New Zealand is the land of Lord of the Rings, home of the All Blacks, and, according to the writer Rudyard Kipling, the eighth Wonder of the World (Milford Sound). Explore New Zealand holidays and discover the best time and places to visit. Get ready to explore New Zealand's beautiful landscapes.
Viaduct Harbour and Basin
The vibrant Viaduct Harbour and Marina is located on the edge of the central business district, approximately 10 minutes walk from Queen Street, which is the main street. With over 20 restaurants and bars it is a great place to check out the boats, sample New Zealand cuisine, relax and socialise on the waterfront. Charter boats and the Ferry service to Davenport and the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf depart from here.
Charter boats available include classic launch or sailing yachts, an Americas Cup yacht or you can charter your own yacht if you have sailing skills or hire a kayak.
Tours include Dolphins tours and sight seeing.
The Viaduct Basin is also home to the National Maritime Museum.
Day Trips on the Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf is the marine gateway to Auckland City and is dotted with volcanic islands, which make great day trip destinations. This Marine Park is also home to many dolphins and orcas.
Visit one or more of the following islands on a charter boat trip from the Viaduct Harbour:
An ideal swimming, fishing, walking and bird watching location with great views of Auckland City and the surrounding islands from the summit. Terrain varies from native bush, volcanic landscape with lava crops to sandy beaches.
Explore on foot or take a guided tour.
35 minutes by ferry, Waiheke Island is a landscape of farmland, forest, beaches, vineyards and olive groves. Approximately 8000 residents live on the Island and there are facilities and services in the main town of Oneroa and vineyards, restaurants and cafes spotted throughout. Inhabitants include many talented local arts and craft trades people.
Rent a car from the ferry landing and explore the whole Island in a day or take a day tour.
Home to the Historic Mansion House and historic gardens. Once you have toured this beautiful home you can relax on the beach, swim, picnic or walk one of the many trails on the island.
This island is a Wildlife Sanctuary and home to many endangered birds including the Takahe. Managed by the Department of Conservation there have been extensive native plantings to ensure regeneration of bush and forest to support the 11 native bird species.
Great Barrier Island
This island has natural hot water springs to bathe in and historic kauri dams to explore, dating back to the days of Kauri tree logging.
Auckland Harbour Bridge
This bridge links the central city to the seaside suburbs of the North Shore and provides access to the northern motorway route.
You can take a tour and climb over the bridge or do a bungy jump off the side.
Drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the North Shore suburbs for local beaches, shopping, restaurants and cafes.
Visit the Sky Tower, the highest tower in the Southern hemisphere at 328 metres. It is open 7 days and the excellent views stretching for miles.
Do the Vertigo Climb (climb the mast of the tower) or the Sky Jump (a 192 metre cable controlled base jump).
Shopping is at its best in the trendy Parnell, Posonby and Newmarket locations, for high fashion, art, restaurants, bars and cafes, or the main Queen Street.
For a truly cultural shopping experience visit the Otara Market a large Maori and Polynesian market in the Auckland suburb of Otara, offerings include produce, art and craft.
The northern most tip of New Zealand is called Cape Reinga and it is a 3.5 hour drive from Paihia or 1 hour 45 minute drive from Kaitaia. The last part of a trip to this site requires a walk to the lighthouse for panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.
Enroute to the Cape is ninety-mile beach, well known for the tour buses that drive along it. NZ rental car companies do not insure traveller’s vehicles to drive on this beach and Destination Northland advises against it. But you can stop to view the giant sand dunes or do a spot of surf casting (take care as this can be a dangerous beach), if on a self-drive tour. Alternatively take a day tour from the Bay of Islands or Kaitaia.
Tutukaka (East Coast)
Tutukaka is just 25 km from Whangarei. The remote coastal area of Tutukaka is the gateway to the renowned Poor Knights Marine Reserve, famous for it’s diving.
Take a diving trip to view this pristine environment or charter a fishing or sight seeing boat from the Tutukaka Marina.
Beautiful beaches and walks surround the area and, at low tide, the Tutukaka Reserve allows you to walk across the rocks to the lighthouse for excellent coastal views.
Pacific Bay is a safe beach located within the harbor while Matapouri Bay, Sandy Bay and Whale Bay are all 10 -15 minutes from Tutukaka and all offer golden sand in a secluded native bush setting.
There are a few local restaurants and cafes along the marina waterfront.
Hokianga Harbour (West Coast
Hokianga Harbour is an unspoilt and beautiful area with sparkling waters perfect for swimming. This is a great area to relax in or alternatively you can take a water taxi or catch the vehicle ferry connecting North and South Hokianga from Rawene to get out on the water.
Waipoua Forest on the West Coast is the place to see the 1250 year old Kauri tree named Tane Mahuta and the 2000 year old Te Matua Ngahere. These trees are huge! There is Kauri wood and gum products available and a visit to the Kauri Museum in Matakohe which is approximately 2 hours from Auckland is a must. There are many Department of Conservation maintained walking tracks within the forests allowing foot access to explore the native bush and coastal beach walking tracks are also dotted along West Coast for great views of long stretches of beach.
Paihia is the main town located on the shores of the Bay and has local supermarkets and shopping for most supplies, restaurants, cafés and bars. Charter boats are available from the Paihia Ferry Wharf to take an organised sight seeing tour of the Bays, coves and the hole in the rock, a fishing excursion including big game or a swim with the Dolphins Experience.
Russell is an historic village directly over the bay from Paihia. The Paihia – Russell Ferry departing from the Paihia wharf takes foot passengers across regularly. Russell can be reached by road with a regular car ferry departing from Opua. There are local restaurants, cafes and shopping, a beautiful waterfront and many historical sites to visit.
Waitangi is located on the edge of Paihia and is home to the historical signing between Maori and European of the Treaty of Waitangi document in 1840. A visit to this elevated site with its panoramic views is a must along with the house, visitor centre, native bush walk, Maori meeting house and a waka (war canoe). The Waitangi Golf Course is nearby for the enthusiast.
Kerikeri is a 30 minute drive from Paihia. This historical town is home to New Zealands oldest house, Kemp House, dating from 1821 and the famous Stone Store 1832 – 36. There are many talented local artists providing good art and craft shopping and there are many cafes and restaurants. With a mild climate suitable to horticulture seasonal fruit and vegetables are in abundance.
White Island is an active volcanic island approx 50 km off the Bay of Plenty coast. Tours out to see this scientifically significant volcano are possible, with either helicopter or small aeroplane flights over the top. Alternatively take a boat trip from Whakatane and explore the island on foot.
The “Mount” as it is known locally, is a popular domestic beach holiday destination in summer. It is popular for its long sandy beach, surf life saving, safe swimming and surf. At one end there is the mountain, which has a track winding around the base and another leading to the summit for spectacular ocean and city views.
There is great shopping and plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from
Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park
There are 300 km of walking tracks within the park, for bush walks, picnics and exploration of old Kauri log milling sites, deep gorges and waterfalls.
Access to the park is free.
Ohope Beach is only 10 minutes from Whakatane. It is a small beach community, with a stunning 11km long stretch of beautiful, white sand beach. There are expansive panoramic views out to White Island and the East Cape.
This is an excellent spot for families, as the beach is safe for swimming.
You can take a local fishing charter tour or learn to surf with the surf school.
Alternatively you can just relax on the beach.
Rotorua mud pools, geysers and hot springs make this unique city the geothermal destination of New Zealand. Bathe in therapeutic mineral water pools, visit one of the many Maori cultural attractions and learn about this amazing culture or fish for trout in one of the beautiful lakes in the greater Rotorua area.
Historically, one of New Zealands original tourist destinations, Rotorua is still very popular and now has many adventure activities including a gondola and luge, zorbing, four wheel drive adventures and natural theme park style attractions.
Bathe in the Therapeutic Waters
There are natural hot water springs for bathing in around Rotorua including Soda Springs and Kerosene Creek where you can relax in your own hot water pool in the river, for free.
Commercial pool complexes to visit include:
Tour a Geothermal Park
There are many opportunities to view close up, the amazing volcanic activity of this region by visiting a park and exploring on foot. These include:
Beautiful Lakes, Forests and Mountains
There are eleven lakes within the Rotorua area including Lake Rotorua, of which the city is built on the edge of. Other lakes within a short drive of Rotorua include Rotoiti, Okareka, and Tarawera. These lakes are natures perfect playground with scenic walks, picnics, swimming and boating. There are boat tours available to get you out on the water including the Lakeland Queen a traditional styled paddlewheel vessel on Lake Rotorua. Alternatively take a jet boat or catamaran tour or hire a kayak.
Trout fishing by fly or boat is popular and prolific on the lakes and tributary streams and fishing guides are available to ensure a catch of Rainbow and Brown Trout.
For everything Maori, from traditional to modern, Rotorua is New Zealand’s centre for art, craft and culture. Visit one or more of the following attractions;
To experience Maori culture and cultural performances visit:
The gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, Thames is 115km, 1 hour 40 minute drive (71 miles) from Auckland.
This is the first stop on your journey and is the main shopping and service area for the Peninsula. The historic main street is a reminder of the gold mining and Kauri tree logging days.
The arts centre of the Peninsula, the colonial pioneering Coromandel Town is 54 km (34 miles) from Thames. It is a laid-back holiday location with many local artisans offering painting, pottery, jewellery, sculpture, stone and bone carving. Surrounding forest and birdlife are well worth exploring with many walking tracks to explore. Great fishing, seafood and shellfish from surrounding farms ensure a well-stocked local market.
Whitianga is a resort town on the East Coast of the Peninsula and is 46km (29 miles) from Coromandel Town. It is the main town in Mercury Bay and has excellent restaurants, cafes and local shopping.
The Whitianga Ferry departs from the wharf and travels across the harbour to Ferry Landing. Take this trip to enjoy water activities in Mercury Bay including swimming, surfing, sailing, diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and sea kayaking.
Across Mercury Bay Harbour from Whitianga is Ferry Landing. It has a historic wharf made of old stone steps. From Ferry Landing you can explore the surrounding beach areas by shuttle bus during the summer months including Cooks Beach, Hahei and Hot Water Beach. These areas can also be reached by road following SH 25 South of Whitianga and looping around.
South of Whitianga is Cooks Beach, a beautiful 3 km crescent shaped golden sand beach, excellent for safe swimming and water activities. It can be accessed via State Highway 25 or from Ferry Landing
Hahei is a beautiful beach excellent for swimming and water activities. At the Southern end there is access to a historic reserve and a Maori Pa site. At the Northern end there is a walking track enabling foot access to the stunning Cathedral Cove.
Cathedral Cove and the Marine Reserve
The Cathedral Cove and Marine Reserve is approx a 20 minute walk, the only other access is via boat. On the way you can stop off at Gemstone Bay and do the Department of Conservation marked snorkel trail in the marine reserve. There is plenty to explore in this area of sandy beaches, rock formations and pohutukawa trees and there are ski kayak guided tours and diving tours departing from Hahei to Cathedral Cove and the marine reserve.
Hot Water Beach
Further South from Hahei there is the amazing Hot Water Beach. Year round you can dig a hole in the sand on the beach and sit in your own hot pool / spa for free. Spades are available for hire!
Coromandel East Coast
Further south the spectacular coastlines of the East Coast with long white sandy beaches; hills, valleys and estuaries are home to the resort towns of Tairua, Pauanui and Whangamata. The surrounding smaller beach community towns of Opoutere, Onemana and Whiritoa are well worth exploring for sand and surf.
Whangamata is 51 km (32 miles) from Coromandel Town. It is a renowned holiday spot popular with locals and the long white sandy beaches make it the place to be in summer for sun and surf.[br]
There is great fishing with charter boats available and good local shopping, cafes and restaurants within this small town community.
Tairua and Pauanui
These resort towns are located on the harbour and make a great base for nature walks, golf, water activities, surf , fishing and of course cafes.
South of Hamilton, there is a natural underground world to discover in the famous Waitomo Caves. Take a tour of these ancient lime stone caverns and formations on foot and by barge boat, deep within the caves. See stalagmites and stalactites, glow worms (tiny living lights) and amazing rock formations.
There is also a black water rafting trip and an abseiling adventure of 100 m into the ‘lost world cave’ for the more adventurous
Raglan Surf Beach
Only two hours south of Auckland, the small beach community of Raglan possesses three uncrowded world-class point breaks, including one of the best left hand breaks to be found anywhere.
Swimming at the western end surf patrolled area is safe.
