New Zealand Map
Country Info New Zealand
We have a theory: When “God” was done making the world, s/he gathered the best of everything s/he previously made and put them all together to create New Zealand. All the various landscapes of the world can be found on these two little islands. Dramatic Fiordlands and Sounds, seemingly endless white, sandy beaches, lush, green rainforests, stretches of fertile farmland, powerful glaciers, volcanoes, geysers – and so much more. All of this on two islands with the area of Colorado and the length of California!
But beautiful scenery is not New Zealand’s only treasure. There are also the “Kiwi” people. They are uncomplicated (don’t require Starbuck’s Coffee), genuine, friendly and honest. They are generous with whatever they have whether it is a story, a place to stay or something from the garden. To experience New Zealand is to also experience its people.
We want to share the magic of this country with as many people as possible while it is still a “diamond in the rough.” We offer true Kiwi experiences created around your personal interests. Whether you want maximum sight seeing or are interested in hunting, fishing, adventure, nature, history, horses or fine wines, we would enjoy creating your trip and showing you why we love this country and it’s people.
Please remember we are different from a travel agent because we offer first hand experience and information. We can arrange for you to meet New Zealanders that share the same interests as you; a barbecue at someone’s farm who shares the same hobby, the same job or the same type of dog or perhaps a round of golf with some local “Kiwi blokes.”
When visiting we offer a 24/7 phone number for questions or change of plans. If it is raining one day and you can not go sailing as planned, you can call us and we will make other arrangements for you. It is important to us that our clients enjoy New Zealand as much as we do.
Next is an overview of New Zealand. Please remember that this reflects our opinion of the regions. It is not a travel guide telling you that everything is wonderful. It is a true expression of what we feel is here in New Zealand to see and explore … and what is here that does not warrant time out of your precious holiday. We may upset the locals of some regions because we do not boast that their area is as wondrous as the rest – they all are, just some are more wondrous than other!
Auckland: The majority of International flights arrive into Auckland. It is the largest city in NZ with over one third of New Zealand’s entire population (one million) living in the Auckland area. It is a picturesque city built on around 70 dormant volcanoes giving it hills, character and vistas. Home to the America’s Cup, it is called ‘The City of Sails’. For exploring the city, there are cruises that take in the main islands of the Hauraki Gulf, great shopping area, golf, fabulous museum and the famous Kelly Tarlton’s Undersea World.
Lord of the Rings: The small town of Matamata, 25 minutes east of Hamilton, was the set for the Hobbit town of Hobbiton.
Paihia, the main town at the Bay of Islands, is quite the tourist haven offering boating trips of all types from sailing, fast boat trips through the famous whole in the rock, historic boat tours, dolphin swims and salt water fishing of all styles. The Waitangi Treaty House is a must for any history buffs.
Remote natural beauty abounds. The Coromandel is two to three hours from Auckland City and is laden with amazing thick native bush; seemingly endless secluded beaches and charming seaside towns with great fishing. The ultimate vacation spot when it is sunny, but does not offer much to do when it rains. One of those off the beaten track treasures.
The East Cape is rugged and beautiful, a region by passed by many travelers because 3-4 days minimum is required to explore around the cape. If you like coastal scenery, fishing, small friendly towns and off the beaten track quiet areas, this is the one. Part of the East Cape and first to see the dawn of each new day, Gisborne boasts great wineries, great beaches and great sun rises.
Near by Napier is known as the ‘Art Deco City’. The name came to be after an earthquake destroyed the city and the new city planner took on the art deco theme when it came time to rebuild. This is also one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions with many vineyards open for wine tastings.
The Rangitikei River region is located on the North Island midway between Wanganui on the West coast, Taupo and Wellington. The region boasts some of the most intense and productive farmland and with the Rangitikei River and its tributaries, has some excellent fly fishing opportunities.
