Three cities are highlighted during a recent trip with my family to New Zealand -- Rotorua, Kaikoura, and Christchurch. We found these were the most exciting during our trip. We visited during the New Zealand summer month of October. I hope this is helpful when planning your trip to New Zealand. Remember to travel like a local! -- Ginamarie
The entire town of Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity (aka volcanos, yay!), and smells like sulfur. Throughout the town are thermal springs and bubbling mud. While there, we visited the Government Gardens which is a former bath house converted into a museum about the Maori people. I loved the museum and hearing about the history, culture, and what is important to them currently. The Te Arawa tribe makes up most of the population in Rotorua. I also rode a jet boat ride with an informative, enthusiastic jet boat driver who told us the amazing love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.
The sleepy beach town of Kaikoura is framed by huge snowy mountains and lush green tropical landscapes. We saw an amazing little waterfall where female seals will travel up to with their pups, drop them off, and then head back down to the ocean to feed. Their pups remain in the waterfall area and learn how to socialize with each other.
We were surprised when we got to Christchurch, it was still heavily devastated by the big earthquake that took place in 2010. Our hotel was right next to the famous Christchurch Cathedral that fell during the quake. The first day we were in Christchurch, we attended the Cantebury A&P Show which is similar to a big state fair here in the States. The following day, we went horseback riding (I had never been horseback riding before) where our tour showed us how to shear a sheep and also showed us how his border collie dogs herd sheep.
New Zealand is a small country, similar in size to Great Britain or Japan. With a population of only four million people itÕs also gloriously uncrowded. Here's some useful information about New Zealand to help plan your visit.
New Zealand has a temperate climate with moderately high rainfall and many hours of sunshine. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures.
New Zealand has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting the Maori heritage dating back 700 years and European settlement in the late 18th century.
Maori were the first to arrive in New Zealand, journeying in canoes from Hawaiki about 1,000 years ago where they set up a thriving tribal society that thrived for hundreds of years. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was the British who made New Zealand part of their empire.
Spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forest, volcanic plateau, miles of coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches - it's all here. No wonder New Zealand is becoming so popular as a location for movies.
Lying in the south-west Pacific, New Zealand consists of two main islands the North Island and the South Island. Stewart Island and many smaller islands lie offshore.The North Island of New Zealand has a 'spine' of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area. The massive Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps is the rolling farmland of Otago and Southland, and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains.
Information courtsey of www.newzealand.com.