The ideal starting point for any trip to Rotorua begins with a trip on Rotorua's Skyline Gondola which takes guests up the side of the city's Mount Ngongotaha to the activity-filled Skyline complex which sits atop the mount. It's likely one of the first things you'll want to do when you get to the city as travelling up the mountainside not only gives you great 180 degree views of the panorama of Rotorua, its lake, Mokoia Island and further off into the distance, but will allow you to get a sense of how the area is laid out and help orientate yourself for the rest of your time in the region. While the gondolas seat up to 8 people, if you're travelling with less then it's a good idea to try and sit with your back facing the mountain as the ride up is fairly brief and you'll want to gain the best possible views of the outlook on offer while you can. In all, if offers a quick, comfortable and convenient way to get to the peak.
Enjoy Lake Rotorua on the Lakeland Queen & Other Activities
The largest of the volcanically-formed lakes in the region, Lake Rotorua stands out from many other New Zealand cities bodies of water due to both its formation and colour. The Rotorua region's volcanic origins are reflected in the lake, which is actually quite shallow at an average of 10m deep, and which combined with its high sulphur content results in a shifting, green-blue-yellow palette that constantly changes. With its location situated on the north side of the city, Lake Rotorua provides visitors with a focal point for a large variety of activities and other aquatic things to do - with perhaps the most iconic of these being its Lakeland Queen cruise boat.
The Redwoods at Whakarewarewa Forest
While a mouthful to pronounce, Whakarewarewa Forest is easy to enjoy as this vast area of natural offerings is varied enough to offer something for everyone. The ideal spot of choice in the Rotorua region for lovers of the traditional (read: non-volcanic) outdoors, all it takes is a short 5 minute drive from the city centre and you'll soon find yourself what feels like a world away, surrounded by immense Californian Redwood trees up to 60m tall which were originally planted around Rotorua back in 1901. It's now a place where both locals and visitors alike can go to both explore the forest and enjoy various outdoor recreational facilities; biking, horse riding and even simply walking are all enjoyable when immersed in such wonderful surroundings.
Take a Volcano Scenic Flight with Volcanic Air Safaris
If you've got deeper pockets and are looking for what is basically the ultimate in sightseeing experiences in the Rotorua region, then there are few better choices than setting out on a helicopter trip to gain a whole new perspective of New Zealand's many volcanic marvels. Visitors to the region are able to choose from an extensive range of flight options either by taking a helicopter ride or a floatplane where take off and landing are done entirely on the water. Some of the region's most impressive attractions are best both viewed and accessed by air, with the steaming pools of Hell's Gate and Waimangu, the Buried Village and even the incredible sea-volcano of White Island all viable and popular options run by local operator Volcanic Air Safaris.
Go White Water Rafting with River Rats
Rotorua isn't just all sights and steam; it's also one of the more adventure-oriented destinations in New Zealand, and no activity exemplifies this better than white water rafting with River Rats, which has continued to grow in the region over the years to become one of its most popular activities. Visitors to the Rotorua region who are looking for some group-oriented white water fun will be able to make their choice between the thrill of the more challenging Kaituna River with its steeper drops and more heart-pounding rafting opportunities, or instead strike a solid balance between sightseeing and a dose of rafting fun on the more mellow – yet still impressive - Rangitaiki River. Both of these waterways are set amongst some stunning scenery typical of Rotorua's surrounds, and serve as the ideal backdrop for this wet-and-wild kind of experience.
