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The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ (part 5 of 6)
Section - C3.1 Places

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Top Document: The soc.culture.new-zealand FAQ (part 5 of 6)
Previous Document: C3 Holidaying In NZ
Next Document: C3.2 Activities
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
C3.1.1  Parks And Tracks

Over 20% of New Zealand is Forest or National parks.  New Zealand's
national parks and protected areas are treasures of irreplaceable value.
There are 13 National Parks which preserve NZ's most spectacular scenery,
rare and endangered flora and fauna and archaeological sites.  Besides the
National Parks system, there are two World Heritage sites within NZ;
Tongariro (the boundary coincides with the National Park of the same name)
and the South West New Zealand World Heritage area (incorporating Westland,
Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring, and Fiordland National Parks, and well as
extensive state land making a total of 2.6mill hectares).  Tongariro
National Park was the second(?) place in the world designated as such,
beaten by Yellowstone by only a year or so.

Additionally there are three maritime parks and a host of forest parks,
reserves and conservation areas throughout the country.

Public access is possible in all New Zealand Parks and many have
magnificent walking tracks within their boundaries.  The Department of
Conservation administers the parks on behalf of the New Zealand people.
DoC provide and maintain facilities such as huts, lodges, camping grounds
and tracks.

Most parks have a visitor centre and many run visitor programmes including
guided walks.  There is usually no charge for entry into the parks although
charges are often made for overnight stays and hut use.

The Department of Conservation has several pamphlets available.  Try
writing to their head office at PO Box 10420, Wellington, phone 04-4710726.

Steve Harris offers:
"... guide for New Zealand on the net to give an idea about some of the
activities and destinations in the country at:
 http://www.iol.ie/~saris/bpguide.html


While not a park, Kapiti Island (west of southern NI) is worth a visit if
it can be arranged.

Brian Harmer wrote:
"I went to Kapiti Island, the nature reserve off the West coast of the
Southern part of the North Island.  Never have I seen so much bird life so
close up.  The Kaka (native forest parrot)were so tame they would fly up to
the visitors and perch on their shoulders, and deftly swipe the filling out
of sandwiches.  I have the nature trail running down my back to prove it!
There were wekas galore, kereru, saddleback, stitchback and takahe, robins
and kakariki.  The bush is glorious, but my calf muscles will ache for a
week after trudging for two hours to the summit for views to the South
Island, and Eastward towards New Zealand  :-)

"Landing on the island is allowed by permit only.  The focus is on
preservation of nature rather than provision of tourist attraction."

--------------------

C3.1.2  Beaches, etc.

There are lots of these.  As a result of the 'Queens Chain' law, all
coastline and river cbanks (within 20m+/-) are available for public use.
All coastline is also public land.  However, access to such areas may be
restricted by having to cross private land.

--------------------

C3.1.3  Distinctive Features

There are hundreds of distinguishing landmarks around NZ and any attempt to
catalogue them would far exceed the limits of my resources!  Everything
from coastal caves and arches, to some of the oldest trees in the world,
bird sanctuaries, castles, geothermal areas and underground power stations.

--------------------

C3.1.4  Archaeology/Historical/Heritage Sites

Definitely worth investigating if one is (or might be) interested.

--------------------

C3.1.5  Places To Go To

Marty Burr is twisting my arm to combine certain areas with common
attractions into logical groupings, eg. Marlborough/Nelson.  It's a
sensible idea and I'll work on it over the next month.

As many as there are holiday enthusiasts.  I'm sure a list will evolve
slowly.  Start by including all the national parks and main beaches...

Any of the National or Maritime Parks
Any of the South Island high-country lakes
Anywhere in the mountains
Most of the coastline
The NI Central Plateau/Desert Road

Cape Reinga
Ninety Mile Beach
Bay of Islands
Rotorua/Whakarewarewa
Lake Taupo
Mount Egmont
Hawkes Bay (vineyards)

Farewell Spit
Golden Bay
Heaphy/Wangapeka Tracks
Karamea
Marlborough Sounds
Blenheim (vineyards)
Kaikoura coast (whale watching)
Mount Cook
MacKenzie Basin
Central Otago/Clutha Valley
Fiordland
The Catlins
Stewart Island

Bruce Hoult wrote:
"Queenstown is the only real tourist trap, but is so stunning that you'll
love it anyway and you'd be silly to not go there."