The Pacific Coast Highway
A rewarding adventure is to be had when travelling through the picturesque East Cape on the Pacific Coast Highway in the Eastland region. This is an excellent touring route to discover a slice of the real New Zealand. The East Cape section stretches a distance of 440 km, starting from Opotiki in the North and ending at Wairoa in the south, passing through the city of Gisborne.
En route you will view spectacular coastal scenery, remote untamed rural towns with expansive farmland and country side views, as you weave in and out of the many small bays dotted along the coastline.
Located at the tip of the East Cape, 175 km from Gisborne, Te Araroa town is the point at which you take the road out to the EAST CAPE LIGHTHOUSE. This 21 km access road ends with a short walk and ascent of 700 steps! for spectacular 360 degree coastal views from the lighthouse.
Te Araroa is a small coastal settlement with a giant Pohutukawa tree (New Zealand Christmas tree) reputably the largest in New Zealand.
There are interesting geological rock formations and an extensive rocky shore.
With an 8 km stretch of golden sand beach and a temperate climate, Tokomaru Bay is a laid back settlement 92 km from Gisborne
There are a few hundred residents, mostly artists, crafts people and fishermen.
The impressive 660 metre pier or wharf is the Tologa Bay landmark of this small seaside settlement. Stroll out to its furthest point for spectacular coastal views.
There is the Cooks Cove walkway which is connected to Tologa Bay by the rocky Tupaea’s Cavern, which also provides picturesque coastal views.
Tologa Bay is only a 45 minute drive from Gisborne
Known as the Chardonnay Capitol, Gisborne is a renowned wine-producing destination of New Zealand. Located the closest to the international date line, it is the first place in the world to see the sun rise of each new day.
High sunshine hours make for a pleasant lifestyle with numerous safe swimming and surfing beaches, wineries and gardens to visit.
The region is very popular for deep sea and river fishing.
Urewera National Park and Waikaremoana
Located 67 km from Wairoa and 160 km from Rotorua, the Urewera National Park is the third largest National Park in New Zealand. A beautiful untouched area of bushland, forests and lakes including Lake Waikaremoana, it is home to 35 fully protected bird species and an amazingly varied botanical life.
There is a visitor centre and many walking tracks, some of which were ancient Maori walkways and now used as tracks or roads.
Roads are loose surface, gravel and care with driving is required.
The Pacific Coast Highway ends in Wairoa, a seaside town located on the Wairoa River delta. Wairoa is part of the Hawkes Bay region.
Enroute to Wairoa from Gisborne is Mahia, a beautiful scenic peninsula which is almost an island, with numerous golden sand beaches for safe swimming and rocky coves for snorkelling. It is the perfect location for diving and fishing and is renowned for excellent surfing.
Within the peninsula is the Mahia Scenic Reserve, a lowland coastal forest which has excellent walking tracks.
Morere Hot Springs[br]
Set in 364 hectares of native bush, Morere Hot Springs provide modern bathing and spa facilities in a natural environment. The bush reserve is one of the last remaining stands of lowland rainforest on the East Coast of New Zealand.
Created by a huge volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake covering 616 square kilometres. As a trout fishing haven, there are many local fishing charter boats and fishing guides available to help you explore the lake and surrounding tributaries. For a scenic excursion hire a kayak or take a boat trip to explore many of the bays and coves including the famous Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay.
Taupo is located on the shores at the northeast end of the lake and has panoramic views of the lake and Mount Ruapehu. With a residential population of 20,000 there are many restaurants, cafes and good shopping in the town centre. This is also the base to book adventure activities in the surrounding areas including sky diving and bungy jumping.
Wairakeu Thermal Fields
Located in the Waiora Valley, this geothermal area is the place to see steaming craters, mud pools, vents and newly created silica terraces.
Soak in the hot pools, visit the Animal Park and aviary or tour the goethermally powered Wairakei Power Station.
The Waikato River is the only outlet from Lake Taupo and is New Zealand’s longest river. The Huka Falls are created as this high volume river is squeezed through a narrow chasm. This thunderous waterfall is very impressive and a popular local and tourist attraction. Located a short drive north of Taupo, in the Wairakei Tourist Park, there is a Visitor Information Centre, excellent viewing platforms and walking tracks.
Take a jet boat ride on the Waikato River with Huka Jet and experience the exhilaration of high-speed river boating in the extremely maneuverable New Zealand invented jet boat. This half hour trip incorporates the local river sights and a trip to the base of the Huka Falls for the very best views.
Huka Prawn Park
Located on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Prawn Park uses geothermally heated water to breed and farm prawns. There is dining indoors or alfresco on the riverbanks to sample delectable prawn dishes and platters from the restaurant. You can also take a farm tour.
Located at the southern end of the lake, Turangi is the gateway to the Tongariro National Park and only a 40 minute drive to the Whakapapa ski field on Mount Ruapehu
Renowned as the trout fishing capital of New Zealand, Turangi town is situated on the edge of the Tongariro River allowing easy access to some excellent fishing spots.
The nearby Tokaanu Hot Pools Complex and thermal area provide the perfect place to relax in crystal clear geothermal waters or to explore a volcanic landscape.
The Tongariro Crossing
This hike is a challenging 7 - 8 hour trek covering 17 km. A pick up and drop off transfer needs to be arranged, as it is a one-way trip.
Located in the Tongariro World Heritage Park, the track is maintained by the Department of Conservation to a good level with pole marker guides.
Starting at the sub alpine level, climbing to alpine and descending to low land bush, the scenery includes volcanic landscape, excellent panoramic views and the stunning Blue, Green and Turquoise lakes.
Napier Art Deco
Take a guided walking tour of the city streets with a knowledgeable guide. Learn about ziggurats, speed lines and sunbursts.
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
Experience the sights, sounds (and smells!) of the largest breeding colony of gannets in the world at Cape Kidnappers. Choose from the comfort of a four wheel drive vehicle or go back to nature with the old tractor and trailer.
Longest Place Name in the World
A guided walk to the top of the hill that has the longest place name in the world - Taumatawhakatangihangakoauau- otamateaturipukakapiki maungahoronukupokaiwhenuaki- tanatahu. “The hill where Tamatea played his flute in lament of a loved brother who was killed in a battle.”
Make up your own route with a map from the visitor centre or take a guided tour to the most popular wineries including Mission Estate, Craggy Range Winery and Sileni Estate.
