ABOUT NEW ZEALAND

WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand is in the southwestern Pacific Ocean 1 500 km east of Australia and about 1 000 km from the Pacific Islands.  It is a relatively remote location with no close neighbors.

New Zealand is made up of two main islands (North Island and South Island) and many smaller islands the largest of which is Stewart Island. There is a small population of 4.5 million people, two-thirds of which live in the North Island, the other third in the South Island. While Wellington with a population of 400 000 is the capital city, Auckland is the largest with a population of over 1.3 million. 

 

Many New Zealander's are of European Descent however Auckland is the most ethnically diverse in the country with the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. 

 

Travel information

PLACES OF INTEREST IN NEW ZEALAND

Bay of Islands - North Island

The Bay of Islands enjoys a sub-tropical climate. A typical summer has long spells of sunshine, warm balmy evenings and runs from November to early April, January and February being the hottest months. Winters are mostly mild. Much of the Bay’s hundreds of miles of coastline remain unspoiled, an aquatic paradise, a truly amazing playground teeming with wildlife and natural wonders to be shared and enjoyed by the whole world. 

 

A group of 150 islands huddled in their large bay on the east Northland coast has become a major draw for holidaymakers, who come for waters ports and superb coastal scenery. This area is also of huge historic significance, as the site of the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the document that set in train New Zealand's bi-cultural society. You can explore the islands-now designated a Historic and Maritime Park-by kayak, yacht, or sailing ship; you can also go fishing for marlin or shark, dive among shoals of blue maomao, swim with dolphins, bask on the beaches or jump out of a plane.

 

The Bay of Islands region has the finest maritime park in New Zealand with the 144 Islands and secluded bays. The Bay has an abundance of marine life, including the big marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species. With its pristine natural environment is the gathering place in the South Pacific for overseas sailing yachts on world cruises, international sport fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts.

 

Most facilities are based in Paihia. From here a ferry crosses the bay to the small village of Russell. State Highway 1 runs to the bay, though a more interesting route is via the Old Russell Road, which leaves SH 1 for the coast at Whakapara, about 26km (16 miles) north of Whangarei. You reach the coast at Helena Bay, which, along with Whananaki and Mimiwhangata to the south and the Whangaruru Peninsula to the north, offers remote and beautiful coastal scenery. From Whangaruru the road passes the neck of the beautiful Cape Brett Peninsula before turning inland and slowly negotiating its way to Russell.

Popular activities in the Bay of Islands.

Auckland - North Island

Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and main transport hub. Make sure you stop and enjoy the shopping, dining and natural wonders Auckland has to offer.  Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping, and you’re beginning to get the picture of Auckland, our largest and most diverse city.

Auckland is a shopaholic's paradise, with everything from top-end designers to open air street markets. While you're here, enjoy the city's diverse cafes, restaurants and nighlife. Favourite downtown spots include Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct Harbour and the Britomart precinct.  Once you've seen the city, head out to one of Auckland's four distinct wine districts where you can sample local vino against the backdrop of rolling hills and sparkling ocean.

Wherever you are in Auckland, you’re never far from the water. From wild West Coast surf beaches to the tranquil Hauraki gulf, the sea and all its attractions are why this is known as the City of Sails. Make sure you get out on the water while you're here, whether it’s a relaxing harbour cruise, a fishing charter, whale and dolphin spotting, kayaking or surfing. 

As well as hosting New Zealand's largest city, the Auckland region features many quaint, diverse places. Don't miss visiting Piha beach and Waiheke Island.  Townships include...

Auckland Central, Great Barrier Island, Helensville, Kawau Island, Orewa, Piha, Pukekohe, Waiheke Island and Warkworth.

Popular activities in Auckland.

Coromandel - North Island

The Coromandel, with pristine beaches, native forests and laid-back vibe, is one of New Zealand’s most popular and best-loved holiday destinations.  A binocular’s view across the gulf from Auckland, the Coromandal is everything that a big city isn’t. Cloaked in native rainforest with dazzling white sand beaches, it is rustic, unspoiled and relaxed. Activities and attractions are plentiful. You might choose skydiving in Whitianga or a guided sea kayak tour around the coast. You could take a walk in the coolness of the pristine bush - the Coromandel is a walker’s paradise – or simply sit and relax in a warm bubbling pool at Hot Water Beach. You might even like to explore your own secret lagoon in Donut Island. And there are many more.  The Coromandel is the home of many artists and craftspeople. Pop into their studios – you’re welcome to visit – and pick up a unique piece of art or pottery to take home with you. It’s also the home of many events and concerts that draw locals and visitors alike to this remarkable place. Staying in the Coromandel is easy. Most of the accommodation providers have found themselves spectacular locations so whether your tastes are for the upmarket or the simple, you’ll find a room – or tent site – with an amazing view.

