Recognizing that this area was special and in need of protection, Fiordland National Park was created in 1952. This stunning park offers amazing and dramatic landscapes that will leave you in awe of nature’s power. The fiords have been more than 100,000 years in the making as glaciers slowly carved out these incredible natural works of art.
In 1990, this spectacular park became known as Te Wahipounamu received UNESCO’s World Heritage site designation. Its new name pays tribute to New Zealand’s unique mineral, greenstone. The only known place that this mineral occurs is on South Island and it in a very significant part in Maori culture. South Island is called Te Wahi Pounamu in Maori or The Place of Greenstone.
The largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, it is also the wettest area in the country. Some parts of the park receive upwards of seven meters of precipitation a year. It is almost beyond one’s imagination to envision that much rain falling in an area. The rain nourishes lush thick rain forests and feeds the many waterfalls around the fiords.
Due to the rugged terrain, wet weather, and extreme isolation: this area is mostly untouched by man and the park’s interior boasts vast tracts of virgin podocarp and southern beech forests. It is not unusual here to find trees that have grown undisturbed for 800 or more years. The forests and mountains cover about two thirds of Te Wahipounamu and provide a magnificent backdrop for the fiords.
Te Wahipounamu provides a refuge for the Takahe, thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered here in 1948, and the Kakapo, the last remaining habitat of the only nocturnal, flightless parrot in the world. There are intensive recovery programs underway for both of these indigenous birds. In addition to these birds, the vast park is home to many of New Zealand’s native creatures.
The Kakapo Recovery Program is showing some success after the decimation of the birds by feral cats, rats and stoats. One must put in perspective what success means. In 1986, only 22 Kakapos could be found with a high male population. Today, in the safety of predator free sanctuaries, there are 124 Kakapos with a healthier male to female ratio. While there may be a few in the wilds of South Island, it is doubtful that they will escape predation.
High in the Murchison Mountains alpine grasslands, another flightless bird, the Takahe joins the Kakapo as critically endangered. With just over 200 existing birds, conservation efforts have been undertaken to restore the population. As with the Kakapo, these birds are not prolific breeders and that hampers the speed of the species recovery. Some of the population has been moved to predator free islands and are slowly gaining a foothold.
With over 500km of walking trails, one could wander for days in this wild and breathtaking park. Hunting and fishing is allowed provided that you have obtained the proper permits. Te Wahipounamu is a gem among gems and should be experienced.
We all know that traveling, especially with a family, is an expensive undertaking. Although most places have things to see that are inexpensive or free, we often find out about them once we are there and they don’t fit into our crammed schedule. New Zealand is no different.
One of the great things about New Zealand is the spectacular scenery. No matter where you go, you will encounter breathtaking views. Why not spend a few days taking in the sights without any cost of admission? Both South Island and North Island have panoramic vistas to drink in but, in my view, a drive along the Tutukaka Coast is one of the best.
Driving down the scenic Tutukaka Coast not only gives you amazing scenery but it will take you to places that will enthrall you.
Just a few kilometers from Whangarei, the magnificent Whangarei Falls are a bit off the beaten track but easily found. All you have to do is follow the signs and pack a picnic lunch. This 26-meter drop in the Hatea River is worth spending time at. Walk the bridge that overlooks the falls or walk down to the bottom, either choice will give you unparalleled views.
As you drive further toward the coast, near Glenbervie, you will see great examples of dry-stone walls on both sides of the road. These walls have stood the test of time and are constructed without mortar.
Continue further and you will reach Tutukaka. Although this activity is not free, you really should go and snorkel or dive at Poor Knights Island. As an alternative, you can wait to snorkel until you reach Matapouri Bay. The beautiful sand beach will beckon to you to warm your feet on it. If the tide is low while you are there, you can also experience the wonders of the Matapouri Pools.
Whale Bay is just a stone’s throw from Matapouri Bay and is a surfing mecca. The surfer in you will surely clamor to get out and play once you see the waves break and curl.
