New Zealand Feature
Top Attractions in New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest and most visited park. At the north end of the South Island, this park is an explosion of color: green waves lap orange-tinted sand fringed by green forest. Made up of limestone and marble, Abel Tasman is studded with caves and rock formations that make it an excellent hiking or kayaking destination.
Rising 12,316 feet out of the Mackenzie Plains, the South Island's Aoraki (cloud piercer) is aptly named. Aoraki (also known as Mount Cook) is the largest mountain in New Zealand, the crown jewel of the sparkling Southern Alps. Nearby are two glacier lakes (Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki) of such starling turquoise they hurt the eyes. This is where Sir Edmund Hillary cut his climbing teeth.
Bay of Islands
On the north finger of the North Island is the Bay of Islands, a 100-island maze that is a stronghold of New Zealand history. Captain Cook first sailed here in 1769. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed here. Today, New Zealanders flock to the area for the warm temperatures and pristine beaches, making it a haven for sailing, boating, and big-game fishing.
The Coromandel Peninsula is that local spot Kiwis don't want you to know about. Only two hours from Auckland, the Coromandel is a remote getaway of white-sand beaches, native forest, quirky cafés, and bustling marinas. Highlights include bountiful fishing, kayaking to Cathedral Cove (a huge limestone arch), and digging your own hot-tub on Hot Water Beach.
Napier, Hawke's Bay, and East Cape area on the east coast of the North Island comprise three distinct areas hemmed in by Te Urewera National Park on one side, and the curving coastline of the Pacific Ocean on the other. Napier is a quirky coastal city, an art deco phoenix risen from the ashes of a 7.9 earthquake in 1931. Hawke's Bay is known for its wine. Farther north, from Gisborne up to the East Cape, is a string of quiet coastal towns.
Tiny, rugged Otago Peninsula is north of Dunedin. Only 18 mi long and 7 mi across, it is jam-packed with wildlife, including a yellow-eyed penguin reserve and the world's only mainland royal albatross colony. Little Blue penguins, sea lions, and New Zealand Fur Seals are abundant, and Larnach Castle towers over it all at the peninsula's highest point.
Queenstown has long been known as the Adventure Capital of the World. The city is a small and lively maze of restaurants and shops, but the surrounding landscape is the real playground. The Queenstown area, including mild Wanaka and isolated Glenorchy, is a jumble of ski slopes, rivers, and alpine areas that make it a heaven for hiking, skiing, paragliding, white-water rafting, kayaking, and—after the adrenaline wears off—wine tasting.
Between Auckland and Taupo are the Waitomo Caves, a massive system of underground limestone caves. Three main caves—Glowworm Cave (named for its electric blue inhabitants), Ruakuri Cave (a wahi tapu, or sacred site), and Aranui Cave (known for its fantastic limestone formations)—can be rafted, hiked, or rappelled.
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