The Pohutu and Prince of Wales Feathers Geysers at Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, New Zealand by Heinz Albers
New Zealand is a country which has been blessed with an enormous amount of diverse and scenic landscapes in a comparatively small area – a little bigger in size than the United Kingdom. The population is just 4.5 million.
Below you can see, at a glance, the major scenic highlights of New Zealand including the air and road travel time to get there. The destinations are listed from North to South.
We have not recommended a length of stay at any of these destinations because the interests of individual travelers are so different. We suggest that you look at the various destinations in more detail in the websites given and then make a decision from there. Alternatively if you are looking for a general travel experience of New Zealand then an organized coach tour is likely to best meet your needs.
Driving in New Zealand is on the right hand side of the road.
“How to get there” useful websites:
1 Air – www.expedia.co.nz; www.webjet.co.nz . Also go to airline websites referenced in expedia and webjet for wider options not always included in general websites. Sometimes service charges are built into general websites prices making their charges higher than from the actual transport company website.
2 Road – www.google.co.nz . The directions “Tab” will be particularly useful. Car hire information from www.rentalcars.com ; www.apexrentals.co.nz ; www.jucy.co.nz ; also Avis and Hertz etc
3 Bus, coaches, ferries – www.fourcorners.co.nz. Also go to bus, coach, ferry websites referenced in fourcorners. Sometimes service charges are built into general websites prices making their charges higher than from the actual transport company website.
Duty Free shopping is available and worthwhile for travelers arriving and leaving New Zealand. Some retail stores also offer duty free purchasing. Useful websites include www.dfs.co.nz; www.aucklandairport.co.nz; google: duty free shopping New Zealand.
Bay of Islands
Historic New Zealand, Scenic Cruises, Dolphins, Water activities
Air: Flight time from Auckland to Kerikeri 45 minutes.
Road: 3 hours drive from Auckland to Kerikeri
European, Polynesian, Asian and strong Maori heritages give Auckland its distinctive culture. Experience the lives of 19th-century settlers at Howick Historical Village.
Find Polynesian handicrafts at Otara Market. People-watch in bustling Ponsonby and Parnell. Scenic cruises/dolphin watching/America’s cup boats Waiheke Island
Sculptor Parks – The Farm; Connells Bay.
Stalagmites and stalactites in an underground cave plus a vast glow worm grotto accessed by boat.
Air : No scheduled air services available.
Road: 2 1/2 hours drive from Auckland to Waitomo.
A thermal wonderland of geysers and mud pools. Trout fishing. White water rafting. Huge selection of fun activities on land and on water. Road travel to Rotorua could include the picturesque private farm land where you can visit the Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – near Matamata. White Island (an active volcano) can be visited by air from Rotorua.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Rotorua 40 minutes
Road: 3 hours drive from Auckland to Rotorua.
Huka Falls, Trout fishing, Mountains and hiking at Tongariro National Park.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Lake Taupo 45 minutes
Road: 3 1/2 hours drive from Auckland to Lake Taupo
Napier was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1937, and then completely rebuilt in gorgeous Art Deco style. Tours are available to study this architecture. There are large gannet colonies to visit. A number of local wineries also offer tours and tastings. Cycling tours are a wonderful way to see this area – freedom or guided tours.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Napier 60 minutes.
Road: 5 hours drive from Auckland to Napier.
Capital city, Sculpture Tour organized on Saturday 16th. Te Papa National Museum
Home of Weta Workshop where much of Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Hobbit were created.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Wellington 60 minutes.
Road: 8 hours drive from Auckland to Wellington.
Kaikoura Coast Blenheim and Christchurch
Superb scenic drive from Picton to Christchurch via the Kaikoura Coast. Abundant offshore wildlife (sperm whales, dusky dolphins, orcas and fur seals).
Blenheim is home to many wineries – the region grape specialty is sauvignon blanc. The area also has beautiful scenery and walks. It has an outstanding aviation museum.
Christchurch is now a reminder of the devastation of earthquakes – Feb 2011. The destroyed city and its rebuild can be visited.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Blenheim 1 hour 25 minutes. From Auckland to Christchurch 1 hour 20 minutes.
Road: 4 hours drive from Picton / Blenheim along Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch.
Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers
While glaciers around the world are retreating, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers still flow almost to sea level. The temperate climate at this low altitude means these glaciers are among the most convenient to visit in the world. Easy walks to the foot of the glaciers pass along ancient river valleys with steep sides bearing gigantic horizontal scars from when the glaciers have retreated and advanced over millennia.
Air : Flight time from Christchurch to Hokitika 40 minutes.
Road: 4 1/2 hours drive from Christchurch to Franz Joseph.
Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook
Wonderful scenic views of these “must see” part of New Zealand’s alpine splendour.
There is an outstanding planetarium in Tekapo – the lack of light pollution significantly enhances viewing.
Air : Scheduled flights to Mount Cook are not currently available in Feb 2013 – subject to change
Road: 3 hours drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. An additional 1 ½ hours from Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook / Aorangi National Park.
Staggering beauty and heart-pumping thrills await in the resort town of Queenstown. It is also known for its Hobbits—much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Queenstown for the kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing. Sample South Island’s unique pinot noir from one of the region’s 75 wineries. Historic Arrowtown is nearby and certainly worth a visit.
Air : Flight time from Auckland to Queenstown 1 hour 50 minutes.
Road: 3 hours from drive from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown.
Hailed by Rudyard Kipling as “the eighth wonder of the world,” the breathtaking Milford Sound is the star of glacier-carved Fjordland National Park, providing an emerald-green and waterfall-rich backdrop for hiking, biking and kayaking. Frequent downpours only enhance this South Island beauty, sending numerous waterfalls cascading down the cliffs. Passionate nature lovers book in advance to hike the 33-mile Milford Track, a legendary route through alpine passes and temperate rainforest.
Air : Only non scheduled private and helicopter flights are available. All from Queenstown Airport. Duration varies.
Road: 3 1/2 hours drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound.