New Zealand is well known for its many attractions, from extreme sports to the warm, friendly people. However, one of the biggest draw cards has always been the vast and varied landscape. With its natural beauty on display in so many different environments, it would be easy to miss some of the lesser known but nonetheless spectacular sights.
Beginning in the far North, Tane Mahuta is the oldest known kauri tree in New Zealand, believed to be up to 2,500 years old. Kauri are a native coniferous variety and Tane Mahuta, or ‘Lord of the Forest’ is over 160 metres tall. Found only five minutes along a walking track in one of the native forests of Northland, it has a special place in Maori folklore. With a circumference of nearly 14 metres, the awe inspiring sight indeed seems like something from a legend.
On the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, numerous golden sand beaches draw visitors from around the country and across the world. However, while Hot Water Beach is a typical East Coast surf spot, it has one special addition. At low tide, geothermal springs run naturally heated water through the sand. Visitors can hire spades or just scoop out their own natural hot tubs right there on the shore, mixing the seawater with the springs to enjoy a spa experience at the beach.
Further south, Hawkes Bay is renowned for its vineyards, architecture, and sunny climate. It also boasts the largest mainland colony of Gannets in the world. The Cape Kidnappers seabird sanctuary homes over 6,000 pairs of the distinctive gull and can be viewed over the summer and autumn months. Access is along the rugged and majestic coastline where the birds wheel and dive in the surf, and the guided tours use specially built trailers towed behind modified farm tractors, adding a rustic touch to the experience.
In the South Island, the coastal town of Kaikoura was founded by settlers on the whaling industry but has a new lease of life now educating visitors about these magnificent animals. Whale watching trips take travellers out from the coast to witness the spectacular marine mammals in their natural environment, and back on the peninsula a fur seal colony provides an opportunity to see more of the marine wildlife.
In the lower South Island, Lake Te Anau is the country’s second largest body of water, sitting tranquilly on the doorstep of the magnificent southern fjords. However it is also home to an extensive network of caverns populated with glow worms. Accessible only by a cruise across the lake, the caves are serene and breathtaking, and in the darkness the roof appears like the night sky as the glow worms light up.
So while many around the world associate New Zealand with majestic mountains and sparkling rivers, there is still more beauty to be discovered in this magical landscape for travellers willing to look.
This article on New Zealand places of interest was supplied by “Just Paul” from Constant Content.
Related article: Activities in New Zealand