Crystal Compass

Travel Today in New Zealand

Explore New Zealand

Enjoy opportunities of being in the right place at the right time

 

Have a rest and relax

Get out of a daily routine

Seek for peace and simple resting while introducing yourself to new horizons.

Top Activities

Tickets & Passes

Half-day Tours

Bus Tours

Full-day Tours

Top Attractions

Scenic Landmarks

Milford Track

Lush, rugged and impossibly scenic, the Milford Track is the gold standard of all of New Zealand’s hiking trails. In a country already known for its hiking, this famous track through the heart of Fiordland has been known to trump all others. Tramp your way through alpine scenery where mountains thrust upwards from the lakeshore, and walk beneath the famous Sutherland Falls that spill 1,900 feet down the mountainside. Delve through forests that are brilliantly painted in nearly every shade of green, and then finally emerge at the placid waters of famous Milford Sound.

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Cultural/Heritage Places

Tamaki Maori Village

Built by two brothers in 1989, the Tamaki Maori Village is the destinatition for an authentic Maori experience. If you are looking for a Maori encounter beyond the typical performance found at hotels, this is the place to go.The village is itself a recreation of an actual Maori settlement, and in this village, guests experience "The Chronicles of Uitara," a story following a single warrior line from 3,000 BC to the present day. Based on true events effected by actual people, the Chronicles of Uitara is reenacted by the most sought-after historical performers in the country. Guests will be enchanted and hooked by the tale, dramatically recreated with action-packed choreography. Following the story, the evening culminates in a traditional hangi feast.

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Water & Amusement Parks

Velocity Valley

Agroventures Adventure Park is where boredom goes to die. Strap yourself into the passenger seat of a sleek, high-speed jet boat, and splash around corners at 60mph at nearly 3G’s of force. Feel the pressure of a bungy cord pulled tight around your ankles, and the instantaneous stomach drop once you fall from 140 feet. Don a squirrel suit and step inside New Zealand’s only wind tunnel, where 130mph winds create the feeling of falling from a plane. Or, for daredevils who love anticipation, attach yourself to a thin ripcord that is raised 130 feet, before literally releasing yourself from the cord and swooping at 80mph. If you’d rather try something unique than scary, step inside the world’s only “Shweeb”—an aerodynamic, pedal-driven pod attached to a monorail track. Take it slow and enjoy the view, or challenge your friends on the dueling tracks that are meant for racing and speed. Break the world record and you could even win $1,000 prize.

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Water Activities & Tours

Piha Beach

Located one hour west of downtown Auckland, Piha Beach is one of the most popular day trips for city-trapped urbanites needing an escape to the beach. This coastal community of 600 residents sits tucked at the base of the Waitakere Ranges, a series of hills which are criss-crossed by some of Auckland’s best hiking and trails. Along the shore, the beach itself is an expansive theater where land and sea meet in an epic tableau. Towering rocks spring upwards from the sea, and stretches of sand which are so limitless in size make it tough for the shoreline to ever appear crowded. On the stretch of shore along Piha Beach, a towering monolith known as Lion Rock separates the beach into its north and south parts. Since the south side of the beach is closer to town, it’s also the part which is most frequently popular, and as you walk the shore towards the north end of the beach the development gives way to a system of dunes.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Orakei Korako

A geothermic wonderland of hissing geysers, bubbling hot springs and natural silica terraces, the Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park serves up some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and makes a popular day trip from nearby Taupo or Rotorua. Nicknamed the ‘Hidden Valley’, the park is the country’s largest and one of its most impressive thermal areas, with the all-natural scenery providing a suitably dramatic backdrop for a walking tour.Take the bush walk through the heart of the park and you’ll be surrounded by untouched geothermal landscapes – gurgling mud pools, piping hot springs and steaming fissures interspersed with 35 active natural geysers, spurting steaming water up to 9 meters in the air. Most notable are the series of fault-stepped silica terraces, over which up to 20 million liters of water flow per day.

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Scenic Landmarks

Hollyford Track

In a nation which offers some of the world’s best trekking, the case could be made that the Hollyford Track is New Zealand’s most underrated hike. What’s better, given its relatively flat terrain and easily accessible route, you can hike the Hollyford during most times of the year and still find comfortable conditions.Located two hours north of Te Anau on the road towards Milford Sound, the Hollyford Track is often overlooked in lieu of the Routeburn, Kepler, or Milford tracks. Whereas these more popular hikes weave their way through the mountains of the Southern Alps, the Hollyford meanders along the length of a valley which winds towards the Tasman Sea. It’s an area that Maori once used as a trade route for harvesting and selling pounamu (jade), and much of the wilderness remains entirely unchanged since the Maori once wandered this valley.

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Water & Amusement Parks

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa

Spa-lovers may find it hard to leave Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools—actually anyone who likes to relax will easily find reasons to stay. For many, the standout attractions are the dozen open-air geothermal pools, ranging in temperatures from 91 to 107°F (33 to 42° C). There are also three sulphur pools, six private indoor thermal pools and a sauna. Convincing guests to linger is typically not difficult.The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools also attract traveling families. Water slides and a heated swimming pool with a walk-in beach style entry provide hours of fun, and even parents enjoy floating on the Lazy River. Skiing and ice skating are popular ways to enjoy the outdoors in winter, while during warmer summer months hiking, kayaking and mountain biking lure folks out of the warm pools.

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Wildlife & Zoos

Kiwi Birdlife Park

There are two different ways to see a kiwi bird when traveling in Queenstown, New Zealand: Drive hours away to remote regions in the exceptionally slim hopes of spotting one, or drive two minutes from downtown Queenstown to Kiwi Birdlife Park. When visiting this 5-acre wildlife compound, visitors can spend time with—and even feed—New Zealand’s iconic birds, and also spot species such as alpine parrots and the rarely seen New Zealand falcon. When finished walking through the darkened hides that house the furry brown kiwis, gawk at the prehistoric tuatara that scientists claim has survived virtually unchanged for over 200 million years. Conservation is another key element of this informative and educational park, and funds from admission are used to rehabilitate and release birds back in the wild. Daily conservation shows discuss the programs in depth, and you’ll also find talks on Maori culture and the pounamu, or greenstone, that led the Maori to originally inhabit these hills.

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See different sceneries

See different sceneries worldwide

Discover a vast number of beautiful places in our planet that you may not even know about yet.

Top Activities

Nature and Wildlife Tours

Bus Tours

Full-day Tours

Half-day Tours

Top Attractions

Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake)

Even though it’s right next to the wildly popular Blue Lake, the Green Lake—or Rotokakahi—is a sacred lake that isn’t open to swimming, fishing, or boating. This lake is sacred to the Te Arawa tribe who are the area’s original inhabitants, as the lake was the site of important battles and numerous sacred burial grounds. In the center of the lake is a small island known as Motutawa, where not only are the remains buried of a young Maori chief, but was also the site of a 19th century slaughter at the hands of a neighboring tribe. Originally, the lake got its name from the abundance of kakahi (crayfish) found living in the sandy bottom, although the lake today is largely left to exist in its natural state The trail that encircles the neighboring Blue Lake offers views of Rotokakahi, or, for those who would prefer a bit more solitude than the sometimes crowded Blue Lake, there are a couple of walking tracks that trace the shore of Rotokakahi itself.

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Winter Activities & Tours

Mount Hutt

Mount Hutt is one of New Zealand's premier skiing destinations, tailored to suit beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders and everyone in-between. The snow is skiable for months and months here, from June to October, and all manner of equipment and instruction is available from the nearest town, Methven. When winter is over, come to Mount Hutt for scenic hot-air ballooning, hiking, fishing or golfing. When the weather is clear you can take in views over the Canterbury Plains, all the way to the ocean.

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Gardens & Parks

Waitakere Ranges

Many equate the city of Auckland with sailboats cruising along the famous waterfront. While there is no denying the city’s maritime heritage, few realize that the “City of Sails” also has bushwalks and tumbling waterfalls which are tucked away in a forested hideaway. In the Waitakere Ranges—a string of hills which rise to 1,400 feet and stretch for 15 miles—rural hiking tracks weave their way through native wilderness and bush. Set only 30 minutes west of the downtown city center, the park offers everything from twenty-minute loops to multiday trails delving deep into the forest. Along the way, hikers will pass along numerous streams and walk beneath a canopy which teems with birdsong. Of all the trees which grow in the forest, none are more famous than the towering kauri which regularly stretches to over 100 feet in height. The park has more than just trails, however, and the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park extends to the shoreline of Auckland’s west coast.

