From mountain peaks to deep fiords to rolling plains, New Zealand’s landscapes offer incomparable beauty and adventure and excitement for you. It’s an unspoiled nation of remarkable vistas, with more than half the country protected as national park or reserve land.
Just to get an idea of how large New Zealand is...it is almost the same size as the state of California. The country is made up of three islands: the North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island. Each area is known for its own special treasures. Why don't you go EXPERIENCE it for yourself!!!
Our own Mary Malsch from First Choice Travel and Cruise was lucky enough to experience a trip of a lifetime in New Zealand!
Ask Mary all about her passion...New Zealand and Australia!!
Mary and the TRAVEL2 rep Judy Sweet laugh about the
adventure and great times while in New Zealand.
New Zealand Regions
The North Island, Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua
The North Island is home to the international gateway, Auckland – a city located between two harbors and devoted to sailing culture. Auckland is a cosmopolitan city, with a population of over one million. It boasts a thriving cultural scene, with museums and galleries. The Auckland Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Maori artifacts.
In the far north, the Bay of Islands is home to uncrowded beaches, ancient kauri forests, and fruit-growing areas. It’s a great place for golf, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and dolphin watching. The region is also home to much of New Zealand’s colonial history, including the Waitangi Treaty House, location of the treaty between the British and the Maori — the country’s first settlers, Polynesians who arrived about a thousand years ago.
Rotorua, toward the center of the North Island, is an area steeped in Maori culture. Visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Centre, or take part in an evening "Hangi" (feast) with a traditional song and dance show. You can even visit a replica Maori village, to learn what life was like in New Zealand before the arrival of European settlers. The region’s active geothermal features include boiling mud pools, spouting geysers, and natural spa pools. Between Rotorua and Auckland are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, featuring yawning caverns filled with stalagtites and stalagmites, and an underground river lit only by the eerie glow of tiny creatures high above.
At the southern end of the North Island lies Wellington the capital of New Zealand. Here, you can visit the Parliament buildings, botanic gardens, or the acclaimed Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. With over 350 restaurants, bars, and cafés, Wellington has more dining choices than New York City, why wait?
The South Island, Christchurch and Queenstown
The South Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most striking landscapes… perfect for outdoor adventures.
Christchurch, the “Garden City,” is also called the “most English city outside England.” The largest city on the South Island, it is filled with beautiful parks and gardens, through which the Avon River runs. Whale-watching, visiting the International Antarctic Centre, punting on the Avon, hot air ballooning, and wine tasting are some highlights of a visit to Christchurch.
Gayle Zielke, president of First Choice Travel and Cruise said the Antarctic Centre was a great stop to visit and one of best places to find souvenirs for the whole family.
In Christchurch, the Gothic Revival stone buildings of the Arts Center house more than 40 specialty shops and studios, plus art galleries, theaters, and art-house cinemas. It’s also an excellent place to stop.
Hot Air Ballooning
Get a bird's eye view of Christchurch and surrounds in a hot air balloon. An early daybreak start affords you pristine views of Mt. Cook and the National Park Mountains, and a full panoramic view of the entire Canterbury Plains. Your tour concludes with a picnic-style champagne breakfast.
Enjoy the Inner City Tram Tour. Use the trams to explore the must-see attractions, including the Arts Center, Museum, Botanic Gardens and much more. The trams have been refurbished to their original pristine condition, and are moving antiques. The Tramway also offers a unique dining experience onboard the Tramway Restaurant.
Toward the center of the South Island, Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Activities include jetboat rides, garden tours, lake cruises, helicopter flights, bungy jumping, golf, skiing, gondola rides, guided walks, fishing, skydiving, wine tasting, and much more. If there’s any outdoor activity you crave, chances are you can find it in Queenstown! By far the most popular activity is the trip to Milford Sound, including a launch cruise on this stunning fiord.
Dunedin, New Zealand’s oldest city, is located on the southern coast. It is home to Edwardian heritage buildings, museums, galleries, and New Zealand’s first university. The nearby Otago Peninsula is a haven for wildlife, including seals, dolphins, albatross, and penguins.
Discovering Queenstown, New Zealand's Adventure Capital!
Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, boasts practically every outdoor and adventure activity imaginable - bungy jumping, fishing, golf, hang-gliding, hiking, horseback riding, jet boating, rafting, skiing, skydiving and more! For relaxation, rejuvenate with a spa treatment, shop for arts and crafts in nearby Arrowtown, or explore the surrounding Central Otago area, New Zealand’s fastestgrowing wine region. Queenstown is a delightful year-round adventure town situated on stunning Lake Wakatipu with a backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain Range.
Milford Sound Red Boat Cruises
Nestled in the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is described as the “Eighth Natural Wonder of the World”. The only way to truly appreciate the splendour of this area is to enjoy a spectacular Milford Sound Red Boat Cruise. A cruise is the perfect way to discover the beautiful scenery of this famous fiord, including the incredible Mitre Peak and stunning waterfalls that crash down into the serene waters. Wildlife such as dolphins, seals and penguins are often seen in their natural environment. The Milford Sound Red Boats cruise along the southern side of Milford Sound out to the Tasman Sea and return up the northern side, stopping at all points of interest including Bowen Falls, Stirling Falls and Seal Point.
Great Sights Milford Sound Day Tour
Travel to Milford Sound with Great Sights and enjoy a Milford Sound Red Boat Cruise. The Great Sights trip from Queenstown and Te Anau operates daily.. 365 days of the year.
The Encounter Nature Cruise doesn't travel a set path like other cruises. They go where the wildlife is, and stop when there is something to see. Adapt to the conditions to make sure you get to see the most interesting aspects of this unique environment.
They are also the only nature cruise to go into Deepwater Basin to view the end of the Arthur River and the end of the famous Milford Track.
NEW ZEALAND KIWI TIPS
Kiwi's are the nickname for people from New Zealand. The name comes from the flightless bird which is native to New Zealand and also the national symbol.
English is the common language of New Zealanders. The Maori people have their own tongue, which is the country's only indigenous language.
You must have a passport valid for at least 6 months following your departure from New Zealand. A visa is not required for US citizens for stays under 90 days.
Pacific Standard Time + 19 hours (+18 hours during Pacific Daylight Time).
Monday through Thursday, 9am-5:30pm. Fridays, 9am-9pm. Exceptions: In some areas, late night shopping is Thursday, and in most cities shops are open Saturday mornings. Some shopping malls are open Sunday. New Zealand is perhaps best-known for its sheepskin products, but you will also find paua shell (abalone) and greenstone (jade) jewelry, woodcarvings, and many other handicrafts.
Tipping is not the custom, nor are service charges added. In restaurants, for special service, 10% is an appropriate amount. For taxi drivers or porters, NZ$1 will suffice for normal service.
Temperate climate - subtropical in the north,and colder in the alpine regions of the south.
The traditional Maori feast is the hangi - food cooked in baskets, in the ground, over hot stones, similar to a luau. There's no shortage of good meat and fresh vegetables. Fish and shellfish are always available, although if you are a trout lover, you must catch your own. The Bluff oyster is seasonal (April to July), but cultivated rock oysters are available fresh almost year 'round. A traditional dessert is the pavlova - meringue covered in loads of whipped cream, topped off with fresh fruit. The major cities have a wide range of excellent restaurants serving cuisine of many different nationalities.
Here are some interesting comments and pictures from a few "NEW KIWI'S"!!
The trip to New Zealand was fabulous, we do wish we would have had more time, which you had told us about, but still it was awesome. Cindi
Rick Berndsen and Lori Nelson visited Australia and New Zealand on their vacation. All their pictures were beautiful and sounds like they tried to see and do everything they could on this ADVENTURE!
Imagine visiting this beautiful waterfall and HOT AIR Ballooning in Australia/ New Zealand!!! Then hop on the Bush Buggy and visit Milford Sound!!! These two are living LARGE!