If you follow the road inland to Hikurangi, you will again be on SH1 heading back to Whangarei. I’m sure you’ll agree that the day was worth it as you linger over your dinner and head for your room.
Driving north from Christchurch for two and a half hours brings you to one of the best whale watching spots in the world. Kaikoura, one of the very few places in the world where sperm whales can be easily found, is located on the east coast of South Island. Set on the coastline, with a backdrop of towering mountains, the town looks out over the sea that is alive with marine activity.
Sperm whales populate the waters off Kaikoura all year making this area one of the most popular destinations in the world for visitors seeking the whale watching experience of a lifetime. A deep underwater canyon and an abundance of marine life provide a great habitat for these incredible mammals.
Although sperm whales are seen in the waters year round, other whales visit the waters here on their migratory route. The great Orca, or killer whale, can be spotted from December to March while the majestic humpback can be sighted during July and August. In addition, Pilot whales, Southern Right whales, and Blue whales often use these waters as a rest station during their travels. The waters are also home to the elusive Hector’s dolphin, the world’s most rare and smallest dolphin.
Tour operators in the area offer a wide range of viewing options with their accent on providing an awe inspiring experiences for their customers. A couple of companies provide viewing from an airplane or helicopter. This type of viewing gives you a real perspective on the size of these creatures. They are massive!
If viewing by sea is your pleasure, there are several companies that can accommodate you. Some like Whale Watch Kaikoura Ltd have boats built for the specific purpose of giving their passengers the ultimate whale watching adventure. During tours, knowledgeable guides tell you about the whales you encounter, including the names if they are resident whale. In addition, if you are fortunate enough to see the playful Dusky dolphin and the gravely threatened Hector’s dolphin, the guide will relate information on them.
For whale watching, there really is no other place like Kaikoura to have an incredible whale experience.
The details of the wedding ceremony are coming together, the reception is organized, the honeymoon destination…well, that has you in a quandary. There are just so many incredibly beautiful places around the world to choose from. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Among the destinations that are intriguing and appealing is South Island, New Zealand. This small island has so many things to do and see that it could take several weeks to satisfy your curiosity. From the Southern Alps to the fjords along the coastline, the woodland meadows to the vineyards, and everything in between will fill you with awe. The main population is located on North Island making the South Island perfect for those wanting to explore the countryside.
Nestled on the seashore, Kaikoura offers a wide range of activities including spectacular whale watching opportunities. The small resort town of Lake Tekapo, South Island’s highest town, offers some breathtaking scenery in Mackenzie Country. Known as the “Garden City”, the coastal city of Christchurch has beautiful public gardens and parks to enjoy. Established in 1856, Christchurch also has the distinction of being the New Zealand’s oldest city.
Whether you are seeking the thrill of heli-skiing or whitewater rafting, the incredible beauty of hikes through stunning countryside, tranquil walks through gorgeous gardens or woodlands, exhilarating deep sea fishing expeditions, or high alpine skiing; South Island has it all. If your taste runs toward spending a lazy day on the beach or wine tasting, you will be able to indulge in that as well. Few other areas have the vastly diverse geographic area that South Island offers and, with it, all the activities and scenery that is encompassed.
There is little more romantic than exploring the jewels of the South Island with the one you love. After an invigorating day out, you can retreat to your cozy bed & breakfast, boutique accommodations, quaint cottage, or luxury suite for a quiet, intimate evening. South Island offers a full range of accommodations so there is something for every budget and taste.
Several companies specialize in honeymoons to South Island so you do not have to flounder through bookings and decisions about where to stay and what to do. Simply tell them what you envision experiencing and leave the planning to them. Once that is done, you can cross the honeymoon planning off your To-Do list. It may be a bit more expensive to hire a company to put your honeymoon package together for you but it is worth it. You not only have that stress removed and more time to spend planning your wedding day but you also are not left wondering about the quality of your accommodations or what to do once you get there.
Nestled along the eastern coastline of New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is a fascinating and diverse city of some 348,000 people. First settled by the Maori around 1250, Christchurch was granted a Royal Charter in 1856 and became an established city.
