Where is New Zealand?
Located in the continent of Oceania, New Zealand covers 267,710 square kilometers of land, making it the 76th largest nation in terms of land area.A small island nation of just over 4.5 million people, New Zealand is made up of two major land masses (North Island and South Island) and a number of smaller islands including Stewart Island located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The two main islands are divided by a 22km stretch of water called the Cook Strait. New Zealand is located approximately 1,500km east of Australia and about 1,000km from the Pacific Islands. Due to its relative remoteness and being water locked, New Zealand was one of the last countries to be found and settled. New Zealand does not share land borders with any countries. The country is made up of some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes, from vast mountain ranges, steaming volcanoes to sweeping coastlines. It is a natural playground for thrill seekers and adventurers and those who simply want to visit for the culture and landscapes. New Zealand is a small country, similar in size to Great Britain or Japan. With a population of only four million people it’s also gloriously uncrowded. The country is made up of some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes, from vast mountain ranges, steaming volcanoes to sweeping coastlines. It is a natural playground for thrill seekers and adventurers and those who simply want to visit for the culture and landscapes.
What’s the weather like in New Zealand?
“4 seasons in a day” is used to describe the climate in New Zealand. The sea and mountains make a big impact on the quick changing weather. Settlements on the coast experience mild temperatures, moderate rainfall and sunshine. New Zealand is a gorgeous country that can be visited any time throughout the year. This beautiful country lies between 37 and 47 degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand enjoy moderate, maritime climate, weather and temperatures. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures. The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year.
New Zealand has 4 seasons like in Japan. Vibrant and uplifting, spring in New Zealand lasts from September to November. During spring buds, blossoms, and other new growth bursts forth throughout the country and new born lambs frolic in the fields just before dusk. New Zealand's summer months are December to February, bringing high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild. Summer is an excellent time for walking in the bush and a variety of other outdoor activities. New Zealand's many gorgeous beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during summer. And also enjoy summer Christmas in New Zealand!!
March to May are New Zealand's autumn months. While temperatures are a little cooler than summer, the weather can be excellent and also exotic trees turn autumnal shades of gold, orange and red and settled spells of sunny weather are common. During the cooler months, a winter wonderland awaits in the South Island - ski world-class runs looking over magnificent mountain landscapes. Winter, lasting from June to August in New Zealand and bring colder weather to much of the country. While the South Island has cooler winter temperatures, more rain to most areas in the North Island, so this is an excellent time to visit glaciers, mountains, and other areas of scenic beauty. Mountain ranges in both islands become snow-covered, providing beautiful vistas and excellent skiing.
New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1 and $2. Notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand. However, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.
Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, New Zealand Post shops, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres. All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand. Travellers Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores.
Cape Reinga is almost as far north as you can go in New Zealand. Situated at the north western most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, Cape Reinga lies at the northern end of the North Island. It is 100km north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia and some 421km from Auckland (About five hours drive away).
The Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean at Cape Reinga in a swirl of currents and at the ancient pohutukawa tree, it is believed Maori spirits leap into the ocean to journey to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
The Cape Reinga lighthouse is a popular destination for travellers, but the journey past ancient kauri trees, sparkling seas, the sandy white beaches and dunes of 90 Mile Beach is a huge part of the experience. Popular activities at Cape Reinga include guided tours, scenic flights, diving, snorkelling, fishing, hiking and bird watching.
The stunning Te Paki Coastal Track is also popular. At 53km, it takes three to four days to complete, although shorter sections make for good short walks. It offers spectacular views and follows the coast from Spirits Bay, Sandy Bay, Pandora, Cape Reinga, Cape Maria van Dieman, Twilight Beach, Te Paki Stream, 90 Mile Beach to Ahipara.
Bay of Islands
One of New Zealand’s great holiday destinations!! The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it's paradise!! A three hour drive or 35 minute flight north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and includes the boutique towns of Opua, Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.
Each town in the Bay of Islands has it’s own unique culture and lifestyle – from the horticultural and vineyard lifestyle focus of Kerikeri, to bustling Paihia the main hub of the Bay of Islands with its focus on providing a great visitor experience.
Also, The Bay of Islands is a popular spot for taking a Dolphin spotting tour. Dolphins like to visit the bay and Paihia serves as a great location to swim with the curious creatures.
There are some pretty towns you should visit while you are staying around the Bay of Island!!
Bay of Islands towns
Paihia is the main tourist town in the Bay of Islands in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located close to the historic towns of Russell and Kerikeri, 60 kilometres north of Whangarei. Missionary Henry Williams named the mission station Marsden's Vale and eventually the Paihia became the accepted name of the settlement.
Nearby to the north is the historic settlement of Waitangi, and the residential and commercial area of Haruru Falls is to the west. The port and township of Opua, and the small settlement of Te Haumi, lie to the south. The population of Paihia was 1770 in the 2006 Census, a decrease of 69 from 2001.
