Auckland is likely to be your arrival point in New Zealand, and many of the city’s attractions are near the harbour area.
Take a sail with Pride of Auckland who operate a fleet of large purpose-built sailboats on the sheltered waters of the Waitemata Harbour. Enjoy lunch, dinner, or a just a coffee while on board – a great way to start your holiday.
At the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the highest structure in New Zealand, you can sip a coffee while enjoying the view, or dine at the revolving Orbit Restaurant. The very adventurous can sky jump off the tower! Just north of Auckland is the Bay of Islands, with idyllic beaches and scenery and a list of activities, including swimming with dolphins.
East of Auckland brings you to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, which then curves into the Bay of Plenty, through to Napier and beyond. This loveliest stretch of coastline has many long, sandy beaches, as well as amazing marine and bird life, including different species of whales and dolphins.
Napier, situated in the Hawkes Bay wine region, is one of the capitals for Art Deco, rebuilt after the earthquake in the 1930s. In the centre of North Island is the thermal region of Rotorua, heart of the Maori culture, with hot geysers and thermal springs.
Not far away, lies the jewel of Central North Island, Lake Taupo. With fresh air and fresh water, visitors can enjoy excellent outdoor activities, including heli-hiking and high-speed jet boat experiences.
The capital city of Wellington, in the south of North Island, has some of New Zealand’s best galleries and museums.
Christchurch is the international gateway to the South Island. Here you can ride on the restored old tram around the centre to visit the various attractions, including the Antarctic Centre. It is also known as the Garden City because of its impressive gardens.
North of Christchurch, you will find the majestic sperm whales at Kaikoura, and soothing mineral waters in the Spa Alpine Village at Hammer Springs.
Cross the Southern Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth on the TranzAlpine Scenic Train, rated one of the world’s great scenic railway journeys. The 260km drive is equally impressive.
Further south are the two magnificent sites, Mount Cook and Fox Glacier, popular with walkers, skiers, mountaineers and sightseers. Edmund Hilary trained here before the ascent of Everest.
If you can afford the time you can try taking the drive through New Zealand’s Fiordland, a 74 mile journey from Tel Anau (the gateway to the Fiords) to Milford Sound along the Milford Road. Until 1953, you could only walk or approach Milford Sound by boat. Journey time is around 2 hours but visitors will want to make frequent stops to admire the lush forests, alpine rivers and rugged mountains. There are stopping points at various locations leading to picturesque walks and viewpoints.
A visit to the South would not be complete without seeing Queenstown, an alpine resort beside the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, with many activities for young and old. The ‘Scottish’ city of Dunedin, with its Victorian and Edwardian buildings, is situated on the south east coast.
For anyone with a real sense of ‘adventure’, trendy Queenstown offers free bungee jumps to the over 65s!
Photo: Queenstown (T2) 130914