Home to a number of incredibly beautiful gardens and 800 parks; Christchurch has rightfully earned the nickname of The Garden City. Forward-looking politicians planned for permanent green spaces long before other cities realized the need with the establishment of Hagley Park in 1855 and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens in 1863.
Located in heart of the city, the 165-hectare Hagley Park is bordered by the magnificent 21-hectare Christchurch Botanic Gardens. This significant public park allows visitors to participate in many different activities such as walks through mature woodlands, a running circuit around the perimeter, netball courts, and cycling tracks. If you are looking for a quite area to retreat to read or meditate, you should have no difficulty finding just the right spot in this vast green oasis. Traditionally Hagley Park has been the venue of choice for large gatherings like Great Industrial Exposition of 1882 and is still the choice for major sporting and cultural events.
Established to commemorate the 1863 marriage of Prince Albert to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Christchurch Botanic Gardens is mostly enclosed by a loop of the Avon River. Several plant collections have been established within the Gardens including rare and endangered plant species that are being conserved. Various garden attractions draw you to them by their staggering beauty. The Rock Garden and the Heather Garden have some plants in flower year round while the formal Central Rose Garden and the Heritage Rose Garden contain more than 1250 bush roses and about 30 standard roses. For those with impaired vision, the layout of the Fragrant Garden is designed to accommodate their needs with wider pathways, raised planters, and an abundance of aromatic plants that truly make the garden’s name appropriate.
With just 2% of the Christchurch area’s original wetlands surviving, the 116-hectare Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park is a relatively recent and very welcome addition to the city’s green spaces. This wetland is the last surviving freshwater wetland in Christchurch and is vital to the survival of some native flora and fauna. Home to the only stand of manuka, of any substantial size, this wetland provides a habitat to about 80% of pre-European indigenous wetland plant species. With so much destruction of other wetlands, the Travis Wetland is invaluable in the preservation of native plants and birds. Strictly a “No Dog” zone, this wetland is designed to allow the public access while preserving the treasures of the wetlands.
With these three parks being a tiny sampling of what awaits you as you explore the beauty and history of Christchurch, prepare to be awe struck by the parks and gardens of the city.
Daydreaming of New Zealand, you envision an incredible beautiful country, with some of the most awe-inspiring landscape anywhere on Earth. Your mind doesn’t capture the image of majestic mountains and incredible ski resorts. New Zealand continues to be the destination sought for skiing vacations.
Off the southwest coast of Australia and across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is made up of two main islands and many small ones. The two islands, the North and South Islands, are separated by the Cook Strait.
Through the winter months, the ski resorts and heli-ski operators have some of the best ski vacations available anywhere. Snowboarding and ski season starts in June and runs through to October. Due to its location in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand has winter in mid-year. Skiing enthusiasts from Europe, Japan, and North America descend on New Zealand during the winter to enjoy the incredible skiing experience.
New Zealand has ski areas that are truly beautiful. Some of those areas are:
Mount Ruapehu – This location is a volcano that is large and awesome. It is home to two of the largest ski resorts in New Zealand, Turoa and Whakapapa. There is 1800 hectares of breathtaking terrain for skiing and snowboarding. Mount Ruapehu is truly a world-class ski area.
Treble Cone – Nestled in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the Treble Cone resort offers spectacular view of Wanaka 19 kilometers away. Stable, reliable snow falls and good weather makes it one of the most popular skiing destinations in New Zealand. In 2006, major improvements were done to the trails and it now has the most intermediate and expert runs of any resort on the island.
The largest resort on the South Island, Treble Cone, occupies 550 hectares and boasts a vertical drop of 700 meters, the highest on the island. The drop is serviced by a lift. Whew!!
Mount Hutt – Just over a one-hour drive from Christchurch and a quick half hour from Methven. Located at the foot of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, This area is the ski destination of resorts in the area.
The sixth summit, serviced by chairlifts, takes skiers to many intermediate and novice ski runs. The beginner ski area is serviced by a 140 meter long Magic Carpet. Some of the best ski facilities in New Zealand are found on Mt Hutt.