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Winter Activities & Tours

Coronet Peak

Located only 25 minutes from the adventure capital of Queenstown, Coronet Peak is one of the most popular ski resorts on the entire South Island of New Zealand. This historic ski field is officially the nation’s oldest, and when it opened for business in 1947 there was only a single tow rope.Today, however, Coronet Peak is a modern ski field on par with the best in the country. Aside from being the nation’s oldest, it’s also one of the last resorts in the country to watch its snow melt away. Given its southerly location, colder temperatures make for a longer season and better conditions for snowmaking. On most years, Coronet Peak will open its slopes sometime during the middle of June, and remain open throughout the winter until the mountain thaws in October. In addition to the long season, the resort offers views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Southern Alps.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Manapouri

Stunning Lake Manapouri surrounded by the majestic Cathedral Ranges and dotted with thirty-four islands, is beautiful and impressive. The mountains, which make up the north, south and west sides of the lake, descend into the water creating lovely waterfalls and isolated sandy coves perfect for swimming and picnics.The small town of Manapouri (pop. 300) lies on the east coast and is the major jumping off point for people heading to Doubtful Sound as it can be reached by boat from the Waiau River which feeds the lake. There are a number of walking tracks around the lake, including the well known Manapouri Track which leads you up Mt. Titiroa to take in the beautiful lake views before finishing with a swim in the lake. Lesser known walks include Percy’s Pass and Dusky Track. Fishing is also popular on the lake and suits the experienced and novices alike. If you’re after a workout then kayaks are available depending on the weather.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lady Knox Geyser

Named for Lady Constance Knox, a daughter of the 15th governor of New Zealand, Lady Knox Geyser is located in the North Island's Taupo Volcanic Zone. While this region is famous for a variety of fascinating geological phenomena, the Lady Knox Geyser is unique. Every day it erupts at precisely 10:15am, when a park guide induces it to do so - with soap.Indeed, the soap is used to break the surface tension of the cold water in the geyser's upper chamber so that it will mix with the hot water in the lower chamber, which causes an 20 meter (65 feet) eruption that can last an hour. Stones have been placed around the opening in order to enhance the blast, and over the years, silica in the water has given the spout a nozzle-like appearance. You'll find it among the other natural marvels of the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Te Anau

When it comes to the dreamlike landscape of Fiordland, the mountainous peaks might provide the drama, but it’s the shimmering lakes that provide the contour. In the case of Lake Te Anau, this massive, deep, glacially carved lake wraps its arms around Fiordland’s mountains in a geological embrace. This is the second largest lake in New Zealand—but the largest in total volume—and it forms the backdrop for the town of Te Anau and the road toward Milford Sound.Of all of the activities to take part in on Lake Te Anau, touring the glowworm caves is undoubtedly the most popular. These luminescent critters inhabit the ceilings of dark caves on the shoreline, and the ride to the other side of the lake offers sweeping views of the surroundings. The lake also provides a stunning backdrop for hikers tackling the Kepler Track, and there are small beaches that dot the lake, perfect for a cold dip.

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Places of Natural Beauty

The Remarkables

New Zealand’s outdoor playground, the Remarkables, located high in mountainous country, possesses a great sense of excitement for any visitor looking to rip-up the alpines. With fabulous skiing, hiking, snowboarding and opportunities to just hangout, the entire family will get a kick from these majestic reserves.Cool jumps, tunnels, trails, and even a bouncy castle at the crèche are available for children of all ages, while snow-sports schools are waiting for adults who have put off the slopes for too long.You can also have a look at how the pros do it, with international competitions that take place. See boarders go sky-high off the half-pipes, or see renowned skier’s flow between slaloms at immense speeds.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Kawarau River

If you’re a bungy enthusiast you’ll know that Kawarau River is the site of the world's first commercial bungy. It’s still possible to take a dive from the bridge that started it all. On your way down you’ll see the trademark sky-blue water and green cliffs of Kawarau River, you might even touch the water!The river is extremely popular with thrill seekers who come for river surfing, riverboarding and jet boating. The white-water rafting is particularly excellent with rapids to suit beginners to experienced rafters and some calm stretches where you can rest and take in the spectacular scenery. More sedate history seekers come to check out the gold-miners huts and relics from the river’s gold-rush days.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Mt. Cook (Aoraki)

The highest peak in New Zealand, the magnificent Mt. Cook (Aoraki) stands 12,349 feet (3,764 meters) tall. The Maori name Aoraki means "cloud piercer" and its striking beauty makes it one of the island's finest mountains. Of New Zealand’s 27 mountains over 8,400 feet (3,000 meters) 22 of them are in this mountain range offering a spectacular display of snow-capped peaks and lush rainforested slopes.The mountains glacial lakes are popular with people wanting to fish and sail while the rest of the mountain offers horse riding, 4x4 safaris, scenic flights and excellent mountain climbing for experienced climbers. Sir Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mt. Cook in 1948 before climbing Everest in 1953.The Tasman Glacier falls down the east side of the mountain with the Hooker Glacier falls to the west. It is possible to take guided skiing trips on Tasman Glacier while Hooker Glacier offers some excellent walking tracks.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Doubtful Sound

Breathtaking Doubtful Sound is one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the world. A striking place of soaring peaks and still, calm waters it is nick-named "Sound of Silence" because of the incredible stillness and peace that fills the sound. One minute it might be all sunshine and bright skies and the next it will be shrouded in fog and mystery.The sound is a long fingered fiord gouged by glaciers between 15,000 and 75,000 years ago it is three times longer and ten times bigger than the more popular and accessible nearby Milford Sound. The sound comprises of three fingers and is full of stunning waterfalls and islets. The islets are prime spots to view Fiordland Crested Penguins and New Zealand Fur Seals.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Like much of New Zealand's attractions, the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland centers on walking outdoors - but what a walk! The park is New Zealand's most colorful and diverse geothermal attraction; visitors follow demarcated tracks through a stunning variety of volcanic phenomena. You'll see fantastic, naturally colored hot-and-cold pools, the world famous Champagne Pool, the amazing Lady Knox Geyser and the massive craters that are the hallmark of the Rotorua region's volcanic heritage.You'll want to bring a camera and plenty of film/memory cards - the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland has some truly amazing views and scenery. New Zealand is known for its natural beauty, but this geothermal park accentuates it with its unusual geothermal topography. In particular, the shimmering water flowing over the Sinter Terrace Formations is not to be missed.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)

It’s tough to decide which is more beautiful: the cobalt hue of the aptly-named “Blue Lake” as it sparkles in the midday sun, or the deep green of the Whakarewarewa Forest that hugs the shore of the lake. Either way, the natural beauty is what makes this lake a Rotorua favorite, and it’s the best place in town for swimming, water skiing, and reconnecting with nature. Thanks to a pumice and rhyolite bottom that’s reflected by the sun, the blue color of this small lake is just too inviting for a swim. Despite its small size and shallow depth the water is still relatively cool, and the north end beach is the place to be on the hottest days of summer. If you’d prefer to work up a sweat instead before cooling off with a swim, a 3.5-mile walking trail encircles the entire lake. Walk beneath the shaded groves of the Whakarewarewa forest, and leave footprints in the lakeshore sand before jumping in for a swim.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Port Hills

Separating Christchurch from Lyttleton Harbor, the Port Hills are a playground for Christchurch outdoors-lovers who are looking to work up a sweat. Rising to height of nearly 1,800 feet, the Port Hills are located a short distance from downtown and are criss-crossed by multi-use trails. Hit the hillside on a rented mountain bike or go for a scenic hike, or watch as paragliders leap from the slopes overlooking the beach town of Sumner. Many of the trails were closed as a result of landslides in the 2011 earthquake, but most of the trails have since been reopened and are a refreshing getaway from the city.In addition to the trails, the Port Hills are known for the native birds which make their homes on the hillsides. Catch a glimpse of a New Zealand wood-pigeon as it floats above the hills, or hear the call of a native bellbird as it rustles about the bush.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti is the boutique cousin to the larger Lake Rotorua. Although Rotoiti is connected to its massive neighbor by the narrow Ohau Channel, it has its own laidback, gentle feel. The lake is lined with the westward facing decks of holiday homes perfect for sunset views. The trout fishing here is some of the best on the North Island, particularly toward the Ohau Channel, where the two lakes merge.To get the full lake experience, head out on the water and sea kayak to hidden beaches where hot springs bubble beneath the sands, or go rafting down one of the waterfalls that spill into the surrounding rivers. For a serene view of the water, rather than an adventure out on it, make your way to the hiking trails in the area, which are packed with historical significance. The Hinehopu/Hongi Track, which leads toward Lake Rotoehu, makes for a 90-minute route that has existed since 1620.

