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5 Top Places and Activities in New Zealand

Rainbow in Queenstown

Rainbow in Queenstown - first snow in winter

I have done a number of Top 5 or Top 10 articles but have never done an overview of the places and attractions in New Zealand. Let’s be fair and round up both North Island and South Island.

Structures in Wellington, New Zealand

Sunset in Wellington, New Zealand

So, here is a list of places that if you are short for time, at least visit these places :

North Island

  1. Pahia, Bay of Islands – Hole in the Rock Cruise, Russell or Hahei – Cathedral Cove kayaking
  2. Auckland – skyjump or skywalk from Sky Tower
  3. Rotorua – tour the sulfurous landscape, raft the Kaituna River
  4. Lake Taupo – Huka Fall, jet boat, raft the Rangitaiki River
  5. Wellington – Te papa Museum, city landscape

Lake wakatipu, Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

South Island

  1. Christchurch – Cathedral Square
  2. Fiordland – Milford Sound cruise
  3. Lake Tekapo – Church of the Good Shepard
  4. Queenstown – rafting, bungy, hiking
  5. Fox Glacier – walking on glaciers, Lake Matteson

I have covered Queenstown, Milford Sound and a bit of Fox Glacier earlier.

For a first time visitor in New Zealand, the above places are suggestions to give you an overall sight of the country. You can do more later on the next visit and I feel sure you would want to come back!

Milford Sound boat cruise

Milford Sound boat cruise

If you have less than 7 days, I suggest concentrate on just either North or South Island.

South Island Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 : Christchurch

Day 2 – 4 :  Queenstown

Day 5 : Fox Glacier/Franz Josef Glacier

Day 6 : Christchurch.

After your arrival in Christchurch, take a walk to Cathedral Square to see the church or simply shop around. Spend quiet times at the Botanic Garden to unwind from the long flight. Next day, head to Queenstown. The drive there is spectacular as you pass by breathtaking scenery. Stop at Lake Tekapo for pictures of the beautiful landscape and the Church of the Good Shepard. Nearby is Mt Cook Village. Get a closer look at the mountains and learn the history of the place. Upon arrival in Queenstown, head to the boardwalk for a closer view of Lake Wakatipu. Take the cable car and enjoy the aeriel view of Queentown. Why not have lunch or dinner there. There are a number of hiking trails starting from the gondola. Most tours run along this itinerary with at least 2 nights in Queenstown with one day at Milford Sound. If you have a free day here, choose a combination of activities to save time and cost. Try rafting, a boat cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, skydiving – the choice is limitless. Next visit is either to Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier. I prefer Fox Glacier as there is Lake Matteson. You will come back full circle to Christchurch.

Lake Matheson, New Zealand

Lake Matheson - Fox Glacier, New Zealand

For North Island, try this itinerary.

Day 1 : Auckland

Day 2  : Pahia or Hahei

Day 3 : Taupo

Day 4 – 5 : Rotorua

Day 6 : Auckland or if you have time – Wellington.

If you flight arrival is in Auckland, this will be your starting point. Go shopping or for that adrenaline kick, skyjump from the Sky Tower. Some tours skip Pahia or Hahei so there is enough time for a visit to Wellington. If you have time, on the second day head to Pahia and join a boat cruise. The highlight – passing through a rock in the middle of the ocean – very cool! Alternatively, head to Hahei. Stroll to Cathedral Cove beach or even better go kayaking – real fun on the water. At Lake Taupo, hike to the Huka Falls or jetboat there. If staying an additional night, you have time for rafting the Rangitaiki River or hike the Tongariro Crossing. Don’t miss Rotorua. It is the equivalent of Queenstown for North Island. Plenty of choice pickings here. I would highly recommend rafting the Kaituna River – what a thrill jumping over the waterfall. Visit the various sulferous landscape next and catch a Moari show. Last, but not least, chill out at Wellington. Shop here or take the cable for an aeriel view of the city.

The choice is yours whether to join a group tour, backpack or free and easy driving on your own.

Christchurch - Catheral Square

Christchurch Catheral

Links

Pictures for your viewing pleasure. Till next time, have a wonderful day!

Panorama Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Panorama Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Paranoma - cows at sunset

Panorama - cows at sunset

Queenstown night view

Queenstown night view

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Huka Falls, Tekapo

Huka Falls, Taupo

Hole in the Rock, Bay of Islands

Hole in the Rock

Rotorua

Rotorua

Milford Sound Waterfall

Waterfall Milford Sound

Rafting

Rafting or drowning?

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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel

 

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Things to do and See in Queenstown

Queenstown "Smilie"

It's bird, it's a plane - it's a happy smilie 🙂

Thanks for dropping by. Are you addicted to adrenaline? Rafting, sky diving, skiing all gives you a rush like no other? Then, Queenstown – the adventure capital of South Island, New Zealand – has tons of activities to spike your adrenaline.

 

How to get there

From Christchurch, South Island’s international airport, it takes about 6 hours journey to reach Queenstown. Major airlines either have direct flight here or land at Auckland, North Island. From there, take a domestic flight to Queenstown. The journey from Christchurch to Queenstown via the Inland Scenic Route is absolutely breathtaking in whatever seasons.  Along the way, you will pass Lake Tekapo and catch a glimpse of Aeroki/Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki.

During winter, there are direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melborne, Australia to Queenstown airport. It takes about three and a half hours flight to reach here from Australia. The view from the air as your plane slowly land is simply stunning.

If taking ferry from Wellington to Picton, you will need to go through Nelson, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier – at least 2 days journey before arriving in Queenstown on the third day.

 

Things to do and see in Queenstown

For more information, visit the Queenstown Tourism, official website.

