New Zealand had been one of the places my back packing friends cheered about. They all had positive reviews about the country and i had just just heard about the name of the country during that conversation. Luckily i chose to visit the country and see for myself what my friends were raving about, so many years back. Most of my favorite locations, still burn in my head very clearly and that is why they are my favorite.
This article will be broken up into regions and what places i loved in those regions. So lets begin.
1.The Main North Island:
- Northland: The places you should see in the Northland are listed below-
- Russell: it is a quiet town that includes tourism, fishing, oyster farming and cottage industries. The Russell museum has models of captain cooks endeavor; author Zane Gray and early settler memorabilia. Christ Church is the countries oldest church and a great contributor to the church who visited New Zealand was Charles Darwin. Pompallier Mission is the countries oldest standing industrial building.
- Waitangi Treaty House: This is where the treaty of Waitangi was signed and there is on February 6th a 'Waitangi Day' celebrated by the whole country. This is where Maoris' and government leaders meet up. There are guided tours, to help let you understand more about the traditional part of New Zealand and its past.
- Cape Reinga: Its meaning stands for 'Underworld'. To Maoris' it means that this is where spirits leave for their journey. You can see the Tasman Sea that clashes with the Pacific Ocean from here, but do not think this is not the end of the country.
– Activities to do in The Main North Island include:
- Horseback riding
2. Auckland: The places you should see in Auckland are listed below-
- One Tree Hill: It is an old volcanic cone and a large prehistoric Maori settlement. Its name was given by a single tree that stood on a hill, but now several trees stand there. Cornwall Park is below. Accacia Cottage stands there and near the entrance of the park is a Stardome Observatory. This Observatory has telescopes that can view the stars and other related astronomy ideas.
- Sky Tower: This is the countries tallest building and is visited by almost one million people a year. There are four levels. You can also sky jump which is bungy jump or sky walk along the tower as an adrenalin rush.
The main level offers free audio guides, live weather forecast and touch screen computers. The lower level is the sky lounge cafe. The section of the tower, called the Orbit is a revolving a la carte 'restaurant. It completes one full turn every 1 hour. The sky deck has a 360 degree view through seamless glass and is very popular.
- Rangitoto: This use to be a volcano and when it eruted, it formed an island. The island is covered in native tree and shrubs. Mangroves, mosses and tree daisies are some of the vegetation that grows there. This island is good for walking or as an alternative; you can explore the island on a train drawn tractor.
– Activities to do in Auckland Island include:
- Visit Otara Market
- Visit Avondale Market
Both these markets will help you understand the ethnic shops and restaurants in Auckland.
3. The Central North Island: The places you should see in the Central North Island are listed below-
- Hamilton: There are attractive parks and gardens that all are found off maze like footpaths. The parks and gardens are bordered by the river. There are cruises that will help you explore the best views of Hamilton from the river. New Zealand Art Collections can be found at Waikato Museum of Art and History. Hamilton Garden is the most popular attraction because it is set beside Waikato River. The gardens could be show casing Japanese, Chinese or English Gardens and seasonal displays as well. Over Waikato, fiestas for balloonists are held and National Agriculture Field days is a large agriculture trade show.
- Coromandel Peninsula: An old gold mining area near Commandel Town. The town boomed in population, when it further sited more gold after its first sighting in 1867. There use to be three live theaters and over 100 hotels that sold alcohol. This mining later declined as other places were of more interests to mine at.
- East Cape and The East Coast: The roads are near rocky coastline and are guided by local trees. Most beaches are suitable for swimming, fishing and diving. You could jet boat, horse trek and tramp. Along the Motu River, you can see the Raukokore Church, East Cape Lighthouse, Tiki-tiki's St Mary's Church, Mount Kikurangi, Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay all in order. You just simply follow the river because it acts like a guide that is simple to follow and is fool proof.
- White Island: This place has the most active volcano and lies at the north end of Taupo and Rotorua. It can be reached by a helicopter or boat, or you can aerial view it from above. The land looks like the color of Mars and the texture of the moon. It was mined for sulphur but an eruption exploded and all miners were killed. There are still mining activities left as proof that mining occurred.
4. Wellington and The South: The places you should see in Wellington and The South are listed below-
- Kapiti Island Nature Reserve: It is not far off from the mainland. This reserve protects wildlife; a permit to visit the island is the only way to see this reserve. You can also have trips around the island, dive or fish around the waters that surround the island at anytime. Rare birds or birds from the mainland like Takahe call it home.
- Whanganui National Park: It is a forest surrounding the river and the river is the heart of the park. Fish live in the river, ferns, river side plants and birds call it home. You can canoe, kayak, raft, jet boat, tramp, fish or hunt for deer and goat. There are cruises as well.
- Mt Taranaki / Egmont: This is a dormant volcano. It is always covered in ice and snow. There is a network of tracks that let you climb, ski and tramp if you are fit. For an average walker, there are tracks for you as well. This formation is believed to have formed after a volcanic eruption over 70,000 years ago. This mountain is sacred to Maoris'.
5. Marlborough and Nelson: The places you should see in Marlborough and Nelson are listed below-
- Kaikoura: You will be observing, marine life like sperm whales, Orca and a variety of dolphin species. You can see them from the lake, in the air or both in and out of the water. Sea bird species like the Royal Albatross and Black Browed Molly Mawk can be seen as well.
- Wairu Valley Vineyard Tour: This is where Sauvigon Blanc is made. This also is the countries largest and best known wine region. Nearly 70 wineries operate in the area and the wines of Wairu are celebrated on the annual Wine Marlborough Festival on February.
- Marlborough Sounds: This place has many bays, inlets and coves. There are many walking trails, wildlife and historical sites to visit. The best way to see this place is by bicycle and sea kayak or on foot.
6. Canterbury and The West Coast: The places you should see in Canterbury and The West Coast are listed below-
- Canterbury: Good roads and communications keep the far away farms connected. This is where you will see the iconic sheep that New Zealand is famous for. Trust me, you will see many. This place is unique but in a beautiful way.
7. Otago and Southland: The places you should see in Otago and Southland are listed below-
- Queenstown: This place has adventure sports like bungy jumping. The people are kind and inviting, even though they live in a tourism demanding lifestyle.
- Dunedin: The building is interesting and architectural. Parks and centers are in walking distance. There are hills that you can enjoy a harbor view of the city below.
I could explain more but that would just be spoiling you and letting you think to yourself "Well since she has already told me the main sites, I guess I do not have the same motivation anymore to go see New Zealand" . Folks, what i am telling you is only one side of the experience but exploring and seeing it for yourself, well that clearly is a different story.
Its worth it guys.