Kerikeri, the largest town in Northland New Zealand, is a popular tourist destination about three hours drive north of Auckland, and 80 km north of the northern region's largest city, Whangarei. Kerikeri is a lively town full of galleries, cafés and gourmet food shops. The area has an interesting and mottled past; it was home ground for the fearsome Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorized many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Historic early European buildings still stand and are well worth a visit. Kerikeri is a gateway to the fabulous Puketi Kauri Rainforest. Kerikeri was the first place in New Zealand where grape vines were planted. Samuel Marsden planted 100 vines on 25 September 1819 and noted in his journal that New Zealand promised to be very favourable to the vine. In the same year Charlotte Kemp planted the first citrus, and New Zealand's first commercial plantings of passionfruit were established in 1927, and about 1932 the country's first avocados were planted. The plough was first used in New Zealand at Kerikeri, by Rev. J. G. Butler, on 3 May 1820.
Truly one of New Zealand's most historic sites, Waitangi Treaty Grounds is the place where both Maori and the British Crown joined in signing the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Treaty House is located amongst a vast peaceful estate and is a must see for any visitor interested in New Zealand's history and culture.
Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in both Polynesia and New Zealand, with a population of 1.45 million people. It is in the northern half of the North Island, on a narrow isthmus of land that joins the Northland peninsula to the rest of the North Island.
Auckland is often known as the "City of Sails" for the large number of yachts that grace the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. It could also be known as the "City of Extinct Volcanoes". Much of its natural character comes from the fact that it is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field which consists of about 48 volcanoes. All of the volcanoes are individually extinct but the volcanic field as a whole is not.
The indigenous peoples of New Zealand are the Māori, a large portion of whom have emigrated from their tribal villages in the last 60 years to cities such as Auckland. Representing about 11% of the city, most of these Māori are fully integrated into the urban culture and many are estranged from their tribal roots. Intermarriage rates have been substantial, so rather than appearing only as a prominently distinct ethnicity, an entire spectrum from European white to Māori has emerged. Like many indigenous peoples, the Māori suffered historical injustice/genocide at the hands of the colonizing British, though since the 1960s a revival of the Māori culture and language has emerged with New Zealand now celebrating the distinctness of its native inhabitants. Though most Māori speak far better English than Te Reo Māori, New Zealand added native Māori as an official language in 1987; however, English is overwhelmingly dominant.
The Sky Tower has stood tall at 328 meters as an icon of Auckland's sky line for almost 20 years. It's an exciting hub of adrenaline activities, superb dining and breathtaking views.Sky Tower is the host to the largest FM combiner in the world (the most stations transmitted on one aerial), television broadcast, wireless internet, laser links, traffic viewing, land mobile (RT) services and NIWA air sampling/weather measurement services. There are also 58 wireless microwave links located externally.
Sky Tower has been designed to provide a high level or performance in the event of earthquake, severe wind storms or fire.
The Sky Tower structure has been designed to remain essentially undamaged during storms with winds gusting to 200kph (125mph). Such winds are assessed to have an average return period in the order of one thousand years and are expected to result in sway at the top of the concrete shaft of approximagely one meter.
These examples are much more severe than those indicated in the New Zealand Code of Practice.They have been adopted because of the importance of the structure and it's expected long life. SkyWalk is one of New Zealand’s best adventure activities, so if you are looking for things to do in Auckland, don’t miss SkyWalking the ledge. Imagine you are walking along a narrow walkway around the outside of the Sky Tower, high above Auckland. There are no handrails, nothing but thin air and the city 192 metres below you! You’ve got spectacular 360° panoramic views of Auckland, its hills, the harbour and the islands beyond. If you look down, you have a perfect bird’s eye view of the city far below. Do you dare to SkyWalk the edge?
Just 12 minutes by ferry from Auckland’s central business district and you’re a world away in beautiful Devonport. From the breathtaking sea and city views to the stunning beaches, boutique shopping, charming accommodation and café culture – it’s no wonder it’s rated one of the top spots to visit in Auckland.
Devonport is located on a picturesque peninsula surrounded by the waters of the Waitemata Harbour. The two volcano cones boast some of the best look out points in Auckland. Walk, cycle, segway or take a mini bus tour to the summit of Mount Victoria and take in breathtaking panoramic views of the Auckland city skyline and its stunning harbour. Visit North Head for jaw-dropping ocean views across to Rangitoto and the islands of the Hauraki gulf. You will also see why Auckland is called the City of Sails!
Famous for its collection of beautifully restored Victorian villas, Devonport boasts a fabulous range of boutique accommodation in a relaxed seaside setting. Take a stroll around the charming village and enjoy Devonport’s unique shopping experience – from designer jewellery to Kiwi inspired gifts. Marvel at the creative masterpieces showcased at Devonport’s acclaimed art galleries.
Foodies adore Devonport for its cafe culture and specialty foods – including Devonport’s famous chocolatiers. Treat your tastebuds to the culinary delights of darling Devonport at one of its popular eating establishments. Sample fine wines of New Zealand at one of the historic bars and pubs in the village.
Devonport is a popular spot for entertaining the whole family. Start by exploring Devonport’s naval history; investigate North Head’s old bunkers and tunnels, or visit the Navy Museum for a fun family outing. Devonport’s safe swimming beaches are also popular with families as well as the scenic grassy areas and playgrounds that are dotted around the area.
The Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana) is a coastal feature of the North Island of New Zealand. It has an area of 4000 km², and lies between, in anticlockwise order, the Auckland Region, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel Peninsula, and Great Barrier Island.
Most of the gulf is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
The gulf is part of the Pacific Ocean, which it joins to the north and east. It is largely protected from the Pacific by Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island to the north, and by the 80-kilometre-long Coromandel Peninsula to the east. It is thus well protected against all but northern winds.
The Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand extends 85 kilometres north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, forming a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames in the west from the Pacific Ocean to the east. It is 40 kilometres wide at its broadest point. Almost the entire population lies on the narrow coastal strips fronting the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Plenty.
In fine weather the peninsula is clearly visible from Auckland, the country's biggest city, which lies on the far shore of the Hauraki Gulf, 55 kilometres to the west. The peninsula is part of the local government areas of Thames-Coromandel District and the Waikato Region.
Hamilton is a city in the North Island of New Zealand. It is the seat and most populous city of the Waikato region, with a territorial population of 165,400, the country's fourth most-populous city. Encompassing a land area of about 110 km2 (42 sq mi) on the banks of the Waikato River, Hamilton is part of the wider Hamilton Urban Area, which also encompasses the nearby towns of Ngaruawahia, Te Awamutu and Cambridge.
Initially an agricultural service centre, Hamilton now has a diverse economy and is the third fastest growing urban area in New Zealand, behind Pukekohe and Auckland.
Education and research and development play an important part in Hamilton's economy, as the city is home to approximately 40,000 tertiary students and 1,000 PhD-qualified scientists.
Matamata is a must see if you're a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan. Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set and enjoy the town's fabulous cafes.
Add to Wishlist Two hours south of Auckland lies the lush farmland of the Hobbiton Movie Set on a guided tour; it has more than 44 unique hobbit holes, including Bag End (Bilbo's house). As you wander through the heart of the Shire, you'll get to hear the fascinating commentary about how it was all created.
Hobbiton Movie Tour
A statue of Gollum on Matamata’s main street tells you where you are in prime Middle-Earth territory, with Hobbiton Movie Set just down the road. With the perfect combination of hillsides and plains, Matamata, meaning “headland” in Maori, has its rural roots in the equine and dairying industries.
- Hobbiton Movie Set
- Firth Tower Museum
- Opal Hot Springs
- Matamata i-SITE (Middle-earth themed)
- Cheese Factory
- Wairere Falls & Walks
- Heritage Trail
Waitomo District is a territorial authority, located in the Waikato region, at the north of the King Country area in the North Island of New Zealand. A small part of the district, the town of Tiroa, however, lies in the Manawatu-Wanganui region.
The gulf is part of the Pacific Ocean, which it joins to the north and east. It is largely protected from the Pacific by Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier Island to the north, and by the 80-kilometre-long Coromandel Peninsula to the east. It is thus well protected against all but northern winds.
The district is a rural, predominantly dairy farming, region. The area's main industries include sheep farming, forestry, and limestone quarrying. The area is known for the popular Waitomo Caves, a karstic system with stalactites, stalagmites and glowworms 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti. Waitomo also has an old style hotel first built in 1908 and added onto in the 1930s. Waitomo Caves Hotel overlooks Waitomo Village.
Bay Of Plenty
Beyond the glittering Strand of Tauranga and golden sands of Mount Maunganui, the Bay of Plenty, true to its name, has plenty to offer visitors. Boasting the sunniest climate in the North Island, the Bay of Plenty is a great place to enjoy the outdoors year-round - whether you want to challenge your fitness or simply seek out the perfect picnic spot. Swim with dolphins and seals, and watch whales play in their natural habitat. Visit Kaiate Falls in Welcome Bay, a beautiful native bush reserve where the river runs through a series of stunning waterfalls. Take a walk on Moturiki Island, which connects to the main beach at Mount Maunganui. During an easterly swell, the blow hole puts on a spectacular show. Visit McLaren Falls, 170 hectares of lake land reserve. It's stunning in any season.
Sunny Bay of Plenty is the perfect place to see or swim with dolphins. During the summer months, both bottle nose and common dolphins live in these waters.
Swimming with dolphins is an enchanting experience. Their playful and inquisitive nature means that they are just as fascinated by you as you are by them, and the warm waters of the Bay of Plenty is home to hundreds of pods – so sightings are common. The best time to find dolphins here is during the summer months, from November through to April. Teeming with fish and marine life, whales and seals also call the sheltered waters off the Bay of Plenty coastline home.
Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing our fascinating Maori culture.
Experience the best of the Maori world with cultural performances, ta moko tattoo experts, and healthy and delicious traditional foods.
The spirit of Manaakitanga (hospitality) is alive and well in the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua - famous for its natural hot springs, shooting geysers, bubbling mud pools, and the local indigenous people who live amongst the geothermal activity and use the boiling water to cook, bathe and warm their homes.