Locations in the Coromandel: Coromandel Town, Paeroa, Thames, Whitianga, Tairua, Pauanui, Whangamata, Waihi.

Rotorua - New Zealand

Rotorua is one of the most famous destinations in New Zealand, and has a long history of welcoming visitors. From the moment people arrive in Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. There is a scent of sulfur in the air, and at nearby geothermal hotspots there are spouting geysers, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching, and warm geothermal pools and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of color.

 

Cruise, kayak, water-ski, windsurf, jet-ski, sail, raft or trout fish . . . if you can do in or on freshwater, Rotorua’s 15 fishable lakes plus our myriad rivers and streams are a great place to do it. Ringed by scenic tracts of bush, forest and farmland, the lakeland chain was formed and shaped by cataclysmic volcanic activity in times past. Rotorua truly is an adventure playground with endless thrill, leisure and sporting options. Mountain bike on some of the world’s best tracks, roll downhill in the N.Z. designed Zorb or go luging, another world first by innovative Kiwis. Run into the mouth of a volcano or raft the world’s highest waterfall, the list goes on and on.

 

A deep-rooted Maori cultural concept, Manaakitanga places a responsibility on us as your hosts to give you the best of ourselves, our time and our history. A feeling you’ll return home with, Manaakitanga begins the moment you arrive in Rotorua whether seeking adventure, rejuvenation, experiences with nature and earth forces, or soaking up Maori and European history, art and culture.

Popular activities in Rotorua.

Taupo - New Zealand

When you think of the Lake Taupo region, think fresh...as in fresh air, snow, trout, volcanoes, rivers, lakes, people, fun, food, and attitudes.

Visitors can sky dive over the lake, four wheel drive on volcanic farm land, peruse constantly active geothermal landscape, taste geothermally breed prawns, learn about local authentic Maori culture and myths, play golf on internationally acclaimed golf courses, enjoy a flight over a world heritage area, ski on an active volcano or even bungy jump over New Zealand’s largest River – the Waikato.

 

Or if it’s relaxation and rejuvenation you require, why not soak in a thermal hot spring, try some of the best trout fishing on the globe, take a cruise to the famous Maori Rock carvings at Mine Bay, find a secluded beach, indulge in boutique shopping, enjoy delectable cuisine at one of the many restaurants, cafes or indulge in a cocktail at one of the groovy lounge bars.

Popular activities in Taupo.

Tongariro National Park - North Island

The Ruapehu district is located in the central North Island, midway between Auckland and Wellington. The Desert Road section of Highway 1 is the eastern boundary and scenic Highway 4 provides access to the centre of the region.

 

Ruapehu's main settlements are the ski towns of National Park and Ohakune, the army town of Waiouru and the rural service centre of Taumarunui, nestled on the banks of the Whanganui and Ongarue rivers. Local knowledge and expert guides make it easy to discover the region's famous hiking trails, fishing spots, kayaking, canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking experiences.

 

The Ruapehu region is home to the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and the Whanganui River. It is a four-hour drive from Auckland or Wellington and close to Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Taupo.

 

The 80,000 hectares Tongariro National Park (a World Heritage Area) is the centre of attraction for this district. The active volcano Mount Ruapehu dominates the landscape, rising to 2,797 metres from the surrounding countryside. It has Mount Ngauruhoe (also active) and Mount Tongariro to keep it company. The three volcanoes are a spectacular sight on a clear day—in the colder months they are capped in snow.

 

Mount Ruapehu is the site of the North Island's premier ski fields—Whakapapa and Turoa. The mountain was recently chosen by movie director Peter Jackson to play Mt Doom in his 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. In summer the surrounding volcanic desert area is a wild and beautiful place for hiking, fishing and adventure activities.

 

To the west of the three volcanoes lies the deep green mystery of the Whanganui National Park, which is steeped in Maori and European colonial history. The Whanganui River is the main access route to the forest clad interior—jetboats and kayaks are popular modes of transport. The small townships on the riverbanks all have fascinating stories to tell. Jerusalem was once the home of James K. Baxter, one of New Zealand's most celebrated poets and an early 'alternative lifestyler'.

