What is New Zealand known for?

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    New Zealand

    • New Zealand, Maori Aotearoa, island country in the South Pacific Ocean, the southwesternmost part of Polynesia.
    • New Zealand is a remote land—one of the last sizable territories suitable for habitation to be populated and settled—and lies more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Australia, its nearest neighbour.
    • The country comprises two main islands—the North and South islands—and a number of small islands, some of them hundreds of miles from the main group.
    • The capital city is Wellington and the largest urban area Auckland; both are located on the North Island.
    • New Zealand administers the South Pacific island group of Tokelau and claims a section of the Antarctic continent.
    • Niue and the Cook Islands are self-governing states in free association with New Zealand.

    New Zealand has so much to offer, here are some of the things New Zealand is known for.

    Māori Culture

    New Zealand's indigenous Māori culture: is accessible and engaging: join in a haka (war dance); chow down at a traditional hāngi (Māori feast cooked in the ground); carve a pendant from bone or pounamu (jade); learn some Māori language; or check out an authentic cultural performance with song, dance, legends, arts and crafts. Big-city and regional museums around NZ are crammed with Māori artefacts and historical items, but this is truly a living culture: vibrant, potent and contemporary.


    Queenstown: may be world-renowned as the birthplace of bungy jumping, but there’s more to NZ’s adventure hub than leaping off a bridge attached to a giant rubber band. The Remarkables mountain range provides a jagged indigo backdrop to days spent skiing, hiking or mountain biking, before dining in cosmopolitan restaurants or partying in some of NZ’s best bars. Keep the adrenaline flowing with hang gliding, kayaking or river rafting, or ease into your NZ travels with more sedate detours to Glenorchy or historic Arrowtown.

    Abel Tasman National Park

    Here’s nature at its most seductive: lush green hills fringed with golden sandy coves, slipping gently into warm shallows before meeting a crystal-clear sea. Abel Tasman National Park: is a postcard-perfect paradise where you can put yourself in the picture, assuming an endless number of poses – tramping, kayaking, swimming, sunbathing – before finally setting up tent by cerulean shores.

    Milford Sound

    Whatever the weather, Milford Sound: will dazzle you with its collage of waterfalls, forbidding cliffs and dark cobalt waters, with the iconic profile of Mitre Peak rising above. Fiordland's waterfalls are even more spectacular when fed by rain, but blue-sky days set rainbows sparkling from their mist. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for seals, dolphins and the elusive Fiordland crested penguin, especially if you’re exploring NZ’s most famous fiord by kayak.


    The first thing you'll notice about Rotorua: is the sulphur smell – this geothermal hotspot whiffs like rotten eggs. But as the locals point out, volcanic by-products are what everyone is here to see: gushing geysers, bubbling mud, steaming cracks in the ground, boiling pools of mineral-rich water… Rotorua is unique: a fact exploited by some fairly commercial local businesses. But you don't have to spend a fortune – there are plenty of affordable (and free) volcanic encounters to be had in parks, Māori villages or just along the roadside.

    Bay of Islands

    Turquoise waters lapping pretty bays, dolphins frolicking at the bows of boats, pods of orcas gliding gracefully by: chances are these are the kinds of images that drew you to NZ in the first place, and these are exactly the kinds of experiences that the Bay of Islands: delivers so well. Whether you're a hardened sea dog or a confirmed landlubber, there are myriad options to tempt you out on the water to explore the 150-odd islands that dot this beautiful bay.

    Urban Auckland

    Held in the embrace of two harbours and built on the remnants of long-extinct volcanoes, Auckland: isn't your average metropolis. It's regularly rated one of the world's most liveable cities, and while it's never going to challenge NYC or London in the excitement stakes, it's blessed with good beaches, wine regions and a thriving dining, drinking and live-music scene. Cultural festivals are celebrated with gusto in ethnically diverse Auckland, which has the biggest Polynesian population of any city in the world.

    Central Otago

    Here’s your chance to balance virtue and vice. Take to two wheels to negotiate the easygoing Otago Central Rail Trail, cycling through some of NZ’s most beautiful landscapes: and the heritage streetscapes of former gold-mining towns. All the while, snack on the summer stone fruit for which the region is famous. Balance the ledger with well-earned beers at one of the numerous historic pubs. Alternatively, taste your way to viticultural ecstasy in the vineyards of one of the country’s most acclaimed wine regions.


    One of the coolest little capitals in the world, windy Wellington: lives up to the hype. It's long famed for a vibrant arts-and-music scene, fuelled by excellent espresso, a host of craft-beer bars, and more cafes and restaurants per head than New York. Edgy yet sociable, colourful yet often dressed in black, Wellington is big on the unexpected and unconventional. Erratic weather only adds zest to the experience...though it plays havoc with all those hip haircuts.

    Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

    Infused with Gallic ambience, Akaroa: bends languidly around one of the prettiest harbours on Banks Peninsula. These clear waters, perfect for kayaking and sailing, are inhabited by the world's rarest dolphin. Elsewhere on the peninsula, the Summit Rd snakes around the rim of an ancient volcano while winding side roads descend to hidden bays and coves. Spend your days discovering the peninsula's many surprises: whimsical gardens, sea-kayaking safaris and colonies of rare, white-flippered penguins.

    Waiheke Island and the Hauraki Gulf

    A yachtie's paradise, the island-studded Hauraki Gulf: is Auckland's aquatic playground, sheltering its harbour and east-coast bays and providing ample excuse for the City of Sails' pleasure fleet to breeze into action. Despite the busy maritime traffic, the gulf has its own resident pods of whales and dolphins. Rangitoto Island is an icon of the city, its near-perfect volcanic cone providing the backdrop for many a tourist snapshot. Yet it's Waiheke, with its beautiful beaches, acclaimed wineries and upmarket eateries, that is Auckland's most popular island escape.

    The West Coast

    A remote, end-of-the-road vibe defines the West Coast:. Road trips along SH6, from isolated wildlife haven Haast to tramping outpost Karamea, thread together an alluring combination of sights: must-see Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Hokitika's greenstone galleries and geological wonders like Pancake Rocks. There are countless detours to mountain-biking and tramping trails, many of which follow the footsteps of early pioneers. Primeval wilderness is often only a short journey away by foot (or helicopter, or jetboat...).

    Waitomo Caves

    Waitomo: is a must-see: an astonishing maze of subterranean caves, canyons and rivers perforating the northern King Country limestone. Black-water rafting is the big lure here (like white-water rafting but through a dark cave), plus glowworm grottoes, underground abseiling and more stalactites and stalagmites than you'll ever see in one place again. Above ground, Waitomo township is a quaint collaboration of businesses: a swish restaurant, craft brewery, pub and some more-than-decent accommodation. But don't linger in the sunlight – it's party time downstairs!

    Tongariro National Park

    At the centre of the North Island, Tongariro National Park: presents an eye-popping landscape of alpine desert punctuated by three smouldering volcanoes. Often rated as one of the world's best single-day wilderness walks, the challenging Tongariro Alpine Crossing skirts the base of two of the mountains and provides views of craters, brightly coloured lakes and the vast Central Plateau. The crossing's popularity has skyrocketed, causing the DOC to step in and limit visitor numbers. Fortunately, there are numerous other ways to explore this alien landscape.

    Heaphy Track

    Beloved of NZ trampers (and, in winter, mountain bikers), the four- to six-day Heaphy Track: is the jewel of Kahurangi National Park, the great wilderness spanning the South Island’s northwest corner. ## New Zealand has so much to offer, here are some of the things New Zealand is known for. include the mystical Gouland Downs and surreal nikau palm coast, while the townships at either end – at Golden Bay and Karamea – will bring you back down to earth with the most laid-back of landings.

    TranzAlpine Railway

    One of the world’s most scenic train journeys, the TranzAlpine: cuts clear across the country from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea in less than five hours. Yes, there’s a dirty great mountain range in the way – that’s where the scenic part comes in. Leaving the Canterbury Plains, a cavalcade of tunnels and viaducts takes you up through the Southern Alps to Arthur’s Pass, where the 8.5km Otira tunnel burrows through the bedrock of NZ’s alpine spine. Then it’s downhill (only literally) to workaday Greymouth...a jumping-off point to adventures aplenty.

    Otago Peninsula

    Along with a constant backdrop of coastal vistas, the Otago Peninsula: offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife-spotting in the country. Dozens of little penguins achieve peak cuteness in their nightly beachside waddle, while their much rarer yellow-eyed cousin, the hoiho, can be glimpsed standing sentinel on deserted coves. Sea lions and seals laze around on the rocks while albatrosses from the world’s only mainland colony swoop and soar above.


    First settled by Maōri with their taste for seafood, Kaikoura: (meaning 'to eat crayfish') is NZ's best spot for both consuming and communing with marine life. Feast on crayfish, go on a fishing excursion, or take a boat tour or flight to see whales, dolphins, seals and marine bird life. In NZ, marine mammal tour operators adhere to strict guidelines developed and monitored by the country's DOC. Following a severe earthquake in November 2016, Kaikoura has also rebounded to become a fascinating destination to observe the profound impact of seismic activity.

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