Places like Te Puia, Mitai Village and Tamaki Village offer cultural experiences that combine dramatic performances – singing, dancing and haka (war dances) – with delicious Māori food. The owls and glowworms of the surrounding native forest warm this truly spiritual area.
At Whakarewarewa you can see how early Māori used the geothermal waters of this area to cook, bathe and do washing.
Lake Taupo is a lake in the North Island of New Zealand. It is in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres (238 sq mi), it is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania after Lake Murray (Papua New Guinea). Motutaiko Island lies in the south east area of the lake.
Lake Taupo has a perimeter of approximately 193 kilometres and a deepest point of 186 metres. It is drained by the Waikato River (New Zealand's longest river), and its main tributaries are the Waitahanui River, the Tongariro River, and the Tauranga Taupo River. It is a noted trout fishery with stocks of introduced brown and rainbow trout.
Sky Diving (Lake Taupo Activity)
It is a must-do adrenalin activity in New Zealand. Apart from being a crazy experience that you’ll never forget, what makes skydiving in New Zealand extra special is the national parks, lakes, mountains and beaches that you will be hurtling towards.
Skydiving is a fine way to see New Zealand.
Because skydiving isn’t exactly the cheapest activity, it’s likely that you will only be doing it once while you’re in New Zealand. Check out the list and see which one sounds like your sort of skydive.
Tip: Make sure you write something totally witty on your hands if you are getting your skydive caught on camera.
Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country’s leading producers of wine; notably red wines – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah – but also with some quite stunning whites.The region is the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, and it's a popular place for bicycle wine tours.
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand’s Art Deco centre, rebuilt in the 1930’s after a huge earthquake. It hosts the country’s most elaborate celebrations of Matariki – the Maori New Year. It’s a place where you can shop at the farmers' market for locally grown delicacies, indulge in artisan gourmet food, and join the lunchers at Napier’s Great Long Lunch. And it’s a place where you can walk the forest trails of the Ruahine and Kaweka Forest Parks, visit the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony or relax on the glorious beaches that stretch along the coast.
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites.
Tongariro National Park was the fourth national park established in the world.
The active volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro are located in the centre of the park.
There are a number of Māori religious sites within the park, and many of the park's summits, including Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, are tapu, or sacred. The park includes many towns around its boundary including Ohakune, Waiouru, Horopito, Pokaka, Erua, National Park Village, Whakapapa skifield and Turangi.
The Tongariro National Park is home to the famed Tongariro Alpine Crossing, widely regarded as one of the world's best one-day hikes.
A national disaster resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. In 1931 a massive earthquake rocked Hawke's Bay for more than three minutes, killing nearly 260 and destroying the commerical centre of Napier.
Rebuilding began almost immediately, and new buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. Local architect Louis Hay, an admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright, had his chance to shine. Maori motifs were employed to give the city a unique New Zealand character - for example, the ASB bank on the corner of Hastings and Emerson Streets features Maori koru and zigzags.
Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 412,500 residents. It is at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world's windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 26 km/h, and the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state.
Wellington's economy is primarily service-based, with an emphasis on finance, business services, and government. It is the centre of New Zealand's film and special effects industries, and increasingly a hub for information technology and innovation. Wellington is one of New Zealand's chief seaports and serves both domestic and international shipping. The city is served by Wellington International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country. Wellington's transport network includes train and bus lines which reach as far as the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa, and ferries connect the city to the South Island.
Picton is a town in the Marlborough Region of New Zealand's South Island. The town is located near the head of the Queen Charlotte Sound, 25 km (16 mi) north of Blenheim and 65 km (40 mi) west of Wellington. Waikawa lies just north-east of Picton, and is often considered to be contiguous part of Picton.
Picton is a major hub in New Zealand's transport network, connecting the South Island road and rail network with ferries across Cook Strait to Wellington and the North Island. The town has a population of 4,360 (June 2017), making it the second-largest town in the Marlborough Region behind Blenheim. It is the easternmost town in the South Island with a population of at least 1,000 people.
The town is named after Sir Thomas Picton, the Welsh military associate of the Duke of Wellington, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
The Marlborough Sounds are an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys at the north end of the South Island of New Zealand.
The Marlborough Sounds were created by a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels at the north of the South Island of New Zealand. According to Māori mythology, the sounds are the prows of the sunken wakas of Aoraki.
Covering some 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi) of sounds, islands, and peninsulas, the Marlborough Sounds lie at the South Island's north-easternmost point, between Tasman Bay in the west and Cloudy Bay in the south-east. The almost fractal coastline has 1/5 of the length of New Zealand's coasts.
Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay. Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand – it was established in 1841 and was proclaimed a city by royal charter in 1858.
Nelson city is bordered to the west and south-west by the Tasman District Council and the north-east, east and south-east by the Marlborough District Council. The city does not include Richmond, the area's second-largest settlement. Nelson City has a population of around 50,000, making it New Zealand's 12th most populous city and the geographical centre of New Zealand. When combined with the town of Richmond which has close to 14,000 residents, Nelson is ranked as New Zealand's 9th largest urban area by population.
