The Caves of Waitomo
Waitomo is a small town 200 km. south of Auckland. It may be easy to overlook on the map, but there is good reason to set the GPS to do so. Beneath the mountains meandering in the landscape are the most adventurous, underground caves in man’s memory. The limestone caves vary in size and appearance.
They are a whole landscape in themselves with small rippling rivers and wall formations that tell stories. The most amazing thing about the caves of Waitomo you will find by looking up. Small, luminescent Sankthan snakes live here, and their presence creates a sparkling starry sky.
The luminescent green worms are a natural phenomenon that you only find by traveling to New Zealand. You can find them all over the country, but the Waitomo Caves are the absolute best place to experience the Sankthan snakes. You should probably set aside 2.5 hours for this stop. It may sound like a lot, but the caves are a breathtaking experience that you will want to have enough time for.
Tongariro National Park
In Tongariro National Park, we move through the bubbling New Zealand in the heart of the North Island. Here the volcanic activity can be felt, seen and smelled. The park is located in the south on The Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a belt of volcanic and earthquake activity. Tongariro is diverse. On one side of the sky-seeking volcanoes, nature is green and lush. The other side is barren and dry.
The beautiful surroundings of Tongariro National Park were seriously noticed as the park formed the backdrop for the famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings. It was easy to believe that the beautiful landscape from the films was artificially created, but it should turn out that this natural treasure could be experienced by traveling to New Zealand.
There are many different activities to do here. The national park, for example, is an obvious place to hike. You can take small trips lasting a few hours, day trips or the famous Northern-Circuit, which is a 3-4 day route. You can also try your hand at river rafting, kayaking or mountain biking. When the snow falls, Tongariro National Park is a great place to ski.
New Zealand National Museum, Te Papa
In 1998, New Zealand’s current National Museum, Te Papa, opened. If on your journey you want to get completely under the skin of the culture that prevails in the country, then you must pay a visit here. A large number of exhibitions can be experienced regularly at the museum, while others periodically appear here. No matter when you visit Te Papa, however, you can be sure to bring plenty of learning about New Zealand with you home.
Among the permanent exhibits is a huge collection of Herbarium and fossils. They tell a lot about the nature that your trip in New Zealand offers and how it has evolved over time. You will find over 250,000 dried plants and over 70,000 fossils from birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Among them is the world’s largest fossil of a giant octopus. It weighs 495 kilos and is 4.2 meters long.
Maori culture is also widely represented at the museum. Among other things, there is a historical collection of traditional clothing, which dates back to the 17th century. In addition, we find a large collection of cultural treasures that draw threads back to the Maori and their intriguing life story. Te Papa is located in the capital Wellington.
Abel Tasman National Park
This national park stands out among the otherwise brilliant national parks in New Zealand. If you are given the opportunity to travel here, you should seize it. A hike through Abel Tasman National Park takes you to golden bounty beaches overlooking the azure sea. On the way we encounter peaceful lagoons where there is ample opportunity to stop and take a dip. Behind us rises a wall of green mountains, which stand in contrast to the blue sky.
If you want to hike on your New Zealand trip, then the park has the perfect setting for just this. One of New Zealand’s most popular routes is the Coastal Track – a 51-kilometer route along the coast. The trip goes through the most beautiful landscape. When it comes to shelter for the night, it can be done both under the open starry sky or in good, comfortable lodges.
Abel Tasman National Park is named after the first European to travel to the coast of New Zealand. Although it is actually the country’s smallest National Park, it is without a doubt the most visited. But it is not only on land that the park is packed with activities. Take, for example, a kayak trip along the beautiful coastline. Here, both dolphins and seals can be experienced up close.
Whale watching, Kaikoura
Over 80% of the world’s whales and dolphins swim along the eastern coastline of the South Island. Therefore, Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to spot the big animals. The huge sperm whale is almost guaranteed to be seen.
The Pacific Ocean around New Zealand is home to many different types of whales and dolphins. On whale safaris you may be lucky enough to spot the blue whale, humpback whale, several kinds of dolphins, the sea elephant and many more.