"Ki Ora! Welcome to New Zealand!" This is often the comment you will get when you step off the plane into one of our international airports at Christchurch, Hamilton or Auckland.
New Zealand is an amazing place to live and a fantastic place to visit. We have lush, green rolling hills surrounding us in many parts of the country but then we also have acres and acres of lush, green flats with flowing rivers all leading out to the Pacific Ocean.
There is so much to do here and no matter what your age, there is something for everyone. Having lived in New Zealand all my life and having traveled around most of the North and South Islands, I can tell you there is no other place in the world I would rather live.
So, what can you do in New Zealand? Well, if you are into hiking and camping, this is going to be like heaven for you. We have some fantastic mountain ranges. The best places to go for hiking and camping are Taupo, which is in the middle of the North Island, Wellington, Christchurch and the west coast of the South Island, where there are some amazing hiking tramps down there.
Not into hiking or camping? Prefer shopping? I have just the place for you! Auckland, our largest city, has got one of the best places for shopping ever! There are so many factory shops and bargains to be had, you will most certainly find something and being a bargain shopper myself, I would recommend checking out "Dressmart" at Onehunga, it is huge and has some of the best shopping to have had! Another fantastic place to shop is the main street of Wellington; catch a cable car to get around. Christchurch has some fantastic shopping malls also.
Ok, so you are over shopping? Want to see all the different attractions New Zealand has to offer? Well, where do I start ?! Here is a list of my favorites spots through New Zealand, there are many more but these are the ones I love:
- Swimming at 90 mile beach at the top of the North Island. This is just past Kaitia which is about 6 hours drive from central Auckland.
- Fishing off Great Barrier Island. There are some great charters and this is some of the best deep sea fishing you can find.
- Enjoying a good coffee on the waterfront at Mission Bay in Auckland. This is a fantastic place to be during summer.
- Visiting the Auckland Museum for some history about our beautiful country. Learn about the Maori culture and how our country has evolved through the ages.
- Head on down to the Waitomo district and go to the Waitomo caves where you can go white and black water rafting and see the amazing glow worms in the caves. This is a truly surreal experience.
- Visit our national bird, the Kiwi at the Kiwi house in Otorohanga. Get up close and personal with this two legged flight fewer birds. They are gorgeous.
- Taupo – my favorite place to be during summer and winter. Taupo has one of the largest lakes in the world which is the crater left behind by one of the largest volcanic explosions to rock this world. The lake is renound for its amazing trout fishing. Also one of my favorite things to do is para gliding behind a boat on the lake, you get some amazing views! Take it that step further and do a tandem sky dive over the Taupo district. My Dad did this for his 50th birthday last year; he was on a high for days after that!
- Drive an hour and half out of Taupo and you will come across some of the best skiing in the world. Mt Ruapehu (which is still an active volcano!) Is one of the busiest mountains during winter; you can ski on either side of the mountain as there are two ski fields.
- Cape Kidnappers is another great historical place to visit and it is one of the warmest places in New Zealand. Take the tour up to the point at Cape Kidnappers and visit the colony of Gannets (birds) that gather there. Be warned about the smell though, it's something you have to experience!
- Catch the ferry at Wellington across to Picton in the South Island and you will find a very different New Zealand. The South Island is not so much hustle and bustle, it is more a relaxed, take your time atmosphere, a great place to chill out.
- Nelson is one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand and it is not hard to see why. This is a great beach side city and lots of people are retiring here or bringing their families to for the lifestyle.
- Head down the west coast of the South Island and you will come across a town called Kaikoura, where you can take a cruise on a boat to see some of the most amazing dolphins and whales, up close and personal.
- Queenstown is probably my favorite town in New Zealand, it has a great atmosphere all year round, is surrounded by a beautiful lake and one of the best ski fields in New Zealand. Whether visiting during summer or winter, you will love the locals and tourists a like, this is definitely a place to be.
- Invercargill, where one of my brothers lives, is a small town at the very bottom of the South Island. On a clear day, you can see Stewart Island in the distance. Drive half an hour out of Invercargill and you will come across Bluff … famous for it's Bluff Oysters, this sleepy little town has "lands end" marked by street signs pointing you in the direction you want to head. A great place to have your picture taken and of course if you like shell fish, you will want to taste their oysters.
There you have it, some of my favorite places throughout New Zealand, my home country and the place I will always come back to. Please come and visit us and come up with your own favorite places to visit!