Nelson is well known for its thriving local arts and crafts scene, each year, the city hosts events popular with locals and tourists alike, such as the Nelson Arts Festival. The annual Wearable Art Awards began near Nelson and a local museum, World of Wearable Art now showcases winning designs alongside a collection of classic cars.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is a New Zealand national park located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of the South Island. It is named after Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand and who anchored nearby in Golden Bay.
Abel Tasman National Park is a paradise of white-sand beaches. Home to native seals, dolphins and sea birds, it's the perfect place for a kayaking trip.
Known for its sunshine and calm waters, Nelson's Abel Tasman is blessed with some of New Zealand's most spectacular coastline. Paddle your kayak through sheltered waters and stop off on perfect, deserted beaches to explore. Watch the antics of fur seals and sea birds, and, if you are lucky, you might spot a pod of playful dolphins or a shy Little Blue Penguin.
Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park is a national park in the northwest of the South Island of New Zealand, ranging to near Golden Bay in north.
It was gazetted in 1996 and covers 4,529 square kilometres (1,749 sq mi). It is the second largest of New Zealand's fourteen national parks. It was formed from what was called the North-west Nelson Forest Park. Kahurangi Point, regarded as the boundary between the West Coast and Tasman Regions, is located in the park, as are the Heaphy Track and Mount Owen.
The park is administered by the Department of Conservation. Tramping, rafting and caving are popular activities in the park.
After being prohibited for several years, mountainbiking was allowed on the Heaphy Track on a trial basis for the winters of 2011, 2012 and 2013. The effect of the cyclists on trampers and the wildlife will determine whether the trial continues or not.
Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park is the northernmost part of the Southern Alps.
Legend tells the story of Maori chief and explorer Rakaihautu who came to Aotearoa and travelled with his people to the great mountains. With his ko (digging stick), Rakaihautu dug enormous holes that filled with water, creating the lakes which remain today. He also filled them with kai (food) for those who followed. The food – eel, freshwater mussels and waterfowl – was important for Maori travelling the pounamu (greenstone) trails to and from the West Coast.
From their arrival in the 1840s, Europeans rapidly occupied open land close to Rotoiti for grazing sheep. By the turn of the century people were holidaying on the shores of the lake and a hotel was built at Rotoroa.
Soon cottages were being built at Rotoiti and people began to explore the mountains. The scenic values of the mountains and lakes were recognised by the creation of a national park in 1956.
This alpine region is at the northern limit of the Ka Tiritiri o Te Moana Southern Alps, where ancient glaciers have shaped the dramatic landscape, leaving in their wake loose scree slopes, tarns and hanging, U-shaped valleys.
The park contains a series of mountain ranges up to 2340m high, five extensive valley systems and two major lakes.
Greymouth is a town with a history of jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods. Sample the beer and listen to wild west coast stories.
Once the site of the Maori pa Mawhera (which means ‘wide spread river mouth’, in reference to the town’s river mouth location), Greymouth is the largest town on the South Island’s west coast. The area has a history of gold mining, which can be appreciated at the local museum and nearby Shantytown. Local brewery Monteith's is something of a New Zealand legend; it runs tours that include a tasting session.
Around the town you’ll find galleries specialising in pounamu (New Zealand jade). Other Greymouth entertainments include sea fishing, fly fishing, and adventure activities like rafting and caving.
TranzAlpine Scenic Train
Experience the South Island’s striking natural landscape by taking a train between Christchurch and Greymouth. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.
The most scenic train ride in New Zealand, and one of the most scenic train trips anywhere in the world!! The TranzAlpine, run by New Zealand train operator KiwiRail as part of their Great Journeys of New Zealand division, runs once daily between Christchurch, Arthur's Pass and Greymouth on the South Island's west coast, through the amazing misty mountain scenery of the Southern Alps.
The TranzAlpine is one of the world's great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours. You’ll traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, to the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Elevated 740 metres above sea level and surrounded by beech forest, Arthur's Pass township is 5 kilometres from the mountain pass of the same name.
Arthur’s Pass National Park was established in 1929 and was New Zealand’s third national park and the first one in the South Island. Arthur's Pass was first surveyed in 1864 by Arthur Dobson to establish which pass was most suitable to build a road to the Goldfields of 'West Canterbury' in Hokitika. The road was built and opened in 1865 with stage coaches operating until 1923 when the Otira rail tunnel was opened. The rail tunnel was the longest tunnel in the British Commonwealth. The rail line and road to Arthur's Pass were considered to be major accomplishments which opened up the west coast of NZ to settlement.
Best known for its natural hot pools and stunning landscapes, Hanmer Springs is a picturesque alpine village 90 minutes' drive from Christchurch.
The resort town of Hanmer Springs is an attractive year-round holiday destination for adventure, relaxation and indulgence. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and towering forests, this charming town has a main street filled with boutique shops, cafes and eateries.
