To us South Africans, New Zealand is famous for three things, The All Blacks, The Haka and the Kiwi! Although rugby is the nation's pride, they also have some of the most breath taking scenery and adventure opportunities on earth. So dramatic and unusual is the landscape of these islands, that Peter Jackson chose his home country as the incarnation of the magical middle earth in his film adaptations of Tolkien's vivid fantasy Lord of the Rings.
North Island Top 5
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Auckland is New Zealand's biggest city. The city of sails, as it is locally known, affords visitors the opportunity to explore the islands of the Hauraki Gulf or even sail on an America's Cup boat. If you are a landlubber you can visit the Waiheke wineries or view endangered native birds on Tiritiri Matangi.
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Wellington is New Zealand's capital of cool. As the nation's coffee loving cultural heart, it gave birth to Peter Jackson and today houses the national museum. The ZEALANDIA nature reserve is also world renowned for its suburban eco efforts.
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Rotorua is widely known for its geo-thermal baths and spa centres. It is also the best place to experience and learn about the native Maori culture. Voted New Zealand's best city six years running, you'll be in for a rejuvenating experience.
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The Pacific Coast Highway is a 740 km drive that takes you through volcanic fields, lush rain forest, jagged mountains, rolling hills of farmland and the country's largest lake.
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The Tongariro Crossing is listed by many as the best one day trek on earth. The 18.5 Km hike will take you up the entire length of the Tongariro mountain while passing many turquoise lakes, encrusted with snow and framed by views of the north island beyond, on the hike.
South Island Top 5
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Stewart Island gives you a chance to escape from all the mountains and activities and slip into a slower countryside pace. The island is a veritable Kiwi sanctuary which gives visitors the chance to see the nation's rare national bird in its natural habitat.
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As a counterpart to the Pacific coast Highway on the northern Island, except less frequented, Catlins coast in the south edges its way past rugged and dramatic coastlines populated by a teeming and untouched petrified forest.
Experience the raw beauty of Milford and Doubtful Sound in an overnight cruise. See piercing mountain peaks, deep valleys, rivers that turn into waterfalls and ancient glacier carved fiords. You can also choose Kayaking, which promises close encounters with the bottlenose dolphins and fur seals.
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Walk through native bush onto golden sand beaches or enjoy the waters and cliffs of the picturesque 22,530 hectares Abel Tasman National Park.
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Any opportunity to hike, heli-hike or just plain stare in awe from an unforgettable flight over the magnificent Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers on the West Coast should not be missed.
Top 5 Adventures
Experience the insane rush of flying your own high-speed tethered plane with Fly By Wire!
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As part of the Southern Alps, the 3754 m Mount Cook mountain is New Zealand's highest. A climb to its peak will put you in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, who used Aoraki Mount Cook to prepare before his legendary ascent up Mount Everest itself.
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The Ocean is very much a part of New Zealand's fibre. Why not charter a game boat in Northland and try to hook your own Marlin or merely enjoy the calm of the Pacific.
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Waitomo offers visitors the chance to cave, tube, abseil or black River Raft in the underground labyrinths of New Zealand's eerie caves.
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Explore the landscape around Roturua by taking a half-day 4 Wheel Drive tour to the summit of Mount Tarawera, and then take a hike around the crater's edge. For some a ‘scree run' (a fell run) down into the crater is the grand finale.
Top 5 Views
The Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo.
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Pauanui Mountain Walking Track and panoramic views over the Bay of Plenty.
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The views of the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges from the Peak of Te Mata.
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If you are lucky enough to be going Bok Bezurk in Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud) for this year's Rugby World Cup be sure to not miss New Zealand's finest offerings in between the epic matches, or you will be going bezurk with misery when you get back to Mzansi!