Northland is time consuming to get to, but worth it once you are there. The West Coast of the region offers giant sand dunes and the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Paihia, the main town at the Bay of Islands, is quite the tourist spot offering boating trips of all types from sailing, fast boat trips through the famous whole in the rock, historic boat tours, dolphin swims and salt water fishing of all styles. The Waitangi Treaty House is a must for any history buffs. 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga (where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean) offers an enjoyable day trip once in the region. If you are into sailing or game fishing this is a must see spot for you.
Rotorua is the North Island’s cultural epicenter. The city of Rotorua resides by a lake with the same name. The area is known for its Maori Culture, thermal parks with geysers, bubbling mud and sulfur vents, trout fishing and a wide variety of shows and parks for tourists. Although Queenstown is officially the adventure capital of New Zealand, Rotorua is packed with adventure. From Rafting to four wheel drive volcano tours to zorbing, those requiring an adrenaline rush will find it here.
Three hours south of Auckland and three hours west of Rotorua is the quaint little Waitomo Village. Here lies a network of limestone caves and the adventures based around these caves. The most famous being the glowworm Grotto. This large tourist cave offers a walk through the limestone caverns to see the stalagmites and stalactites then you board a small boat to meander through the underground river to see the lights of the glow worms. Waitomo is also the home of the famous Black Water Rafting trip. This is inner tubing on underground rivers in the limestone caves. For those requiring more of a rush there is abseiling 100 meters into a cave or caving and canyoning challenges that will have your heart pumping and knees trembling.
Lake Taupo is a huge volcanic crater filled with water and is the largest lake in New Zealand, and the many rivers and streams that run from it are well known for producing exceptional trout fishing opportunities, both Rainbow and Brown Trout. The mighty Huka Falls is fed by Lake Taupo and offers a dramatic display of the true power of water. One of New Zealand’s top golf courses also resides near Lake Taupo, The Wairakei Golf Course.
Wellington city is the nation’s capital and the ‘San Francisco of the Southern Hemisphere’. Fun city with the best live theater options in the country, great restaurants and ‘the bee hive’ the parliament building. A must see while in Wellington is Te Papa, the national museum. It is filled not only with history but many interactive displays, art collections and ‘Kiwiana’.
Wairarapa is in the bottom right hand corner of the North Island. It extends from the Tararua Mountains and Rimutakas to the Pacific and eastern Cook Strait. Driving here from Wellington ferry terminal takes an hour and a bit. Alternatively main roads trickle down from Manawatu on the west, and Hawkes Bay, to the north-east. Buses and trains run from Wellington Rail Station at regular intervals; and a courtesy bus connects the ferry terminal with the station. Wairarapa has become a playground and R & R haven for people from Hutt Valley and Wellington. Here they find towns of distinctive character from Featherston; the southern portal to Pahiatua; gateway to the north. High on the steep, bush-clad Tararua slopes hunters go in quest of flighty deer while mountaineers clamber up the most precipitous slopes. To the east, on either side of the busy coastal resorts, Wairarapa’s Pacific shore holds endless fascinations; still rock pools by Mataikona, weathered honeycomb rocks at Glenburn, fishing vessels operating out of Ngawi, and territorial seals, basking grumpily at Cape Palliser.
The city of Christchurch is known as ‘The Garden City of New Zealand.’ Its Botanical Garden is claimed to be the best in New Zealand. To complete the garden atmosphere, the Avon River meanders through Hagley Park around the downtown region. It is a flat, English style city with some of the best shopping opportunities in the country.
If you enjoy beaches, visit The Coromandel and Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman Park offers a lovely coastline that is usually very calm due to the mountains blocking the prevailing wind. You can enjoy one long hike (4-5 days) or many shorter hikes that meander through the thick native bush, down to a series of many beaches, coves, and bays. There are a few accommodations that are very special to stay at within the park or you may choose to camp. The best way to enjoy this Park is a combination hiking / kayaking trip.