 

The Remarkables, New Zealand

At the Remarkables

Recommended Activities

Skiing and Snowboarding

Officially winter is from June 1  to August 31, however, spring skiing is still possible to early October. There are actually six fields nearby Queenstown : The Remarkables – 45 minutes drive, Caronet Peak – 25 minutes drive, Cadrona – 60 minutes drive, Treble Cone – 1.5 hours drive. There is also night skiing. If visiting Snow Park and Snow Farm, it may be better to have accommodations in Wanaka instead as the ski fields are nearer from there. For the daredevils, try heliskiing. Operator : Nzski

Dart River Safaris

This is a combination of a forest walk, sightsee of locations from The Lord of the Rings and a jetboat into the wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. About 6 hours from Queenstown and 3 hours from Glenorchy. For the more adventurous, try the Funyaks canoe. Jetboat up the Dart River and then paddle slowly downstream on the funyaks with lunch provided. About 9 hours  from Queenstown and 7 hours from Glenorchy. Spectacular scenery and lots for fun for the whole family. Operator : Dart River Safaris Ltd

Rafting in New Zealand

Rafting in New Zealand

White water rafting either in the Kawarau River – ideal for first-timers – or the more challenging Shotover River. Paddle your oars as fast as you can and don’t drop into the water! Heli-raft is also possible here but you need to pay more. This is usually a half day activity that can be combined with other activities to save time and money. Check out the various combos available. For more information, check out The Station. For the little kids, you can also join in the fun. Family Adventures invites kids from 3 years old onwards to kayak and raft with their family on gentle grade 1 and 2 rapids.

River Surfing and Canyoning

Having fun in the water? Get closer! Go river surfing and canyoning. It is just you, the board and the river – you are in control. Don’t be scared. Jump in and have fun – surf the rapid, get wet, ride the whirlpools and jump off rocks! Check The Station for combo activities to save time and money.

Bungy

A.J Hackett made the sport famous. Try it and see what the fuss is all about.  Imagine this : a length of rope tied to your ankle, the guide counting “4, 3, 2, 1! Jump!” Screammmmm!  Touch down – you either reach the water or you don’t. Operator : AJ Hackett

Paraflights

As you can see in the smilie picture above, that is paraflight. Fly solo or tandem above Lake Wakatipu up to 600 metres. Fantastic view. No experience needed. Age limit is 2 years old. Fun for the whole family. Boat adventure last about 1 hour with flight about 10-15 minutes duration, every hour from the pier. Try it! Operator : Paraflights

Paragliding

Paragliding in Queenstown, NZ

Glide free as a bird

From high above, solo or tandem, do a little run and off you go. Look ma, I am flying! You can do this at various locations in Queenstown. For more buzz and thrill, jump off from Coronet Peak – the highest of 3 main paragliding sites. Operator : Extreme Air

Skydiving

Enjoying the fresh air from high above? Step up a notch and skydive! Absolute thrill guranteed. Just don’t eat before you fly, get my meaning? The sky is the limit – 9,000ft, 12,000ft or 15,000ft – your choice. Watch the scenery goes by and the rush as the ground gets closer and closer and closer.. and you land on your feet. Operator : Nzone

Mountain Biking

The Remarkables, New Zealand

The Remarkables through a buoy

Go on a guided tour at Skippers Canyon with no uphill riding. Great views of Shotover River. Combine it with rafting and get your adrenaline buzzing. From beginners to advanced riders. Operator : Gravity Action

Hiking
If you haven’t heard of the Seven Great Walks in New Zealand, click here for more information. Hiking or tramping – as it is known here –  is a popular reason for visiting New Zealand. Unspoilt forest, snow-capped mountains, solitude – it is a wonderful combination for tramping here. There are many operators in Queentown offering their hiking packages, from budget to the luxurious accommodation. If you are short for time, why not go on a one day hiking trip. Ultimate Hikes offers guided trips to the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track – two of the seven great walks – and guided day trips.

 

The Scenic Tours

While these activities are not necessarily full of adrenaline, the sight to behold are not to be missed.

Skyline Queenstown

If you are short of time, this is the place to get an overview of Queenstown – spectacular at any time,  in all seasons.  Watch the scenery rolls by as the cable car gets higher and higher.  There are a number of hiking trails starting here, so take the free hiking map. Don’t forget to get a panoramic snapshot. There is an excellent restaurant here – get a reservation first. Skyline Queenstown

TSS Earnslaw Boat Cruise and Walter Peak High Country Farm

TSS Earnslaw at night

The TSS Earnslaw was launched in 1912, the same year as The Titanic. The TSS Earnslaw is a coal-fired passenger-carrying vessel taking you on a cruise on Lake Wakatipu. Disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm for a farm tour, horse ride, bbq lunch or dinner. Operating  year round, this is an educational and fun trip for the whole family. Operator : Real Journeys

Milford Sound Cruise

You must not miss this trip! The Milford Sound cruise was covered in greater detail here. Stunning scenery from start to finish. There are several operators from Queenstown. I highly recommend going with Real Journeys.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a short drive from Queenstown. Leave your vehicle in Queenstown as there is a regular shuttle service here. Arrowtown is spectacular in autumn. All the gorgeous fall colours – a photographer’s dream. Grab a pan and go to the river – you may just be lucky to strike gold! Information here.

 

So many things to do and so little time! Above all else, don’t be in a rush to fill up your days and time with as much activities as possible. A holiday is meant for relaxation, so take your time to simply unwind, breathe the fresh air and soothe your soul.


Be safe, be happy!

 

[Edit : Add Skyline Queenstown because miss it earlier]

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel

 

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