Sightseeing New Zealand - Sightseeing in New Zealand

From snow-capped peaks to lush rainforests to buzzing metropolitan cities, New Zealand is a land of striking contrasts. Every year, visitors come from all over the world to delight in the breathtaking beauty of the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ and enjoy the wide range of tourist attractions on offer.

Sightseeing New Zealand - Sightseeing in New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of dramatic contrasts. With snow-capped mountain ranges, golden beaches, lush rainforests, cosmopolitan cities, quaint villages and a fascinating indigenous culture, New Zealand has something to offer for every taste without ever having to travel a long distance.

The North Island

The North Island has a larger population than the South, however natural beauty still abounds.

The capital city of Wellington is the country’s main creative hub, with festivals and events all year long and many internationally recognised artistic institutions such as the Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Many famous New Zealanders have their roots in this city, such as film director Peter Jackson and actress Anna Paquin. Immerse yourself in the arts culture by taking in a live production, or simply stroll to enjoy the buzz of the inner city with trendy cafes, galleries and beautiful architecture.

Further north and nestled between the waters of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours is Auckland, known as the ‘City of Sails’. The lifestyle here is ranked as one of the best in the world, with a rich Polynesian culture, harbour-side location and modern city pulse. The famous Sky Tower is the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower, with an observation deck, revolving restaurant and cafe to take in the spectacular views, as well as and sky-jumping for the braver few. The harbour is also a good starting point for a boat ride or cruise to one of the many islands that dot the coast, such as Rangitoto or Waiheke Island.

A trip to the North Island is not complete without a visit to the Rotorua region, a major centre for Maori culture in New Zealand with famously beautiful and bizarre natural wonders. Extreme geothermic activity takes place below the earth’s surface here causing steam to rise out of cracks in the ground, even in residential areas.

Visitors can get up close and personal with bubbling mud-pools, geysers, hot springs and volcanic craters merely minutes away from towns. Rotorua city on the shores of Lake Rotorua has a large Maori population and offers a snapshot of traditional and contemporary Maori life. The nearby villages of Whakarewarewa, Tamaki Maori Village and the Mitai Moari Village encourage appreciation of the traditional dress, music and artisan skills of the Moari people through song and dance displays, as well as cultural exhibitions and museums.

The South Island

The South Island has a stunning natural landscape and a smaller population than the North Island, despite being larger.

The Southern Alps are a good base to get acquainted with the wilderness as they contain four national parks - Mount Aspiring National Park, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and the Fiordland National Park. Aoraki/Mount Cook is located here and stands at 3754 metres high, the tallest peak in New Zealand and a Mecca for rock climbers and mountaineers. Skiing and snowboarding are also popular activities during the winter months however simply hiking or driving through the region is also a perfect way to appreciate the peace and magnificence of this special corner of the country. The deep crystal lakes, icy mountain tops, ancient forests and sweeping hills might be familiar to fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, as this area was used by Jackson as the dramatic setting for Tolkein’s Middle Earth.

The Southern Alps region is dotted with quaint alpine villages and towns, such as Arthur’s Pass Village, Twizel and Aoraki Mount Cook village. Accommodation is plentiful and varied, with eco-cabins, resorts and cosy bed and breakfasts to choose from.

Although more sparsely populated, the South Island still has several cities that are well worth a visit. Queenstown is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, and with easy access to the Southern Alps, has a keen ski culture and welcoming hospitality. There is a youthful energy in the inner city with plenty of shopping, trendy cafes and cool bars to spend a chilly evening.

Nearby the Central Otago winegrowing region produces some of the country’s best wines, including Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris. On the east coast of the South Island is Christchurch, an elegant city known as the ‘Garden City’ for its many parks and gardens. The pace here is laid-back and sophisticated, with plenty of historical architecture, fine dining and museums and galleries to enjoy

New Zealand sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and the landscape is one of contrasts – the South Island was formed largely by glaciers while the North Island is alive with volcanic activity. There are 14 national parks to choose from all the way from Tongariro in the North Island to Rakiura on Stewart Island, as well as many forest parks, scenic reserves, conservation areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

In contrast to the beautiful wilderness areas there are many cultivated environments, beautiful gardens and public parks in every New Zealand city, with a rich variety of classic blooms to enjoy.

New Zealand was settled by the Maori, a Polynesian people, over 100 years ago. Europeans arrived about 150 years ago and since then, New Zealand has become more multicultural with each passing year, with people from Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Pacific making it their home.

This mix of cultures has created an interesting mix of the old and the new, with much to delight and interest the visitor.

If you’re feeling energetic and you’ve got the time, money and friends to go on an action trip with, you can organise to get yourself into a 4WD trip out in the countryside, connect with some aerial sightseeing or take up water adventures on the rivers.

There are also overland trekking and eco-tours, horse treks, scenic day trips of various sorts, sporting activities, walking and hiking and water sports in
beautiful places.

Golf is a bit more relaxed and there are the museums and heritage areas to explore. Cruising can be very enjoyable, relaxing and fun. Try an overnight cruise or a scenic or wildlife cruise.

Maybe a bit of time on a farm in a rural setting is more to your liking? Or a rail journey? Or is fishing your fancy? You can take a stroll through a public garden or parkland, explore Maori culture, visit a vineyard or go on a movie tour in the city.

There is a rich diversity of ways to enjoy yourself sightseeing on both the
North and the South Islands of New Zealand – it’s all there waiting for you to discover and enjoy and all it takes is the time, the energy and the opportunity.

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific and given the fact that it is made up of two main islands (the North and South Islands) and many smaller ones, it is safe to say that the sights to be seen are many and varied.

The North Island is the home of the capital city of New Zealand, Wellington, as well as the countries biggest city, Auckland. The adventures available on the North Island are endless from golfing, 4WD tours and coach trips to hiking, scenic flights and sailing – the North Island has it all.

Eco Tours are available giving tours of the lush rainforests and black sand beaches on the West Coast and Te Popo Gardens (Maori for Lullaby) is 34 acres of woodland, gardens and native forest – a wonderful place to relax, have a picnic and admire the plants native to New Zealand.

For those Lord Of The Rings fans there are special tours which will see you visiting all the magical locations the movie was filmed in. Visit Middle Earth and get close to Hobbiton (the home of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee), Mordor (the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring), The Misty Mountains and Fangorn Forest (the home of the tree shepherds).

A different kind of experience is available at Waimangu Volcanic Valley home of the world’s largest hot spring,  a massive geyser-like feature and steaming Frying Pan Lake. Panoramic views of the valley can be seen on the many walks and hiking trails. Taking the cruise along Lake Rotomahana will allow you to experience a guided tour of the valley where passengers will learn about the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.

The South Island is just as exciting as its northern counterpart if less populated. The Southern Island is home to the highest peak in New Zealand, Aoraki Mount Cook.

For the thrill seekers the South Island has a 4-wheel motorbike adventures, a Sky-wire flying fox and kayaking tours.

Take a ride on the Southern Hemispheres steepest lift high above Queenstown. The excitement of the gondola isn’t all this skyline adventure has to offer as a sumptuous buffet is available at the top in the Skyline Restaurant and after enjoying a performance of the Haka, a traditional Maori dance, climb into a luge and hurtle back down the winding hillside.

For a calmer experience there is always a rail journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway which features commentary, sightseeing stops and a licensed snack bar. Plus it is not subject to the weather so it is available at all times of the year no matter what the season!

With something for everyone to do, see and explore New Zealand is definitely the place to visit.