New Zealand (Aotearoa, in English: Land of the Long White Cloud) is an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It essentially consists of two main land masses – the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui, in English: the fish of Māui). This is where most of the population are living and is characterized by subtropical forests, hills and volcanoes; while the South Island (Te Waipounamu, in German: place of the Greenstone) has a slightly rougher landscape with its rainforests, mountains and glaciers; in addition, there are over 700 smaller islands. Situated about 2,000 kilometers east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometers south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga, New Zealand is the sixth largest island nation with an area of over 268 thousand square kilometers. The country’s topography is very varied, with rugged mountain peaks, including the Southern Alps, which are largely the result of tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions. The country’s capital is Wellington, and the most populous city is Auckland. The land of the Kiwis has a population of almost 4.8 million (including 776,000 Maori).
Between the tip of Cape Reinga in Northland and the wild southern coast of Fiordland, New Zealand offers a variety of attractions. Famous for the Haka – the ceremonial dance of the All-Blacks national rugby team – and the filming of the epic “The Lord of the Rings”, New Zealand has much more to be discovered:
- The Northland Peninsula and the Bay of Islands
This region is located in the far north of the North Island. A wealth of natural beauty can be found in this subtropical part of the country, such as the charming coastal towns of Paihia and Russel and the northern tip of New Zealand: Cape Reinga. A nice way to get there is to drive over the “Ninety Mile Beach”. However, this is not a road, but a beach, which is officially accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. Use therefore at your own risk.
South of the Northland Peninsula lies the Coromandel Peninsula, probably the most beautiful part of New Zealand. The very popular Cathedral Cove is definitely worth a visit after checking the local tide chart. A few kilometers away is Hot Water Beach. True to its name, this beach owes its name to the water, some of which comes to the surface almost boiling hot. With a shovel (also available for rent), you can dig your own hot water bath. North of Colville is a quieter area with beautiful landscapes away from mass tourism.
In an area with a lot of geothermal activity of volcanic origin, this city of Rotorua is located in the middle of the North Island. It is one of the most amazing cities in New Zealand. A special highlight are the bubbling mud pools, which can be found in Kuirau Park in the city, among other places. There are a number of places nearby where warm springs have formed ponds and terraces colored by minerals over time. The Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park is probably the most famous.
Located in the west of the North Island is Taranaki, an area named after its main geographical feature: Mount Taraniki. This is a 2,518-metre-high dormant volcano that forms the centre of Egmont National Park. Both the summit and the area are perfect for beautiful walks. Recommended routes include: Veronica Loop, Maketawa Track and Pouakai Crossing.
- Tongariro National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Embedded inside this beautiful park, there is a 20 km uphill climb to the summit of Mount Tongariro or a visit to Taranaki Falls and / or Tama Lake. Both summer (hiking and climbing) and winter (skiing and snowboarding) activities are possible especially on a volcano.
- Wellington – the windiest city in the world
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, got its name because of the Duke of Wellington. Many cultural and artistic events take place here. A visit to the New Zealand National Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, is definitely worthwhile for both young and old.
After the devastating earthquakes in the years 2010 and 2011, Christchurch has been rebuilt as a more creative urban centre. This city, where culture and natural beauty coexist in harmony, is a very diverse one. The Botanic Gardens, a gondola ride on the River Avon or a visit to the Canterbury Museum are particularly worthwhile.
- Queenstown and Wanaka
Who doesn’t think of skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding… all activities that adrenaline junkies won’t turn their backs on? The towns of Queenstown and Wanaka come to mind. All this in a beautiful region of lakes, vineyards and mountains. The hiking trails in this area with its idyllic landscape are very varied and in winter you can ski on the surrounding mountains.
Why wait any longer to visit this beautiful country, your New Zealand visa is waiting for you.