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Sights & Landmarks

Christchurch Gondola

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view from more than 1,640 feet (500 meters) above sea level on the Christchurch Gondola. Take in 360-degree views as the Christchurch cityscape competes for your attention with views of the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps and the Banks Peninsula. The trip takes 10 minutes each way.The Gondola Base Station is located in Heathcote Valley. Parking is available if you’re coming by car, and the summit Station is at the top of Mt Cavendish. There’s a café and shop in case you need some souvenirs. There are also walking and biking tracks nearby, so come prepared to spend time outside.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Sulphur Point

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Rotorua isn’t the natural beauty; instead—it’s the smell. From the moment you set foot in this North Island hot spot, the pungent smell of rotten eggs seems to waft in the air like a cloud. Don’t worry— it doesn’t take long to get used to the smell, and it’s actually the result of fresh sulphur and the Earth’s volcanic flux.While the smell is noticeable all across town, nowhere is the sulphur more beautifully evident than at the sands of Sulphur Point. Here, on Lake Rotorua’s southern end, sulphur particles suspended in the shallows turn the water a milky white. The constantly shifting geothermal wetland houses 60 species of birds, which somehow survive the warm waters and boiling, earthy minerals. Follow the boardwalk around the point to find steaming mud pools and vents, and signed placards along the boardwalk explain the volcanic action.

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Gardens & Parks

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland is picture postcard New Zealand: all soaring mountains, rugged landscapes and stunning lakes. Within Fiordland you will find some of New Zealand’s finest attractions like the fiord hewn sounds, including the popular and impressive Milford Sound and the less accessible, but breathtaking, Doubtful Sound.This is some of the most dramatic landscape in New Zealand and since it is almost uninhabited by humans, the area is a haven for wildlife. The mountains house forest birds while the lakes and sounds are home to penguins, seals, sea lions, dolphins and the occasional whale. There are many great walks in the area; the best-known is the Milford Walk which takes you, over four days, from the head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Other walks include the Routeburn and Keplar tracks. Other activities include fishing, kayaking, diving and horse riding.

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Gardens & Parks

Arthur's Pass National Park

This superbly scenic national park is in Central Canterbury, rising out of the plains. A magnet for wintertime skiers and summertime hikers, Arthur’s Pass National Park is also a popular day trip from Christchurch.Easy day walks fan out from the visitor information center, leading to vantage points affording panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks.Providing an instant snapshot of New Zealand's legendary natural beauty, a day trip to the park also reveals glimpses of extensive beech forests, rainforest, mountain passes and soaring peaks.If you're planning on experiencing a bit of New Zealand 'tramping' (the NZ word for hiking) take note that this is tricky territory, and for experienced hikers only. Tracks are not continuously marked, and they can involve river crossings, plus the weather is notoriously changeable.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Okareka

Though not as large as its surrounding neighbors, Lake Okareka is a local favorite for swimming, fishing, and boating. Children splash in refreshing water that’s backed by deep green hills, and anglers fish for Rainbow Trout, smelt, and long-finned eels. The lake is popular with birdwatchers for the dozens of different species, and you can scan the shoreline for swans, coots, ducks, shags, pukeko, gulls, and stilts. A popular boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible hugs the shore of the lake, and it makes for a leisurely stroll through farmland that stretches down to the shore. There is a small community of holiday homes that are sprinkled around the lake, and for an authentic view of the Rotorua countryside, spend a morning on a horseback trek through the hills and surrounding farmland. Since the shimmering lake is so close to downtown Rotorua, this is an easy spot to visit on a whim if the weather suddenly seems right.

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Gardens & Parks

Puketi Forest (Puketi Kauri Forest)

For as much attention as the Bay of Islands receives for its empty beaches and coves, one of the best sights near the Bay of Islands has nothing to do with the water. Rather, the Puketi rainforest is set inland from the coast in some of the best-preserved wilderness in the Northland.Set only a short drive from the Bay of Islands, this lush expanse of native foliage stretches over 37,000 acres of terrain. Here, kauri trees over 120 feet in height keep a watchful eye over the forest, and parts of the land have remained completely untouched since the arrival of the island’s first humans. In addition to the kauri—native hardwoods which were prized by Maori and exploited by European shipbuilders—there are over 370 different species of plants which thrive in the Puketi rainforest. Given the unique climate of the Northland and its geographical obscurity, a few of these plants are endemic to New Zealand and exist nowhere else in the world.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Mitre Peak

Set smack in the middle of Milford Sound, Mitre Peak is the undisputed star in an already impressive show. Craggy, lonely and often shrouded in mist, this iconic spire thrusts a mile upwards from the placid waters of the Sound. When you arrive in Milford Sound after the serpentine road through the mountains, Mitre Peak rises before you like a sentinel to congratulate you on making the journey. This is easily one of the most oft-photographed sites in New Zealand—and when you stare at its stoic profile against the water you can immediately understand why.To get a closer view of Mitre Peak, crane your neck upwards at the 5,500-foot summit during a cruise of Milford Sound. Or, paddle beneath its alpine shadow as you kayak in search of marine life.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Wakatipu

Dazzling Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's longest lake. Shaped like an inverted "n" it is a highlight of a trip to Queenstown, which nestles against a curve near the middle of the lake. During the last ice age a huge glacier carved out the lake, which sinks to a depth of 1,300 feet (400 meters).The surrounding mountains that fed the glacier provide a dramatic backdrop to the crystal waters.Atmospheric pressures cause the lake to rise and fall about 5 inches (12 centimeters) every 5 minutes. This gave rise to the Maori legend that the rise and fall of the water is the heartbeat of a giant who lies slumbering under the water.The magnificent lake was the location for the Lothlorein scenes in The Lord of the Rings movie. If you’d like to get out on the water the most genteel way is to climb aboard the refurbished vintage steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Cruises across the lake will take you to Walter Peak where you can see a working high-country farm.

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Wildlife & Zoos

Penguin Place

Penguin Place is the incredible feat of Howard McGrouther, who began the reserve in 1985 in order to protect the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. Funded completely by daily guided tours, the conversation is dedicated to the stabilization of the yellow-eyed penguin population, and the 90-minute tour begins with a brief overview of the biological situation in which the penguins find themselves, as well as an explanation of what the project is doing on the reserve.Prepare yourself for incredible coastal views and glimpses of all kinds of animals as well as the impressive and thoughtfully constructed grounds on which they live that took over eight years to build. Learn about these amazing animals and the struggle to help them breed and survive in a breathtaking setting. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, as you will be trekking over the reserve.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Huka Falls

One of New Zealand’s most visited natural attractions, just over a kilometer north of Taupo city, the mighty Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, thundering over a 20-meter cliff edge into the rock pools below. Fed by the vast Lake Taupo (Australasia’s largest freshwater lake), the falls are created by the narrowing of the 100 meter wide river into a slim rock ravine, pushing a colossal 220,000 liters (enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools) over the cliff edge each second. Thanks to the build up of pressure behind the rock, an immensely powerful natural waterfall is formed. Named from the Māori word 'huka', meaning 'foam', the falls more than live up to their name as the surging water crashes onto the rocks below. Those hoping to get a lookout over the falls can walk the footbridge overhead, where you’ll be close enough to feel the spray or else get a view from the Huka Falls Trail, a one-hour walk.

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Learn while traveling

Educate yourself while traveling

Witness diverse culture of people and learn history on the go.

Top Activities

Classes & Workshops

Tickets & Passes

Half-day Tours

Full-day Tours

Eco Tours

Bus Tours

Top Attractions

Sights & Landmarks

Blue Baths

The ornate Blue Baths on the shores of Lake Rotorua blend history, leisure and high society all with anachronistic charm. This art deco, Spanish mission-style building has been masterfully restored to its original splendor from 1933, a time when the thermally heated baths became New Zealand’s first place for “mixed bathing.” The history of baths in this section of Rotorua actually dates to 1885, when men’s-only bath houses to the west of the current site sat by the lakeshore. With the opening of the now-famous Blue Baths, however, the original ones were shuttered, and mixed bathing has become the cultural norm.Today, you can walk through the Blue Baths interior, tour its small museum and enjoy the sophisticated classical music that serenades from the speakers above. Enjoy high tea on site looking out over the Government Gardens, and if you fancy a dip, purchase a ticket for a relaxing soak in the thermally heated baths.

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Art Galleries

Rotorua Museum (Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa)

The Rotorua region is steeped in New Zealand's history, from the days of the Maori settlers to the advent of European explorers. At the Rotorua Museum, you'll get an in-depth view of Rotorua's past, seen through cinema, galleries and historic locales.When you get there, you'll want to spend some time in the Te Arawa and Tarawera galleries - the former houses an extensive collection of ancient Maori art and artifacts, as well as treasured antique photographs from the European colonial era. The latter is dedicated to the eruption of Mt. Tarawera and the destruction wreaked in 1886. After you've explored the galleries, you'll want to check out the Bath House, an architectural icon of yesteryear, known the world over for its supposed curative therapies and a centerpiece for New Zealand tourism. In the Bath House, guests were encouraged to bathe in various types of mineral waters during the health craze of the early 20th century.