Nelson a city rich in culture set by the sea. It is a good base to stay at from which you can enjoy day trips to the surrounding areas. Nelson is home of the famous ‘Wearable Arts Festival’. This is only one example of the creative people that live here. There are many live art galleries that you can visit to watch pottery, paintings, hand blown glass and carvings come alive before your eyes. Boutique wineries are available for visits along with many outdoor actives from horseback riding, kayaking and four wheel bike (ATV) excursions available.
The Murchison district is dominated by rugged escarpments, bush clad ranges and offers beautiful unspoiled lakes, sparking streams, fast flowing rivers with awe-inspiring rapids and waterfalls between tranquil stretches of water. Well positioned for day trips to Nelson Lakes, Punakaiki and the Kahurangi National Park. Some great accommodations in private settings with stunning scenery.
Kaikoura is a marine biologist, bird watcher and wildlife lover’s paradise! Whales, dolphins, seals and pelagic birds of all types abound in this region. The dramatic Kaikoura mountains look like a Hollywood backdrop as you sit in a boat or plane observing the whales or swim with the dolphins! You can also enjoy a lovely walk around the peninsula of Kaikoura which offers reputable the best hike in the country.
Lake Wanaka is south of Christchurch and is an area where you can base yourself for a few days. Activities include biking around the lake, mountain biking down ski fields and through valleys, kayaking, white-water rafting, visiting the Rob Roy Glacier, plane ride to the Siberian Valley and riding 4-wheel ATV bikes.
Dunedin, is an interesting and charming city, although the weather is not always kind to it. Filled with the Scottish influence of its settlers, it doesn’t take long to find a Kilt shop, hear a few bag pipes or smell Haggis cooking. The stone architecture of its churches and universities are magnificent. The city is filled with culture – there are museums, art galleries, the University, churches and gardens. When you are done expanding your mind, you can visit the only mainland Albatross colony in the world or watch yellow-eye penguins taking their morning dive into the ocean.
Queenstown is a lovely city nestled between Lake Wakitipu and the dramatic Remarkables mountain range. It is reminiscent of Vail with the addition of a beautiful lake! We also call it ‘Disneyland for adrenaline junkies’. Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. From White water rafting to bungee jumping to skiing in the winter to The Shotover jet boat, it’s all here! It is a bustling tourist region with restaurants, casinos, shops and a wide variety of accommodations.
Two words describe The Catlins: remote and rugged. Wildlife abounds here with yellow-eyed penguin, fur seals, elephant seals, dolphins including the Hector Dolphin (smallest in the world and only found in NZ), and amazing bird life. This is not the area for people who enjoy shopping and museums but is the region for those who appreciate wildlife, wilderness and wild coastlines.
Milford Sound is actually a Fiord formed by a glacier leaving in its path the dramatic, sheer walls that plummet straight down into the waters. It is a single armed Fiord as compared to Doubtful Sound with three arms or Marlborough Sound, the only true Sound, with it multiple waterways. The experience of Milford Sound begins with the spectacular scenery on the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound. A cruise on the Sound offers the opportunity to get up close to the waterfalls, sheer cliffs and wildlife that are Milford. A flight over the sound allows you to view the glacier lakes above that feed the many waterfalls.
There are not many places in the world that you can go from a World Heritage Rain Forest to a glacier within a few short steps but that is what you can do on the West Coast! This rugged coastline has been carved out by the wild Tasman Sea and offers landscapes reminiscent of dinosaur days. Rainforest, Beech Forests, hidden lakes, beaches, secluded lagoons and glaciers can all be found on a single day’s day drive on the West Coast.
The only true Sound in New Zealand (the Sounds at Fiordland are actually fiords), Marlborough Sounds is a menagerie of islands, bays, inlets, mountains and deep green bush pasted against the blue waters. This region is for those who enjoy hiking and solitude. The Queen Charlotte Walkway that traverses the Queen Charlotte Sound is a special walkway because you can make it a one day hike (by use of a water taxi) or a four day / three night hike. You may choose to stay at well appointed lodges at night with hot showers or simply camp each night. A hiking trail to suit all styles. This region is also popular with kayakers and fishermen.