Go check out the waterfalls in Milford Sound!!!
Lori and Rick met some new friends on this trip, some with 2 legs and others with fur and fins!! See our Australia page for more!
Lori is holding a Kola bear from a city north of Auckland New Zealand and the one with me in front of the big tree is from a botanical garden in Christchurch. We think BIG Rick sure looked really tiny compared to those big babies!!
Gayle, I just looked over my pictures of our trip to Australia and New Zealand and I would love to do it AGAIN!!!!
New Zealand started with Princess Cruises going through the Fjordlands National Park. What a fantastic place!!! Waterfalls, rain forrests, views galore!! It was so neat to view from the ship and then turn around and see the other side from our balcony all over again.
We missed Dunedin (would have loved to see that!) because the ship wasn't able to stop in port because of high waves. No worries, we were able to visit Christchurch which was my favorite place!! We toured the bay around the city fantastic views- overlooks and all. Then we stopped at the Anartica museum. We didn't get to see the whole museum because it is an all day tour and we were short of time, but we made up for it by shopping for tons of souvenirs and good stuff for ourselves. We saw the most beautiful gardens and homes and private school. It was quite emotional to see the beams from the New York World Trade Center. It was a gift from the NY firefighters to New Zealand firefighter for a memorial to our lost men. Then we went to Tauranga which is a great beach town. I would love to spend 2 or3 days there. There we went to a Kiwi farm, hey who knew kiwi's (the fruit) were grown on trees! Then we went to a village of ancient islanders. I think they are the Moriori tribe. Then off to see the Geisers which smelled like sulpher.
It was all great!!! I would recommend going to New Zealand to everyone. We didn't get to see much of Auckland since that was our last day of the cruise. If I was going again I would stay in Auckland a few days and then going back to Sydney. I definately would love to stay in Sydney again. Everyone was so friendly and helpful there. They were friendly the whole trip... from cab drivers to servers in restaurants to people on the street.
EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND AT LEAST ONCE-- IT IS A TRIP OF A LIFETIME. COOKIE AND BOB BROCK
Mary- Here is the photo of my jump, I was jumping at 14,000 ft. We were hour away from Auckland, New Zealand. Karen
TALK ABOUT ADVENTURE IN NEW ZEALAND!!!
Hi Mary....we made it home safely. It is amazing how 15 days can go so quickly. All I can say is that it was an awesome journey!!!!
Our only disappointment was the weather...unseasonable cool Feb- was only in the low 50's in Queenstown (when it was in the 80's the week before and scheduled to be in the 70's the day after we left). Also, unfortunately our Milford Sound flight-cruise-flight was cancelled due to windy conditions on our last day.
There were many, many highlights which I would be happy to share with you, along with some thoughts for improvements for the next traveler.
Thanks again for organizing this trip .
HONEYMOON IN NEW ZEALAND
I just wanted to write a quick thank you to you for all the work and answering of questions to you did to make our honeymoon a complete success! It was absolutely wonderful and currently we are waiting for pictures to come back. Once I go through them I will send you a couple of our favorites!
Thanks so much!
Ashley and Marc
4-wheeler ride just south of Kaikoura...our very favorite excursion of the whole trip!! Check out the highlights from their honeymoon in NZ!!
- Mt. Eden in Auckland
- Park by Auckland Museum
- Outside Auckland Museum
- Walk on the beach in Paihia
- Walk on beach in Paihia
- Rotorua - Te Puia thermal village - Pohutu Geyser
- Huka Falls, Taupo
- Misson Vineyard - Napier
- 4-wheeler ride just south of Kaikoura...our very favorite excursion of the whole trip!!
- Real Journey's Day Cruise of Fjords
-Skipper's Canyon Jet Boat Ride out of Queenstown
If you want more...we have more. Also if you want more options on activities that we did for future reference we would be happy to offer them up!! Ashley