New Zealand Scenic Highlights
The great advantage of New Zealand is that all of its diverse physical, cultural, and artistic landscapes are so close to each other.
New Zealand Scenic Highlights Overview
In the geological sense, New Zealand has had a colourful past. The ice age carved the exquisite network of Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds, huge tectonic forces pushed up the Southern Alps and volcanism on a fearsome scale shaped (and continues to shape) much of the North Island. The result of all this action is scenery to die for—a landscape jam-packed with interest.
The Mysterious Volcanic Island of Rangitoto
Rangitoto Island, an unforgettable feature of Auckland's inner harbour, pushed its way through the ocean floor around 600 years ago. The volcanic fireworks that accompanied it inspired local Maori tribes to call it 'Sky of Blood'.
Take a train to the top or hike up the 260 metre high summit to witness the spectacular 360 degree views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland cityscape. The island also has lava caves, unique rock formations and pohutukawa forests. Rangitoto can be enjoyed as a guided tour, or visitors can walk to the top independently.
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The Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa in Rotorua erupts in a steamy display of the Earth's awesome power.
Sneaky threads of steam issue from parks, pathways and streets in Rotorua, and the occasional scent of sulphur wafts through the air.
Minutes from the city centre, geysers of steaming water roar from the ground. Pools of bubbling mud gurgle and belch. In geothermal fields around Rotorua, steam rises from placid lakes and flowing streams. Dazzling silica terraces display a kaleidoscope of colour.
Towering volcanoes, now sleeping giants, are unmistakable reminders of the landscape's turbulent past. Extinct volcanic craters provide the vessels for Rotorua's crystal lakes.
And to round off a day of geothermal exploration, relax in pools of naturally heated mineral water and experience for yourself why Rotorua is called 'Nature's Spa of the South Pacific'.
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A Journey into Glacier Country
On the West Coast, remnants of the ice age cascade from vast snowfields of the Southern Alps to valley floors just 300 metres above sea level. Nowhere in the world's temperate zones are glaciers so accessible. A range of companies offer guided excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Helicopter and fixed wing aircraft also provide scenic flights and snow landings amidst New Zealand's highest peaks overlooking the glaciers.
The villages of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are good bases from which to explore the glaciers. A range of walks exist surrounding the glaciers that provide excellent vantage points for viewing the glacier as well as exploring rainforest environments.
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New Zealand's Newest National Park
Stewart Island is the southernmost and smallest island of the three main islands of New Zealand, (about 75 kilometres long and up to 45 kilometres wide). Approval has recently been granted for Stewart Island to become New Zealand's latest National Park—it will be known as Rakiura National Park.
Stewart Island is the most natural of New Zealand's three main islands - the least farmed, least logged, least burnt and least built on. The forests contain the last remnants of what the rest of Southland's native forests were once like. Protecting these habitats, particularly on the pest-free offshore islands, is essential for the long-term survival of kiwi, yellow-eyed penguin, kakapo, New Zealand dotterel, bats, weka, South Island saddleback and wetas (a large cricket-type flightless insect).
For anyone seeking peace and tranquility, Stewart Island is the ultimate spot. There are superb bush walks and great launch cruises around some of New Zealand's most beautiful coastline. The island's amazingly clear and clean waters make it a snorkeling and diving paradise.
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New Zealand Wide Accommodation
New Zealand is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of country-wide accommodation options:
- New Zealand Motels
- New Zealand Hotels
- New Zealand Bed and Breakfasts
- New Zealand Holiday Houses
- New Zealand Campsites and Holiday Parks
View more New Zealand Accommodation options.
Useful New Zealand Wide Links
To help plan your New Zealand holiday choose from the main categories below:
- New Zealand Accommodation
- New Zealand Tours
- New Zealand Attractions and Activities
- New Zealand Transport
- New Zealand Cuisine and Dining
- New Zealand Shopping
- New Zealand Visitor Information
New Zealand Wide Information
Key information and facts about New Zealand.
Major activities and attractions throughout New Zealand.