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Cultural/Heritage Places

Olveston Historic Home (Olveston House)

The Olveston House is a must-see sight in Dunedin, and the 1-hour tours are an incredible walk through this decadent, ornate, and elegant mansion. Built in the Jacobian tradition between 1904 and 1906, the 35-room house sits on an acre of beautiful gardens.The house is maintained as it was originally decorated, with a unique and timeless beauty. The original owner, David Theomin, was a prolific traveler, and collected items from all over the world to decorate his house with, including French, Chinese, and Japanese treasures.On your stroll through the house, pay close attention the the plethora of paintings displaying various pictures of contemporary colonial life in New Zealand, and when outside in the gardens, be sure to get a look at the automobile used by the Theomin family at the time of construction. At the end of your tour, stop by the gift shop and peruse the various souvenirs to remember your time at Olveston.

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Religious Architecture

Old St. Paul's

Wellington’s first Anglican cathedral, the classic Gothic Revival Old St. Paul Cathedral’s is a picture-book wooden church built in 1845. The building was designed by the parish vicar, the Reverend Frederick Thatcher. The simple white-painted exterior leads to a dramatic interior featuring bold use of native timbers. The piers of wood form trusses that curve upwards to meet in the roof’s center, a bit like the hull of an upturned boat. Another highlight of this popular building is the lovely stained glass, particularly the windows surrounding the apse and south alcove. While the church no longer hosts regular Sunday services, it’s a popular venue for weddings and funerals.

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Buildings & Structure

Dunedin Railway Station

Known by locals as “Gingerbread George” because of its ornate architecture, the Dunedin Railway Station in New Zealand’s South Island was designed by George Troup and opened in 1906. In those first few years, the station was one of the country’s busiest, with at least 100 trains passing through its tracks each day.While the station is still in operation, reduced rail traffic means the iconic building serves several other functions, and a tourist train that traverses the countryside via Middlemarch, Palmerston or Pukerangi departs daily from Dunedin. But there’s still plenty to do here without ever leaving the station; the ground floor houses a popular restaurant, and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the Otago Art Society are located on the upper level.

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Sights & Landmarks

Auckland Harbour Bridge

The magnificent Auckland Harbour Bridge is an eight-lane motorway bridge that spans Waitmata harbor between St Mary's Bay in Auckland and Northcote Point on the North Shore. The bridge is 3,348 feet (1,020 meters) long and 15 stories high. Although it is an imposing sight from land, one of the most exciting tourist attractions for visitors to Auckland is to get up close and personal with a bridge climb or bungy. The climb involves clamoring up the steel struts to the top of the bridge where you will see spectacular views of Auckland, known as the “City of Sails.” Bungying sees thrill-seekers falling 147 feet (45 meters) to touch the waters of Waitmata Harbor.

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Museums & Exhibitions

Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)

New Zealand’s premier museum is Te Papa Tongarewa.Known as Te Papa (‘our place’), the museum takes an inspiring and interactive excursion through New Zealand’s history, art and culture. The museum’s prized collections focus on the areas of art, history, the Pacific, Maori culture and the natural environment.There’s a freshness and vibrancy to this museum’s curatorship, with a huge collection of Maori artifacts, hands-on activity centers for children, re-creations of Maori meeting houses and colonial settlements, contemporary art and high-tech displays.Take a tour of the highlights or target your favorite area of interest. Touring exhibitions are also displayed here.

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Religious Architecture

Church of the Good Shepherd

Built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of Mackenzie County, The Church of the Good Shepherd attracts visitors from around the world. The Church is set on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Framed by the lake and the mountains, you don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate its picturesque qualities.When the Church was constructed, builders were given a very specific set of rules to follow. The site had to be undisturbed. No plantings or rocks could be removed. All stones used to build the church walls had to come from within five miles of the construction site and could not be chipped or altered. The church interior features an altar window with views of Lake Tekapo and the mountains. The cupboard in the Vestry was made with wood from the Tekapo Bridge. The bridge was demolished in 1954.

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Wildlife & Zoos

Royal Albatross Centre

One of the incredible things about South Island is the unique wildlife opportunities available to visitors, and The Royal Albatross Centre is a perfect example. The center is home to the only mainland breeding colony of these amazing birds in the world, and its dedication to protecting the animals and their habitat is instantly clear to visitors.Starting with a single albatross chick in 1938, the colony boasts a population of about 140 birds at present. Albatrosses are a sight to behold, with their impressive wingspan and flying speeds, they guarantee an unforgettable experience. Be sure to take advantage of all the information available about the centre, the peninsula, and the birds while you're there. Underneath the nature reserve is historic Fort Taiairoa, built in over 100 years ago to provide protection against Tsarist Russia, which features an amazing collection of armaments, including the world-famous Armstrong Disappearing Gun.

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Museums & Exhibitions

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Perched on top of a dormant volcano, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of New Zealand’s finest museums. The Museum is the place to explore Maori and Pacific Island history with the largest collection of artifacts in the world, including buildings, canoes, carvings and around 1.2 million images.An extensive permanent exhibition covers the wars in which New Zealand has been involved both at home and abroad. Exhibits include Spitfire and Mitsubishi Zero airplanes and models of Maori pas (earth fortifications).Children will have fun exploring in the Stevenson Centre where they can get up close with bugs and birds and even touch a real elephant tooth. The Walk on the Wild Side self-guided tour explores the evolutionary history of New Zealand’s plants and animals giving kids the chance to see dinosaur bones and fossils.

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Buildings & Structure

New Zealand Parliament (Beehive)

New Zealand’s architectural symbol is the beehive-shaped Parliament House in Wellington. Hosting the executive wing of parliament, ‘the Beehive’ was built between 1969 and 1981, and features murals and artworks by noted New Zealand artists.The building has 10 floors, filled with cabinet rooms, prime ministerial offices, a banqueting hall, function rooms and several restaurants. Take a free guided 1-hour tour or drop into the visitor center in the ground-floor foyer. You can sit in the public galleries of the debating chamber when the House is sitting.

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Cultural/Heritage Places

Christchurch Arts Centre

The Arts Centre of Christchurch was long the creative hub of the city. Located in Gothic Revival buildings that were once home to the University of Canterbury, the center took a hit in 2011 when a major earthquake damaged 22 of the 23 buildings. The Arts Centre is currently closed to the public, but work is underway to reopen the Art Centre in stages.The site’s origins date back to the late 1800s. Along with the University of Canterbury, the buildings housed a girls and boys high school. Both high schools moved off-site and by the mid-1950s a growing population forced the University to move to a larger campus. That’s when the Arts Centre was created.

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Art Galleries

Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia)

Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute was established by the New Zealand Parliament to guard and preserve Maori culture, housing the national schools of carving and weaving. Visitors interact with master craftsmen as they turn native hardwood and plant fibers into beautiful pieces of traditional art, spinning stories as they work. Touring the facilities is interesting, informative and not to be missed, but the highlight is Te Po, Te Puia's authentic evening experience. As evening falls, you'll assemble in a carved meeting space and go on to participate in Maori rituals of friendship and greetting. As the night progresses, you'll feast on traditional cuisine as your guides will share Maori heritage, song and weaponry. Te Puia is also the staging area for tours of the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, where there are numerous geysers and 3 regularly erupt - Kereru, Tohu and the world famous Pohutu geyser, which erupts around 20 times a day reaching heights of up to 30m.

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Sights & Landmarks

Bridge of Remembrance

Located at the center of town in what many are deeming the “New Christchurch”, the Bridge of Remembrance is a historical monument that holds significance for numerous sets of people. Initially, this arcing bridge over the Avon River was erected as a public war memorial. Commemorating the soldiers who lost their lives in the battles of World War I, the bridge also remembers the brave soldiers who fought valiantly in ensuing wars. Located on Cashel Street, the bridge was turned into a pedestrian mall in 1976. Then, in February of 2011, the bridge endured a terrible beating during the earthquake that devastated Christchurch. Battered but not broken, the bridge managed to still stay standing amidst the piles of surrounding rubble. Though access to the bridge will once again be available in 2015 (with certain sections re-opening in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of the Great War), the fact it remains standing have made it a memorial for lives which were lost in the earthquake.

