Known as New Zealand’s capital of cool, Wellington is the queen city of the country, where cosmopolitan pursuits and outdoor recreation merge. Its strategic location places it as the southernmost city on North Island, making it the gateway to South Island.
Wellington boasts of the Parliament Buildings, galleries, coffee houses, and world-class restaurants. At the center of its glistening waterfront is the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the central repository of the country’s cultural artifacts, including the Maori culture.
Autumn’s clear sunny days are best spent by taking the cable car and exploring the Botanic Garden. Then, hike all the way to Mt. Victoria’s lookout point, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Wellington.
Along with Hutt Valley and Weta Cave, the mountainous terrains served as one of the beautiful locations of the phenomenal Lord of the Rings movies. In fact, there are special tours to fully transport fans into the magical world of the Middle Earth.
The sprawling magnificence of Auckland oftentimes makes bewildered tourists think this is the capital city. Surrounded by water, flanked by two natural harbors, and replete with close to 50 dormant volcanoes, New Zealand’s largest city poses a definite sightseeing challenge.
With so much attractions and activities going for it, Auckland is aching to be explored from top to bottom. There are a few highlights, however, that deserve to be included in anyone’s itinerary.
A climb up the Auckland Harbour Bridge will set your pulse racing once you see the city in its entirety, including the bays and islands. For those who want more, bungee jumping from Auckland Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, may just be your shot of adrenalin.
Cruises from Waitemata Harbor provide visitors a taste of the daily scenes at this lively hub of activities. The sight of hundreds of yachts anchored in neat rows earned Auckland its moniker “City of Sails.” A ferry ride from downtown, on the other hand, is the ticket to lazy strolls around the golden beaches of Waiheke Island.
To know more about New Zealand’s history and get a glimpse of different Maori treasures, visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which is housed in a fine heritage building overlooking the Waitemata Harbor.
Bay of Plenty
Located along the Pacific Coast Highway, Bay of Plenty derived its name from the abundance of fruit crops growing in the region. Right here in this veritable “fruit bowl” of a region, you can find Te Puke, the richest source of kiwi fruit in New Zealand and the kiwi fruit capital of the world,. Bountiful fresh seafood and a bustling local wine industry also thrive within the area.
Traveling around the region brings more of the impressive attractions and highlights. Being only a few hours’ drive from Auckland, the Bay of Plenty’s charming sights are easily within reach.
With a year-round mild climate, Bay of Plenty is ripe with activities like surfing, kayaking, and parasailing. If you want to do any of these water activities, head to Tauranga, the main center of the region and where some of the best beaches in the country can be found.
Worthwhile visits to coastal villages and towns of Papamoa, Waihi Beach, Katikati, Maketu, and Paengora add another dose of excitement. But Bay of Plenty’s focal point remains to be the mighty Mauao or Mount Maunganui, where the first Polynesian migrants landed in 1290 AD.
The earliest tourist attraction in Rotorua was a range of silica terraces cascading into a volcanic lake. While this awesome sight is no longer in existence due to the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886, Rotorua prospered into the modern age as one of the best spa destinations in the world.
Rotorua is a cultural cradle of all things Maori. In fact, Maori guides are often seen leading the way around Mount and Lake Tarawera while sharing stories of their ancestors. Traditional villages offer crafts-making and cultural performances as well.
The deep-seated volcanic activity in Rotorua makes it a haven for rejuvenation. Numerous spa therapies, from thermal pools to hot springs, can be found within the region. The scent of sulphur wafts through the air, particularly in Kuirau Park, the main hub for crater lakes and boiling mud pools. The park belongs to the famed 26-kilometer long Rotorua City Walkway.
More excellent exploration options are found in Hamurana Springs, Lake Okareka Walkway, Lake Tikitapu, Rainbow Mountain, and Okere Falls.
Trout fishing and endless pursuit of outdoor activities describe a typical visit to Taupo, a town nestled on the banks of the lake with the same name. Lake Taupo is teeming with brown or rainbow trout, attracting fishing enthusiasts.
But fishing is only one of the activities tourists can do in Lake Taupo, as its geothermal landscape offers mind-blowing recreational prospects, keeping boredom at bay.
For instance, walks along Craters of the Moon Thermal Area in Wairakei Tourist Park, north of Taupo, bring to view steaming hot pools and bubbling craters. Also within the same area is the amazing sight of the rapturous rush of waters from the iconic Taupo landmark, Huka Falls.
More natural attractions such as geysers, mud volcanoes, hot springs, and silica terraces can be seen during explorations at Orakei Korako Geyserland.
Tongariro National Park, which is New Zealand’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another attraction. Three volcanoes, namely, Ngaurohoe, Tongariro, and Ruapehu, are found within the vast nature preserve.
To have a memorable visit, reflect on the beauty of the region while soaking in any of the numerous hot mineral springs in Taupo.