New Zealand’s awesome landscapes, lush forests, amazing wildlife and pleasant climate make it a haven for many outdoor activities, and a great place to unwind. New Zealand society is diverse, sophisticated, and multicultural, and the honesty, friendliness, and openness of Kiwis will impress you. And the great advantage of New Zealand is that all of its diverse physical, cultural, and artistic landscapes are so close to each other!
The North Island of New Zealand has a 'spine' of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. The central North Islands is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area. The massive Southern Alps from the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps is the rolling farmland of Otago and Southland, and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains.
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The Northland Region. Maori, Te Tai Tokerau (Te Hiku-o-te-Ika), "the Tail of the Fish" is the northernmost of New Zealand's regions. New Zealanders often call it the Far North. The myriad of islands, bays and beaches around the coastline provide visitors with a chance to experience a range of marine-based activities. Heavily sprinkled around Northland you'll find luxury lodges and upmarket 'Bed & Breakfasts'. Wine and golf trails, chocolate factories and wonderful outdoor cafes are an irresistible option to support the choice of exclusive retreat. Finally the story of the Kauri tree and the giant specimens still living today can be viewed in forests such as Waipoua on the West Coast.
Don't think of Auckland as a city, even though it's New Zealand's largest. Think of it as half urban, half marine - a cosmopolitan experience wrapped up in a fascinating water world and surrounded by over 50 islands. Aucklanders enjoy a warm, humid climate and an outdoor lifestyle. One of the best ways to get out and about is to escape to one of the many islands of the Hauraki Gulf and experience their beautiful scenery. Within 40 minutes by ferry of downtown Auckland, visitors can escape to an island experience - Waiheke, Motuihe, Rangitoto - or journey a little further to Tiritiri Matangi, Kawau or Great Barrier. The Hauraki Gulf experience is complemented by a modern evolving city with restaurants and bars, theatre, art and fashion, a host of new luxury accommodation and a vibrant waterfront.
From the moment people arrive in Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. There is a scent of sulphur in the air, and at nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, mud pools bubbling, warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of color. Indulge in a selection of therapeutic spa and health-massage therapies, or a rejuvenating dip in a mud bath. Rotorua boasts a strong relationship between Maori and European cultures. For the Maori people, it is considered an honor to share their cultural treasures with visitors, whether it be through one of the many Maori performances, taking in a traditional hangi feast, where food is cooked below the ground in an earthen oven, or visiting a Maori village to view a wide range of traditionally crafted arts.
Hamilton & Waikato In the heart of the North Island you'll find a land of gently rolling green hills called the Waikato. Enjoy the sights on the surface by touring the Hobbiton movie set or explore the region's hidden depths with a tour of the underground rivers that run through the Waitomo Caves.
Basking in a Mediterranean climate, the Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Over 30 vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. Napier and Hastings the two main centres in the region have a high concentration of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. Following a major earthquake in 1931, the towns were rebuilt in these unique styles. Hawke's Bay has New Zealand's oldest winery, with the areas sunny climate attracting wine growers very early on. Many of New Zealand's best red wines are now produced here, with many of the wineries open for wine tasting. You can take a self guided tour, hire a mountain bike and cycle between vineyards, or take a fully escorted tour. Many wineries also include a restaurant or café, where you can sample the wine with a meal.
Nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, New Zealand's capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage, culture and native beauty. Relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the many museums including the national museum, Te Papa, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbor and surrounding hills. Try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington's waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top.
Nelson region is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, three national parks, 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants, and a thoroughly relaxed lifestyle. Nelson, named after Admiral Lord Nelson of Battle of Trafalgar fame, is the main commercial centre for the region, whose main industries are forestry, horticulture, fishing and tourism. The smallest of the New Zealand's national parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
The top of the South Island basks in a settled, year round climate and is blessed with a wide range of natural and cultural experiences. The Marlborough Sounds, a series of flooded river valleys now home to a wealth of bird and sea life, is one of the jewels in Marlborough's crown. Made up of the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds, the Sounds can be experienced with a range of boat trips, be it from a luxury charter launch or in a close-up view of the water's edge from the seat of a kayak. On shore, Marlborough and its main commercial centre of Blenheim are located in a wide river valley, which has proven to be perfect for growing grapes - not least of which is the flagship Sauvignon Blanc variety. Marlborough is New Zealand's largest grape-growing and wine-making region with 65 wineries, 290 grape growers and 4054 hectares/10,000 acres in grape production.
Christchurch is the South Island's largest city, a vibrant, cosmopolitan place heralded as the 'garden city'. The Avon River winds through the centre of Christchurch and trams clatter across the stone and ironwork bridges. Its Gothic revival cathedral, grey-stone 19th century buildings, tree-lined avenues and extensive leafy parks have preserved the grace and charm of an earlier era. This is a very welcoming city and the perfect base for a Canterbury experience.
The West Coast of the South Island is a sparsely populated region with some of the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand. It is an area of mountain peaks, impressive glaciers, tranquil lakes and raging rivers, lush rainforest and a magnificent coastline. Stretching 600 km/373 miles in length, the West Coast has either wholly or partially located within its boundaries many of New Zealand's 13 national parks. Furthermore, the southern West Coast area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its uniqueness and as a 'special place' in the world.
Dunedin is framed by a magnificent harbour. It sits on the doorstep of Otago Peninsula, which has long been acclaimed for its beauty and wildlife. The Otago Peninsula boasts the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the Albatross as well as fantastic viewing of the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin and other ocean birds and mammals in their natural habitat. The city is a picture postcard of historic buildings and houses, set against a backdrop of the city’s lush greenbelt of native bush. Fondly known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South,’ Dunedin celebrates its Scottish ancestry and treasures its icons.
Queenstown is an established international four-season resort with a diverse number of experiences on offer. There are over 200 attractions from bungy jumping to arts trails, a full range of accommodation from camp-sites to major hotels and luxury lodges, and a compact town center. In winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turns into an alpine playground, with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Queenstown Winter Festival. Milford and Doubtful Sounds in Fiordland National Park are a day trip distance from Queenstown, A range of multi-day tramping tracks, including the Routeburn, Hollyford, Greenstone and Rees-Dart, are within driving distance of Queenstown.