Napier - North Island

Napier is located on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand, in the Hawkes Bay region. The landscapes of Hawke's Bay begin with the high, forested Ruahine and Kawkeka Ranges. From the mountains the land sweeps down towards the coast, flattening out to become the Heretaunga Plains. A number of wide rivers, excellent for fishing, run swiftly to meet the blue Pacific Ocean and glorious beaches which stretch from Mahia in the north to Porangahau in the south. 

 

Napier inner city is one of the country's most exciting city centers to explore. The layout is compact giving it very close proximity to the sea and the picturesque seafront walkway. The palm tree lined boulevards and strip malls are home to an inviting mix of stylish and artistic specialty boutiques sprinkled amongst national chain stores. Many of the shops are locally owned and operated and the products on offer are often not found in other centers. The city is also recognized for its appealing, vibrant alfresco café scene. Savor the aroma and taste of freshly ground coffee beans while admiring the internationally renowned and impressive Art Deco architecture on surrounding buildings. Attractions include the National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Land of New Zealand, The Ocean Spa, putt-putt golf, art deco walks, and more.

Wellington - North Island

Wellington is New Zealand's capital, and the terminus for all traffic from the South Island. The city is sandwiched between green hills and the waterfront, and anyone arriving by road is delivered right into its high-rise heart, within a stone's throw of Lambton Quay, the main business and shopping street.  Lambton then doubles back north to meet Molesworth Street, Thorndon and the Parliament District. The Harbour, with its merging main roads of Quay, Customhouse, Jervois, Cable Street and Oriental Parade, sweeps back south and east, encompassing the modern, revitalised waterfront. Here the main landmark is the Te Papa Museum, the city's top tourist atttraction. From the heart of the waterfront south, Willis and Jervois connect with Victoria, Cuba and Courtenay Place, lined with restaurants and cafes. Behind the Central Business District (CBD) are the Botanic Gardens and hillside suburbs of Kelburn, and dominating the view southeast is Mount Victoria, an ideal place to get your bearings.

Popular activities in Wellington.

Picton and Marlborough Sound

The Marlborough region is situated on the north-eastern corner of the South Island, due west of Wellington.

 

Marlborough is blessed with a year-round sunny climate and regularly records the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand.Before the wine industry came along, Marlborough's fame lay with its sounds—sunken valleys that are home to all kinds of wonderful bird and sea life, including terns, shags, blue penguins, dolphins and seals. Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds can be explored by boat—ferry, runabout, luxury charter launch or kayak. Admire the spectacular scenery where bush and mountains rise straight from the sea, and secret coves beckon you for a swim.

 

Queen Charlotte Track is another way to appreciate the intricate waterways of the Marlborough Sounds. The 67-kilometre track passes through lush coastal forest, around coves and inlets, and along skyline ridges offering breathtaking views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds.

 

Guided trout fishing and hunting tours are other ways to appreciate the beauty of the Marlborough landscape. The average brown trout in this region weighs between one to three kilograms, depending on the fishing ground.

Popular activities in Marlborough.

Abel Tasman National Park - South Island

More than 170,000 visitors a year come to appreciate the Abel Tasman's rolling hills of native bush; its granite, limestone and marble outcrops; its clear, azure waters; and its 91 km (56 miles) of coastline indented with more than 50 sandy beaches. Birds such as tuis and bell birds inhabit lush pockets of forest, and pukekos feed in the wetlands-outside the park's boundaries, these are protected as the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. 

 

Walkers come to enjoy the world-famous Coastal Walkway, sea kayakers to make the most of an internationally renowned venue. On an average summer's day the park attracts up to 4,000 people, and you must reserve well in advance for all places to stay and most activities.

Popular activities in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Nelson - South Island

Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second oldest settled city in New Zealand.  It is the geographical center of New Zealand and is well known for a vibrant and thriving local arts and craft scene ranging from traditional, contemporary and Maori styles.  You will also find diverse geography from beautiful golden beaches, dense forests and rugged mountains.  As the sunniest region in New Zealand there's plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors and enjoy scenic highlights like Farewell Spit, Nelson Lakes National Park, Abel Tasman Coast Track and the Heaphy track. 

Popular activities in Nelson.

Kaikoura - South Island

A chance to get close to whales and dolphins, seals, and albatrosses on a sparkling azure bay.The small town of Kaikoura sits on the spectacular northeast coast, in the shadow of the snow-capped Kaikoura mountains. South, a sea trough extends unusually close to the coastline, creating an upsurge of nutritious plankton soup and attracting an extraordinary variety of ocean inhabitants.Modern Kaikoura was established as a whaling station in the early 19th century. Station manager George Fyffe built Kaikoura's oldest remaining house (Fyffe House) near the Old Wharf in 1860, and gave his name to the mountain immediately behind the township. The whaling industry was replaced by fishing, particularly for crayfish. Today Kaikoura's wildlife is hunted only by the camera, and the resident and migratory whales are the big draw.

