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Travel & Holiday Tips in New Zealand
 
 
 

General

New Zealand is the world’s best kept secret; it contains six of the seven climatic regions on the planet, boasts a series of unparalleled golden-sand beaches, protected marine parks to explore from on or beneath the surface, safe-but-active volcanic areas, pristine snow-capped Alps to ski and climb, prehistoric forests and unique flora and fauna. It does all this in one easily accessible package without thousands of miles to travel between each destination and it has an enviable reputation as one of the safest destinations in the world, lacking poisonous animals and boasting a low crime rate. It is a country where the only stress is that taken on willfully by the adventure-minded tourist (in the form of bungy jumping, parachuting, white-water rafting etc). You can walk for miles in New Zealand without seeing another soul, accompanied by rustling trees, running water and unusual bird song but perhaps the country’s greatest asset is its warm, friendly and hospitable population.

For informed and accurate tourist information, on all of the country’s highlights, travellers should contact one of the local VICs (Visitor Information Centres) located all over New Zealand.

North Island

Auckland

Auckland is the country’s largest urban and suburban area with a population of over 1.5 million. Even so, it is surrounded by varied and exquisite scenery with attractive harbours and beaches to the east and the rugged Waitakere Ranges, the thundering, undeveloped surf beaches and burgeoning vineyards to the west. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, with more boats per capita than any other city in the world, these days Auckland’s reputation as a sailor’s Mecca is cemented by repeated successful defenses of the America’s Cup. The city offers excellent shopping, galleries and museums; it has a university and provides a multicultural environment characterised by a blend of European, Asian and Polynesian cultures, particularly on the busy and atmospheric Karangahape Road. There is also the distinctive Sky Tower, a casino with a glorious circular, glass viewing gallery at its bulbous summit. The views of the city, its beaches and the mountains, the coast and sea beyond are stunning. It is also possible for the particularly brave tourist to abseil down the side of the building to the street, a drop of over 100m (328ft).

An exploration of at least one of the stunning golden-sand islands of the Hauraki Gulf, accessible by ferries from Waitamata Harbour and also visible from the Sky Tower, is highly recommended. Most of the city centre is walkable but the outlying suburbs of Devonport, Herne Bay, Parnell and Ponsonby (with their attractive eateries and well-reputed fashion industry) are brought within easy reach by a reliable public bus network and taxi system.

Northland

The narrow, predominantly Maori stronghold of Northland, the ‘Winterless North’ pushes out 350km (217 miles) from Auckland and separates the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea. It provides the sub-tropical element in the New Zealand equation and is famed for its palms, citrus fruit, avocados, bananas and myriad gorgeous, sandy unspoiled beaches. It also gives tourists the opportunity to begin to understand Maori culture, art and history. On the east coast, the beaches exist between straggling peninsulas and headlands, offering calm bays that are safe for swimming. Perhaps the most famous area is the Bay of Islands, intricately sculpted and renowned for excellent diving, boating/sailing and game fishing. The west coast offers enormous dune-backed black-sand beaches that are lashed almost constantly by Tasman breakers, rip tides and biting winds (there is no safe swimming here). The views are fantastic and, just inland, the forests of the Northland Forest Park, contain some of the world’s oldest trees, including the famous kauri, many of which date back centuries. Cape Karikari, overlooking Doubtless Bay was one of the locations for films such as From Here to Eternity and The Piano, and offers access to wide, rugged, moody beaches surrounded by steep hills and cliffs, while Cape Reinga overlooks the spectacular meeting of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea and the narrow extension of Ninety-mile Beach down the west coast back toward Auckland.


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