Agroventures Adventure Park
If traditional adventure activities bore you or you feel like you've done them all before, Rotorua's Agroventures Adventure Park is almost certain to offer something that even the most seasoned activity junkie has most likely never tried. The park features a range of rides-slash-activities that utilise different machines and mechanisms to put a different spin on your standard outdoor activities, ranging from the world's only jet-sprint experience to New Zealand's only wind-column free-fall skydive simulator to its weird and wonderful “Shweeb” pedal-powered capsule experience and more, with 5 in total all situated mere metres from one another. Not just a place merely for kids, Agroventures just outside Rotorua provides and entirely original way to spend a few hours or a full day.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Steaming this list up once again is the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, full of amazing thermal activity that allows visitors to walk through a wild, active landscape. With an emphasis on ecological values, the valley offers a range of walks or hikes past steaming craters, native plants and plenty of bird life to form an impressive tableau that simply screams “Rotorua” in every way. It's about as close to a “volcanic park” as you're able to get without mankind having a greater influence on its layout, and the world's youngest geothermal site is easy to explore here due to the many well-planned paths which allow for some truly up-close viewing experiences..
Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Capping off the list of all-things-geo that is Rotorua is Wai-o-Tapu, an incredibly colourful grouping of hot springs, geysers and pools each with their own distinct character, shape and texture formed solely by nature itself which sits around 20 minutes south of Rotorua city. This is the place that you've most likely seen in postcards or promotional material promoting Rotorua as a travel destination, and with good cause; it's the most colourful volcanic area in the country and allows visitors some great angles for photos as you're able to basically step right up to – or in some cases, walk directly through – some of the most striking hot pools you're ever likely to see. Wai-o-Tapu also combines the three essential sights of any geothermal hot spot (prominent geysers, naturally boiling mud pools and volcanic vistas) in a single location, making for a comprehensive experience.
The ski fields of the mountains are visited by new and old ski enthusiasts every year. There are various ski terrains to cater to the requirements of all levels, from beginners to the pros. A well-known mountain range for skiing, the Remarkables are a mere half an hour drive from downtown Queenstown. Other activities such as snow tubing were also recently added to the ranges. The Remarkables also have restaurants for you to have a nice meal after the day out on the slopes. The Remarkables are one of Queenstown's favourite attractions. Learning programmes for kids and adults are available too.
Situated at about a distance of 300 km from Queenstown, the Milford Sound is a place of miraculous beauty. The rocky mountains cutting through the landscape, almost as if made by a sculptor himself. Milford Sound is extremely popular since it is the only fiord that can be accessed via road. You can explore the fiord through cruises along the water, going up to the sea, or also engage in activities such as canoeing and tramping. Even the drive up to fiord is one of sheer magnificence, and plenty of tour buses leaving early in the day are available. While you're here, do take a visit to the The Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory, which allows you to gaze at the underwater life of the fiord, and is situated at a depth of 10 metres.
Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand's third largest lake. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, it's a spectacular setting for boat rides or relaxing on the shore. Cutting through the southern alps, this beautiful lake forms a thunderbolt shape when looked at from above, and Queenstown sits right at the corner of the zigzag. A fascinating feature of this lake is it's tidal movement, with it's tide rising and receding by about 5 inches every half an hour. The lake itself was formed due to glacial movements millennia ago and remains one of Queenstown's most viewed attractions.Tourists and locals love taking a cruise on the Earnslaw, a steamer ship which cruises around the lake every day, offering the visitors some fascinating views and panoramas. The lake's shores are also a great spot to relax and take a dip in during the summers.
It was New Zealand's first commercial ski field, and is another fantastic example of Queenstown's reputation as a great ski resort. Coronet peak is frequented by many throughout the ski season for some fun and exhilarating action. It has got top class facilities, and is known for it's stunning weaving terrains suited to the requirements of all difficulties. The snowmaking on the peak is also pretty intensive throughout the ski season.
The town takes care of many wishes of adrenaline junkies. But for the ultimate adrenaline seeker, nothing will ever beat a skydiving experience. NZONE provides this mind boggling experience of jumping from a plane at a height of 15000 ft. After a freefall, you will witness the beauty of the Remarkables and the lake as you sail over Queenstown in your parachute. NZONE provides you with all the equipment you need to perform this activity, and of course this life changing experience will captured on roll.