If you want a terrific ski vacation, look to the ski resorts of New Zealand to give you the skiing experience of a lifetime.
Auckland: A sea lovers paradise
On New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland, a thriving metropolis set in the midst of spectacular bays and inlets. Nicknamed The City of Sails, it is hardly surprising that Auckland’s most notable activities are water related such as dinner cruises around the harbor, swims with dolphins and dolphin spotting.
Transportation: get from here to there
Auckland is home to the major international airport in New Zealand. This means that Auckland is directly accessible from Europe, Asia, Australia and the US. There are also domestic routes to Auckland from South island.
The recommended modes of transportation with the city are bicycle or taxicab. Rail and bus services are available to other areas of the island.
Summer runs from November to April because New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere. Temperatures in the summer average around 20°C and the winter temperatures are very mild, above freezing.
Accommodation: Budget to luxury accommodations
The best and most reliable source of information on accommodations is the Internet. Selection, cost, availability, location and amenities for accommodations can be obtained through the Accommodations link on the city of Auckland’s website.
Events and Attractions
All year there are events; like sports, music and festivals; being held in the city and there are a myriad of attractions to see. No matter when you visit, there is bound to be something happening in or around Auckland. Just check the city’s website.
The diverse culture of New Zealand is steeped in the history and culture of the indigenous Maori. Legend has it that, more than 1000 years ago, the Maori came to New Zealand from Hawaiki, their ancestrial home, in open boats similar to the traditional crafts that some still use.
Two main islands and several small islands off the southwest coast of Australia is the isolated island country of New Zealand. Across the Tasman Sea lies Australia and Tonga and Fiji are to the north. New Zealand occupies an area of 268670 square kilometers. The area is a bit less landmass than is occupied by Japan and slightly more than the UK. New Zealand has substantial marine resources and is the fifth largest EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) on the Earth. This means New Zealand can lay claim to more than over four million square kilometers, more than fifteen times its landmass, for their exclusive “exploration and use of marine resources”.
New Zealand’s temperate climate means that temperatures seldom go higher than 30°C (86°F) or drop lower 0°C (32°F). Wet, cold, and mountainous; South Island is the largest of the two islands and the Southern Alps, running length wise through the island, divides the east side of the island from the west side. In contrast, North Island is dry, continental and pocked by volcanoes. An active volcano, Mount Ruapehu, is the highest mountain on North Island at 9,176 feet. The popularity of the island landscape soared in popularity after the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot there.
New Zealand has total population of over four million people with the Maori making up the largest minority. Other significant minority populations are composed of Asians and Polynesians (non-Maori), most visibly in urban areas. Although Elizabeth II is a figurehead, she holds the title of the Queen of New Zealand. The office of New Zealand’s Prime Minister holds the true political power in the elected Parliament.
The government has been remodeling the economy ever since 1984 so that it is more of an industrialized free market and far less dependent on the British market. In order for that model to work, there must be significant agricultural exports. Leading in this area are meat/dairy/forest products, vegetables and fruit, wool, and fish.
Many other cultures have had a significant influence on the culture in New Zealand. The heaviest influences come from the Irish, British and Maori. Polynesians gravitated to this landmass in 1000AD and established the indigenous population of Maori. Scottish settlers have had an impact on the culture of New Zealand, to the extent that New Zealand now has more bagpipe bands than Scotland does.
The Kiwi is the national bird of the country and has been adopted as a nickname for New Zealanders. It is also often used as an adjective when referring to their culture.
New Zealand has many facets to be explored and relished. Book your visit now!
On the South Island, excitement is around every corner. Rivers race through rocky ravines and then meander across plains washed down from the Southern Alps. Alpine lakes provide endless diversions, and the various contents that sweep along the western and eastern coasts carry food and a huge variety of dramatic sea life.
Up in the north, the stretches of golden sand and numerous coves attract sea kayakers and canoeists to Abel Tasman National Park. Around the corner, in the Marlborough Sounds, deep waterways entice boaters and fishermen to its inlets and fiords.
