There are few places on earth where you feel the power and presence of Mother Nature more than New Zealand. This is a visually stunning country, made of two islands, which are packed to the rafters with a stunning array of mind blowing sights. From lakes and waterfalls to hot pools, caves and glaciers, there’s no better place to appreciate Mother Nature’s dramatic presence.
Here are three of New Zealand’s most impressive offerings.
Just a short drive from picturesque Lake Taupo, on the North island, Rotorua is a unique place. On the approach, the first thing visitors notice is the smell of the natural wonder that they are about to experience: the famous thermal pools, a favourite amongst travellers.
Visitors to New Zealand will be struck by how obvious the juxtaposition is between the numerous natural wonders ripe for exploration and the opportunities to relax in the shadow of spectacular scenery. Rotorua is home to one of the most famous geothermal areas in the country and as such it is the perfect place to relax before and after taking advantage of all the activities on offer.
As well as hosting one of New Zealand’s oldest mountain biking networks, this area is brimming with forest walks, beautiful lakes and the impressive Pohutu Geyser. ‘Pohutu’ means explosion and it ‘explodes’ up to 20 times daily. Spend the day hiking, climbing or taking a bike ride before slipping into the famous mud pools at the end of the day and relaxing in the surroundings of the natural beauty you have been exploring.
In addition to all of the natural beauty, don’t miss the unique cultural experiences on offer here. The area is home to a living Maori village and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute where you can learn about Maori culture and try your hand at traditional carving and weaving. Round the adventure off with a taste of the local cuisine – a meal cooked in a traditional way on hot stones called Hangi.
Beyond Rotorua are the lesser-known wonders that are the Welcome Flat Hot Pools on the Copland Track. Here, they boast four pools of varying temperatures, surrounded by forest glades, mountain peaks and alpine woodland. Access to the pools is at the end of the trail so be prepared for a steady hike: the reward justifies the effort.
Located in Coromandel, Hot Water Beach is perhaps the most famous and interesting pool in the area. Here you will arm yourself with a spade and dig your own hot water lagoon! As you make your way through the surface layers of the sand, you’ll notice the temperature of the water rising. If the tide is low, the best place to create your own pool is between the shoreline and the small, rocky outcrop, which lies just off the beach.
The start of the Copland Track is situated on State Highway 6 approximately 18 miles from Fox Glacier, making this the perfect ending to a trip to one of the glaciers featured below.
South Island Glaciers
The South Island is a playground for intrepid visitors, and there are few experiences quite like the adventure of scaling a glacier. Two of the mightiest attractions of the dramatic Southern Island are the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, both of which are located on the west side of the island. A range of tours are available, some of which are challenging hikes.
Half and full-day trips are available and hikers are provided with boots, crampons and an experienced guide. These trails are not for the faint hearted but the incredible views make the sudden increase in heart rate and adrenaline levels worthwhile. For a slightly different experience, combine your hike with a helicopter flight to see the wonder of nature from a more dramatic angle.
New Zealand is a truly spectacular country and showcases the beauty of the planet like nowhere else. Those keen on exploring the great outdoors cannot fail to be enchanted by Mother’s Nature work – the perfect combination of dramatic adventure and pure relaxation.