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Museums & Exhibitions

Canterbury Museum

Much like the fascinating Te Papa Museum in Wellington, the Canterbury Museum offers an in-depth look at the history and culture of Christchurch. Located in the Christchurch city center (and only sustaining minor damage in the 2011 earthquake), visitors can ogle over the Neo-Gothic architecture before even stepping foot in the door. Admission to the museum is technically free of charge (though donations are gladly accepted), and you can easily spend hours getting lost in the culture of Christchurch, Canterbury, and New Zealand.Exhibits at the museum run the gamut of history, from the early days of Maori discovery to the modern street art of Christchurch. The museum itself was established in 1867 by the explorer Julius Haast (for whom such places as the town of Haast got their name), and the Canterbury Museum has been deemed a historical site that you can visit during a day trip to Christchurch.

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Experience fun and excitement

Have a good time

Travel long distances just for fun and explore places where being happy is a way of life.

Top Activities

Tickets & Passes

Top Attractions

Geological Formations

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

The unique art and handicrafts produced by New Zealand’s Maori population are among the country’s most vibrant and celebrated art works. There are few better examples of the Maori Rock carvings at Mine Bay. One of the most striking attractions of Lake Taupo, the immense carvings adorn the cliff faces of the bay, towering over 10 meters high.Although the designs appear like the remains of an ancient Maori settlement, they were in fact carved by artist Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell in the 1970s, taking three summers to complete. The dramatic works are some of the largest rock art of their kind in the world, depicting Ngatoroirangi – the Maori visionary who guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to Lake Taupo over a thousand years before. Flanking Ngatoroirangi are two smaller carvings depicting the south wind and a mermaid, and utilizing traditional Maori stone-carving techniques.

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Well-known Landmarks

Waitomo Caves

There are a variety of activities to partake in and the fascinating cave system with its geological wonders and fantastic creatures to explore.Climb through the long galleries and lofty chambers to view stalactites formed over thousands of years by the constant dripping of water. The cave system itself is over two million years old.A highlight of the caves is the glowworm grotto; illuminated by thousands of glowworms suspended from the cave ceiling, it is a magical place.If you seek an adventure that plays with your senses and provides an unforgettable thrill then try abseiling (rappelling) into the awesome limestone tomb to experience the adrenaline rush as you clamber and scramble up through the black abyss and waterfalls in your pursuit of daylight.Other tours offer the chance to float on an inner tube through the maze of underground rivers then rush through a downhill river system to emerge in Waitomo forest.

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Geological Formations

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

The sparkling show put on by the glowworms at Te Anau Glowworm Caves will fill anyone with wonder. As your boat silently glides through the grotto you will be captivated by thousands of twinkling emerald stars. To reach the grotto you will travel through a mysterious underground world of twisting limestone passages, rushing water, whirlpools and thundering underground waterfalls The caves were found in 1948 by Lawson Burrows after three years searching using clues from old Maori legends. The caves are very young, about 12,000 years old, and are still being carved by the rushing water.

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Go for a new adventure

Discover top adventure travel spots

Reward yourself with an opportunity to explore the nature in different and more radical way.

Top Activities

Outdoor Activities

Nature and Wildlife Tours

Extreme Sports

Helicopter Tours

Top Attractions

Geological Formations

Mt. Tarawera

Near the northeast coast of the North Island is Mount Tarawera, the volcano responsible for a massive eruption that destroyed the famed, naturally occurring Pink and White Terraces and buried three Maori villages, including Te Wairoa, in 1866. The volcano is currently dormant, but visitors can book several different guided tours of the mountain, ranging from helicopter, 4-wheel drive vehicles and mountain bikes.The area around Mt. Tarawera is breathtaking in its beauty and captivating in its thermal characteristics. Nearby are both the Geothermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu and the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley near Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. At Tarawera's foot is Lake Rotomahana, which offers numerous recreational activities including fishing, water skiing and boating.In addition to Lake Rotomahana, Mt. Tarawera's eruption formed many others, as the rift and domes formed from the explosion dramatically altered the surrounding landscape.

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Water Activities & Tours

Waitemata Harbour

Waitmata Harbor, often referred to as Auckland Harbor, is one of two beautiful harbors surrounding Auckland. Its name refers to 'obsidian glass' in Maori language and its spectacular waters are said to sparkle like the dark volcanic glass that early settlers found in the area. The harbor made a stunning backdrop for the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cup and for the sailing enthusiast there is the opportunity to live the experience and sail an America's Cup yacht. The Motu Manawa Marine Reserve covers an area in the southwest of the harbor surrounding Pollen and Traherne Islands. The reserve covers salt marshes, mangrove swamps and shellbanks. It is best viewed from a sea kayak.

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Scenic Landmarks

Cape Reinga

The northern end of Ninety Mile Beach is lit by the flashing beacon of Cape Reinga lighthouse.Lighting the point where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, the remote lighthouse has an atmospheric end-of-the-world feeling, the ideal spot for long walks on the beach.On the very tip of the cape is the 800 year-old pohutukawa tree, whose roots hide the entrance to the Maori Underworld, where the souls of the dead return. It’s a particularly spiritual place for the Maori, so eating and drinking here is best avoided.Walks lead from here to surrounding bays and capes, and the area’s signature dunes.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Rangitoto Island

Auckland is famous for many different things, although volcanoes aren’t usually one of them.While the sailboats, wine, and iconic waterfront are just a few of the city highlights, there nevertheless sits a volcanic island just minutes from downtown Auckland. Symmetrical, rugged, and only 550 years old, a visit to volcanic Rangitoto Island is one of the best day trips from Auckland. Ferries depart from the city’s north shore and cross the bay in about 25 minutes, and once on shore, an hour-long trek leads to a summit which was active just centuries ago. Though experts expect that Rangitoto Island will eventually erupt again, currently it’s safe to trek on the island without fear of an eruption. While the climb to the summit can be rocky and strenuous, the panoramic view of the Auckland skyline is regarded as one of the best in the city.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

When the North Island of New Zealand’s Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886, it forever changed the Rotorua landscape into a valley of steaming wonder. This is a mystical land where lakes boil and mountains are bathed in steam, and walking past pools of bubbling mud is just another daily occurrence for visitors here. Of all the places in Rotorua to encounter this geothermal wonder, the Waimangu Volcanic Valley area offers one of the largest zones for exploring.This site has an enormous hot spring, which is believed to be the largest in the world. Take an easy 45-minute stroll past geysers, fumaroles and fissures to learn how this exceptionally “young” landscape is literally changing by the day. Avid hikers can split off on the Mt Hazard trail to get better views of the valley and gaze down on the multi-hued lakes, radiant in turquoise and greens. One such lake provides one of the best activities in the valley—taking a cruise on Lake Rotomohana.

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Celebrate a special occasion

Go for a romance travel

Escape from home routine and find a romantic place to celebrate your special occasion.

Top Activities

Tickets & Passes

Half-day Tours

Full-day Tours

Top Attractions

Fun & Games

Cashel Street

There was a time when busy Cashel Street was the thumping heart of Christchurch; the devastating destruction of the 2011 earthquake, however, left the once bustling downtown in pieces. Aching for a center of commerce and activity to boost the morale of residents, the iconic Re:Start Mall opened for business only eight months after the quake. With colorful shipping containers in lieu of buildings, the structure got Christchurch outdoors and smiling again. Today, the city mall (also known as Cashel Street Mall) is a pedestrian thoroughfare of shopping, cafes, and top-grade people watching. Browse the department stores of high-end fashion or kick back with an afternoon tea in the open-air square to enjoy the spirit of downtown Christchurch as it literally emerges from the rubble. For a fascinating multimedia attraction, tour the Quake City exhibit in the mall, where you’ll hear stories of the Christchurch earthquakes and in many ways feel you were there.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Hauraki Gulf Islands

The sixteen Hauraki Islands are scattered off the coast of Auckland in Hauraki Bay. Auckland’s summer playground, they contain some lovely places to get away from it all and indulge in walking, horse riding, swimming, eating and drinking. Island highlights include Waiheke Island which is described as a magical island paradise and is home to over 7,000 people. Its beaches are beautiful and safe for swimming, sea kayaking and fishing, making it a popular holiday spot in summer. The rest of the year there are lovely walks and lots of restaurants, cafes and vineyards to visit. On Tiritiri Matangi Island, which is being returned to its original forest, you can explore the unusual fauna and birdlife native to New Zealand. You can also see the gulf’s oldest lighthouse, circa 1864, which is now the brightest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. The cone shape of the dormant volcano that forms Rangitono Island provides some excellent walking opportunities with great views of Auckland Cit