National Aquarium of New Zealand
State of the art aquarium completed in 2002 on the Napier waterfront. The magnificent building design resembles the shape of a stingray.
The Amazing Maze ‘n Maize
Kids love this maze which changes its theme each year. 8km of pathways are cut into 7 hectares of a maize (corn) field. The average time to find your way in and out is 45 minutes. Along the way there are 100 “kernels of knowledge” based on the theme for the year. Quiz sheets are supplied to enhance the experience.
Napier Art Deco Weekend, third weekend of February.
Napier Jazz Festival, late July
Hastings Blossom Festival, second weekend in September
Mission Estate Winery Concert, Feb/March
The Taranaki region comprises of 6 towns and is located on the West Coast of the North Island. This region is thought of as being unique, inspiring, energetic and legendary and has many things to do and see. There are stunning museums that tell stories of the regions past and amazing gardens that are full of lush landscapes and wonderful walks.
Taranaki has many great surfing breaks from the well-recognised Oakura Beach and Fitzroy Beach to the off the beaten uncrowded breaks located along the coast between New Plymouth and Hawera. This allows for a great beach day for anyone who is a surf and beach fan.
Mount Taranaki provides a spectacular climb for anyone who is fit or healthy as it is an 8 – 10 hour climb and you should check weather conditions before beginning the ascend. The mountain is an active volcanic that is in a state of inactivity and has one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world.
The region is bustling with art galleries, great cafes and bars, beautifully scenic walks and stunning coastlines making it a place like no other.
Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand
This contemporary museum is well worth a visit, with many interactive displays covering all aspects of New Zealand history, from ancient to modern. Permanent exhibitions are supplemented by short term displays ranging from the Lord of the Rings exhibition to the dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales. Free entry but rides and some performances are charged.
Museum of Wellington City and Sea
This museum located on the waterfront tells the story of the Wellington region. Interactive exhibits and a giant cinema screen take visitors on a journey through time.
The distinctive red cable cars run up through the Botanic Gardens from Lambton Quay. Many commuters use them as a means of getting to and from work, but the trip is well worth it for the view from the top.
Old St Paul’s Cathedral
A unique example of 18th century Gothic Revival architecture, Old St Paul’s has magnificent stained glass windows. Built in 1866 entirely out of native timber, the cathedral was used for 98 years. Situated in the historic suburb of Thorndon, it is now used as a venue for concerts and functions.
Take a free tour of the refurbished historic buildings and the 1970’s style distinctive “Beehive”.
Katherine Mansfield’s Birthplace
Visit the childhood home of one of New Zealand’s most famous authors in the suburb of Thorndon. Here in the well preserved Victorian house you can view permanent and changing exhibitions of Katherine’s life and writings. The heritage garden is also worth a visit.
The compact city centre makes it an ideal venue to take a walking tour of points of interest which include architecture, historical monuments and galleries displaying the work of local artisans. Companies such as Walk Wellington and Zest Gourmet Walking Tours enrich the experience.
Lord of the Rings Tours
Wellington based Peter Jackson, director of the famous film trilogy, filmed many scenes in and around the city. The refurbished Embassy Theatre which hosted the world premiere of the final instalment is worth a visit and boasts an excellent restaurant. The Chocolate Fish Café, close to the studios was a favourite haunt of many of the stars. Wally Hammond Tours, Flat Earth Tours and the Wellington Rover include some Lord of the Rings Sites in their itineraries.
Just north of Wellington, off the West coast lies one of New Zealand’s original wildlife sanctuaries, Kapiti Island. You must be on a guided tour or have a permit to land on the island. Bird lovers in particular will enjoy the opportunity to view many endangered native species in this pristine environment. Kapiti Tours offer day trips and Kapiti Alive offers both day trips and overnight stays, when visitors may be lucky enough to see a Little Spotted Kiwi.
Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
This safe haven for native birds in the suburb of Karori is a rarity being located only minutes from the city centre. The unique predator proof fence protects the inhabitants and the regenerating native forest, and ensures native birdsong is heard around the city.
Just an hour away from the city is the wine village of Martinborough. Wineries in this region are famed for some of the best Pinot Noir wines produced in the country. Take a guided tour from Wellington or drive yourself. You can stay overnight at the Brackenridge Apartments surrounded by gardens and vineyards.
The World of Wearable Arts competition takes place annually over ten days in late September.
The annual International Sevens Rugby Tournament takes place in early February.
Toast Martinborough, a one day wine and food festival takes place annually in mid November.
The New Zealand International Arts Festival is a biannual event.
Wineries, wineries and more wineries! Too many to name, but some of the best known include Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott, Montana, Corbans, and Grove Mill. The Montana Brancott Estate winery is one of the most impressive establishments, offering guided tours, tutored tastings and food and wine matching meals. Self drive or take a guided tour with Marlborough Travel. You can also visit Prenzel Distillery and taste the many flavours of schnapps, liqueurs and fruit brandies on offer. Also available are infused olive oils and the world’s first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc vinegar.
Original home to the World of Wearable Arts Awards, the city is now home to the museum showcasing past winners. In the same building is housed the Collectable Cars Museum, a cunning plan to entertain both men and women at the same time. The Hoglund Glass centre is also well worth a visit. Set in 7 acres of tranquil gardens, the centre is home to internationally renowned glass artists Ola Hoglund and Marie Simberg Hoglund. You can watch them at work, enjoy the café and visit the large gift shop. Happy Valley is the venue for some exhilarating quad bike riding. You can race on the purpose built track or take a scenic trek through the forests. Here you will also find the Skywire suspension ride which propels you over a steeply sided valley.
Walk the Queen Charlotte Track and enjoy the tranquillity away from roads. Take a Greenshell Mussel Cruise from Havelock with Marlborough Travel and taste the produce direct from the sea.
South Island base for the regular ferry sailings between the North and South Islands with the Interislander and Bluebridge, this seaside town offers much more. Take a stroll around the Edwin Fox Marine Centre and the Seahorse World Aquarium. You can skydive from high above the sea with Skydive the Sounds or take a kayaking expedition on it with Wilderness Guides. Go exploring with Dolphin Watch Ecotours, take a regular cruise with the Cougar Line or hire your own private water taxi.
Original home to the World of Wearable Arts Awards, the city is now home to the museum showcasing past winners. In the same building is housed the Collectable Cars Museum, a cunning plan to entertain both men and women at the same time.
