Free Travel Newsletter : June 2016
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to Janet Kelly, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning a "Kiwi Country New Zealand" DVD.
Welcome to winter New Zealand-style! Get ready to ski, slide, skate and wrap up to enjoy the fresh, crisp winter days and nights. There are numerous outdoor festivals to enjoy which make the most of winter lights and cosy fires - so much so, you may think that Christmas has come early!
Read more about:
- Aotea Square Ice Rink and Ice Slide
- Glow in the Dark Glow-Worm Tours
- Te Ara Rama Matariki Light Trail
- Taupo Winter Festival
- Go See... Blue Pools, Haast Pass
- 10 Top Unusual Rockscapes
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Aotea Square Ice Rink and Ice Slide
Location: Aotea Square, Queen St, CBD, Auckland
Date: 17 June - 24 July
Enjoy a taste of winter life in the heart of Auckland city at Aotea Square's ice rink, which includes a thrilling 35-metre long double-laned ice slide and the Penguin Kid's Zone. The event - now in its 5th year - is hugely popular with over 20,000 people attending every year.
The ice rink also offers a fun-filled programme of special events and themed weekends including a DJ nights and ice parties. This year, a stunning light display will transform Aotea Square complete with life size polar bears, penguins and seals.
Opening 10am – 10pm (most days), adults $20, kids under 12 $15, ice slides extra. Door sales only.
Glow in the Dark Glow-Worm Tours
Location: Botanic Garden, 101 Glenmore St, Wellington
Date: 1 July – 5 August, 7.30pm
Make sure you book in advance (phone Treehouse - 04 499 1400) for one of these fascinating tours into the world of the glow-worm. Meet at the Founders' entrance on Glenmore Street. The tours take about one hour and are free for under 12s (general admission $5). Please bring a torch.
Te Ara Rama Matariki Light Trail
Location: Maybury Reserve, Maybury St, Glen Innes, Auckland
Date: 2 July – 9 July
The 4rd annual Matariki Light Trail turns Maybury Reserve into a magical landscape. Dress up warm and come along to this popular Maori new year family celebration. Take a magical journey along a flax lined pathway among thousands of twinkling fairy lights. Local performers will share their talent each night from 7pm and the finale on Saturday 8 July will include a community concert and a spectacular fireworks display to Maori and Pasifika music at 9.15pm.
Ruapotaka Marae, next to the Matariki Light Trail is hosting a free interactive arts exhibition, free soup with Māori bread and a photo booth every night until 8 July.
Taupo Winter Festival
Location: Great Lake Centre, Story Place, Taupo
Date: 15 – 17 July
The action-packed programme celebrates of the arts, culture and offers a whole lot of fun for all the family and it's perfectly timed for the school holidays! The majority of festival activities are located in and around the Taupo Domain and Great Lake Centre – the hub of Taupo.
There will amazing free activities during the day, including an ice slide, light trail and pancake breakfast and lantern making workshops. There is also a firelight celebration, high tea and classical music event, entertainment, light trail and much more.
Visit the website for full event details.
Go See... Blue Pools, Haast Pass
A highly recommended stop along the SH6, the highway between Wanaka and Haast on the west coast of the South Island, is the Blue Pools. A short and easy walk, this is one of Mount Aspiring National Park's most popular and can be accessed by visitors using wheelchairs.
Start at the Blue Pools carpark surrounded by beech/tawhero forest and enjoy a gentle walk of about 10 minutes to a swing bridge. After crossing the Makarora River via the swing bridge, a boardwalk leads to a viewing platform over the Blue Pools. Soon after, it crosses the Blue Pools Bridge for great views up the river gorge.
- Where to go: Haast Highway SH6, Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor
- When to go: All year round
Find out more about the Otago region.
10 Top Unusual Rockscapes
Located throughout New Zealand are the sort of unusual rockscapes that set photographers' hearts racing. If you can be there for the 'golden hour' (or magic hour) shortly after sunrise or before sunset – when the light is redder and softer – you are (almost) guaranteed the sort of picture that makes New Zealand famous!
- Cathedral Cove, Coromandel - Accessible only on foot, boat or kayak, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the "must visit" sites on the Coromandel. Located at Hahei, the Cove is just 10 minutes' drive from the famous Hot Water Beach. The cave and beach was used as the tunnel through which the Pevensie children first re-enter Narnia in the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
- Elephant Rock, Tongaporutu - On the North Taranaki coast, use a little imagination and you will find a large rock elephant on the beach standing alongside rock formations known as the Three Sisters (a slight misnomer as only two of the sisters are still standing).
- Kupe's Sail, Aorangi Forest - This park lies east of Wellington and features some of New Zealand's most striking landforms and spectacular views including the high slabs of rock known as Kupe's Sail. You will also see the Putangirua Pinnacles, earth pillars formed by the erosive forces of rain and floods; and the coastal Whatarangi Bluff.
- Archway Islands, Wharariki Beach - West of Cape Farewell, the northernmost point of the South Island, this beach is best known for the Archway Islands, featured frequently in photos in New Zealand landscape calendars.
- Castle Hill, Canterbury - These grand limestone rock battlements led early European travellers to name the area Castle Hill. The area has grown in popularity as nearby Flock Hill station was used for battle scenes in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
- Moeraki Boulders, Otago - The Moeraki Boulders are a group of very large spherical "stones" on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand's Otago coast. These boulders are concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs that back the beach. They originally formed in ancient sea floor sediments around 60 million years ago.
- Ngarua Caves, Motueka - The beautiful Ngarua Caves have an extensive and breathtaking variety of stalagmites and stalactites, also featuring an excellent skeletal display of the extinct moa. The caves are located in the Takaka Hill and open daily with guided cave tours available.
- Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, - The famous Pancake Rocks are just a 20-minute loop walk from the main highway at Punakaiki. Looking like giant pancakes the curious limestone formations are especially spectacular at high tide in a westerly sea. They were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed.
- Split Apple Rock, Tasman Bay - A very photogenic geological rock formation off the northern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Made of granite, Split Apple Rock is in the shape of an apple which has been cut in half. It is a popular tourist attraction in the waters of the Tasman Sea approximately 50 metres off the coast between Kaiteriteri and Marahau.
- Tunnel Beach, Dunedin - Walk through this excavated tunnel to a secluded beach and a spectacular, rocky coastline. Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves at Tunnel Beach; look for fossils as you descend through the pioneers' hand-carved tunnel.
Rockscapes on the North Island
Rockscapes on the South Island
Share Your Experience
What New Zealand rockscape caught your eye during your travels? Do you have any great photographs to share with other readers? If yes, why not post your pictures to Facebook page and inspire other travellers to grab their cameras and get up early for that magic hour.
New Zealand Fast Facts
Did you know that the world's smallest penguins make their home in New Zealand? The little penguins (also known as little blue penguins) stand at just over 25 cm and weigh around one kg. They are found on most of New Zealand's coastline. You can pay to see little penguins at dusk in Oamaru (South Island), but they can also be seen at other coastal sites. In New Zealand, the little penguins are protected by the Wildlife Act.