NEW ZEALAND IS ….
Cruising through glacial fjords… is ancient rock formations … is a mix of cultures.
Tēnā koutou e ngā manuhiri o te ao whānui. Greetings to you, from New Zealand.
When you travel in New Zealand, you’ll find there’s rich tales of the history and the legends. New Zealand offers a range of unique walking and hiking experiences including three large world heritage sites, nine Great Walks across the North and South Islands and many shorter options.
Top Experiences in New Zealand
… is the place for adrenalin junkies
Surrounded by the soaring indigo heights of the Remarkables and framed by the meandering coves of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a right show-off. Looking like a small town, but displaying the energy of a small city, it wears its ‘Global Adventure Capital’ badge proudly, and most visitors take the time to do crazy things that they’ve never done before. No-one’s ever visited and said, ‘I’m bored’.
Then there’s the other Queenstown. The one with the cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene, excellent vineyards and five international-standard golf courses. Go ahead and jump off a bridge or out of a plane, but take time to slow down and experience Queenstown without the adrenaline. At the very least, find a lakeside bench at dusk and immerse yourself in one of NZ’s most beautiful views.
Queenstown is well used to visitors with international accents, so expect great tourist facilities but also big crowds, especially in summer and winter. Autumn (March to May) and spring (October to November) are slightly quieter, but Queenstown is a true year-round destination.
The town’s bars are regularly packed with a mainly young crowd that really know how to holiday. If you’re a more private soul, drop in to see what all the fuss is about, but then get out and explore the sublime wilderness further up the lake at Glenorchy.
Abel Tasman National Park
… is heaven for walkers, bikers and hikers
Coastal Abel Tasman National Park blankets the northern end of a range of marble and limestone hills that extend from Kahurangi National Park. Various tracks in the park include an inland route, although the Coast Track is what everyone is here for – it’s NZ’s most popular Great Walk.
Once in the park head for Cleopatra’s Pool. It’s a short detour off the Coast Track between Torrent Bay and Anchorage. It’s a beautiful natural rock pool and moss-lined slide.
Then head for Lookout, a viewpoint in the Park at Separation Point. Its’ the northern end of Abel Tasman National Park, has panoramic views of Golden Bay and the Tasman Sea. And the Falls River swing bridge is a worthwhile detour.
And there’s more … catch the beautiful views across Waiharakeke Bay to Awaroa Head, and the long, golden beach of Totaranui can be enjoyed at the Skinner Point lookout.
… is worth the trip just for the vistas
Sydney Opera House, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower – one’s first glimpse of the world’s most famous sights can stop you in your tracks and immediately insert a lump in your throat. So it is with Mitre Peak (Rahotu), the spectacular, 1692m-high mountain rising from the dark waters of Milford Sound (Piopiotahi). This image has dominated NZ tourism brochures since Maui was a lad and is one of very few such vistas that is truly worthy of the word ‘iconic’.
From the road’s end it sits dead centre of an exceedingly beautiful landscape of sheer rocky cliffs anchored in inky waters. From time to time the precarious forests clinging to the slopes relinquish their hold, causing a ‘tree avalanche’ into the fiord.
Milford Sound receives about half a million visitors each year, many of them crammed into the peak months (January and February). Some 14,000 arrive by foot, via the Milford Track, which ends at the sound. Some buzz through in helicopters. Many more drive from Te Anau, but most arrive via the multitude of bus tours. But don’t worry: out on the water all this humanity seems tiny compared to nature’s vastness.
… is temples that mirror the mountains
Catch a whiff of Rotorua’s sulphur-rich, asthmatic airs and you’ve already got a taste of NZ’s most dynamic thermal area, home to spurting geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools. The Māori revered this place, naming one of the most spectacular springs Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters). Today 35% of the population is Māori, with their cultural performances and traditional hangi as big an attraction as the landscape itself.
Despite the pervasive eggy odour, ‘Sulphur City’ is one of the most touristed spots on the North Island, with nearly three million visitors annually. Some locals say this steady trade has seduced the town into resting on its laurels, and that socially Rotorua lags behind more progressive towns such as Tauranga and Taupo. And with more motels than nights in November, the urban fabric of ‘RotoVegas’ isn’t particularly appealing…but still, where else can you see a 30m geothermal geyser!