AJ Hackett Bungy:
The town is home to the highest bungy jump in New Zealand, and also has 2 other jumps of varying heights. It provide some fantastic adventure activities in the entire country, and none better than those here in Queenstown. You can never ever run out of adrenaline pumping activities in Queenstown, and this just goes on to prove that! Not just that, Queenstown also has the world's biggest rope swing, has a bridge climb, and even a tandem zip ride.
The Skippers Canyon is the historic place where the one of the largest gold rushes of Ortago took place. These lead to the meteoric rise of the region around Skippers Canyon, towns such as Charlestown and Skippers Point came up. But as soon as the gold rush died, so did these towns and their ruins can still be seen in the region. Skippers canyon, today, is a major tourist attraction. Some of it's most famous activities are the Jet Boat Tour or the Scenic Tour. As the name suggests, the Jet Boat Tour is an exciting way to explore the canyons, weaving through the narrow water of the Shotover while witnessing some spectacular scenery. The scenic tour takes you through the historic land of the gold rush, and also Winky's Museum and Sainsbury Gold Claim. It is also famous for it's many hiking and biking trails.
This majestic 32 km hike is a favourite of many a hiker. Due to the extensive time that's required to complete the track, there are camping sites and huts along the way for the hikers. Most of the track goes through the ridges on the High Saddle, overlapping the Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Fiordlands National Park. This route is also often called a 'tramping' route. Along the way you'll come across many beautiful sceneries, and native NZ birds accompanying you for the distance.
Skycity Wharf Casino:
It is the best way to relax after an adventurous day, have good food with drinks, and enjoy a good round of casino games. The Waterside Bar and Bistro also stands adjacent to the casino, for a complete and fulfilling night. After a day of adventure sports and adrenaline pumping activities, give your luck a shot! The Skycity Wharf Casino is a famous and extremely elaborate casino in Queenstown, complete with more than 70 machines and of course the classic casino tables like poker, blackjack roulette and so on. This casino's fabulous lakeside location makes it an even better experience.
Adrenaline Forest Christchurch:
If you're in the Christchurch region and looking for a bit of a rush combined with a physical challenge, then the Christchurch brand of the popular Adrenalin Forest – a fun-filled high wire/rope, zip line and flying fox attraction set amongst a great forest setting may be just what the doctor ordered. The attraction blends freedom, fear and fun into a single entertaining package and is easily reached from the Christchurch CBD in around a 20 minute drive to its spot near the coast.
Visit Arthur's Pass:
Bridging the New Zealand South Islands east and west coasts is the spectacular Arthur's Pass, which crosses over the Southern Alps and makes for one of the most scenic drives in the entire country. Passing through the aptly-named Arthur's Pass National Park, this roadway reaches over 900m in height at its greatest point and provides some awe-inspiring vantage points from which to take a slice of the the alpine scenery that can be found on New Zealand-themed postcards worldwide.
Orana Wildlife Park:
The Christchurch region's take on an open-range zoo, Orana Wildlife Park serves as one of the best general animal-focused attractions in New Zealand while also offering a range of specalised animal encounters that can be booked for more intimate experiences with various kinds of wildlife. Set amongst an expansive 80 hectare area that provides an impressive amount of space for the animals to inhabit that strive to maintain the natural essence of their native habitats in the wild. A refreshing change from the typical caged-in zoo experiences, Orana Wildlife Park provides an emphasis on interaction with the animals that you seldom get at many other similar facilities such as lion and rhino feeding. Big enclosures with lots of space mean happier and more active animals, and more active animals make for an overall more enjoyable experience than more fenced-in alternatives.
Punting on the Avon River with Welcome Aboard Christchurch:
No, we're not talking about kicking a ball or placing a bet on your favourite horse – where Christchurch's Avon River is concerned, “punting” refers to what has become one of the most iconic sights in the Christchurch region: a venice-style gondola trip down the river's serene waters. Operated by Welcome Aboard Christchurch and based from the city's historic Antigua Boat Sheds, with a punting session you'll step aboard a classic-style punt boat – a flat-bottomed boat pushed along by a pole - accompanied by a qualified punting pilot in full Edwardian-themed clothing and head on a leisurely cruise past some of Christchurch's key highlights.
