New Zealand Experiences
Auckland is the main international gateway and the largest city with 1/3 of the country’s population. This waterfront city is filled with bustling markets, world-class restaurants, and locals known for their welcoming and laid-back lifestyle. Nicknamed the ‘City of Sails’ as there are more sailboats per capita here. The Sky Tower is the highest point in the city. Enjoy 360-degree views from the top or for those looking for a bit of a thrill, bungee jump from the top. Travel a half hour from downtown and you will find beautiful beaches, hiking trails and islands. To the west, lush rainforest meets the sea on black sand beaches. Take a ferry to Rangitoto Island for the most iconic volcano offering panoramic views of the city and harbor. Waiheke Island has 30 vineyards for wine tastings and boutiques with works from local artists.
Bay of Islands
Located just 4 hours drive north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands is filled with forest, rolling green hills and long silvery beaches. The stunning Bay of Islands is as rich in history as it is in scenery. The Waitangi Treaty between the English and the Maori people was signed here. Travel to Cape Reigna where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. Travel through the forests and marvel at the huge Kauri Trees. Visit 90 mile beach on the East coast – beautiful stretch of beach that is known for surfing. Take a dolphin cruise and see the ‘Hole in the Rock’.
Christchurch is the main gateway to the South Island as well as its largest city. Known as the ‘Garden City’ with its beautiful Botanical Gardens and Avon River. After the devastating earthquakes in 2011, Christchurch was rebuilt as a more creative and funkier urban center. Wander through the streets admiring the colorful murals and street art. Travel north to Kaikoura for whale watching. Travel 90 miles to the East to Akaroa, the most French town in New Zealand. It will entrance you with its historic buildings, magnificent harbor, and passion for fine food. Take a cruise to see the world’s smallest dolphins, the Hector Dolphins.
On the shore of Lake Wakatipu, at the foot of the Remarkables Range, lies the Adventure Capital of New Zealand - Queenstown. This charming town offers something for everyone, from adrenaline-charged activities such as bungee-jumping, whitewater rafting and jetboating to decidedly more tranquil pursuits of strolling alpine lanes to exploring eclectic shops. Take the Skyline Gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak for the panoramic views of the town, lake, and mountains. The site of the original bungee jump is Kewarau Bridge, located just outside of town. A short distance from Queenstown is Arrowtown. Built in the gold mining days, it is now a charming town with many unique boutique shops and cafes. You can even visit one or two wineries in the area. Lake Wakatipu is an S shaped lake with Queenstown about a third of the way down. Continue along the shore and take in spectacular views on the way to Glenorchy. For Lord of the Rings fans, many scenes were filmed here.
Rotorua is the spiritual and cultural center of New Zealand. It is also known for its geothermal activity. Tour Te Puia and gaze in wonder at the shooting geysers and bubbling mud pools. While there, tour the authentic pre-European Maori village, learn about the Maori traditions of wood carving, weaving and the Haka and Poi dance. Indulge yourself at the well-known Polynesian Spa with a soaking in the hot springs or visit Hells Gate for a mud bath and massage. Visit Rainbow Springs to view the flora and fauna of New Zealand and see recused kiwi birds up close at the Kiwi Encounter. For adventure seekers, there is lots to offer in the area: bungee jumping, mountain biking, the luge, and more.
The North Island of New Zealand has so much more to offer. Visit Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Also known as the arts and culture capital of the country, this city’s sophisticated style features exciting galleries, boutique shops, cafes, and acclaimed restaurants – all located directly on a scenic waterfront. Do not miss a visit to the Te Papa museum. Be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms in the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. You can visit Bag End, where Frodo and Bilbo’s adventures began and get lost among the hobbit holes. Take a kayak out or go fishing on Lake Taupo. Look for ancient rock carvings in Mine Bay Napier is known for its Art Deco Buildings. From there, visit the wineries of Hawke’s Bay or go in search of the Gannets.
West Coast / Glaciers
The West Coast, or 'the Coast' as locals call it, is a wild place of rivers and rainforests, glaciers, and geological treasures. Where else can you stand in rainforest and look at a glacier?
The 2 most accessible glaciers are Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. There are several activities to be found in both small towns. Take a helicopter ride to land on the glacier. Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest. Do not miss a visit to the Milford Sound in beautiful Fjordland. Here you can see waterfalls, rainforests, mountains, and seals. Many people will include this on a visit to Queenstown.
The South Island has more to offer visitors. In the North, visit Marlborough, known for its Sauvignon Blanc wines. Abel Tasman National Park is located on the North coast near Nelson. This area has Mediterranean like temperatures year-round with 300 days of sunshine.
The Tranz Alpine is a world-famous train journey from Christchurch in the East to Greymouth in the West. You will journey across the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and then traverse the mighty Southern Alps where spectacular alpine views will take your breath away and descend to end in Greymouth. From there you can visit Punakaiki and its pancake rocks.
Dunedin is on the southeast coast of the South Island. It offers natural beauty and cultural history.
This university town has a very Scottish feel. From Dunedin, drive to the Otago Peninsula to visit historic Larnach Castle and the many fine craft shops. On the Peninsula, you can also see the rare sighting of Albatross soaring overhead and on land at the Royal Albatross Center or see the Yellow Eyed Penguins at the Penguin Center.