The Hoglund Glass centre is also well worth a visit. Set in 7 acres of tranquil gardens, the centre is home to internationally renowned glass artists Ola Hoglund and Marie Simberg Hoglund. You can watch them at work, enjoy the café and visit the large gift shop.
Happy Valley is the venue for some exhilarating quad bike riding. You can race on the purpose built track or take a scenic trek through the forests. Here you will also find the Skywire suspension ride which propels you over a steeply sided valley.
Where the mighty Buller River meets the Tasman Sea is the relaxed and friendly lifestyle port town of Westport, the Coast’s oldest town. The area boasts a thriving arts and crafts community inspired by the neighbouring Kahurangi and Paparoa National parks. Here the famous Heaphy Track winds its way along the forested coastline. Cape Foulwind is home to the country’s northern most breeding colony of fur seals. Captain Cook who experienced bad weather here on his circumnavigation of the country gave the name to the cape. It is not meant to be insulting to the seals! The viewing platform for the colony can be easily reached from the car park at Tauranga Bay, a popular surfing spot, and just 12 kms from Westport. The Buller is also a popular white water rafting river. Ultimate Descents, a long established local company, offers a half-day trip through the spectacular granite canyons for an adventure not to miss.
This special area is most notable for the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. A 15 minute loop track from the main road takes you to Dolomite Point for an excellent view of the eroded limestone, which looks exactly like stacks of pancakes. The very impressive blowhole is most spectacular at high tide.
This large lake is 10kms across at its widest point and averages 100 m in depth. Stocked with brown trout, it is popular with anglers from all over the world. They base themselves on the shores of the lake at the township of Moana. Car or train can reach this as it is on the route of the Tranz Alpine railway between Christchurch and Greymouth.
Greymouth is the western terminal for the daily Tranz Alpine rail journey, which originates in Christchurch. It is the west coast’s largest town. History House, the local museum, has some fascinating exhibits on maritime and mining disasters, two industries that have always been important to the economy of the town. Greymouth is also home to Monteith’s Brewery, with over a century of brewing tradition. The beers are now made in Auckland (much to the ire of coasters) but the traditions of brewing and beer drinking remain. Wild West Adventures offers a variety of excursions from Greymouth, including an exhilarating black water rafting and caving trip, white water rafting and four-wheel driving tours. For a real blast, try quad biking with On Yer Bike adventures. They have a selection of muddy tracks around a private farm or you can race on the purpose built track. They also have an old army Argo for family fun rides over a terrain park. Just south of Greymouth is one of the coast’s best-known visitor attractions, Shantytown. This replica 1880’s gold town is in full working order and features old buildings rescued from around the area. Here you can try your hand at gold panning and ride on a steam train.
During the gold rush this was the largest town on the coast. In the boom times of the 1860’s over 800kg of gold was shipped to Melbourne each month. After the boom times however, coal, timber and tourism took over as the main industries of the town. Hokitika is now a centre for pounamu or greenstone. Here you can watch carvers at work as they create exquisite artworks. Just south of Hokitika is the Waitangiroto Sanctuary, home to the White Heron (kotuku). White Heron Sanctuary Tours are the only company permitted to visit the habitat of these gracious white birds. They are most active in their breeding season over the summer months.
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
The glacier region draws over 300,000 visitors a year. Nowhere in the world’s temperate zones are glaciers so accessible. The two largest and most impressive of the 140 in the region are Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, each with a township of the same name. These rivers of ice are truly spectacular, gouging their way down towards the rain forest and the coast. They are unique in that they are the only glaciers to have survived recent global warming in a rainforest environment. You can approach the glaciers but for safety reasons are not permitted to venture onto the ice without a professional guide. Half day excursions are available on both glaciers, as are heli-hikes and helicopter landings on the snow (neve) above the glaciers. New to Franz Josef is the Hukawai Glacier Centre. This attraction has a sophisticated multi sensory show and an indoor ice-climbing wall, ideal for those days when the weather is not ideal.
The 760m long Haast River Bridge is the longest single lane bridge in the country. A popular activity here is the Waiatoto River Jet trip where you can enjoy the World Heritage wilderness from the comfort of a jet boat. Haast Pass is the lowest possible crossing over the Southern Alps. It was a Maori pounamu (greenstone) trading route to Wanaka from the west coast. Allow time to stop off and enjoy one of the numerous short walks in this pristine environment.
The central city is undergoing demolition post earthquake but there is still plenty to see and the rebuild is about to begin! The 'Pop Up' container mall on Cashel street is a lively shopping precinct with cafes and the latest attraction 'Quake City' - an informative museum on everything earthquake.
It is very interesting to read of the history of how Christchurch city came about in the Time Tunnel at the top of the Christchurch Gondola and of course, the views are spectacular.
For an awe-inspiring early start to the day, try a hot air balloon flight with Up, Up and Away. You never know where you will end up as the itinerary is completely dependent on the direction of the wind. Visit the Antarctic Centre, close to the airport. Here you will learn the fascinating history of the ice continent and find out what is going on there today. Take a leisurely punt down the Avon River which meanders its way through the central city. Nature lovers may prefer to go cruising on nearby Lyttelton Harbour with Blackcat Cruises and spot some of the local dolphins.
The seaside town of Kaikoura in the north of the region boasts a resident population of young male Sperm Whales. They and migratory whales of other species greet many thousands of whale watching visitors each year. These mighty mammals are kept company by many thousands of dolphins, seabirds and other sea creatures.
While whale watching is the main business in the town, swimming with the dolphins is also very popular. A less well known activity here is diving in a cage for a close encounter with sharks - definitely not for the faint hearted! The fishing off the coast of Kaikoura is amazing and so is the seafood on offer in the restaurants. Also available are tours which introduce the unique local Maori customs to visitors.
This pretty alpine village has been blessed with natural hot springs, so has long been a favourite spa location. Just 90 minutes drive from Christchurch, it is an ideal day trip or weekend getaway from the city. The town is clustered around the central pools complex which provides hot pools of varying temperatures for wallowing. There is also an excellent children’s area which includes a waterslide. The surrounding forests provide many walking and mountain biking tracks. You can also bungy jump over the river, take a jet boat ride or white water rafting trip. The local golf course is also particularly popular, as much thanks to the setting as the course itself.
