The small island nation of New Zealand has a stupendous variety of places to go and things to do. Visitors can sunbathe on beautiful beaches, as well as experience Maori culture, take a hike through beautiful wilderness areas and even sample some of the world’s best wines. Whatever travel experience you are looking for, New Zealand has it.
In the center of the North Island, is what could be called New Zealand’s Yellowstone. Rotorua is famous for both its Maori culture and its geothermal activity. Hell’s Gate, Orakei Korako and Wai-O-Tapu are famous for amazing boiling geysers, bubbling pools of mud, and colorful rock formations. There are quite a few resorts in the area and many have hot springs for bathing. While you’re there, you can also visit the tourist villages of Tamaki, Mitai, and Whakarewarewa to learn more about Maori culture, as well as feast on a hangi meal prepared the traditional way in an underground pit.
The Hokianga Harbour on the north island is a hidden treasure, overlooked by most travelers to New Zealand. It is especially great for hikers, campers and RV adventurers. This part of the island is predominantly Maori and sparsely populated. You can make the villages of Opononi, Omapere or Rawene your home base for hiking, dune boarding, horseback riding, and dolphin watching.
With more than 200 vineyards, Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine-producing regions. This remote region is famous for its sun-drenched landscapes, Art Deco style, as well as the world’s largest colony of gannets at the Cape Kidnappers Reserve. The city of Napier was largely built in the Art Deco style, following a huge earthquake in 1931. It’s an elegant home base to explore all of the wineries of this famous wine region.
On the upper east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is well known for its dolphin and whale watching. It’s a hotspot for marine-life, due to its deep trench and unique currents just offshore. The whale-watching cruises are year-round. Seeing a magnificent sperm whale is not guaranteed, but there’s a good chance you’ll see one, as well as a wide variety of seals, dolphins, and sea birds. Likewise, Kaikoura is a great place to go hiking and enjoy the beautiful beaches.