Top Ten New Zealand!

Auckland. Cityscape image of Auckland skyline, New Zealand taken from Mt. Eden at sunset.

One of our Ottawa Adventure Specialists, Margaret Breau, recently spent six weeks in New Zealand, and absolutely loved it! Here are Margaret’s top ten must-see in this magnificent destination:

1. The Bay of Islands: More than 150 islands that dot the series of inlets and bays surrounding the small towns of Paihia, Russell and Waitangi make up the Bay of Islands. I love the Bay of Islands for the diverse landscape of hills with frolicking sheep, white sand beaches, and quaint little towns.

2. Waikato and Waitomo: The major attraction in the area is the famous Waitomo Caves with its glow worm grotto and limestone caverns.   Exploring the underground network of caves is exhilarating but the glow warms are breathtaking.  Once in a life time experience!

3. Rotorua: The centre of New Zealand’s thermal region, with geysers, steaming lakes and streams, mud pools, multi-colored silica terraces and hot mineral pools known for their curative properties. Taking time in Rotorua to relax and spoil yourself with a spa experience is a highlight not to be missed.  Your muscles will thank you!

4. Tongariro National Park: In the park, Mount Ruapehu (9,177 feet) is the highest peak in the North Island and a live volcano. It is a breathtaking view.  I walked along the footsteps of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters and got lost in the majestic scenerary.

5. Wellington: Wellington is known as the restaurant capital of New Zealand. Many of its great cafes, funky bars and ethnic-inspired restaurants are within walking distance of each other.  After lots of natural scenery you will enjoy Wellington’s paved sidewalks!  New Zealand boasts they have the best coffee and Wellington did not disappoint.

6. Punakaiki: The Pancake Rocks are most spectacular in the Putai area. They were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. The Rocks are home to hundreds of sea lions! It was so much fun watching the babies play and the adults sleep on the warm rocks.

7. Marlborough: The Marlborough Sounds, made up of sheltered waterways, meanders for more than 600 miles (966 km) around secluded coves and pristine beaches, with many spots accessible only by boat.  We had dolphins swimming by our boat, tasted the most fabulous wine, and hiked a beautiful trail- what more can you ask for!

8. Nelson: Nelson’s mild climate is ideal for horticulture. Nelson is a large fruit growing region in New Zealand and supplies the nation’s tobacco and hops. I enjoyed delicious micro brewed beer and fish and chips.  Luckily it is easy to work off calories in Nelson as you are surrounded with hike and bike trails, beautiful beaches and yoga studios.

9. Queenstown: Queenstown lies at the foot of The Remarkables mountain range. It is the South Island’s most popular resort and the base for excursions into the surrounding mountains and nearby fiords, including Milford Sound.  It boasts the highest Bungee jump in the world and is great for adrenaline junkies.   I climbed a peak of the Remarkables and the view lives up to its name!

10. Fiordland: Covering nearly three million acres, wet, wild, rugged and remote, Fiordland is one of the largest national parks in the world. A World Heritage Site, this is nature on a grand scale. Protected by its isolation, some of New Zealand’s rarest birds are found here, as well as some of the country’s best-known hiking tracks.  Milford sound is a MUST in New Zealand.  I saw blue penguins, could practically pet a seal and was awe struck by the massive fjords.  Majestic to say the least.

Who isn’t ready to go to New Zealand after that! Contact Margaret to start planning your NZ adventure! Or find one of our store locations nearest you .

For more trips ideas, thoughts or insights before booking your next vacation, talk to a Merit Travel Consultant first.

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