New Zealand Attractions
There are a number of hiking trails in New Zealand, each one more beautiful than the next. The Great Walks designate nine of the country’s most important hiking trails, including the Rakiura Track, the Heaphy Track, the Kepler Track and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. The Department of Conservation provides an overview of the hiking routes and the respective accommodation options (Internet: www.doc.govt.nz ). Depending on the season, some tours require registration.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in New Zealand, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
Known as the Garden City, Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, sits on the edge of the vast Canterbury Plains. The tree-lined River Avon meanders through the center of the town, which is reminiscent of an old English university town, with its old university buildings (now a superb cultural center) and numerous examples of neo-Gothic architecture. Tourists can explore the city either on foot or by the restored tram. A visit to the extensive Hagley Park, the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and the Botanical Gardens is worthwhile.
Across the Foveaux Strait lies New Zealand’s third largest island, which has only a few inhabitants and is accessible by plane (20 minutes) or by power catamaran from Bluff. The island offers several attractions, including the rare opportunity to see a kiwi (New Zealand’s national bird) in the wild. The birds come to Mason’s Beach in the evening, which can be reached by plane or by water taxi to Patterson’s Inlet, followed by a four-hour walk.
Wanganui is on the west coast of the North Island at the mouth of the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway. You can cruise down the river by jetboat or steamboat, or venture out in a canoe or kayak. Whanganui National Park, which stretches along the banks of the river, consists mostly of unspoilt bushland, which is home to the remains of the Bridge to Nowhere, a remnant of a failed attempt to establish a settlement in this magnificent wilderness.
The Pacific Coast Highway
This spectacular coastal drive parallels the coves and beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula and the sweeping bays of the East Coast. The journey begins by ferry from Auckland to Coromandel, where the road winds along the tiny, sunlit bays of the peninsulas and then stretches along the Hot Water Beach to Tauranga. The peninsula’s volcanic hills are home to lush rainforest, and the Coromandel Forest Park Reserve is home to numerous giant kauri trees, famous for their long, straight trunks.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakapitu at the foot of the Remarkables Range, Queenstown is known as New Zealand’s adventure capital. Here you can practice bungee jumping, paragliding, parachuting, jet boating in narrow canyons and all kinds of other adrenaline-pumping extreme sports. Those who like it a little quieter can take the gondola up Bob’s Peak and enjoy the fantastic view. In the winter, Queenstown is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders.
Fiordland National Park
In Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are dozens of hiking trails through a natural and varied landscape. The most famous hiking trail is the Milford Walking Track (tour of four to five days, registration required at www.doc.govt.nz ). Tourist boats head out to sea along narrow, glacier-carved Milford Sound, a scenic fjord. Here you can see Fiordland penguins, seals and the occasional whale and dolphin. Kayak or boat expeditions to adjacent Doubtful Sound are also available.
One of the most magical places in the country are the famous limestone caves of Waitamo (website: www.waitomo.com ) with their grottoes full of glowing blue glowworms. The caves can be explored by boat. Alternatively, you can don a wet suit and venture in on a car tire, an activity called cave rafting. A nearby sheep farm was used as the setting for Middle-earth during the filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
New Plymouth and Mount Taranaki
The city of New Plymouth is known for its parks and gardens filled with colorful rhododendrons and azaleas. In the spring, the WOMAD festival takes place here, with musicians from all over the world performing at the Brooklands & TSB Bowl. The city always overlooks Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont), which is the center of Egmont National Park and offers even the less adventurous visitor an excellent mountain hike (eight hours up and down).
Known as the City of Sails, Auckland (website: www.aucklandnz.com ) is New Zealand’s largest populated area and has more sailboats per inhabitant than any other city in the world. Sight-seeing suburbs such as Takapuna, Devonport or Ponsonby, the white sandy beaches of the Hauraki Gulf and the busy harbor make up the appeal of this business town. From the more than 320 m high Sky Tower you have an incomparable view of the city, and if you are particularly daring, you can throw yourself almost 200 m down with the Skyjump ! Another attraction is Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium (website: www.kellytarltons.co.nz ).