Where to Go

Spa with a view, Tairua, Coromandel Peninsula
Spa with a view, Tairua, Coromandel Peninsula
New Zealand
Travel Hot Spots
Where to Go

THE NORTH ISLAND -- Map of New Zealand
According to Maori legend, when the great demi-god Maui went fishing with his brothers, he caught a huge flounder-like fish - the North Island of Aotearoa.  Known as Te Ika a Maui (The great fish of Maui), its head lies where Wellington now stands, Taranaki and the East Cape form its fins, and the Far North is its tail.  The Far North and the Bay of Islands are best loved for their sheltered harbours, bays and long sandy beaches, where many aquatic sporting activities occupy the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to live here.  This is the ‘cradle of the nation’, where early mission stations developed side-by-side with whaling stations and timber mills, and early relationships with Maori were carved out.  Auckland, ‘The City of Sails’, occupies a volcano-studded isthmus, where sprawling suburbs line the shores of its many beaches.  The Coromandel Peninsula, on the east coast south of Auckland, is epitomized by the craggy bush-clad spine which runs down its centre, its hills echoing with the gold-mining secrets of its past.  Its sandy east coast beaches, caressed by surf from the Pacific Ocean, draw visitors to frolic in champagne waves.  Further south, graphic proof of the southwestern tip of the Pacific Ring of Fire lies in the bubbling mud-pools and geysers of the Rotorua - Taupo region, where primeval dawns glow over the waters of a patchwork of lakes, and strong local Maori presence is evidenced by many fine cultural shows.  The Central Plateau, where the Desert Rd runs alongside the Tongariro National Park, is a surreal contrast to the lush rolling pastureland and pine-laced forests surrounding it, its stark stunted vegetation and winter snows lying scattered around the feet of three magnificent peaks. To the east, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Martinborough enjoy a Mediterranean climate, their flourishing vineyards and boutique gourmet epicurean producers making this region one of New Zealand’s premier food and wine destinations.  Wellington’s city centre, built on land reclaimed in the 1800s, bustles with activity day and night, its vibrant Courtney Place bar and café scene drawing locals and visitors out to socialize in all weathers.  On the hills surrounding Lambton Harbour, double-storied villas crowd together along narrow winding streets, their graceful lines an echo from the past.  Throughout the island, within the boundaries of its National Parks, extensive tracts of sub-tropical bush lay undisturbed, their native bird-life protected within predator-free ‘Mainland Islands’, their trout-filled rivers and pristine bush an El Dorado for outdoor enthusiasts.  No matter where you are in the North Island, the sea is rarely more than an hour’s drive away, and the North Island’s two major cities, Auckland and Wellington, are both bounded by harbours.  Kiwis in the North Island are drawn to beaches both to live and play - sand between the toes and the smell of a barbeque in the air are the hallmark of any summer day.

THE SOUTH ISLAND --  Map of New Zealand
The inky waters of the Marlborough Sounds form the northern gateway to the South Island.  The remoteness and undeveloped splendour of the Sounds hint at the kaleidoscope of scenic delights in store for visitors to the South Island.  In stark contrast, the marshalled ranks of row upon row of vines in nearby Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine-growing region, blanket the Wairau and Awatere Valleys.  To the West, the art-savvy centres of Nelson and Golden Bay bask in high sunshine hours alongside the beautiful beaches of Tasman and Golden Bays, surrounded by a trio of National Parks.  On the eastern seaboard, the Kaikoura Coast stretches south towards Christchurch, the road hugging the kelp-laced shore along the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges on one of the finest stretches of coastal road in New Zealand.  Hidden inland in the hills, the thermal haven of Hanmer Springs beckons to those who come seeking its delights.  Christchurch, the South Island’s southern port of entry, sits genteelly beside the River Avon, its extensive parklands and established gardens earning it the name of ‘The Garden City’.  East of the City, the rolling hills of the Akaroa Peninsula, home of New Zealand’s only French colony, tempt visitors to climb their heights to enjoy magnificent views of the bays beyond.  To the West of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains give way to the heights of the Southern Alps, the South Island’s snow-capped backbone.  Within this mountain range, hundreds of glaciers lay hidden, their waters washing into the glacial lakes and rivers for which this region is renowned.  Crossing this mountain range are several beech forest lined passes, the most dramatic being Arthur's Pass, west of Christchurch, and Haast Pass, between Wanaka and the West Coast.  The further south you go, the more awe-inspiring the landscape becomes.  Here, surrounded by the expanses of tussock strewn MacKenzie Country, the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki reflect the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, and small villages offer refueling stops en route.  Further south are the lakeside towns of Queenstown and Wanaka, two of the South Island’s major alpine and adventure destinations.  Against a backdrop of unsurpassed beauty, both offer a myriad of adventure activities to suit all tastes.  At the south-west corner of the South Island are the dramatic vistas of Fiordland.  The lakeside town of Te Anau, accessible by road from Queenstown, is the gateway to this spectacular region of New Zealand.  Flight-seeing trips and cruises on the Sounds allow visitors enjoy the natural beauty of the region with ease, while trampers can experience this country’s most untamed region on a network of tracks, including the famed Milford Track.  Beyond Haast Pass, the South Island’s West Coast offers another experience altogether.  Long stretches of empty road, interspersed with single lane bridges, are painted with large white arrows to remind visitors to drive on the left.  Historic gold-mining towns, the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, bizarre limestone outcrops, mountains and temperate rainforest vie for attention as the road heads north beside the surf pummeled coast.  9 of New Zealand’s 14 National Parks stretch the length of the South Island, from Fiordland National Park in the south to the Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks in the north.  Packed with visual delights, the South Island offers visitors a truly memorable display of nature’s awe-inspiring diversity.

North Island
The Far North -- Whangarei -- Bay of Islands -- Auckland
Coromandel -- Waitomo Caves -- New Plymouth -- Rotorua
Taupo -- Mount Maunganui -- Whakatane -- Eastland -- Napier
Wairarapa -- Wellington

South Island
Marlborough -- Marlborough Sounds -- Nelson -- Golden Bay
West Coast -- Wanaka -- Queenstown -- Te Anau -- Milford Sound
Dunedin -- Mt Cook -- Christchurch -- Akaroa -- Hanmer Springs
Kaikoura

National Parks
Te Urewera -- Tongariro -- Egmont -- Whanganui -- Abel Tasman
Kahurangi -- Nelson Lakes -- Paparoa -- Arthur's Pass
Westland/Tai Poutini -- Aoraki/Mount Cook -- Mount Aspiring
Fiordland -- Rakiura

New Zealand's Best Beaches
New Zealand's Top Hot Spotz

Itineraries:
Christchurch to Christchurch in 19 days
Auckland to Auckland in 9 days
Auckland to Christchurch in 37 days

New Zealand Map
Google Map

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Ninety Mile Beach, New Zealand
Ninety Mile Beach, The Far North

Kiwi road sign in Ohope, Whakatane
Kiwi road sign in Ohope, Whakatane

Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Region

Lake Hawea, Wanaka
Lake Hawea, Wanaka

Aoraki, Mt Cook
Aoraki - Mt Cook