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Buildings & Structure

Larnach Castle

Built between 1873 and 1887, the Larnach Castle is the only castle in all of New Zealand. Sitting on a beautiful 35 acres, the castle grounds and interior are a wonderful way to spend a day. For an extended stay, you can stay at the 4-star Larnach Lodge, located on the castle grounds.Constructed for an Australian banker and politician, the castle presents a combination of American, Venetian, and Gothic styles of decor and architecture, making it wholly elaborate and unique. In addition to its ornate interior and beautifully maintained garden, tourists and guests gather at Larnach for a supernatural experience: the castle is said to be haunted by multiple members of the Larnach family.Be sure to take some tea or a light lunch in the ballroom, one of the most beautiful parts of the castle, as well as visiting the on-grounds plant nursery.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open wildlife sanctuary devoted to the protection of local endangered species. The island is tightly controlled to keep out predators such as cats and mice, which hunt fragile bird species, including the tiny kiwi birds you’ll see running around the island.With about 80 species of birds, Tiritiri Matangi is a must-see for birdwatchers, and the air is rich with varieties of birdsong rarely heard on the mainland. Guided walks can help you spot and identify the various types of birds, and you can find the trailheads of walking tracks at the visitor center. The Kawaura Track winds through coastal forest and 1,000-year-old pohutukawa trees, while the Wattle Track leads to the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand. Head to Hobbs Beach, just a short walk from the ferry dock, to take a swim and spy on blue penguins in their nesting boxes.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Motutapu Island

Located alongside the scenic island of Rangitoto, the emerald landscapes, striking coastline and thick forests of Motutapu Island attract visitors from across the globe. Sandy beaches and easy walking paths offer up plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation, while the 300 Maori archeological sites that scatter the land showcase a rich history and detail ancient lives of early inhabitants. Travelers can explore one of the Island’s popular walking tracks, like the Motutapu Walkway, which connects the causeway to Rangitoto and the Matutapu ferry dock. Several World War II military sites in the northern junction offer history buffs with a look at gun pits, shelters and other fortresses. Outdoor adventurers can overnight at one of the island’s popular campsites and those looking to give back can volunteer at the Motutapu Restoration Trust, where locals and out-of-towners work alongside each other to plant trees, clean up beaches and monitor wildlife.

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Fun & Games

Weta Workshop

When it comes to The Lord of The Rings, New Zealand is always famously mentioned for the enchanting beauty of its scenery. From deeply-gouged canyons and ominous volcanoes to lofty, snow-covered peaks, the physical beauty of Middle-earth was arguably the films’ greatest draw. What many moviegoers don’t realize, however, is that the filming locations for The Lord of The Rings were just a fraction of the overall production. Mythical creatures such as orcs and balrogs were needed to prowl those canyons, and professional makeup and creative design were needed to round out the set. While there are numerous tours to Lord of the Rings filming locations in cities across New Zealand, there’s only one tour where you can visit the place where the magic was all tied together. At Weta Workshop in the suburbs of Wellington, this 65,000 sq. ft. facility is where much of the design, props, makeup, and weaponry were created in the making of the films.

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Try exciting meals

Experience a variety of food on the trip

Escape from ordinary everyday meals and reward yourself with delicious and special gourmet dishes.

Top Activities

Dining Experiences

Lunch Cruises

Top Attractions

Winery

Central Otago

If you're seeking the thrill of a fine glass of wine or a round of golf then Central Otago could be just your place. The hottest, coldest and driest part of New Zealand is also home to some of its most adorable towns and finer vineyards. The capital of Central Otago is Alexandra and its boutique hotels are a great base for exploring. The highlights of Central Otago (besides its gourmet delights) include the very well-preserved gold-rush towns of Ophir and St Bathans, the art-deco charms of Ranfurly and the picturesque orchards of the fruit-bowl area surrounding Cromwell. Eleven golf courses dot the countryside and curling (the ancient Scottish sport) is popular in Naseby where you can play in year-round facilities. Otherwise the majority of action takes place along the Central Otago Rail Trail with walkers, cyclists and horse riders all enjoying the gentle gradient of the former railway line.

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Market

Auckland Fish Market

Whether you see it, hear it, or smell it first, approaching the bustling Auckland Fish Market is always an exciting experience. Here along Auckland’ famous waterfront, fisherman returning back to the docks come to sell their fresh catch at auction, and diners come to feast on fish that was literally caught that morning. At the popular Auckland Seafood School, learn how to cook and prepare new dishes with a rotating schedule of classes, or simply stroll through the retail market where a dozen restaurants, shops, and grocers sell everything pertaining to fish. There’s sushi served in tight little hand rolls and baskets of fish and chips, and markets selling everything from smoked fish or lobster to wine from Auckland’s best vineyards. Go behind the scenes on a special tour that shows how the fish market functions—from where the fishermen drop off their catch after spending all night at sea, to where local chefs and restaurateurs come to purchase the freshly caught fish.

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Winery

Kumeu Wine Country

New Zealand is known for its crisp whites and bold reds, and there is no better way to sample the flavors of the region than by taking a trip through Kumeu Wine Country. The scenic vineyards of this world-class wine destination are home to quiet cafes, small breweries, five-star restaurants and of course, some of the best wine-makers in the country. Some of Kumeu’s wineries date back to the early 1930s, and the region’s unique “cellar door” experiences take travelers through the process of winemaking from harvest to fermentation. Visitors love sipping glasses of the region’s finest while looking out over the lush Muriwai Valley. In addition to exploring Kumeu’s world-famous vineyards, travelers to the region can relax at the nearby Muriwai Beach, where rolling dunes and black sand result in one of the most scenic beaches in the area, or hike the well-kept trails of Woodhill and Riverhead pine forests.

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Winery

Wairarapa

The rural lifestyle and country charm of New Zealand’s heartland are revealed on a day trip to the Wairarapa region from Wellington. It’s an area of sheep-raising, vineyards, farms and outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking through forest parks. A major feature of this lovely fertile region is Lake Wairarapa, the North Island’s third largest lake. It’s a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching. The main town, Martinborough, is a firm fixture on the foodie gourmet trail. Wellington locals flock here at weekends to drop into the cellar doors of surrounding vineyards, known for their good-quality pinot noir and sauvignon blanc wines. Nearby there are farms to visit, horses and quad bikes to ride, outdoor rope courses, kayaking and bushwalks to get appetites firing.

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Winery

Torlesse Wines

Torlesse Wines is one of the older wineries in the Waipara Valley and owns the title of being the first winery in Waipara to bottle with a screw cap instead of a cork. It started with one wine, and now all of Torlesse Wines have screw caps. The winery produces a dozen wines including sauvignon blanc, Gewurztraminer, rose and a cabernet. The Torlesse Cellar Door is open for tastings seven days a week, from 11am to 5pm.

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Winery

Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant

Pegasus Bay Winery is a family-owned and run winery and restaurant located in the Waipara Valley, north of Christchurch. Pegasus Bay wines are made with estate-grown fruit from the Donaldson family’s vineyards. The Donaldsons have been growing grapes and making wine since the early 1970s. A husband, wife and three sons team, the family uses natural methods, and the winery produces a sauvignon, Reisling, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot and cabernet. The winery is also known for half a dozen reserve wines.

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Winery

Church Road Winery

Like a stone monastery rising up from the vines of Napier’s fertile plains, Church Road Winery is one of the oldest and finest Hawke’s Bay wineries. Established in 1897, this vineyard was the first in all of New Zealand to release a Cabernet Sauvignon, and when bottles hit shelves in 1949 they were instant New Zealand classics. Fast-forward over half a century, and Church Road Winery has been completely renovated and is still one of Napier’s best. Aside from the a la carte restaurant on site and imposing cellar door, where rows of wine barrels stand in for pews you might find in a dimly lit church, one of the best parts of visiting Church Road winery are the daily cellar tours. Learn the history of Church Road Winery and the time-honed winemaking process, and pair the wines with succulent foods in an intimate, boutique tasting area. You’ll also find a wine museum beneath the tasting area, where some of the country’s oldest wine relics are housed in concrete vats.

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New Zealand

25 Featured Attractions

Places of Natural Beauty

Sumner Beach

Even though a scant eight miles separate Sumner from the city center of Christchurch, this coastal suburb set right on the beach may as well be its own island. Sumner Beach is the de facto “beach town” that is associated with sprawling Christchurch, where bikini-clad sunbathers and wetsuit-clad surfers mingle on the golden shores. Sleepy in winter but pulsing in summer, Sumner is a hangout of sun-seekers and sportsmen who flock to the beach and the hills. Joggers and walkers stroll on the boardwalk which parallels the popular shore, and paragliders and mountain bikers play on the hills which rise just behind town. A relaxing, slow-paced, agreeable outpost, when the large earthquake of 2011 triggered landslides in the surrounding hills, Sumner Beach and its associated community were almost completely cut off from the city. Though the road has been fixed and Sumner is accessible again, evidence of the earthquake is still evident in the massive rock piles by the coast.