The combination of cold and hot currents and the continental shelf drop offs attract sperm, humpback, southern right and minke whales; as well as dolphins, orcas and a plethora of other sea life, to the Kaikoura coast.
The shallow rivers of Canterbury have been well stocked with sea-run trout and well fed quinnat salmon. Within a two-hour drive from Gore, there are 27 rivers worth fishing. Gore boasts that it is The World ‘s Brown Trout Fishing Capital.
High speed jet boats take small groups of people on safe, but thrilling, tours along the rivers and incredible gorges. The Shotover and Kawarau rivers just outside Queenstown provide some of the most exhilarating rides. This resort area is renown as the Adventure Capital, where skillful drivers can judge the gaps with astounding accuracy and can thrill the passengers with seemingly impossible turns and spins.
Whitewater rafting appeals to those that want a marginally more laid back activity and the gleeful shouts and whoops are evidence of their thrills. The Southern Lakes are teeming with sailing dinghies and water-skiers on hot, lazy summer days.
The Southern Ocean’s cold currents thunder as they roll up onto the Otago coast. Thse waves create an awesome surfing experience for surfers. Formidable fiords of the Fiordland region hold many surprises. An event called “deep water emergence” allows you to view a unique marine environment, including rare black coral, about one meter below the surface.
Although in the shadow of its neighbor, Australia, New Zealand is a world apart from anything you may experience elsewhere. A former British colony, with indigenous influences permeating the culture because of its proximity to the Polynesian islands and its Maori heritage, New Zealand offers some of the most diverse tourist experiences in the world. Year after year, the green rolling meadows; easily accessible geysers; guided glacier walks; and unending stretches of incredible beaches tempt many tourists to travel across oceans to soak up New Zealand’s natural beauty.
Discovered around 800AD by Kupe, the landmass known as New Zealand was one of the last to be settled. A steady influx of migration from the time of Captain James Cook has seen this island nation grow. The indigenous Maori are a minority but have had a tremendous enriching influence on life in New Zealand.
New Zealand is divided into two main islands, North Island and South Island. The season and destination will dictate what wonders you are exposed to. Both islands offer all manner of extreme sports, including the New Zealand invention – bungee jumping.
South Island is renowned for the relics from the last Ice Age; the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers that rise to just below majestic Mount Cook, the tallest peak in the Southern Alps. These valley glaciers are unique in that, when the world’s glaciers are retreating, these continue to flow. Moving steadily toward sea level, these spectacular glaciers flow at a rate that is about ten times faster than other valley glaciers. Winter in the Southern Alps provides an excellent opportunity to participate in skiing, filmmaking and mountaineering. Some scenes filmed for The Chronicles of Narnia were shot here. South Island’s Otago Peninsula lets you experience cozy accommodations in the midst of seal, sea lion, penguin and sea elephant habitat.
North Island has a milder climate and a warmer summer than South Island. A trip to the legendary Lake Taupo, a 660 square meter lake formed by a volcanic explosion, will fill you with awe. Black water rafting, or cave rafting, as it is sometimes known as, is popular on the west coast. A black water rafting experience, especially a tour through the Ruakuri Cave, will give you an adrenaline rush that you will always remember. If you are not seeking that much of an adventure, make your way to Ninety Mile Beach located at the far north end of North Island. The origin of its name is not known but the beach takes in 55 breathtaking miles of coastline, including the stunning northern dunes. To the east, Great Barrier Island offers a unique and wondrous underwater world for scuba divers to explore. It also gives you the opportunity to bask in the Kaitoke hot springs, commune with nature in the Glenfern Sanctuary, or just take in the sensational sight of Mount Hobson rising majestically above this barrier island.
A four-season destination, New Zealand is filled with enough activities and city life to whet your appetite for more. Wellington, Queenstown and Auckland all appeal to the spirited, youthful and adventurous tourists. The culture and spirit of New Zealand surrounds you even in the urban areas. Is New Zealand worth visiting? The only answer is a resounding YES!