Amazing Landscapes of New Zealand

by Rianne Ojeh on 10 March 2014, 15:03PM

When you’re travelling New Zealand, it’s the natural attractions that put the magic in your trip. New Zealand seems to have it all! You will see things here that you won't see anywhere else in the world. From snowy mountains, volcanic plateaus and delectable beaches to remote hiking trails, fiords, wilderness lakes and so much more.


Shrouded in forest or speckled with farms and holiday homes, islands have a special charm that kicks in the moment you step ashore. Not counting the North and South Islands, the largest island is Rakiura - known to most as Stewart Island. This southern paradise is home to New Zealand’s newest national park. It’s a place for hiking, bird watching and star gazing. Other islands devoted to the protection of wildlife include Kapiti, north of Wellington and Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf. From the city of Auckland, you can catch ferries to populated islands such as Waiheke and Great Barrier. Waiheke is a picturesque blend of farmland, forest, beaches, vineyards and olive groves. Great Barrier has the kind of rugged, untouched beauty that appeals to adventurers. Further north you can discover the Bay of Islands, a large area of offshore islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. Charter a boat, hire a kayak or catch a cruise to enjoy this spectacular maritime playground.


A lake in New Zealand can be a destination in itself or a moment of tranquillity on the way to somewhere else. Many of the North Island’s lakes are the result of ancient volcanic eruptions. The biggest of these crater lakes is Taupo – it is the size of a small country and one of New Zealand’s top destinations for trout fishing. You can also catch trout in many of Rotorua’s crater lakes. Dune lakes are an interesting phenomenon. At Kai Iwi in Northland there are three beautiful dune lakes fringed with pure white sand. Near Levin on the west coast of the North Island, Papaitonga is wedged with wetlands that are great for bird watching. Most of the South Island’s lakes were born from the same kind of glacial action that created the fiords. Lake Te Anau is the largest, covering an area of 344 square kilometres. Lake Manapouri is often regarded as the most beautiful with its clear waters- it has 34 islands and is 440 metres deep in places.


Natural Phenomena
Ice ages, fault lines, volcanic zones and tectonic plate movements have all made their mark on New Zealand. When extreme events happen below or above the earth’s surface, unusual scenery is often the result. Take the south-western corner of New Zealand’s South Island as an example. Here a procession of ice ages wrought an impressive collection of fiords. Further up the coast, there are two glaciers that refuse to believe the ice age is over - they’re still creeping down into the rainforest. For absolute in-your-face phenomena, the North Island never fails to satisfy. Active volcanic regions, including a marine volcano that you can walk through, are outward expressions of internal turmoil. Take a wander through the geothermal areas around Rotorua and Taupo - fumaroles, craters and geysers are endlessly fascinating. And what about boiling mud? It has to be the strangest thing you’ll ever find in a public park.


Walks and Trails
The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other is the best way to appreciate New Zealand’s pristine outdoor environments. By spending time on tracks and trails, you can use all your senses to absorb the extraordinary beauty of national parks, conservation areas, coastal zones and forest reserves. The national parks have vast networks of tracks that make it easy to find a walking experience that matches your fitness level and the time you have available. Or maybe you’re coming to New Zealand with a particular walking adventure in mind - like the Milford Track in Fiordland or the volcanic Tongariro Crossing in the North Island. Take your pick from a multitude of intrepid on-foot adventures that will entice you to journey far beyond the reach of civilisation.


Coastal Highlights
With more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand knows all the moods of the sea. On the east coast the Pacific Ocean plays along bays and beaches where white sand, surf and calm harbours provide enormous scope for fun. On the west coast the Tasman Sea, breaks against rugged cliffs, weathered rocks and long, soulful stretches of black sand. If you’re an ocean-loving person, there are road trips that will keep you in touch with the sea every step of the way. Northland has the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, a touring route that includes both the east and west coasts. In the far south, the trip along the Catlins coast is famously photogenic. Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45 is a west coast experience for people who want to find some of the best surf breaks in the country. Pack your sandals, shorts and sunblock, and always be prepared for spontaneous picnics. Wherever you are in New Zealand, you’re never far from a day at the beach.


National Parks & Marine Reserves
Fourteen spectacular national parks preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage. Enshrining a huge   variety of landscapes, vegetation and wildlife, parks allow you to discover the heart and soul of a country that will never be totally tamed. From the golden beaches of Abel Tasman to the alpine environment of Arthur’s Pass to the immense Whanganui River, New Zealand’s national parks contain some of the most treasured wilderness areas. In a marine reserve, all marine life is protected. Nothing can be taken or disturbed. Every one of the marine reserves, and there are more than 25 of them, preserves an area that is valuable because it’s typical, unique or extremely beautiful. For example, Fiordland’s marine reserves protect the world’s largest black coral trees - some over 300 years old. One of the most famous marine reserves is the Poor Knights, where subtropical currents, huge caves and archways support an extraordinary range of life. This reserve has been called one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.


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