Highlights of New Zealand
Auckland is the centre of commerce and industry, and is perhaps the most vibrant, bustling and multicultural city in New Zealand. The city's landscape is dominated by volcanic hills, twin harbours (Waitemata on the Pacific Ocean and Manukau on the Tasman Sea), bays, beaches and islands. Its nickname as the "City of Sails" is apt, Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. Highlights include the America's Cup sailing, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the Sky Tower - an Auckland icon and the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres (1076 feet) high. The Auckland Harbour Bridge is one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. A four-lane highway built in 1959, it soon became congested with traffic. Luckily, a firm of Japanese engineers came to the rescue and figured out a way of adding extra lanes to the bridge. Locals call the extension the 'Nippon Clip-on', a sign of humorous appreciation.
The seething power of inner earth comes to the surface in Rotorua. Explore Rotorua's geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand's Maori people. Rotorua highlights include White Island, one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes. The White Island volcano is estimated to be between 150,000 to 200,000 years old. Explore Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve where thermal activity produces geysers, boiling mud and silica terraces.
Queenstown is the Southern Hemisphere's premiere four season alpine and lake resort. The adventure capital of the world, Queenstown offers year round attractions. Located on the South Island, the town sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is overlooked by the Remarkables, a jagged range of mountains. In addition to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, bungy-jumping, caving, rafting, sledging, jetboating, skydiving and hang gliding are all on offer. Other highlights include visting the historical Arrowtown, or simply taking in the incredible scenery.
The Bay of Islands
This is one of the most beautiful maritime parks in New Zealand with 144 islands and bays teeming with marine life including whales, penguins and dolphins. The Bay of Islands includes Kerikeri where you can find the Kerikeri Mission Station, home to New Zealand's oldest standing European buildings the Stone Store and Kerikeri Mission House which were built in the first half of the 1800s. Paihia, the main tourist town, is where you can swim with dolphins or take a trip to the spectacular Cape Brett and the "Hole in the Rock" on Piercy Island. The historic town of Russell was the first permanent European settlement and sea port in New Zealand, it was also briefly the country's capital. Russell had a rowdy reputation during colonial times as the "Hell hole of the Pacific" and one of the southern most whaling stations in the world –hard to imagine today when visiting this quaint seaside village. The Bay of Islands is also a great place to stay if you wish to visit Cape Reinga, the northern tip of New Zealand. Considered the separation marker between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, this area is also important to Maori culture as it is believed to be the point from which dead spirits begin their long trip back to the afterlife.
Napier is famous for its Art Deco architecture.The main city of the Hawkes Bay region, downtown Napier had to be completely rebuilt in 1931 after it was destroyed by a two and a half minute earthquake and a subsequent fire. A marvellous collection of buildings in the 1930s Art Deco style sprang up, and this is celebrated with a special Art Deco weekend every February. Napier also offers a top selection of wineries where you can sample some of the finest New Zealand wines.
Christchurch, the Garden city, was established in 1850 by English settlers and this heritage shows in the architecture of older buildings.Christchurch is the South Island's largest city. It's a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with exciting festivals, theatre, modern art galleries, great shopping and award-winning attractions. Christchurch Cathedral is the city's most prominent landmark and the square to which it gives its name is the heart of downtown. Other Christchurch highlights include the beautiful Neo-Gothic Arts Centre, the historic tram which loops the city centre, the Christchurch Gondola, the International Antarctic Centre and the Botanical Gardens. These gardens are an oasis in the city of Christchurch, featuring more than 50 acres of beautiful horticultural displays, several conservatories, memorials, garden art and walking tracks.
Nelson & Abel Tasman National Park
Named after British Admiral Lord Nelson, this is New Zealand's second oldest city. Discover the creative paradise that is Nelson –an irresistible blend of lifestyle and stunning landscape at the top northwest corner of the South Island. From the northern edge of the Southern Alps across the fertile plains and out to a great sweep of beaches, Nelson is beautifully laid out under a generous sun that makes it New Zealand's sunniest place, with more than 2,500 hours per year. Close to Nelson is the stunning Abel Tasman National Park. The park is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and world-famous coastal track. With a mild climate, it is a good place to visit at any time of the year.