Quake City Christchurch:
It takes a special kind of positivity and can-do attitude to take one of the biggest disasters in your city's history and re-purpose it into an attraction in itself, but that's exactly what Christchurch's Quake City is. While it's sad for visitors to see the devastation that has hit what is otherwise a beautiful place, the sense of optimism from Christchurch's locals that is prevalent throughout the city is even more focused here; the Quake City exhibit aims to add to the understanding of the general public of how the city and its inhabitants were affected by – and dealt with – the quakes.
It's an incredible interesting and well-curated look at the impact the natural world can have on human development, with a series of educational and entertaining displays, videos and other exhibits that aim to cater to both adults and kids alike.
Being one of the more mountainous countries you'll come across in your travels, it only makes sense that kiwis love their gondolas (or cable cars, as they're also known) as there are few better ways to get up above the city and its surrounds for some incredibly panoramic views. Christchurch's gondola is no exception in this regard, and provides the best possible vantage point (short of embarking on a strenuous height) of the cityscape, the Port Hills, the glittering harbour of Lyttleton, and even the impressive Southern Alps off in the distance. Once you've reached the top of the summit, you'll have the opportunity to participate in some activities or visit a few attractions such as the Red Rock Cafe (a fully licensed venue ideal for enjoying a refreshing beverage while soaking in some great views) or take a ride on the Time Tunnel (a short trip that showcases a reconstruction of the area's historical background).
Coastal Pacific Scenic Railway NZ:
The Coastal Pacific Scenic Railway combines travel with spectacular views, taking guests alongside both mountains and sea and is one of the best ways to get from Christchurch to many other popular South Island destinations (and vice versa). The path of the train covers all manner of landscapes and passes wonderfully close to the Pacific Ocean to the east, meaning you'll get a sample of New Zealand's rugged and untamed coastal regions which don't get nearly enough credit as a sightseeing highlight for those travelling in the country. The train travels all the way from Christchurch up to Picton (which serves as the water-based gateway to the neighbouring North Island) and where you choose to get off is entirely up to you; it's even possible to form a wholesome itinerary that will get you out and about for some exploration and then back to Christchurch within the course of a single day.
The Court Theatre:
A long-time staple of the Christchurch entertainment scene, the Court Theatre was recently relocated to premises outside the city CBD in the suburb of Addington due to the impact of the earthquakes. This has had no effect on the quality of the performances conducted at the venue, however; offering the full gamut of stage-based entertainment, the Court Theatre puts on shows that range from comedy to classical to contemporary to kids, and everything in between. Comprised of a troupe of actors who are both talented and passionate about what they do, shows at the Court Theatre are of a generally high standard and – with tremendous variety of performances – there's a show typically available to appeal to all types and tastes.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens:
Christchurch is affectionately known as the Garden City, and there's perhaps no place within its boundaries that better reflects this than its wonderful Botanic Gardens. Boasting the widest collection of both native and exotic plants in all of New Zealand, Christchurch's botanic gardens is huge; it offers a diverse array of plant life, trees, ponds and much more that's impossible to take in within a single day and which has existed for over 150 years. The gardens are easily reachable due to their location in the heart of the city and lie at the heart amongst a variety of interlocking parks that are great for letting yourself get lost in on a sunny day or relaxing for a picnic. As one of the few places in Christchurch that was unaffected by the earthquakes, the Botanic Gardens are still in tip-top condition and offer the same abundance of both plant and animal life they always have; meticulously looked after and well-maintained, they're a place of serenity and diverse and beautiful colour contrasts. The rose garden in particular is a popular highlight, especially during the spring when it's in full bloom and is full of lovely aromas.