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Winery

Central Otago

If you're seeking the thrill of a fine glass of wine or a round of golf then Central Otago could be just your place. The hottest, coldest and driest part of New Zealand is also home to some of its most adorable towns and finer vineyards. The capital of Central Otago is Alexandra and its boutique hotels are a great base for exploring. The highlights of Central Otago (besides its gourmet delights) include the very well-preserved gold-rush towns of Ophir and St Bathans, the art-deco charms of Ranfurly and the picturesque orchards of the fruit-bowl area surrounding Cromwell. Eleven golf courses dot the countryside and curling (the ancient Scottish sport) is popular in Naseby where you can play in year-round facilities. Otherwise the majority of action takes place along the Central Otago Rail Trail with walkers, cyclists and horse riders all enjoying the gentle gradient of the former railway line.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake)

Even though it’s right next to the wildly popular Blue Lake, the Green Lake—or Rotokakahi—is a sacred lake that isn’t open to swimming, fishing, or boating. This lake is sacred to the Te Arawa tribe who are the area’s original inhabitants, as the lake was the site of important battles and numerous sacred burial grounds. In the center of the lake is a small island known as Motutawa, where not only are the remains buried of a young Maori chief, but was also the site of a 19th century slaughter at the hands of a neighboring tribe. Originally, the lake got its name from the abundance of kakahi (crayfish) found living in the sandy bottom, although the lake today is largely left to exist in its natural state The trail that encircles the neighboring Blue Lake offers views of Rotokakahi, or, for those who would prefer a bit more solitude than the sometimes crowded Blue Lake, there are a couple of walking tracks that trace the shore of Rotokakahi itself.

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Winter Activities & Tours

Mount Hutt

Mount Hutt is one of New Zealand's premier skiing destinations, tailored to suit beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders and everyone in-between. The snow is skiable for months and months here, from June to October, and all manner of equipment and instruction is available from the nearest town, Methven. When winter is over, come to Mount Hutt for scenic hot-air ballooning, hiking, fishing or golfing. When the weather is clear you can take in views over the Canterbury Plains, all the way to the ocean.

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Market

Auckland Fish Market

Whether you see it, hear it, or smell it first, approaching the bustling Auckland Fish Market is always an exciting experience. Here along Auckland’ famous waterfront, fisherman returning back to the docks come to sell their fresh catch at auction, and diners come to feast on fish that was literally caught that morning. At the popular Auckland Seafood School, learn how to cook and prepare new dishes with a rotating schedule of classes, or simply stroll through the retail market where a dozen restaurants, shops, and grocers sell everything pertaining to fish. There’s sushi served in tight little hand rolls and baskets of fish and chips, and markets selling everything from smoked fish or lobster to wine from Auckland’s best vineyards. Go behind the scenes on a special tour that shows how the fish market functions—from where the fishermen drop off their catch after spending all night at sea, to where local chefs and restaurateurs come to purchase the freshly caught fish.

Learn More

Winery

Kumeu Wine Country

New Zealand is known for its crisp whites and bold reds, and there is no better way to sample the flavors of the region than by taking a trip through Kumeu Wine Country. The scenic vineyards of this world-class wine destination are home to quiet cafes, small breweries, five-star restaurants and of course, some of the best wine-makers in the country. Some of Kumeu’s wineries date back to the early 1930s, and the region’s unique “cellar door” experiences take travelers through the process of winemaking from harvest to fermentation. Visitors love sipping glasses of the region’s finest while looking out over the lush Muriwai Valley. In addition to exploring Kumeu’s world-famous vineyards, travelers to the region can relax at the nearby Muriwai Beach, where rolling dunes and black sand result in one of the most scenic beaches in the area, or hike the well-kept trails of Woodhill and Riverhead pine forests.

Learn More

Winery

Wairarapa

The rural lifestyle and country charm of New Zealand’s heartland are revealed on a day trip to the Wairarapa region from Wellington. It’s an area of sheep-raising, vineyards, farms and outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking through forest parks. A major feature of this lovely fertile region is Lake Wairarapa, the North Island’s third largest lake. It’s a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching. The main town, Martinborough, is a firm fixture on the foodie gourmet trail. Wellington locals flock here at weekends to drop into the cellar doors of surrounding vineyards, known for their good-quality pinot noir and sauvignon blanc wines. Nearby there are farms to visit, horses and quad bikes to ride, outdoor rope courses, kayaking and bushwalks to get appetites firing.

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Fun & Games

Cashel Street

There was a time when busy Cashel Street was the thumping heart of Christchurch; the devastating destruction of the 2011 earthquake, however, left the once bustling downtown in pieces. Aching for a center of commerce and activity to boost the morale of residents, the iconic Re:Start Mall opened for business only eight months after the quake. With colorful shipping containers in lieu of buildings, the structure got Christchurch outdoors and smiling again. Today, the city mall (also known as Cashel Street Mall) is a pedestrian thoroughfare of shopping, cafes, and top-grade people watching. Browse the department stores of high-end fashion or kick back with an afternoon tea in the open-air square to enjoy the spirit of downtown Christchurch as it literally emerges from the rubble. For a fascinating multimedia attraction, tour the Quake City exhibit in the mall, where you’ll hear stories of the Christchurch earthquakes and in many ways feel you were there.

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Winery

Torlesse Wines

Torlesse Wines is one of the older wineries in the Waipara Valley and owns the title of being the first winery in Waipara to bottle with a screw cap instead of a cork. It started with one wine, and now all of Torlesse Wines have screw caps. The winery produces a dozen wines including sauvignon blanc, Gewurztraminer, rose and a cabernet. The Torlesse Cellar Door is open for tastings seven days a week, from 11am to 5pm.

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Gardens & Parks

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is the name for a suburb, park, and single hill on the outskirts of the Auckland city center.Though it is now a 118-acre park, there was a time in history when this 600 ft. peak was an important Maori settlement which was home to thousands of residents. The strategic location between Auckland’s two harbors provided easy access to the water, and the volcanic soil of this extinct caldera created a desirable spot for farming. The land was sold in the 1840’s, however, and the surrounding area was slowly developed as Europeans populated Auckland. The lone tree which stood on the summit was chopped down in the 1850s, and subsequent trees were planted atop the hill to replace the one which was destroyed. A lone Monterey pine stood towards the summit until 1994, when a Maori activist took a chainsaw to the tree as it was seen as a symbol of foreign intrusion on sacred Maori land.

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Gardens & Parks

Cornwall Park

Set adjacent to the park at One Tree Hill, Cornwall Park is a 296-acre green space that rises above the suburbs of Auckland. Strategically located between Waitemata and Manukau harbors, the area was once the site of a Maori settlement which once housed thousands of residents.Today, visitors enjoy Cornwall Park for its archeological remains, views of the city, and ornately-landscaped gardens. Although the Maori settlement had been completely abandoned by the time of European arrival, remnants of the ancient fortress, or pa, lay scattered about the hillside. One notable relic within the park is the Rongo Stone, a large, carved stone which was part of a Maori shrine. While a few remains are evident on self-guided walks through the park, guided tours also take place which dig deeper into the Maori history.

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Buildings & Structure

Auckland Ferry Terminal

Auckland’s Harbor is one of those places that’s a complete sight unto itself. After all—this is the famous “City of Sails,” where something as simple as a stroll down the docks is a legitimate form of sightseeing. Even here in the harbor, however, there are traditional sights outside of the yachts that float and bob off the docks. One of these sights is the Ferry Building, a classically soaring yellow structure that was built in 1912. Compared to Auckland’s modern skyscrapers that rise across the street, the Ferry Building is an architectural throwback to days when New Zealand was beginning to forge a future it earned on its own. Today, the Ferry Building is a buzz of activity full of people-watching, shops, and cafés. It’s also the spot to catch the ferry to Devonport or Waiheke Island—and a conduit to the beauty of Waitemata Harbor and the dozens of ships sailing by.

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Scenic Landmarks

Milford Track

Lush, rugged and impossibly scenic, the Milford Track is the gold standard of all of New Zealand’s hiking trails. In a country already known for its hiking, this famous track through the heart of Fiordland has been known to trump all others. Tramp your way through alpine scenery where mountains thrust upwards from the lakeshore, and walk beneath the famous Sutherland Falls that spill 1,900 feet down the mountainside. Delve through forests that are brilliantly painted in nearly every shade of green, and then finally emerge at the placid waters of famous Milford Sound.