The French settled Akaroa on Banks Peninsula in the 19th Century before New Zealand was officially claimed by the British. Many of the original French houses have been lovingly preserved and remain to this day family homes and weekenders. French street names have been retained and the township still has a distinctly French flavour – the place to be in Canterbury on Bastille Day! Nestled between the hills and the pretty harbour, Akaroa is the stepping off point for dolphin swimming expeditions, leisurely harbour cruises and fishing trips. Visit some of the many galleries and craft shops. En route to Akaroa from Christchurch, call in at Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory to taste some local produce. Also the nearby French Farm Winery for gourmet pizza or a la carte dining.
There are a series of lovely walks around the Akaroa Harbour, ranging from 20 minutes to half an hour which are perfect for exploring the Akaroa village, historic cemeteries, exotic and native bush and harbor views. There is a 10 minute long boardwalk at Childrens Bay on the northern end of the Akaroa Village with great harbor views. The Garden of Tane is a popular collection of walking tracks ranging from 15 minutes to two hours. These tracks, depending on which you choose can take you through some beautifully grand exotic forests with natives in the understory, historic cemeteries, harbor views and also a playground. There is also a 45 minute walk beginning at Rue Pompallier that will take you through the historic French cemetery, and one of the oldest consecrated cemeteries in the South Island, and further down an old Akaroa street where French families lived and finally their church, St. Patricks.
Swimming with Wild Dolphins
Ph Black Cat Cruises +64 3 304 7641
You can enjoy swimming with dolphins year-round in Akaroa and is the only place on the planet where you can get up and close to the worlds rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin. Here in Akaroa Harbour they are in a protected marine mammal sanctuary, and these cruises will take you up close and personal, with a portion of all ticket sales donated to the education and research towards the conservation of the Hector’s Dolphin. Everything is provided on your tour including wetsuits, snorkels, hot shower and hot chocolate. The chances of swimming with the dolphins is very high, however if you are wanting to go dolphin watching, then this can be arranged as well.
Take a walk to the iconic Akaroa lighthouse located on Cemetery Point. Originally the lighthouse was constructed in 1878 at another location, the rugged headland at the entrance of the Akaroa Harbour. It’s first light was beamed in 1880 and was “manned” by lighthouse keepers until 1977 when it was replaced with an automatic beam. The following year the Akaroa Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed and the lighthouse was hauled to its current location. It is a short 10-minute walk along the water to the light house with a small fee that is all reinvested into the upkeep of the lighthouse.
Ph +64 3 304 1013
The Akaroa Museum is particularly focused on the history of the Banks Peninsula with collections including archives, art, photography, costume & textiles, taonga and technology. Temporary exhibitions are open from time to time, however the long term exhibits include Nga Taenga Mai Arrivals, which looks into the New Zealand history books during the period of the 1830’s to 1850’s and the people and events that arrived with this new colonial era. It tells of the history of whaling, the failed French colony, naval occupation, the arrival of the settlers and struggle of the Ngai Tahu people to get a fair deal for their land.
Waipara Valley Wine Region
Just north of the city of Christchurch is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region in the Waipara Valley. Here there are many wineries, some with excellent restaurants. Pegasus Bay, Mud House, Waipara Springs and Daniel Schuster Wines are among those worth a visit.
This pass over the Southern Alps is a centre for walkers, rock climbers and hunters. This township is also the centre of the national park of the same name which is home to a small colony of Great Spotted Kiwi. The famous Tranz Alpine railway stops here on its daily return journey from Christchurch to Greymouth on the West Coast. The region provides a wealth of walking tracks with short stroll options to multi day tramps. As the alpine weather is unpredictable it is advisable to check in with the local Department of Conservation (DOC) information centre before venturing out.
The Canterbury region is spoilt for choice when it comes to ski fields. There is the large commercial field of Mt Hutt, 90 minutes drive from Christchurch. Then there are numerous privately owned fields dotted around the region. These include Rainbow, Mt Lyford and Hanmer Springs in the north; Temple Basin, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, Porters Pass, Fox Peak, Mt Olympus and Craigieburn in central Canterbury; and Mt Dobson and Roundhill in the south.
Queenstown is the ultimate destination for any inbound tourist to New Zealand. With spectacular views of the Remarkables mountain range, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak it is built around Queenstown Bay located on the shores of Lake Wakitipu.
Queenstown is a resort town with an urban population of 14000 and a district population of 32000. It is a world renowned tourist attraction known for it’s breath taking scenery and adventure sports and activities.
There is a fantastic range of attractions and activities to choose from including a peaceful cruise aboard the coal fired TSS Earnslaw to extreme adventure tourism for the high adrenalin thrill seekers.
Queenstown is a great locality for snow skiing and snow boarding with Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Valley and Treble Cone offering ski runs for all ages and abilities. All year round the jet boats are roaring and the scenic flights are full of visitors enjoying the beauty of the Queenstown area. Adventure tourism including bungy jumping, paragliding, skydiving mountain biking, and river rafting are among the great choice of activities.
Visit the Gibbston Valley or Peregrine winery or take a short trip and spend some time in the quaint township of Arrowtown. Enjoy a meal or a night time dining experience at one of the many restaurants that both Arrowtown and Queenstown offer.
With stunning all year round views of the lake and the mountains, Wanaka township is situated at the southern end of it’s namesake Lake Wanaka. Situated an hours drive north west of Wanaka, Mount Aspiring National Park is a world heritage site with glaciers, waterfalls, rainforests and swift moving rivers. The park offers various walking and hiking ventures with a popular option being the short trek to the Mount Roy Glacier.
Wanaka offers a range of activities with fishing , boating, mountain biking and swimming in the summer to snowboarding and skiing in the winter. River rafting , jet boating, biking, scenic flights are on offer all year round depending on the weather conditions. Some of the more renowned attractions include Puzzling World, The Wanaka Lavender farm and the National Transport and Toy Museum.
Wanaka has a growing population and an increasing tourist trade. It has a buzzing village atmosphere, great shopping and an exciting choice of places to dine out and have fun with your friends and family.
Cromwell was established as a goldrush town in the 1860’s. It is located at what was known as the confluence of the Kawerau and Clutha Rivers. The confluence was submerged by the construction of the Clyde Dam 23km south of Cromwell. Lake Dunstan was filled in the early 1990’s and the township of Crowell was to change forever.