Christchurch - South Island

Canterbury stretches from ocean to the Alps, and is land of plains and peaks. It is a place of variety and innumerable attractions.  Within two hours of an international airport, you can ski, play golf, bungy jump, go whitewater rafting, mountain biking, wind surfing, whale watching, and visit world-class vineyards and gardens. Where else in the world can you do that?  A must-see is New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Go hiking in Arthur’s Pass National Park or just wander around the picturesque bays and villages of Banks Peninsula. And then there’s New Zealand's second-largest city, Christchurch known as ‘The Garden City'.

In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake. Much of the central city with its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed. But it remains a beautiful city, a city where you can cycle alongside the river, stay in good hotels and indulge in fine sophisticated dining, and a city where, just 15 minutes from the centre you can scramble up mountain bike tracks or ride a wave at a surf beach. The buildings may have been damaged but the soul of the city and the welcoming spirit of the people remain very much intact. Don’t miss visiting Christchurch.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the Christchurch earthquake please see www.christchurchnz.com

Popular activities in Christchurch.

Blenheim - South Island

The Marlborough region is situated on the north-eastern corner of the South Island, due west of Wellington. Marlborough is blessed with a year-round sunny climate and regularly records the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand. Marlborough is New Zealand's largest grape growing and wine making region with 65 wineries, 290 grape growers and 4,054 hectares in grape production. Nearly all of the wineries welcome visitors for tasting sessions and many have a cafe or restaurant on site. Sauvignon Blanc is the region's specialty, but wines made with Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are also highly acclaimed. Wine trail maps make it easy to find your way around the vineyards. Boutique Bed and Breakfast accommodation can be found throughout the wine growing area.

 

With a population of just over 25,000 citizens, Blenheim is town with a difference. A city centre long ago claimed, piece by piece, from a then wayward river has resulted in a street layout with spirit and character that abounds with quirky lanes and sunny gathering places. The clear, spring-fed Taylor River, which flanks the town, is now an attractive friend where sightseeing riverboats retrace the route of steamboats that once carried produce.A miniature railway runs alongside the river carrying passengers to Brayshaw Park. 

 

Central focus of Blenheim is The Forum, with its historic bandstand watching over an area where shoppers rest and street markets buzz. The Forum also provides an occasional amphitheatre for a wide range of performing arts. The modern shops and cafés that surround The Forum are a sample of a town that is deserving of the praise it receives from visitors. The wide range of shops feature everything from imported high fashion to the works of the many artists and crafts people who live in the area. 

 

The foresight of its residents, past and present, sees Blenheim blessed with many attractive parks. Seymour Square, close to the town centre, is a feast of colour with carefully tended flower beds surrounding the stone memorial clock tower and a cooling fountain. At night, the Seymour fountain, colourfully lit, makes a spectacular sight. Pollard Park, just a few minutes walk from town, is a large area of trees and gardens through which meanders a spring-fed creek. Pathways wind through the contoured grounds providing numerous delightful vignettes. A children's playground and picnic area help to make this an ideal place to lunch after a morning in town. 

 

On the outskirts of town, Brayshow Historic Park preserves the province's pioneering endeavour. Relocated colonial buildings in a recreated turn-of-the-century street keep company with a modern building housing archives and a museum. The vintage farm machinery museum, where faithfully restored tractors and other machinery are displayed, is world renowned.

Popular activities in Blenheim.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Aoraki/Mt Cook - South Island

The Aoraki/Mt Cook region is sometimes called the Mackenzie Country—it's the high inland basin beneath the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mt Cook, south west of Christchurch. At 3,753 meters Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Nudging one side of Aoraki/Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30 kilometer giant and one of the longest outside the Himalayas.

 

Mt Cook village is an easy five hour drive from Christchurch. We recommend visitors take the route from Christchurch to Fairlie, gateway to the Mackenzie Country (the Mackenzie Country is named for Jock MacKenzie, an infamous Scottish sheep rustler). From here the road passes through a land of lakes, vast open spaces and golden, tussock-covered hills rolling towards the towering Southern Alps. On the way you will pass turquoise glacial lakes such as Lake Tekapo. The Church of the Good Shepherd sits on its shores and has a spectacular and famous view of the Southern Alps framed by its altar window.