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Gardens & Parks

Waitakere Ranges

Many equate the city of Auckland with sailboats cruising along the famous waterfront. While there is no denying the city’s maritime heritage, few realize that the “City of Sails” also has bushwalks and tumbling waterfalls which are tucked away in a forested hideaway. In the Waitakere Ranges—a string of hills which rise to 1,400 feet and stretch for 15 miles—rural hiking tracks weave their way through native wilderness and bush. Set only 30 minutes west of the downtown city center, the park offers everything from twenty-minute loops to multiday trails delving deep into the forest. Along the way, hikers will pass along numerous streams and walk beneath a canopy which teems with birdsong. Of all the trees which grow in the forest, none are more famous than the towering kauri which regularly stretches to over 100 feet in height. The park has more than just trails, however, and the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park extends to the shoreline of Auckland’s west coast.

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Winter Activities & Tours

Coronet Peak

Located only 25 minutes from the adventure capital of Queenstown, Coronet Peak is one of the most popular ski resorts on the entire South Island of New Zealand. This historic ski field is officially the nation’s oldest, and when it opened for business in 1947 there was only a single tow rope.Today, however, Coronet Peak is a modern ski field on par with the best in the country. Aside from being the nation’s oldest, it’s also one of the last resorts in the country to watch its snow melt away. Given its southerly location, colder temperatures make for a longer season and better conditions for snowmaking. On most years, Coronet Peak will open its slopes sometime during the middle of June, and remain open throughout the winter until the mountain thaws in October. In addition to the long season, the resort offers views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Southern Alps.

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Cultural/Heritage Places

Tamaki Maori Village

Built by two brothers in 1989, the Tamaki Maori Village is the destinatition for an authentic Maori experience. If you are looking for a Maori encounter beyond the typical performance found at hotels, this is the place to go.The village is itself a recreation of an actual Maori settlement, and in this village, guests experience "The Chronicles of Uitara," a story following a single warrior line from 3,000 BC to the present day. Based on true events effected by actual people, the Chronicles of Uitara is reenacted by the most sought-after historical performers in the country. Guests will be enchanted and hooked by the tale, dramatically recreated with action-packed choreography. Following the story, the evening culminates in a traditional hangi feast.

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Geological Formations

Mt. Tarawera

Near the northeast coast of the North Island is Mount Tarawera, the volcano responsible for a massive eruption that destroyed the famed, naturally occurring Pink and White Terraces and buried three Maori villages, including Te Wairoa, in 1866. The volcano is currently dormant, but visitors can book several different guided tours of the mountain, ranging from helicopter, 4-wheel drive vehicles and mountain bikes.The area around Mt. Tarawera is breathtaking in its beauty and captivating in its thermal characteristics. Nearby are both the Geothermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu and the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley near Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. At Tarawera's foot is Lake Rotomahana, which offers numerous recreational activities including fishing, water skiing and boating.In addition to Lake Rotomahana, Mt. Tarawera's eruption formed many others, as the rift and domes formed from the explosion dramatically altered the surrounding landscape.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Manapouri

Stunning Lake Manapouri surrounded by the majestic Cathedral Ranges and dotted with thirty-four islands, is beautiful and impressive. The mountains, which make up the north, south and west sides of the lake, descend into the water creating lovely waterfalls and isolated sandy coves perfect for swimming and picnics.The small town of Manapouri (pop. 300) lies on the east coast and is the major jumping off point for people heading to Doubtful Sound as it can be reached by boat from the Waiau River which feeds the lake. There are a number of walking tracks around the lake, including the well known Manapouri Track which leads you up Mt. Titiroa to take in the beautiful lake views before finishing with a swim in the lake. Lesser known walks include Percy’s Pass and Dusky Track. Fishing is also popular on the lake and suits the experienced and novices alike. If you’re after a workout then kayaks are available depending on the weather.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lady Knox Geyser

Named for Lady Constance Knox, a daughter of the 15th governor of New Zealand, Lady Knox Geyser is located in the North Island's Taupo Volcanic Zone. While this region is famous for a variety of fascinating geological phenomena, the Lady Knox Geyser is unique. Every day it erupts at precisely 10:15am, when a park guide induces it to do so - with soap.Indeed, the soap is used to break the surface tension of the cold water in the geyser's upper chamber so that it will mix with the hot water in the lower chamber, which causes an 20 meter (65 feet) eruption that can last an hour. Stones have been placed around the opening in order to enhance the blast, and over the years, silica in the water has given the spout a nozzle-like appearance. You'll find it among the other natural marvels of the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Lake Te Anau

When it comes to the dreamlike landscape of Fiordland, the mountainous peaks might provide the drama, but it’s the shimmering lakes that provide the contour. In the case of Lake Te Anau, this massive, deep, glacially carved lake wraps its arms around Fiordland’s mountains in a geological embrace. This is the second largest lake in New Zealand—but the largest in total volume—and it forms the backdrop for the town of Te Anau and the road toward Milford Sound.Of all of the activities to take part in on Lake Te Anau, touring the glowworm caves is undoubtedly the most popular. These luminescent critters inhabit the ceilings of dark caves on the shoreline, and the ride to the other side of the lake offers sweeping views of the surroundings. The lake also provides a stunning backdrop for hikers tackling the Kepler Track, and there are small beaches that dot the lake, perfect for a cold dip.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Hauraki Gulf Islands

The sixteen Hauraki Islands are scattered off the coast of Auckland in Hauraki Bay. Auckland’s summer playground, they contain some lovely places to get away from it all and indulge in walking, horse riding, swimming, eating and drinking. Island highlights include Waiheke Island which is described as a magical island paradise and is home to over 7,000 people. Its beaches are beautiful and safe for swimming, sea kayaking and fishing, making it a popular holiday spot in summer. The rest of the year there are lovely walks and lots of restaurants, cafes and vineyards to visit. On Tiritiri Matangi Island, which is being returned to its original forest, you can explore the unusual fauna and birdlife native to New Zealand. You can also see the gulf’s oldest lighthouse, circa 1864, which is now the brightest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. The cone shape of the dormant volcano that forms Rangitono Island provides some excellent walking opportunities with great views of Auckland Cit

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Geological Formations

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

The unique art and handicrafts produced by New Zealand’s Maori population are among the country’s most vibrant and celebrated art works. There are few better examples of the Maori Rock carvings at Mine Bay. One of the most striking attractions of Lake Taupo, the immense carvings adorn the cliff faces of the bay, towering over 10 meters high.Although the designs appear like the remains of an ancient Maori settlement, they were in fact carved by artist Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell in the 1970s, taking three summers to complete. The dramatic works are some of the largest rock art of their kind in the world, depicting Ngatoroirangi – the Maori visionary who guided the Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to Lake Taupo over a thousand years before. Flanking Ngatoroirangi are two smaller carvings depicting the south wind and a mermaid, and utilizing traditional Maori stone-carving techniques.

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Water & Amusement Parks

Velocity Valley

Agroventures Adventure Park is where boredom goes to die. Strap yourself into the passenger seat of a sleek, high-speed jet boat, and splash around corners at 60mph at nearly 3G’s of force. Feel the pressure of a bungy cord pulled tight around your ankles, and the instantaneous stomach drop once you fall from 140 feet. Don a squirrel suit and step inside New Zealand’s only wind tunnel, where 130mph winds create the feeling of falling from a plane. Or, for daredevils who love anticipation, attach yourself to a thin ripcord that is raised 130 feet, before literally releasing yourself from the cord and swooping at 80mph. If you’d rather try something unique than scary, step inside the world’s only “Shweeb”—an aerodynamic, pedal-driven pod attached to a monorail track. Take it slow and enjoy the view, or challenge your friends on the dueling tracks that are meant for racing and speed. Break the world record and you could even win $1,000 prize.

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Places of Natural Beauty

The Remarkables

New Zealand’s outdoor playground, the Remarkables, located high in mountainous country, possesses a great sense of excitement for any visitor looking to rip-up the alpines. With fabulous skiing, hiking, snowboarding and opportunities to just hangout, the entire family will get a kick from these majestic reserves.Cool jumps, tunnels, trails, and even a bouncy castle at the crèche are available for children of all ages, while snow-sports schools are waiting for adults who have put off the slopes for too long.You can also have a look at how the pros do it, with international competitions that take place. See boarders go sky-high off the half-pipes, or see renowned skier’s flow between slaloms at immense speeds.

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Places of Natural Beauty

Kawarau River

If you’re a bungy enthusiast you’ll know that Kawarau River is the site of the world's first commercial bungy. It’s still possible to take a dive from the bridge that started it all. On your way down you’ll see the trademark sky-blue water and green cliffs of Kawarau River, you might even touch the water!The river is extremely popular with thrill seekers who come for river surfing, riverboarding and jet boating. The white-water rafting is particularly excellent with rapids to suit beginners to experienced rafters and some calm stretches where you can rest and take in the spectacular scenery. More sedate history seekers come to check out the gold-miners huts and relics from the river’s gold-rush days.

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