General Information About New Zealand

This section contains a comprehensive summary of the most relevant information that would be of interest to anyone who may be planning to visit New Zealand in the future and will answer many of those questions that you may have in relation to different aspects of New Zealand. General Information is provided under the various headings which we are sure that you will find to be very informative and of assistance.

General Information About New Zealand

New Zealand could be considered a microcosm of the attractions of the world. It has a spectacularly beautiful landscape which includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, steaming geysers and boiling mud, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush "kauri" rainforests with some of the world's tallest and oldest trees. Heavily involved in the outdoors, the national image of New Zealand has been largely shaped by the involvement of the local populace in a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. It provides activities such as swimming with dolphins, watching whales, seeing or walking on ice glaciers, walking in lush, green rainforests, fishing for trout in cold and pristine waters, white-water rafting, cave rafting, rock & mountain climbing, sky diving, snow & water skiing - it is not surprising then that New Zealand is the birthplace of bungy-jumping. It satisfies our need for solitude and relaxation and can send our adrenalin soaring with its thrills and adventures. The major cites each have their own unique character, a vibrant and growing cultural and nightlife - live theatre, dancing and arty cafes. Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4.1 million - making it one of the world's least crowded countries. A temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it an ideal year round holiday destination.

Highlights Be spellbound by the mystic Milford Sound, swim with the dolphins in the Bay of Islands, go snowboarding at Queenstown, marvel at the natural steaming kitchens of Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, enjoy the vibrant night life in the metros, binge at a Maori hangi (feast) and enjoy the spectacular views of the Southern Alps mountains as you climb over the Arthur's Pass while traveling on the Trans Alpine Express train to West Coast.

Best time to visit: Summer and winter temperatures vary by only 10C over most of the country, making New Zealand an ideal year round destination. Summers are great for rafting, snorkeling, diving and kayaking. Snow is abundant in winters and makes for great snow skiing on the many ski areas of the South Island or the mountains of the North Island.

We offer tours covering the whole of New Zealand. From standard tours to a self drive vacation, which give you a lot of freedom to explore on your own, to more luxurious private tours staying at exclusive lodges or boutique bed & breakfasts. 

Our itineraries cover some of these places:
Whakarewarewa: This is a thermal village, where the Maoris prepare and cook food using natural steam vents, bathe in mineral springs, and entertain tourists with traditional Maori song and dance. Attractions are the world famous penny drivers, the Pohutu and the Prince of Wales geysers.

Dunedin: Dunedin, New Zealand's oldest city possesses a unique combination of cultural riches, fine architecture, and world famous wildlife reserves on the Otago Peninsula. Soaring cathedral spires, a Gothic style railway station, fine banks, office buildings, a nineteenth century castle, old university buildings and a neo-gothic convent are amongst the city's architectural treasures. Its art galleries and museums contain some of the best collections in New Zealand. Many aspects of Dunedin have a close association with its Scottish heritage.

Wellington: It is a picture perfect city set between a magnificent harbor and rolling green hills. It is also a compact city where funky shops, exciting galleries and great restaurants are within easy walking distance in the central city area around Courtenay Place & Waterfront.

Fox Glacier Region: The Fox Glacier, about 14 kilometres long, drops from 2750 metres above sea level to about 245 metres. Both glaciers are fed from the same neve (snow catchment area), which is located on a plateau high in the Southern Alps. The neve is up to 300 metres deep and forces its huge mass down under gravity. As the glacier moves the intense pressure it creates opens up crevices and splits in the ice.

Milford Sound: The Milford Track starts from the head of Lake Te Anau, crossing Mackinnon Pass and descends to Milford Sound with a side trip to the 630 metre high Sutherland Falls. Milford Sound is a fiord, whose granite walls tower to the skies. Even the road into Milford via the Eglinton and Upper Hollyford valleys, is a scenic extravaganza with beech forest climbing steep slopes to snow-capped summits. In winter the Homer Tunnel approaches can be a complete whiteout fairytale scene. Mitre Peak is a glaciated, sheer-sided slab of rock, shaped like a pyramid, which soars 1,700 meters to the sky. The waterway's entire 22 km length is enclosed with similar vertical rock faces topped by mountain peaks. It is a mystical, breathtaking scene and is perhaps New Zealand's most iconic landmark.

Franz Josef: Franz Josef Glacier is the focal point for the Westland National Park and the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. It is an unusually steep and heavily crevassed glacier and is the world's steepest and fastest flowing commercially guided glacier.

