Travel New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, the Southern Alps and Lots of Beautiful Nature

Located in the western South Pacific Ocean and comprising two large islands, New Zealand is a fabulous destination for enjoying stunning natural environments to the fullest. Ten percent of the land surface of New Zealand is registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is said that the number of sheep is greater than the human population of New Zealand. The country’s residents live peacefully surrounded by their natural paradise which has been immortalized in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Aotearoa is another name for New Zealand in the native Maori language which means “the land of the long white cloud”.

Over 2.4 million overseas tourists visit this beautiful country every year.  One of the attractions is the unique fauna due to its isolated location and the kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird, is one of these unique species. But “kiwi” is not only the name of a bird, but also a nickname for all New Zealanders. Have a look the map of New Zealandto get an idea of its location.

Stunning landscapes

Stunning landscapes (image by {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/zach_hodgson/” target=”_blank”}Zach Hodgson{/a})

The weather of New Zealand is shaped by a mild and temperate maritime climate. Summer is cool and winters are fairly mild. The northern and north-eastern areas of the South Island are the sunniest areas, while the southern and south-western areas of the South Island have a cooler and cloudier climate.

Here is an overview of some of New Zealand’s most popular destinations:

–          Auckland: Located in the North Island, Auckland is the largest metropolitan city in Polynesia with a population of over one million and the roughly 50 volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field have given the city its nickname “City of Volcanoes”. In addition, Auckland has another nickname: big yacht races take place every year in the “City of Sails”. With a height of 328 meters, the Sky Tower is the highest free-standing tower in the southern Hemisphere. If you are really courageous, why not try the “Sky Jump” – a 192 meter jump from the tower’s observation deck?

Auckland's Sky Tower

Auckland’s Sky Tower (image by {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nzphoto/” target=”_blank”}Lens_Flare{/a})

–          Wellington: Called “The Windy City”, Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and it is also often referred to as “Wellywood” since it is the home town of famous movie director, Peter Jackson who edited the” Lord of the Rings”. There are several film-making, post production and special effects companies located in the city. Furthermore, Wellington has a lively arts scene, with various interesting museums and theatres. The cable cars from which you can view this beautiful port city have been in operation for more than a century.

–          Christchurch: A terrible earthquake hit this historical city on the south island on February 22, 2011. 181 people were killed and the center of the city was badly damaged. But Christchurch is opening its arms to welcome visitors again and it remains an important gateway to the rest of the South Island. Christchurch is known as “the Garden City”, and you will find beautifully manicured gardens all over the city.

 

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

 

 

 

–          Located on the South Island’s east coast, Kaikoura is a popular getaway destination from Christchurch and it takes about 3 hours by bus or train to get there. The region is home to abundant marine animals and visitors come to see whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses.

–          The Southern Alps are an impressive mountain range that stretches along the greater part of the South Island. The highest point is Aoraki / Mount Cook with an elevation of 3,754 meters. 16 other peaks are higher than 3000 meters and the Tasman Glacier stretches 29 kilometers towards Lake Pukaki.

 

Lake Pukaki

 

–          Abel Tasman National Park: located on the South Island, this is the most visited national park in New Zealand. The weather is usually good around the year. Among the most popular places in this park are the long golden sandy beaches.

–          Tongariro National Park: Located in the centre of North Island, Tongariro National Park is home to three active volcanoes and one of the most popular sites for hiking, climbing, skiing, hunting and fishing in New Zealand. Originally this park was a sacred place for the Maori people and has been recognized by UNESCO as one of 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Many scenes of the movie “the Lord of the Rings” were shot here.

New Zealand's diverse scenery

New Zealand’s diverse scenery (image by {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pjh/” target=”_blank”}phault{/a})

The culture of New Zealand is intertwined with Maori culture. The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and their culture still plays an important role in today’s New Zealand. Their traditional dance, Haka, is known throughout the world as the dance performed before each game by the All Blacks, the national rugby team. Visitors have an opportunity to learn about Maori culture all throughout the country. When witnessing Maori ceremonies it is always important to show proper respect for this unique Polynesian culture.

Maori culture

Maori culture (image by {a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiaorabro/” target=”_blank”}claytonjayscott.com{/a})

New Zealand is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its awe-inspiring mountains, steep fjords, pristine rivers and lakes, abundant volcanic features and picturesque beaches, it’s an ideal place to get away from our usual routines and enjoy a country of overwhelming nature beauty.

 

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