New Zealand is really not about cities. Granted that Christchurch has stately old buildings and lovely gardens, and Auckland, "the City of Sails," has its many harbors, the fact remains that these are jumping-off places for the really magical sights and experiences of the hinterland. Travel north to the Bay of Islands to find picturesque harbors, superb sailing, and huge expanses of kauri forests. One of the world's finest golf courses, Kauri Cliffs, is found here offering, in addition to golf, comfortable, luxurious accommodations with world-class views.
The central North Island is the volcanic heart of New Zealand. It is here you will see the active geysers and mud pools of Rotorua, take a stunning flight to White Island to walk on an active volcano, or dig your own thermal pool at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Try blackwater rafting at Waitomo Caves, hike the six-hour Tongariro Crossing (Mt. Doom, Lord of the Rings location) or thrill to the excitement of a jet boat ride on the Waikato River. The majesty of the Southern Alps sets the stage for the scenic splendor of the South Island. Breathtaking vistas await you at every turn. We love to suggest self-driving at some time during your visit as this enables you to veer off the main trail to discover some of the wonders found off the beaten path. Pick your route - perhaps across the Arthur's Pass highway to the West Coast, then south through glacier country toward Queenstown. Stop for a scenic flight or a hike on Fox Glacier, walk around beautiful Lake Matheson, or spend a night at Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki to examine the coastal ecology of this unique region. Your ultimate destination on this drive is New Zealand's true adventure capital, Queenstown. All of the Southland's special alpine walks and adventure activities emanate from this bustling city on the shores of Lake Wakitipu.