Adventure activities will immerse you in the wild beauty of Hanmer. Go forest hiking, mountain biking, horse trekking, bungy jumping, jet boating or, in winter, hit the slopes and go skiing. Once you've caught your breath, you might enjoy a leisure round of golf.
Kaikōura is a town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on State Highway 1, 180 km north of Christchurch.
Kaikōura became the first local authority in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve recognition by the EarthCheck Community Standard.
The town has an estimated permanent resident population of 2,080 (as of June 2017). The town is the governmental seat of the territorial authority of the Kaikōura District, which is politically a part of the Canterbury region. The District has a land area of 2,046.41 km² (790.12 sq mi) and an estimated population of 3,710 inhabitants; which includes other settlements within the district such as Kekerengu, Clarence, Rakautara, Hapuku, Ocean Ridge, The Elms, Peketa, Goose Bay, Omihi and Oaro.
The infrastructure of Kaikōura was heavily damaged in the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, which also caused two deaths in the area. The sea level of the bay and surrounding region was lifted by as much as 2 metres.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 396,700 residents, making it New Zealand's third most-populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.
The Avon River flows through the centre of the city, with an urban park located along its banks. At the request of the Deans brothers—whose farm was the earliest settlement in the area—the river was named after the River Avon in Scotland, which rises in the Ayrshire hills near to where their grandfather's farm was located.
Akaroa is a small town on Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand, situated within a harbor of the same name. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for "Long Harbour", which would be spelled "Whangaroa" in standard Māori.
Akaroa is 84 kilometres (52 mi) by road from Christchurch and is the terminus of State Highway 75. In the 2013 New Zealand census, the permanent population was 624, an increase of 9.5% since 2006. The town has a high (31.3%) ratio of residents aged over 65. It is set on a sheltered harbour and is overlooked and surrounded by the remnants of a miocene volcano. Akaroa is entirely dependent upon rainfall on the hills. Akaroa is a popular resort town. Many Hector's dolphins may be found within the harbor, and 'swim with the dolphins' boat tours are a major tourist attraction.
The Waitaki region is a place of scenic contrast and haunting natural beauty. Experience mysterious boulders, windswept beaches and Maori rock art.
The Waitaki region combines wild, windswept coastline with emerald plains and towering mountains. The middle of the region's coastline is home to the small town of Moeraki and its huge spherical boulders. Scattered along the beach, the Moeraki boulders are more than 65 million years old and are easily accessed from the beach.
Look out for the Hector's dolphins that are often seen playing in the waves beyond.
Continuing north, stop in at Oamaru and look at the historic whitestone architecture, an amazing townscape that towers over a charming community. From here, you can hop on your bike and follow the Alps to Ocean Cycleway all the way to Aoraki Mount Cook.
Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region.
Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
The urban area lies on the central-eastern coast of Otago, surrounding the head of Otago Harbour. The harbour and hills around Dunedin represent the remnants of an extinct volcano. The city suburbs extend out into the surrounding valleys and hills, onto the isthmus of the Otago Peninsula, and along the shores of the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Dunedin was the largest New Zealand city by territorial land area until superseded by Auckland on the creation of the Auckland Council in November 2010.
In 1848 a Scottish settlement was established by the Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland. Between 1855 and 1900 many thousands of Scots emigrated to the incorporated city. Dunedin became wealthy during the central Otago Gold Rush, beginning in the 1860s. In the mid-1860s, and between 1878 and 1881, it was New Zealand's largest urban area. The city population at 5 March 2013 was 120,246. While Tauranga, Napier-Hastings and Hamilton have eclipsed the city in size of population since the 1980s to make it only the seventh-largest urban area in New Zealand, Dunedin is still considered one of the four main cities of New Zealand for historic, cultural and geographic reasons.
Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three roughly parallel lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island of New Zealand (the others are Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau). It covers an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), and is at an altitude of 710 metres (2,330 ft) above sea level.
The lake is fed at its northern end by the braided Godley River, which has its source in the Southern Alps to the north. The lake is a popular tourist destination, and several resort hotels are located at the township of Lake Tekapo at the lake's southern end. The Lake Tekapo Regional Park, administered by Environment Canterbury, is located on the southern shore of the lake.
An astronomical observatory is located at Mount John, which is to the north of the town, and south of the small Lake Alexandrina.
Church of the Good Shepherd
The Church of the Good Shepherd is situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo amongst the natural beauty of the lake and the mountains. The Church of the Good Shepherd was built to the glory of God as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country.
The builders of the Church were instructed that the site was to be left undisturbed, and that even the matagouri bushes surrounding the building were to remain. Rocks which happened to be on the wall line were not to be removed. The stones for the wall were to be procured from within a radius of five miles of the site, and were to be unchipped and in their natural condition. The original roof was of wooden shingles, but had to be replaced with the present slates in 1957. The cupboard in the Vestry is made of wood from the Tekapo Bridge, which was demolished in 1954.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is interdenominational and services are held regularly throughout the year.
Aoraki / Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki
At the head of Lake Pukaki, New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook dominates the turquoise ribbon of lake that fills an elongated ancient glacier-carved valley.