Cashel Street "Pop-Up" Mall:
It's the Cashel Street Container mall. Dubbed the Re:START movement by local organisers, the district serves as new home to many businesses that were formerly situated in the centre of the city that were adversely affected by the quakes, and together they form a contemporary hub of activity that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Formed almost entirely out of repurposed shipping containers that have been laid out in a modern-artistic fashion, this part of Christchurch is like few other spots in the world with a blend of bold colours, unusual layouts and prominent, proud signage. In fact, if you'd never visited the city before, you'd be surprised that Christchurch had been hit so hard by disaster at all; it's certainly not reflected in the mood of this district as it's brimming with character, live music, street performances and markets every day of the week. Each container offers its own little spin on the theme, with some host to delightful cafes and others boutique fashion stores typically decked out in vibrant colours.
Placed equal outside the shore of main Auckland crossed from Devonport is Rangitoto Island, a firey island noted for its excellent exploring trails and anatomic Auckland aspect.Around 10 trails are available for island exploration.Prepare for stunning vistas and a steep, yet doable hike when visiting Rangitoto Island. If you're not keen on hiking, travellers recommend opting for Fullers' Volcanic Explorer Tour, which includes ferry transit from downtown Auckland and a four-wheel drive road train tour of the island.
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park:
Insert along the Northern Island's western shore about 20 miles away sincere central Auckland, Waitakere expanse town lawn boasts 40,000 acres of jungle and coasts.Complex from hiking and biking to bird-watching and strolling along the park's black-sand beaches can be enjoyed here. Must-see landscapes in this sprawling parkland include Piha and Whatipu beaches and Fairy Falls and Cascade Kauri waterfalls.
Fantasy New York's main Park but with a New Zealand curve, and you've got Cornwall Park. The sprawling park, which sits on a volcanic cone, offers an abundance of greenery, plus unique features like the remnants of a pre-European Maori fort and the remains of Sir John Logan Campbell, the park's donor. One of the park's extremely capital is its lookout point: Don't leave without expansive in the views at One Tree Hill.Families will appreciate the park's relaxed atmosphere, picnic areas, playground and wildlife.
One of the finest attractions in Auckland, left out the question, is Mount Eden. This dormant volcano, which is totally capped with grass, offers some of the best views of downtown Auckland. It's also the biggest natural point in Auckland.Though views are sublime no matter what time of day you visit, for the best vistas, former travellers recommend visiting during sunrise or sunset. Also, wear complacent shoes since you'll need to walk uphill to reach the attraction's summit.
Auckland Art Gallery:
Auckland's premier art Archieve has a powerful glass-and-wood atrium shoot onto its 1887 French-chateau frame. It showcases the best of NZ art, along with important works by Pieter Bruegel the Younger, Guido Reni, Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin and Matisse. Highlights include the intimate 19th-century portraits of tattooed Māori subjects by Charles Goldie, and the starkly dramatic text-scrawled canvasses of Colin McCahon.
One Tree Hill:
This firecie cone was the isthmus’ key pā and the amazing fortress in the country. At the top (182m) there are 360-degree views and the grave of John Logan Campbell, who gifted the land to the city in 1901 and requested that a memorial be finished to the Māori citizen on the apex. Nearby is the stump of the last ‘one tree’. Allow time to explore surrounding Cornwall Park with its mature trees and historic Acacia Cottage (1841).
Wallace Arts Centre:
Hold in a amazing 1879 building with aspect to One Tree Hill and the Manukau Harbour, this arts centre is adored with modern New Zealand art from an broad exclusive collection, which is changed every four to six weeks. Have lunch on the veranda at the excellent Homestead Cafe and wander among the magnificent trees in the surrounding park. The art is also very accessible, ranging from a life-size skeletal rugby ruck to a vibrant Ziggy Stardust painted on glass.
Tawharanui Regional Park:
A slightly remove road leads to this 588-hectare capital at the end of a peninsula. This special place is an open sanctuary for native birds, protected by a pest-proof fence, while the northern coast is a marine park (bring a snorkel). There are plenty of walking tracks (1½ to four hours) but the main attraction is Anchor Bay, one of the region’s finest white-sand beaches.