New Zealand Travel Guide
“Thank you. We had a great time on the New Zealand Gourmet Tour. We plan to come back in the next three years. You provided us with superior service. Thank you again.” – Floyd Brock (USA)
To help you identify New Zealand’s cities and regions, we’ve divided the country into 18 popular destinations.
Many of our New Zealand tours take in all 18 locations! If you don’t have enough time to see them all, then take a moment to familiarise yourself with our country and to see what captures your imagination and feeds your sense of adventure. Click on the regions below to discover more. Information on many of these destinations is also accessible from our tour itinerary pages.
- Name: Aotearoa/New Zealand
- Population: 4 million
- Area: 270,534 sq km
- Capital City: Wellington (North Island)
- Largest City: Auckland (Pop. 1.4 million)
New Zealand lies around 1,600 km’s from Australia’s eastern coast (a 3 1/2 hour flight) and 9,000 to 12,000 from all Pacific Rim destinations. Auckland has the busiest of the several airports servicing international travellers. Peak travel months are December – February.
You’ll find a variety of awesome landscapes in New Zealand, all within easy reach of each other. Spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forest, volcanic plateau, miles of coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches – it’s all here. No wonder New Zealand is becoming so popular as a location for movies!
Lying in the south-west Pacific, New Zealand consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. In addition, Stewart Island and many smaller islands lie offshore. The North Island has a ‘spine’ of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area. The massive Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island. To the east of the Southern Alps is the rolling farmland of Otago and Southland, and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains.
From Long Sandy Beaches to Wild, Rugged Coastlines
New Zealand has over 15,000 kilometres of beautiful and varied coastline. In the Far North and on most of the East Coast of the North Island you’ll find long sandy beaches perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. The North Island’s West Coast has dark sandy beaches, with sand heavy in iron. The north of the South Island has some beautiful sandy beaches, while the coastline around the rest of the South Island tends to be wilder and more rugged.
Mountain Range to Fertile Farmland
About a fifth of the North Island and two-thirds of the South Island are mountains. The existence of a ‘spine’ of mountain ranges throughout New Zealand is also due to the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. Stretching from the north of the North Island to the bottom of the South, these mountains are caused by the collision of the Australian and Pacific Plates.
Over millions of years, alluvial deposits (eroded from the mountains by rivers) formed the vast Canterbury Plains in the South Island and a number of smaller plains in the North. These alluvial plains contain some of New Zealand’s most fertile and productive farmland.
Glaciers of Grinding Ice
New Zealand’s Southern Alps have a number of glaciers, the largest being Tasman glacier, which you can view by taking a short walk from Mount Cook village (or enjoy a Glacier Explorer tour which is included in many of our self drive tours). New Zealand’s most famous glaciers are the Franz Josef and Fox on the South Island’s West Coast. Gouged out by moving ice over thousands of years, these spectacular glaciers are easily accessible to mountaineers and hikers. You can walk up to the glaciers or do a heli-hike — fly up by helicopter and walk down.
Over thousands of years, the process of subduction has seen parts of the New Zealand landscape become submerged. The Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland are examples of high mountain ranges that have ‘sunk’ into the sea, creating spectacular sounds and fiords. These areas provide some of New Zealand most picturesque scenery, with steep lush hills plunging down to the deep still bays below. Clear, deep still water surrounded by beautiful bush makes these areas ideal for boating and kayaking.
New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country. Its climate is dominated by two main geographical features — the mountains and the sea! Locals say the term “Four Seasons in one day” was coined especially for us! Read More
Top Five Visitor Countries to New Zealand
- Australia 1,111,000
- United Kingdom 220,000
- United States of America 188,000
- China 132,000
- Japan 79,000