New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (commonly called the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands.
The indigenous Mãori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as The Land of the Long White Cloud.
New Zealand lies about 2000 km from Australia, tucked away from the madding crowd. That, along with resplendent natural beauty and excellent infrastructure makes it a destination worth considering for your next vacation.
Travel connections into New Zealand are reasonably good. Many tourists choose to fly in while others prefer arriving here on cruise liners. Following is a glimpse into some of the highlights that you need to work into your travel itinerary.
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is an extremely popular attraction for tourists. The park is spread over approximately 30 sq km with breathtaking views of forests, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and dunes. Another must-do is a visit to Rangitoto Island with its volcanic landscape. The Hunua Ranges offer a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and nature walks.
If architectural heritage is more your thing, head to Devonport & North Head with its wartime cottages. Another option is the Parnell Historic Walk with its quaint buildings and street-side establishments that transport you to another era.
The capital city of New Zealand is also its windiest – but don’t let that deter you from exploring its numerous wonders. Wellington is New Zealand’s cultural capital and apart from its scenic landscape, it is home to several museums (Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa), art galleries (Wellington City Art Gallery), and fine performing arts institutions. (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet). If you time your holiday right, you could also catch the New Zealand International Arts Festival or the Wellington Jazz Festival
Christchurch is a nature lover’s paradise with popular – though not overcrowded – attractions such as Lake Tekapo, Botanical Gardens, Pohatu Marine Reserve, Peel Forest Park, the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, and Cave Stream Scenic Reserve (limestone caves) to name just a few. After having your fill of nature, hop over to Cathedral Square to soak in some local culture.
Visit a winery and discover the oenophile in you! New Zealand produces an array of fine wines including chardonnays and merlots. Most of its wineries are concentrated around the Queenstown and Canterbury area. Sign up for a guided wine tour, wine tasting sessions, and pick up a few bottles to take back home!
New Zealand has a vibrant indigenous arts and craft tradition. Maori crafts – wood carvings, weaves, ceramics and bone-carvings – make for terrific souvenirs and gifts. At many places, you can watch artisans at work; a unique opportunity, especially if you are travelling with children.
Queenstown and Other Adventure Spots
For adventure enthusiasts, a plethora of options are on offer.
The 'Adventure Capital of the World' is a reputation well earned. Queenstown is the home of adventure in New Zealand. You can bungy jump with the world's original bungy company AJ Hackett Bungy, tandem skydive, go white water rafting or jet boating. Queenstown is a 'Natural Theme Park', such are the seemingly endless array of adventure activities and leisure holiday options to choose from. The spectacular geography of the region creates a special atmosphere and unique setting that has made this town famous the world over. As well as the many adventure activities on offer, Queenstown is also home to Lord of The Rings, filmed amid the mountains, lakes, rivers and forests and is the gateway to Milford Sound, Fiordland.
Heli skiing at Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Cook, Mount Potts and Methven is definitely the ultimate New Zealand heli ski experence. In terms of snow skiing, Mt Ruapehu is home to New Zealand’s two largest Ski Areas and it boasts:
NZ’s highest lift access (2,322m)
NZ’s largest ski area (1800 hectares of lift accessed terrain)
Longest vertical drop in Australasia (722m)
World Heritage Park
Mt Ruapehu is the largest of three magnificent volcanoes that make up the Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage Park. The ‘dual’ title is a rarity and is in recognition of Tongariro’s awesome natural beauty and cultural significance. Mt Ruapehu, along with Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngaruhoe, which make up the Tongariro National Park, are located in the central region of the North Island of New Zealand.
New Zealand offers for even the most discerning tourist; from culture, wine, and art to a thrilling rush of adrenaline for adventure junkies.