.
The Bay of Islands offers a rugged coastline with more than a hundred small islands, all just waiting to be explored by boat. The towns of Russel, Waitangi and Kerikeri boast some of the most notable colonial architecture in New Zealand – this was after all where the European settling of New Zealand commenced.
Cape Reinga right up north of the North Island is probably the perfect place in New Zealand to start a full-on road-trip through the country, as it is the northernmost spot that is accessible by car. If you're feeling ambitious, why not head down to Bluff, Cape Reinga's "cousin" at the southernmost tip of the South Island? If the prospect of such a long drive has left you a bit short of breath, why not relax at the Ngawha hot springs instead, or take a drive through the green Waipoua kauri woods with its ancient, over 1000 year old and 50 m high tree giants. Here you can almost feel nature reclaiming its territory, as the luscious green ferns form only the slightest of corridors where man may pass through.
The town of Dargaville offers the Maritime Museum (http://www.dargavillemuseum.co.nz) which exhibits a unique display of all things nautical. If you're more interested in what goes on under the sea as opposed to what goes on above the surface, then check out the Poor Knights Islands on the east coast of Northland, they are the ideal place for diving enthusiasts.more
City: Ninety Mile Beach in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
450 kilometers separate Auckland from the northernmost tip of the North Island. The last stretch runs... across the rough and only scarcely populated Aupouri Peninsula. The peninsula expands north of Kaitaia, the northernmost city in New Zealand. Cape Reinga and Kaitaia are connected by the famous Ninety Mile Beach - a beach that also qualifies as official road. A drive along this beach is, however, recommended in 4WD vehicles only (please consult your rental car company before entering the beach, as the majority of these does not allow travel on the beach).
Truth be told, the beach isn't ninety miles (it is actually 88 kilometers) and Cape Reinga is not the northernmost tip of New Zealand. The Surville Cliffs, further to the East, are in fact the northernmost tip. The lighthouse at the Cape Reinga, however, serves as the final stop on the long drive up north. Here the Tasman and the Pacific meet and, if weather permits, one can glance all the way across to the Three Kings Islands. According to Maori legend, the spirits of the deceased travel to their ancestors in Hawaiiki via a Pohutakawa tree in the Spirits Bay, just to the east of the cape.
City: Tongariro National Park in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
Amongst other things, New Zealand's oldest national park – and in fact one of the oldest national parks... in the world – boasts several impressive volcanoes, which are all still active today: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and , the park's namesake, Tongariro. Their craters, rugged rock and gravel fields, and streams of lava provide an awe-inspiring overview of the powers of nature. It is therefore not surprising, that the park was classified as UNESCO world heritage site in 1993.
One or multi-day walking treks, including the popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing, can be undertaken alone or as guided tours. Please ensure that you are always informed regarding the local weather patterns – as the weather can often go from bad to worse very quickly in this area. During wintertime, Mount Ruapehu is transformed into one of the largest and most popular skiing destinations in New Zealand. The small town of Whakapapa is the tourism center of the region and, amongst other things, offers hotels, camping grounds and the National Park Center. The Grand Chateau, one of the most prestigious hotels in New Zealand, gives you the opportunity to reside and relax in style – provided you don't mind the pricy bill that is presented at the end of your stay (http://www.chateau.co.nz).more
City: Hawke’s Bay in/near New Zealand Category: Sightseeing
The region along Hawke's Bay is, amongst other things, characterized by Art Déco and never-ending rows... of orchards and vineyards. The two main cities, Napier and Hastings, are situated to the southern end of the bay and are only 20 kilometers apart from one another.
Napier rebuilt itself in stunning Art Déco following the great earthquake of 1931 and now serves as magnet for architecture fans from all around the world. Hastings is one great orchard, which is particularly stunning to visit in October, when all the fruit trees are in full bloom. A walk along Napier Hill with all its beautiful Victorian villas is definitely worthwhile. The Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery documents the history of the town and the culture of the local Maori tribes (http://www.hbmag.co.nz). Please note: It is closed for major redevelopments until 2013. The National Aquarium features New Zealand's largest display of aquatic life, including sharks and stingrays (http://www.nationalaquarium.co.nz/). A further attraction is the gannet colony at nearby Cape Kidnappers. The best time to visit the colony is between November and January, when the fledglings have hatched and are learning to fly.
Closed until 2013more