Born out of the force, fire and fury of tectonic shifts and erupting volcanoes, New Zealand is a wonderland of unique geographical attractions. The erosive capabilities of ice lava wind and water have created natural landscapes that take your breath away. Although only a little larger than the UK, the magical south Pacific islands nation is easily one of the most diversely beautiful destinations on earth.
From the towering snow-capped Southern Alps to lush temperate rainforests where rare Rowi Kiwis roam free, New Zealand has it all.
Here’s a sample of what’s in store for you when you visit the ‘land of the long cloud’:
Hot Water Beach – The Coromandel
At Hot Water Beach you can complement a refreshing dip in the ocean with R&R in your own naturally heated spa bath. Lying just beneath the sand are geothermal springs that bubble and belch their way to the surface at low tide. All that’s required is hand-powered excavation and a couple of BFFs to share in the fun. As the water temperature can reach 64 degrees Celsius, it’s a great way to end an active day at the beach.
Moeraki Boulders – Otago Coast
Lying strewn along Koekohe Beach like giants’ long forgotten marbles are the Moeraki Boulders, spherically perfect rocks formed millions of years ago. They reach sizes of up to 2.2 metres in diameter and can be found individually or in neat clusters or pods. According to local legend, they are the remains of ancient calabashes and baskets washed ashore from a wreck of a gigantic mythical canoe. But we really know they are formed by wave and wind erosion that’s buffeted the sediment from the time of the dinosaurs to the present day!
Waiotapu – Taupo Volcanic Zone
Waterfalls, bubbling mud pools and geysers that let off plumes of steam are synonymous with volcanic New Zealand. Visit the ‘sacred waters’ south of Rotorua and you’ll witness geothermal activity in all its glory. It’s an experience that can be enjoyed on foot, so pack the hiking boots and set off to a unique Kiwi destination that’s out of this world!
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Bridal Veil Falls – Waikato
Plunging 55 metres into a turquoise pool below are the Bridal Veil Falls, a spectacular vertical extension of the Pakoka River that winds its way through a Tawa-tree forest in a wildlife reserve. There are well laid out paths and strategically positioned viewing platforms to allow visitors to get up close and personal with what the Maoris called Waireinga or ‘leaping waters’.
Fox Glacier – Westland Tai Poutini
Scaling towering cliffs of solid ice or exploring ice caves are exhilarating activities you can enjoy at Fox Glacier, a legendary South Island attraction and one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. The 13 km glacier, which drops 2 600 metres to the temperate rainforest below, is fed by four separate ‘streams’ of ice that originate high up in the Southern Alps. If hiking or ice-climbing aren’t your thing, a scenic helicopter flip provides a bird’s eye view.
Quiet, serene and remote, Doubtful Sound is the second largest of New Zealand’s fabled fiords. It’s home to bottlenose dolphins, seals, penguins and several whale species that vary from the shy Minke to the large predatory Orca. The inlet plunges to depths of 421 metres and is surrounded by lush dense rainforest where ferns, lichen and colourful bird species hold sway. The best way to explore the Sound is by boat. There are several operators offering full day and overnight excursions that include all sorts of activities.