Holiday packages New Zealand
What would be the major reasons for booking a New Zealand vacation? This makes for a long list. One has to say that one reason is nature at her best offering breathtaking landscapes of stunning and diverse natural beauty which include majestic and dramatic fjords, spectacular glaciers, rugged mountains, vast plains and farmland, long coastlines, wonderful sandy beaches and active geothermal regions plus so much more. The country also has history, culture and, not least, winelands producing excellent wines.
The size of New Zealand is comparable with that of Great Britain or Japan. The coastline in its entirety measures 1500 kilometres/900 miles in length strangely enough, the same distance that separates New Zealand from Australia across the Tasman Sea. 20% of the country is covered in national parks, forests and reserves. An interesting fact is that 80% of the flora here is native.
New Zealand is a country made up of two major islands, simply called the North and South Islands which are separated by the Cook Strait which is 22 kilometres/14 miles in width at its narrowest point. They contrast in not only terrain and physical features but also in character and attractions.
The North Island is volcanic and thermal .The South Island is two thirds mountains and one third plains. The North Island offers lush sub-tropical vegetation, exotic flora and fauna, beaches and attractive small friendly towns. Approximately 75% of Maori culture exists on the North Island although only 15% of the total New Zealand population is Maori. The Polynesians from whom the Maoris are descended, settled here many centuries ago.
The South Island has spectacular scenery consisting of sweeping plains, snow-covered mountains and rugged coasts and abounds in natural breath-taking landscapes. The Southern Alps mountain chain which runs through the centre, divides the South Island. It is also the location of New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook at 3750 metres/12, 315 feet and highly visible from a long distance away.
For enthusiasts of outdoor pursuits and activities, one can find in abundance any of the following – hiking, swimming, snorkeling, rafting, jet boating, skydiving, paragliding and hang gliding, parasailing, sailing, bungee jumping, climbing, hunting, fishing, caving, skiing and hot air ballooning.
As mentioned, the two major islands are very different and have unique features. Starting with the North Island, the largest city is Auckland known as the “City of Sails” due to having around 135, 000 registered sailboats bobbing in its harbour. The city sits on a volcanic field and the nearby Rangitoto Island is an unpopulated land mass formed by volcanic activity. Auckland is fortunate to have a beautiful harbour which provides some attractive beaches some located in the suburbs of Kohimarama, Devonport and Mission Bay to name a few. The harbour is also home to the Auckland Bridge which connects the centre of the city with its northern suburbs and is the gateway to the far north of the island. A landmark is the Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere which provides excellent panoramic views of Auckland and just one of the many photo opportunities available while on your New Zealand vacation.
The harbour area teems with life both in the daytime and the evening with its many cafes, restaurants and bars and other entertainments. A popular pastime is to take a harbour cruise for a different visual perspective of Auckland. The city has several green areas and parks. The best known is the Auckland Domain, the oldest and one of the largest here with its remains of a volcanic crater. Other major parks are Mount Eden and One Tree Hill which both afford great views. Culturally, one can choose from a number of venues such as the Auckland Art Gallery with its 15, 000 works of art, the War Memorial Museum which not only depicts life during World Wars and others but also has an excellent exhibition of Maori and Polynesian people’s arts and crafts. A very popular attraction is Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World where one comes close up to a diverse collection of aquatic life which includes penguins, stingrays, sharks and jellyfish.
Wellington is the national capital and is a very attractive city renowned for its natural beauty and also for its arts and culture. It is ringed by mountains and rolling hills and has a rugged coastline. A vibrant city, it offers trendy cafes, restaurants, boutiques and several art galleries. To discover the city, take the cable car to Mount Victoria or Mount Kaukau to enjoy a panoramic view of Wellington and its surroundings.
Rotorua is the centre of most of the geothermal activity in New Zealand. It is known as a thermal wonderland due to its many gushing hot springs and geysers and because of these natural phenonmen, Rotorua is included on most New Zealand vacations. There is a distinct smell of sulphur in the air here but don’t let that put you off discovering these natural phenomena. Also in Rotorua are other attractions such as the Rainbow Springs National Park, beautiful landscaped gardens featuring fish and birds including the flightless Kiwi bird and the Agrodome with its exhibition of rural New Zealand life including sheep shearing demonstrations. Nearby are the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves with their interesting limestone formations.
The subtropical Bay of Islands is a very pretty region made up of around 150 islands and a wonderful destination to both relax and explore – a good place to see dolphins, whales and penguins. The main centre is Pahia with its superb beaches and the site of the Waitangi Treaty signed in 1840 to unite the country. Russell is a short ferry ride from Pahia and is a charming township with an interesting history.
Hawkes Bay is one of the major centres of New Zealand’s wine producing regions. It is also home to the cities of Napier and Hastings which offer unusual architecture. An earthquake destroyed much of the unique Art Deco buildings here in 1931 but they have now been restored to their original structures.
The South Island boasts many choices to confirm its overwhelming natural beauty that makes up this region. Starting with the largest city, Christchurch, one finds a very “English” metropolis with its buildings, gardens and Avon River which flows through the heart of the city. Stroll along the banks of the tree-lined Avon River and observe the neo-gothic architecture. Largely rebuilt after the devastating recent earthquake, the city has not lost its charm. Take in Christchurch Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens and the Christchurch Art Gallery as well as simply stroll its streets and parks. One can take a cable car up to the Port Hills for a panoramic view of both Christchurch and the port of Lyttelton on the coast.