Aotearoa: Land of the Long White Cloud – With unparalleled scenery, this jewel of the South Pacific shines with a vast myriad of landscapes. Flanked on each side by different waters, the country offers new breathtaking views around every bend. The warm, gentle blue waters of the South Pacific lap the east coast, which is ornamented by thousands of powdery, white sand beaches just right for a picnic lunch and swimming; or, for a nighttime experience, relax to the sound of gently rolling waves as you stargaze the magnificent southern sky.
By contrast, the west side of the country provides a more rugged, dramatic coastline carved out by the wild green Tasman sea. Majestic cliffs, rocky islands and renowned surfing hot-spots are just some of the wonders the west coast will surprise you with. Want to experience both together? A visit to Cape Reinga at the northernmost tip of New Zealand can provide an unforgettable view of the blue South Pacific Ocean and the green Tasman Sea crashing together at their meeting point.
Inland views are no less spectacular. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes, snowy mountain ranges, glaciers, rich green hills of rolling farmland, lush rainforests, geothermal wonders and so much more. There are many different ways to experience this beautiful country. New Zealanders are at the forefront of outdoor adventure tourism. For thrill-seekers, the adrenaline knows no bounds; bungy jumping, mountain climbing, glacier hiking, scuba diving, kayaking, world-class skiing and snowboarding, horseback riding, whitewater rafting – perhaps even taking a plunge down the highest commercially-rafted waterfall in the world. Have you ever heard of blackwater rafting? Call or email us to find out (first-hand) what it’s all about! If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, we can custom-create a guided tour to quaint towns, museums, secluded beaches, world-class wineries and panoramic scenic spots easily reached by car, bus, or even cruise ship.
While natural beauty abounds, New Zealand also carries a rich cultural history. Wherever you go, Māori place names tell the story of a people’s love for the land. To scratch beneath the surface, just ask a local and you will learn the history of a region and perhaps even an ancient legend or two. We can even tell you a few ourselves. How do we know? One of the founders of Cruise & Travel Depot proudly hails from this magical land.
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
– Sir Edmund Hillary
Not far from Auckland, the country’s biggest city and financial epicenter, is the Coromandel peninsula, where you can connect with nature amidst a broad cross-section of the unique eco-system. Did you know that 90% of the trees and plant species in New Zealand’s rainforests (locally called “bush”) are found only in New Zealand? Walk some mountain trails and feel the bush envelop you with its richness of sounds and smells, or take on the challenge of climbing the sheer Pinnacles, rock formations with spectacular views along the journey and from the top. Relax for a picnic and swim at one of the peninsula’s countless sparkling white sand beaches lapped by gemstone-blue waters. Not to be missed is Hot Water Beach where, true to its name, a natural hot water spring lies underneath the sand; dig your own hot tub on the beach – but remember, the deeper you dig, the hotter it gets! Stop at small towns along the way for local food and appreciate a plethora of local arts and crafts in the area communities.
Here you can gain insight into New Zealand’s rich Māori culture and heritage. Stand in the birthplace of some of our land’s most beloved legends, and learn about the written language embedded in the traditional artwork of woven panels and carvings that adorn meeting houses in the surrounding Māori villages. Watch live performances of songs and dances passed down through hundreds of generations, and savor the mouth-watering flavors of traditional earth-baked Māori cuisine. Rotorua is a geothermally active area featuring geysers, bubbling mud pools and boiling lakes. It also offers some locations where you can bathe in invigorating natural hot springs. The nearby Waitomo Caves are well worth a side trip – this magnificent limestone cave system, carved out by underground rivers, is home to millions of glowworms, found only in New Zealand, lighting the way like a universe of tiny blue stars. Don’t forget to visit with our national bird, the Kiwi, an adorable ground-dwelling character from whom New Zealanders affectionately take our collective nickname.
Famous the world over for its wine, this region has many scenic highlights, most notably the island-dotted, sheltered turquoise waters of the Marlborough Sounds. There are many scenic walks offering matchless vantage points to soak in the views. For the wine enthusiast, this is a must-see part of New Zealand, offering many different wine tours, some of the most popular of which are by bicycle. Countless secluded beaches are easily accessible from pretty little towns like Blenheim, Havelock, or the port town of Picton.
Nestled between the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps and the blue waters of the South Pacific, this region offers a wide range of scenic delights. In the lovely city of Christchurch, known as the “Garden City,” travelers can enjoy contemporary art galleries, the famous Botanic Gardens, and a visit to the International Antarctic Center. The nearby Kaikoura peninsular is a premier whale-watching destination; giant sperm whales, humpbacks, pilot whales and orcas can all be seen here, set against a beautiful mountainous backdrop. Take the TranzAlpine Express through magnificent Arthur’s Pass National Park, an alpine wonderland of snow-covered mountain peaks, lush native forests, glaciers and river gorges. This is truly one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.
There are scenic hikes, cycling and horseback trails aplenty in and around this beautiful southern city. Nestled on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown hosts a majestic view of the snow-capped Remarkables alpine mountain range. Known for adventure tourism, this destination is home to bungy-jumping, skiing, rafting, caving, skydiving and extreme jet-boating. View spectacular panoramas from a private helicopter ride, complete with a glacier landing. Nearby Arrowtown is a picturesque time-capsule of life during New Zealand’s gold-rush of the 1860’s. Queenstown is your gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, a vast wilderness of native forest, rivers, and glacier-carved valleys.
In this spectacular World Heritage Area, renowned for its dramatic landscapes, the granite peaks of Fiordland National Park were carved out by glaciers over eons of time. Daytime cruises in and around the many fiords and sounds provide magnificent views of waterfalls hundreds of feet high plummeting down sheer mountains that rise 5,000+ feet straight out of the pristine water. You may also get to see dolphins, fur seals and penguins. The picturesque town of Te Anau is known as the gateway to the region. If you stop there, we recommend a boat-ride to see geologically active caves and the other-worldly incandescent lights of Glowworm Grotto. Featuring three of New Zealand’s “top nine walks,” Fiordland is guaranteed to take your breath away.[/fusion_text]
As mentioned above, the country is flanked by the green Tasman Sea down one side and the blue South Pacific on the other. Want to experience both together? A visit to Cape Reinga at the northernmost tip of New Zealand can provide an unforgettable view of the two vast oceans crashing together at their meeting point. In Māori tradition, Cape Reinga is a tapu (sacred) place where spirits depart the physical world. Boasting a year-round subtropical climate, Northland is also home to magnificent forests of towering native kauri trees. The sunny Bay of Islands is a famous sailing destination, where day trips can be taken among its 144 individual islands; dolphins and penguins are just two species in the area’s abundant wildlife. While in Northland, you can also stop for a short bush-walk to visit the beautiful Kawiti glowworm caves. Waitangi, too, is rich in history and Māori culture.