Westland National Park: Westland National Park includes a complete cross-section of the landscape of the South Island of New Zealand, west of the main divide, from the highest summits of the Southern Alps down to the sea. At Fox and Franz Joseph it is possible to get good views of the glaciers from high points, and to go very close to the glaciers' terminal tongues. A few longer walks lead to places above the snowline with extensive views of the glaciers, the main divide, the lowland forests and the sea. Westland National Park retains some of the most extensive tracts of native forest in New Zealand, especially lowland rimu and kahikatea forest. There is a choice of walks to discover and enjoy these magnificent places. Especially popular are the walks to Lakes Matheson and Gault. These two small lakes are set in old moraines and surrounded by dense forest, their dark waters reflecting perfect mirror images of the glaciated peaks of the Southern Alps. There is a large heron colony in the park.

Beautiful Bay of Islands: The world famous Bay of Island with its sheltered anchorages and temperate climate has attracted sailors from around the world for over a century. Sleepy bays, protected inlets, sweeping stretches of golden sandy beaches, clear waters overflowing with an abundance of fish life... this is the essence of the Bay of Islands, a favourite with cruising yachtsmen.

Coromandel peninsula: The Coromandel, New Zealanders favourite destination, is within an hour's drive of the major centres of Auckland and Hamilton and their International Airports and yet the region is a world away from the hustle and bustle of those cities. Fabulous golden and white sand beaches with magnificent coastal scenery, a rugged, forest cloaked interior waiting to be explored are just some of the natural attractions that have people returning to The Coromandel time after time.

Kaikoura: The seaside settlement of Kaikoura, situated midway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island, is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow-capped for many months of the year. The unique combination of mountains and sea offers stunning coastal alpine scenery and a host of ecotourism oriented activities like whale watching, dolphin swimming, walks and much ore. Kaikoura is a relaxing place and offers cultural attractions with great gastronomic experiences.

Picton: Picton is the base for aquatic activities, including dolphin watch eco tours, and fishing excursions. The pretty port town is the terminal for the Cook Strait ferry and is well supplied with accommodation, cafes and restaurants, offering local seafood specialties.

Auckland
The largest and most populous city of New Zealand is one of the most exciting waterside cities in the world. It is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city that offers an abundance of activities for the adventurer, the nature follower, the backpacker or the pleasure seeker. A mere stroll down its main artery Queens Street is normally not enough, as exploration of its heart – the magnificent harbour would be necessary. Auckland is surrounded by water and covered by volcanic hills. The city has attracted immigrants from Asia, over the recent past which in turn has helped give Auckland a more cosmopolitan feel than any other New Zealand city.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
For more than 100 years the Glowworm Cave of Waitomo has attracted millions of people from all over the world. A small glowing insect no bigger than an average mosquito has fascinated and intrigued people from all walks of life. In an average year, 400,000 people travel to Waitomo to experience the trip of a lifetime. Well laid out scenic tracks through beautiful native bush surround the Caves, offer pleasant walks of varying distances.

Rotorua
This is one of the most famous destinations in New Zealand, and has a long history of welcoming visitors.
From the moment people arrive in Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. There is a scent of sulphur in the air, and at nearby geothermal hotspots there are spouting geysers, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching, and warm geothermal pools and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour.

Christchurch
The charm of Christchurch is derived from the River Avon, which runs through the centre of the town and also many of the suburbs. Walks along the banks of the Avon create an almost rural atmosphere right in the heart of the city. Christchurch is known as the "Garden City" for its many parks and gardens, most notable the centrally located, Hagley Park.

Mount Cook
At 3754 metres (12316 ft) this is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Mt. Cook is a continuous source of attraction for tourists, mountaineers and skiers alike. Enthusiasts can be transported to the high snow by ski planes and skiing is a year round activity. Scenic flights are also available with either fixed wing aircraft or helicopter, to view the scenery and a number of short walks can be taken in the area to enable visitors to enjoy the natural splendour and take in the fresh air and spectacular views of the mountains all around.

Queenstown
Situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu and nestled in a superb alpine setting, Queenstown is a year round holiday destination, where each season brings a distinctive mood. Tourists from around the world throng the narrow streets of the town, creating an extremely cosmopolitan atmosphere, which despite its modern hotels, shops and restaurants retains much of its colonial appearance. One early resident described it as "A town fit for a Queen" which was to lead to the name by which the town is now known.