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height since 2014 is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet), down from 3,764 m (12,349 ft) before December 1991, due to a rockslide and subsequent erosion. It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favourite challenge for mountain climbers. Aoraki / Mount Cook consists of three summits, from South to North the Low Peak (3,593 m or 11,788 ft), Middle Peak (3,717 m or 12,195 ft) and High Peak. The summits lie slightly south and east of the main divide of the Southern Alps, with the Tasman Glacier to the east and the Hooker Glacier to the southwest.
There was a large rock fall in 1991 that turned the summit into a knife-edge ridge and reduced the height of the mountain by an estimated 10 m or so at that time. A/MC was measured in 2013 to be 3724 m, which is 30 m down from its pre-1991 rock-fall measurement.
Lake Pukaki is the largest lake in the area, and it proudly shows off New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki/ Mount Cook, from the many look out points around its shores.
The water colour of the lake is a bright turquoise due to glacial flour, made from extremely fine rock particles that have come from the surrounding glaciers. The lake is fed at its northern end by the braided Tasman River, which has its source in the Hooker and Tasman Glaciers.
Excavated by massive glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, Lakes Wanaka and Hawea lie side by side. At a sliver of land known as The Neck, which is just 1000 metres wide, the glaciers were once joined.
Lake Wanaka is the source of New Zealand's largest river, the Clutha. Lake Hawea feeds into the Hawea River, which joins the Clutha at Albert Town.
Ringed by pebbly beaches and with magnificent views to the surrounding peaks, both lakes offer a variety of adventures, especially during the long, hot months of summer.
Walking tracks skirt the southern edge of Lake Wanaka. The walk up Mount Iron is a good choice if you're interested in geology. The mountain shows classic signs of glaciation - rounded on its upstream face and steep and craggy on the downstream side.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's top visitor destinations and if you come to the region you'll understand why.
Queenstown sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges; it’s rumoured that gold prospectors - captivated by the majestic beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers - gave this now cosmopolitan town its name.
With a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, Queenstown is the home of the ultimate adventure bucket list. 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. It has also become a renowned cycling destination, providing everything from easy scenic tracks to backcountry trails, road rides to heli-biking and the Southern Hemisphere’s only gondola accessed downhill mountain biking.
Fiordland National Park / Milford Sound
The Milford Road offers a spectacular journey into the heart of the Fiordland National Park. Fiordland National Park, covering over 1.2 million hectares, is New Zealand's largest National Park and one of the largest in the world. The park, together with the adjoining Mount Aspiring National Park, occupies the south west corner of the South Island and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fiordland is one of the least explored areas of New Zealand. Although the park has about 500 km of formed walking tracks, these barely scratch the surface. Like all of the New Zealand National Parks, it is managed by the Department of Conservation.
The department aims to keep development to a minimum, consistent with protecting the environment and managing human activities to minimise conflicting needs.
Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is a fiord in the south west of New Zealand's South Island within Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. It has been judged the world's top travel destination in an international survey and is acclaimed as New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World.Milford Sound is named after Milford Haven in Wales, while the Cleddau River which flows into the sound is also named for its Welsh namesake. The Māori named the sound Piopiotahi after the thrush-like piopio bird, now extinct. Piopiotahi means "a single piopio", harking back to the legend of Māui trying to win immortality for mankind—when Maui died in the attempt, a piopio was said to have flown here in mourning.
Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier
Fox Glacier is a 13-kilometre-long (8.1 mi) temperate maritime glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. It was named in 1872 after a visit by then Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Fox. Following the passage of the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998, the name of the glacier was officially altered to Fox Glacier.
Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier falls 2,600 m (8,500 ft) on its 13 km journey from the Southern Alps down to the coast, with it having the distinction of being one of the few glaciers to end among lush rainforest only 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level. Although retreating throughout most of the last 100 years, it was advancing between 1985 and 2009. In 2006 the average rate of advance was about a metre a week.
Franz Josef Glacier / Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere is a 12 km (7.5 mi) long temperate maritime glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km (12 mi) to the south, and a third glacier, it descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level.The area surrounding the two glaciers is part of Te Wahipounamu, a World Heritage Site park. The river emerging from the glacier terminal of Franz Josef is known as the Waiho River.
Nestled below the towering mountains of the Southern Alps, Wanaka is home to the largest skiiable terrain in Australasia.
With two world-class ski areas, spectacular scenery and a vibrant resort town, Wanaka is paradise for those passionate about skiing. With a slightly slower pace than Queenstown, skiing here is family friendly, with gentle beginner’s slopes, and boasts excellent natural snowfall during winter.
Cadrona and Treble Cone both offer off-piste terrain and varied ski or snowboard experiences. There's plenty of opportunities for the adrenaline-pumping option of heli-skiing as well as cross-country touring.
Southland's wild and rugged landscapes offer spectacular walking and hiking experiences. Don't miss the Hump Ridge Track and Catlins River Walk.
Head to Tutapere, home of the Hump Ridge Track – a three-day walking experience through coastline, podocarp and beech forest and sandstone outcrops.
