For those looking for a destination that caters for a diverse range of interests, it’s hard to beat the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, or New Zealand. Where else can you find active volcanoes, hot springs, snow covered Alps, native bush and clean flowing rivers, all in a package about the size of Britain? Herein lie some photographs and a few articles which describe some of the outdoor activities that many New Zealanders enjoy, such as: white water kayaking, sea kayaking, tramping (hiking), skiing, Mt biking, paragliding and rafting.
There are just over 4 million of us spread predominantly over two main islands which cover roughly 270,534 sq km. (UK 244, Japan 377.8, Sweden 450, Germany 356,970). Our population density is only 13 people per sq. km. Compare this with the United Kingdom’s 236.3, Germany’s 230, and Japan’s 329.1, and you can see that overcrowding isn’t one of our pressing problems! New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, has a population of around 1,057,000. It’s situated at the head of the Waitamata Harbour, about two thirds of the way up the North Island. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, has a population of around 345,000. Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, has a comfortable population of around 337,000.
Scenically the North Island is less dramatic than the south, as it is less mountainous. It’s generally warmer and has lots and lots of lovely beaches, especially around the Bay of Islands, Coromandel and Auckland. Auckland harbour and the Hauraki gulf are wonderful places to sail. The central plateau is an active volcanic area stretching from White Island, 50 km east of Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, to Mt Taranaki in the south west. Mts. Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro make up the Tongariro National park, New Zealand’s oldest, which is a fascinating place to explore, unlike any other place in New Zealand. Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake and a great fishing destination is worthy of a few days exploring. Nearby is Rotorua, famed for its geysers, hot springs and an area alive with Maori culture, which can be experienced at one of the many evening concerts which include singing and a meal cooked in a traditional Maori Hangi. (earth oven).
The South Island has only a third of New Zealand’s total population. The Southern Alps are a huge chain of mountains that run virtually unbroken from the Marlborough Sounds in the north to Fiordland in deepest, darkest Southland. New Zealand’s highest peak is Mt Cook or Aorangi (3754m) which is situated in the Mt Cook National Park, in the province of Canterbury (equivalent to a State). Other highlights are the Marlborough sounds, Punakaiki Blowholes on the Westcoast, Milford and Doubtful sounds in Fiordland, the little known Catlins, on the east coast, south of Dunedin and Kaikoura, home of Whale Watching and swimming with the Dolphins.
See also my “South Island Itinerary” for more info and a rough quide to travelling in the south island.

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