It is now a business hub for the Central Otago region and is strategically located between Queenstown and Wanaka. The newly formed Lake Dunstan provides new opportunities for fabulous lake shore residential properties and visitor accommodation.
Cromwell produces beautiful stonefruit and the Cromwell Basin is home to a relatively new vineyard and wine industry. The region has earnt a reputation for it’s high quality Pinot Noir. Some of the wineries not to be missed are Mt Difficulty, Rockburn and the Lazy Dog at Queensbury a short distance from Cromwell.
Cromwell has a new attraction with The Highlands Motorsport Park. This newly constructed racing track offers an event centre, café and restaurant in addition to a number of race track experiences from a Supercar Fast Dash to a drive on a Highlands Go Kart.
Cromwell has a number of visitor attractions including the Carrick and Bendigo Goldfields, the Bannockburn Sluicings the Gold Mining centre at Kawerau and Old Cromwell town as part of the original settlement before the flooding of the Cromwell and Kawerau Gorges.
Cromwell is a great part of Central Otago and a wonderful place to visit. Enjoy one of the many attractions, savour the beautiful wines and relax and have fun at a local restaurant.
Alexandra is situated at the confluence of the Clutha and Manuherikia Rivers at the southern end of the Manuherikia Valley and located 133 km north west of Dunedin City. The town was founded during the Central Otago Goldrush and has established itself as a rural service centre for sheep cattle and dairy farming, stonefruit and an increasing vineyard industry.
The town is well known for it’s annual blossom festival held in Spring. One of the best known cycle adventures in New Zealand is the Central Otago Rail Trail. This trail traverses the old railway line from Middlemarch to Clyde and attracts thousands of visitors to the region each year.
In addition to the famous Blossom festival, Alexandra hosts a fun filled Easter with the Great Easter Bunny Hunt, the Easter Market full of arts, crafts, clothing, gardening, food and produce and the Clyde wine and food festival on the Sunday.
Alexandra has a dry arid climate with very hot summers and very cold winters. It is known as the hottest, driest and coldest part of New Zealand. Those extremes allow for brilliant summer days boating and water skiing to regional sports like ice skating and curling in the winter.
Visit Alexandra and enjoy the hospitality, gift shops and beautiful wine and food.
Dunedin is located at the head of the beautiful Otago Harbour. Apart from the seaside suburbs of St Kilda and St Clair, most of Dunedin is built on the surrounding hills with many residents having stunning views of the city and the Otago Peninsula.
Dunedin’s economy is based on services, container and log shipping at Port Chalmers and Education with Otago University. It is a vibrant and lively city with a fun atmosphere charactersised by students from all over NZ. The city has distinctive and richly carved architecture with the Dunedin Railway Station ,Otago University and the Gothic Presbyterian First Church being fine examples.
Dunedin is an historical and attractive city that is enhanced with a green environment made up of over 100 parks and reserves including the 202 hectare Town Belt. This recreational and ecological corridor is planted in broadleaf forest and home to many bird species including the bellbird, rifleman and the tui. The Town Belt separates the inner city and the hilly suburbs and incorporates well known open spaces including Jubilee Park, Robin Hood Park and the Belleknowes Golf Course.
Noted attractions include Larnach Castle, Olveston Mansion, The Otago Settlers Museum and the newly formed Chinese Gardens. The Otago Peninsula provides access to beaches and wildlife colonies and is a great day out. The city is full of specialty shops, bars , restaurants and cafes.[br]
Dunedin represents the pride of the south and is a city full of fun and attractions. A visit not to be missed.
Ph +64 3 433 1195
Oamaru is one of the best spots in the country for viewing natural colonies of one of the worlds smallest penguins – the blue penguin. Blue Penguin Company Oamaru offer day tours where you will not only learn about the colony and the penguins but also play and discover in the children’s area before exploring the nests.
There are 10 nesting boxes on display that guests can look down on from the specially designed viewing room and see the penguins inside. The penguins here are wild though, so the best time of year to visit is during the breeding season from August through to February where they are likely to be at home in their nests – incubating eggs, rainsing chicks or moulting.
Daytime viewing is self-guided, however there are guides on hand that are available to answer any questions you might have.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to step off the ships as the first migrants to the new and wonderful land of New Zealand, then plan a visit to Whitestone City. Named for the beautiful local creamy sandstone that line the Oamaru streets, Whitestone City is a small city built as a replica to what would have existed in the late 19th century.
The entrance from the seaside and through the Warehouse creates the sights, sounds and smells that the first migrants would have experienced. You can then continue on through the streets to period shops including the barber, chemist and architect’s office featuring a hologram of the Criterion Hotel. The streets then open up to a large play area featuring a carousel with penny farthing bicycles and Victorian era games such as croquet. You can also visit the theaterette, saloon and a lounge furnished as it would have been in the Victorian era.
A short 35 minute drive south of Oamaru will take you to the beautiful Koekohe Beach on the Otago Coast. Here you will find the weird and wonderful boulders of Moeraki strewn along the stretch. The spherical boulders lie protected in a scientific reserve and have a fascinating history of formation spanning many millions of years. With boulders weighing several tonnes and some that are three metres in diametre - today it is one of the most fascinating and popular attractions on the South Island and especially loved by photographers.
Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct
It was in the late 19th century that Oamaru truly flourished as a town with large seed and grain warehouses that served the very prosperous agricultural sectors of the time and the beautiful Whitestone buildings stand testament to those times of prosperity. However, as the time went on, what were once magnificent Whitestone Victorian era buildings fell subject to the wears and tears of time.
Fortunately, the area now known as the Oamaru Victorian Precinct is now owned by the Whitestone Trust who employ talented craftsmen who have retained the skills needed to be able to restore the locally quarried limestone buildings to their former glory.
There are 16 original commercial buildings built from 1860 to 1880, the most complete streetscape of Victorian commercial buildings, carved in the neo-classical style of times. The precinct has seen the revival of many crafts and pastimes of the Victorian era, so visitors may catch a glimpse of a penny fathing making its way up the street or a coracle being paddled in the harbour. Be sure to check out the events guide for events during your visit – one of the highlights is the Victorian fete being the grand finale to the annual Victorian heritage celebrations.