The Catlins Coast is a place of hidden waterfalls and river valleys and offers the Catlins River Walk, a five-hour trek through some of the best beech forest in New Zealand. If wildlife spotting is more your thing, hike the Catlins Coastal Heritage Trail. With three penguin species, Hooker’s sea lions, Hector’s dolphins, elephant seals and New Zealand fur seals, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The Otago Peninsula is a long, hilly indented finger of land that forms the easternmost part of Dunedin, New Zealand. Volcanic in origin, it forms one wall of the eroded valley that now forms Otago Harbour. The peninsula lies south-east of Otago Harbour and runs parallel to the mainland for 20 km, with a maximum width of 9 km. It is joined to the mainland at the south-west end by a narrow isthmus about 1.5 km wide.
The suburbs of Dunedin encroach onto the western end of the peninsula, and seven townships and communities lie along the harbourside shore. The majority of the land is sparsely populated and occupied by steep open pasture. The peninsula is home to many species of wildlife, notably seabirds, pinnipeds, and penguins, and several ecotourism businesses operate in the area.
Stewart Island/Rakiura (commonly called Stewart Island) is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the South Island, across the Foveaux Strait. Its permanent population is 381 people as of the 2013 census, most of whom live in the settlement of Oban on the eastern side of the island.
The original Māori name, Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui, positions Stewart Island/Rakiura firmly at the heart of Māori mythology. Translated as The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe, it refers to the part played by the island in the legend of Maui and his crew, who from their canoe, the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island.
Rakiura is the more commonly known and used Māori name. It is usually translated as Glowing Skies, possibly a reference to the sunsets for which it is famous or for the aurora Australia’s, the southern lights that are a phenomenon of southern latitudes.
All Blacks(New Zealand National Rugby Union)
The New Zealand national rugby union team, commonly called the All Blacks, represent New Zealand in men's rugby union, which is regarded as the country's national sport. The side has won the last two Rugby World Cups, in 2011 and 2015, as well as the inaugural tournament in 1987.
They have a 77% winning record in test match rugby, and are the only international side with a winning record against every opponent. Since their international debut in 1903, they have lost to only six of the 19 nations they have played in test matches. Since the introduction of the World Rugby Rankings in 2003, New Zealand has held the number one ranking longer than all other teams combined. The All Blacks are statistically the best side to have played the game, and jointly hold the record for the most consecutive test match wins for a tier one ranked nation, along with England. New Zealand competes with Argentina, Australia and South Africa in The Rugby Championship. The All Blacks have won the trophy fourteen times in the competition's twenty-one-year history. New Zealand have achieved a Grand Slam (defeating England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in one tour) four times – 1978, 2005, 2008 and 2010.
The All Blacks have been named the World Rugby Team of the Year ten times since the award was created in 2001, and an All Black has won the World Rugby Player of the Year award nine times over the same period. Fifteen former All Blacks have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
New Zealand Wine (Food Information)
New Zealand has a successful wine industry, with about 76 million litres being exported in the year to June 2007. The first vines are thought to have been introduced by missionary Samuel Marsden, and planted in 1817 by Charles Gordon, superintendent of agriculture for the missionaries, according to Dr Richard Smart who was viticultural editor of both editions of The Oxford Companion to Wine. Official British resident James Busby is credited with producing wine at Kerikeri in 1833, and Charles Darwin noted the winery in his diary when he visited Kerikeri in 1835.
Small vineyards were also planted by French settlers in Akaroa in the 1840s. However wine was drunk in relatively small qualities well into the twentieth century, with the average per capita consumption only about 2.6 litres in 1966. The high price of imported wines probably prevented New Zealanders from developing a taste for wine, although it did help sales of local vintages. The quality of these wines slowly improved, with New Zealand wines winning three gold and 13 silver medals at the International Wine Fair in 1963. Aided by the deregulation of the economy in the 1980s and 1990s, domestic wine consumption increased and New Zealand wine won increasing accolades internationally.
What to eat in New Zealand
Lamb In New Zealand
The flavor and the texture of lamb can differ considerably from place to place, reflecting everything from what the animals eat to the physical characteristics of particular breeds.
Most New Zealand lamb is almost entirely pasture fed, usually in fields rich with ryegrass and clover, which accounts for the meat's characteristic leanness. New Zealand lamb is also distinctly flavored: the most common breed in the country, Merino, is also raised for wool and has a strong, almost mutton-y flavor. Because New Zealand lambs come to market very young, typically at six or seven months of age, they have smaller frames that yield petite, tender rib chops.
Generations of Kiwis (New Zealanders) have been caught under the hokey pokey ice-cream spell. This caramelized sugar - known as ‘honeycomb’ or ‘humbug’ elsewhere - is often eaten on its own, but the New Zealand version is mixed with vanilla ice-cream and known as hokey pokey. First sold in 1940, hokey pokey became a national favorite when the Tip Top Ice Cream company began heavily marketing it in the 1950s. New Zealanders devour five million liters of hokey pokey ice-cream each year.