Popular activities at Aoraki/Mt Cook

 

Franz Josef - South Island

Franz Josef Glacier was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and a 20 minute walk will take you to its terminal face. From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Aerial sightseeing is another option. In the town you’ll find plenty of places to stay and eat.

 

In New Zealand, the 'West Coast' generally refers to the narrow strip of land between the South Island's Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. It is the longest region in New Zealand. With a population of only 31,000 people, the West Coast retains the feeling of a pioneer frontier. It's a wild place known for rivers and rainforests; glaciers and geological treasures. Legends and stories from the past cling to every feature of the landscape. Maori were first to discover the West Coast, seeking sacred pounamu (nephrite jade or greenstone). Gold fever in the 1860s brought Europeans, many of whom stayed on to start farming, forestry and businesses. The locals are known as 'coasters', a term synonymous with friendliness and hospitality. Isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, coasters have developed a distinctive culture of their own. Their pioneering values of self-reliance and loyalty are as strong today as they were 100 years ago.

Popular activities in Franz Josef.

 

Tekapo - South Island

In the centre of the South Island of New Zealand lies Lake Tekapo. This highland lake and settlement at 710 meters (2300 feet) is in the heart of the Mackenzie District and surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock grass. The name Tekapo derives from Maori words Taka (sleeping mat) and Po (night). Finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters give Lake Tekapo a beautifully unique turquoise color.

 

Lake Tekapo's geographical and central location is protected from rough coastal weather by the Southern Alps in the west and the Two Thumb Range to the east. This allows this highland location to enjoy some of New Zealand's highest sunshine hours and lowest average wind speeds. Rainfall is just 575 millimeters (23 inches) annually.

 

Summer or winter, snow-covered or golden yellow, the surrounding mountains and turquoise lake make a spectacular backdrop for the Church of the Good Shepherd. The unforgettable night sky reveals why Lake Tekapo has a reputation for clear air.

 

Queenstown - South Island

The town sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu among dramatic ranges. The lake and mountain landscape make it suited to all kinds of adventure. There’s skiing in the winter and activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round. If hardcore adventure isn't your thing, there are plenty of mellow options available. Experience one of the many walking & hiking trails, sightseeing tours or indulge yourself with spa treatments, boutique shopping and excellent food and wine.

Head out of Queenstown and the drama of the Central Otago landscape unfolds around you. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan you’ll recognize many of the locations of Middle-earth here. Twenty minutes from Queenstown, Arrowtown’s gold-mining history is alive and vibrant. Visit the Lakes District Museum or go gold panning. Forty minutes from Queenstown at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu is rural Glenorchy and Paradise Valley. From here it’s a short drive into the Mt Aspiring National Park and the start of some of New Zealand’s great walks.

Bubbling with activity, Queenstown is the region for adventure. Stay in Queenstown, central to the action, or quaint Arrowtown with it's gold-mining past.  Townships include Queenstown Central, Arrowtown and Glenorchy.

Popular activities in Queenstown.

Dunedin

Dunedin is New Zealand’s first city- and so it’s packed full of culture. With a multitude of museums to choose from you’ll set foot in Dunedin a newcomer and leave and expert on the settlers and lifestyle that came before us. It also houses two conservation projects, the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and the Penguin Place, which are efforts to help retain some of the indigenous species of New Zealand. Head out for the day on a bush walk then come back into town and eat at the famous Otago Farmer’s Market, which has an endless supply of good grub- or get a tour of the local brewery for some beer samples. If you’re looking for a chance to dive into the history of New Zealand and visit iconic conservation centers, then Dunedin is the destination for you. 

Popular activities in Dunedin.

 
 

Stewart Island

Also known as Rakiura, "Place of Glowing skies" by the Maoris, Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island and newest National Park. Despite it's isolation, the Island is an awe-inspiring place to visit and is widely regarded as a hiker's paradise.  Situated approximately 30 kilometres south of the South Island, Stewart Island is unspoilt, wild and subject to some pretty inhospitable weather at times. Because of it's cold isolation and mostly dense, forest covered landscape, the island provides a haven for beautiful rare birds. These include the Tui, Parakeet, Kaka, Bell bird, Robin, Dotterel, Fern bird and the Stewart Island Kiwi. 

 

Stewart Island boasts a miniscule population of just over 600 people, making it one of most sparsely populated islands in the world. Most of the population lies in the eastern settlement of Oban. A visit to Stewart Island is an opportunity to sample the wonders of nature and to get away from it all.

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