Steampunk, if you haven’t heard of it before is an intriguing and quirky form of science fiction that plays on steam powered technology and almost seems to occur in an alternate or futuristic version of Victorian England. If it doesn’t quite make sense, then you have to see it to believe it…
Steampunk HQ is located on Itchen Steet and is an artistic collaboration featuring art, movies, sculpture and immersive light and sound experiences. It has a range of popular exhibits such as its full scale train engine that spits fire and billows out smoke and other interactive exhibits such as “the organ” or “the portal”. With lots of different artwork and exhibits on display, Steampunk HQ will definitely stir your curiosity.
Bill Richardson Transport World
Ph +64 3 217 3703
The city of Invercargill started to take shape as a support to the many people from the Scottish settlement of Dunedin who began sheep farming in the far south. The port of Bluff, just out of the city was originally created to import stock for these farms. Invercargill was named for William Cargill, a high profile Scottish pioneer involved in the settlement and administration of the Otago and Southland region. Many of the streets are named after rivers of Scotland and northern England. These and the few remaining historic buildings lend this most southern city a distinctly northern character. One such structure, and probably the city’s best known landmark, is the Water Tower. Built in red brick, this unique Victorian creation with a large tank at the top can be climbed for a wonderful view over the city.
Plugged as the worlds largest private automotive museum on the planet, Transport World is set over 15,000 sqm where you’ll find everything from classic cars like the Model-T and Kombi’s, colossal tractors and trucks.
If you’ve got a mind for wheels you will be truly awed by this collection. However there is so much more than just wheels at this museum, including a wearable arts collection, children’s play zones, movie theatre and themed bathrooms. There is something for everything to see at Transport World. If your looking for more there are also two smaller museums: Motorcycle Mecca featuring an amazing motorcycle collection as well as “Dig This” where you can sit behind the controls of a bulldozer allowing to dig ditches and stack tyres.
The jewel in the crown, Queens Park is recognized as one of the most important parks in New Zealand. There is plenty to do here, and to really experience the entire 81 hectares you would need to set aside several hours. There is a 4km fitness trail and 20 exercise stations with signposts for how to use. There is a 18 hole golf course at the Queen’s Park Golf Course, croquet and bowls can be found among the trees, tennis courts by the museum and the Cricket Club also hosts matches during the summer season.
There are many statues and features scattered about the park, with picturesque botanical scenes making it popular for wedding, especially upon Coronation avenue with its stand of beeches and birches that lead to the band rotunda. There are botanical displays year-round and always plenty for the children. With a very popular playground, waterpark and a hydraulic swing for children with disabilities.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
Ph +64 3 219 9069
Invercargill is also home to Southland’s largest cultural and heritage institution – with the world’s largest pyramid structure in the Southern Hemisphere. There is an array of engaging historical exhibits including wartime, Maori culture, rugby, natural history and of course Southland’s very own Burt Munro whose life was brought to the silver screen in the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” and set two world land speed records with his modified “Indian” motorcycle.
As well as stunning artistic exhibitions, the Southland Museum is also the home to approximately 100 Tuatara lizards – one of the worlds most ancient lizards, having flourished 220 million years ago. Tuatara can be seen at all different stages of life including Henry who is over 100 years old! These lizards live in an environment that replicates their own natural environment. The breeding programme of th Southland Museum has been so successful that Tuatara are sent to zoo’s all over New Zealand.
There are also a range of events on at various times of the year, a café and museum shop.
Oreti Beach & Sandy Point
Located 10kms west of Invercargill, this beach was the location for the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”. In February 1957 Burt Munro set the New Zealand Open Beach record of 131.38 miles per hour at this very beach and then raised it to 136 mph in 1975.
Featuring beautiful sunsets, and 26km stretch of beach with Sandy Point at the Southern end, provides stunning long walks on the sand, mountain biking and horse riding opportunities. Sandy Point also features beautiful native forest walks featuring windswept totara, matai, rimu, miro and kahikatea and an abundance of wildlife.
Te Anau is the hub of the Fiordland World Heritage region. Nestled on the shores of the largest lake in the South Island, the town offers all amenities to travellers. W alkers from all over the world gather here before setting out on numerous tracks in the area. A popular attraction for visitors is the Glow Worm Caves, located on the far side of the lake and only accessed by boat.
One of the tourism icons of New Zealand, Milford Sound is generally at the top of every visitor’s must do list. The distinctive shape of Mitre Peak is photographed countless times every day. This impressive monolith rises abruptly 1695 metres straight up from the blackness of Milford Sound. Visitors enjoy cruises to view this and the many waterfalls which cascade down the steep sides of the fiord. Dolphins and seals are often seen frolicking in the inky waters.
Not as well known as Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is three times longer and ten times larger than its famous cousin. One of the things visitors comment on is the incredible silence in this massive body of water. Real Journeys offer a daily cruise package which includes transport across Lake Manapouri and a coach ride over the Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound. There you board the boat for a three hour cruise, during which fur seals, bottle nose dolphins and the occasional penguin are often seen.
The Catlins wilderness area in the south east corner of the South Island is a nature lover’s paradise. The long wild beaches are host to many sea mammals including fur seals, elephant seals and the rare Hooker sea lion. The endangered yellow eyed penguins navigate these beasts to get to their nesting sites further up the beach, not far from the ancient beech forests. The lush rainforests can be explored on tracks taking 10 minutes to many hours. The short walk to the Nugget Point lighthouse takes you to a platform overlooking the giant bull kelp forests which host a variety of marine life. At Curio Bay a petrified forest can be seen at low tide. In places whole tree trunks can be seen in the rock shelf. The 160 million year old fossilised forest includes Conifer trees similar to Norfolk Pines and Kauri.
Stewart Island offers a slower pace of life, a bit like the way New Zealand used to be. The newly created Rakiura National Park covers 85% of the island and the locals fiercely protect their natural heritage. This southern island is the best place in the country to see wild kiwi birds in their natural habitat. Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience runs overnight excursions to a remote hut on Mason’s Bay where the birds are more prevalent and can even be seen in daylight, unusual for a mainly nocturnal creature. Ulva Island, just a 10 minute boat ride into Patterson Inlet, is a well established predator free sanctuary for many other endangered flora and fauna. The island is alive with the calls of native birds and a joy to bird lovers from around the globe who come to see tui, bellbirds, kaka, tomtit, wood pigeons, the rare South Island saddleback, Stewart Island robin, mohua (yellowhead) and rifleman. Hunting and fishing are also favourite local pastimes.