Hugh Grierson wrote:
"Queenstown [is a tourist trap].  Wanaka is nicer."

Paul Caples(?) wrote:
"Tourist spots in and around Auckland
- Waitakere Ranges: heaps of bush walks (try Fairy Falls), Arataki Visitor
  Centre.
- West Coast Beaches: Piha, Muriwai (if you like surf)
- Wine: theres plenty of vineyards heading toward Muriwai and several
  organised wine trails from Central Auckland.
- Harbour Island's: Rangitoto or Waiheke (ferry's from bottom of Queen St)."

Charles Eggen Wrote:
"I had a nice stay at Te Anau Backpackers, 48 Lake Front Drive, phone
64-3-249-7713 and they are within a few blocks of "downtown".

-----

Lyndon Watson provides the following suggestions in response to someone
saying they were spending all of their three month stay in the North
Island:

"I must disagree here with those who say, "Oh, no, forget the North Island
and see the South instead."

"If you're only ever going to make one trip, then you should see the things
that are *most* peculiar to the country.  Those must include, first and
foremost, the Maori aspect of the country which is best seen in the North -
at Rotorua, the Urewera and East Coast if you're really interested, and
Northland, especially.  The early colonial history of New Zealand is also
best seen in the North, particularly in the Bay of Islands in Northland and
the Land War sites in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.  As far as natural
features are concerned, some that are most exotic to tourists (depends, I
suppose, on where they come from) are also in the North - the
Rotorua/Taupo/Bay of Plenty geothermal features, the Kauri forests of
Northland, Mt Egmont.  By contrast, the South Island is mainly visited for
its (admittedly grander) scenery and the historical remains in Central
Otago.  I think that the one-time visitor should try to cover the country,
with the emphasis on the North Island, and only devote all of his time to
the South if grand scenery is all that he is interested in.

"If this is (hopefully) the first of many visits, then I think that a case
can be made for a reasonably brisk trip over all of the country, arguably
still putting the main emphasis on the North Island - a sort of preliminary
survey as it were.  Let the first visit touch on the high tourist points
and act as a sort of general survey of what the country has to offer; later
visits can concentrate on what appeals most - once again the South Island
if grand scenery is what you want to see.

"Three months seems to me to be ample for a general look at the country,
even allowing for one or two extended stays at places that you particularly
like.  Spend, say, a week each at Rotorua and the Bay of Islands, a few
days in Auckland and perhaps Wellington, another week in Central Otago
using Queestown as a base, and the rest of the time just meandering around
the country and lingering where you like.

"I would do a round trip around Northland, taking in the Bay of Islands, the
bus trip to Cape Reinga and the drive down the west through th kauri
forests, then head south from Auckland.  Take it slowly!  Spend a day
driving the 70 miles to Hamilton, looking round Rangiriri, Ngaruawahia and
so on.  Spend another day meandering east to the Bay of Plenty and stop at
Tauranga or Whakatane.  Explore the eastern Bay.  Spend a few days driving
round East Cape and back through the Urewera and the pine forests to
Rotorua.  Then south to Taupo, do some fishing if you like, and take a side
trip to the west to Taranaki.  Spend a day driving right round Mt Egmont.
Go back to the centre and drive back north through the volcanic bush of
National Park and across to Turangi.  Then south along the Desert Road and
through the North Island sheep country to Wanganui or Palmerston North
before crossing through the Manawatu Goge to the Wairarapa.  Sample the
local wines and drive (with care) across the ranges to Wellington.

"Then, at last, take the slow ferry to Picton and start on the South..."

-----

Tourism Nelson, via Peter Lowish, contributes this tome on the Nelson
region.

The Nelson Region

The Nelson region is located at the north western tip of the South Island.
Nelson is renowned for a warm and sunny climate, golden sand beaches,
lakes, mountains and native forests.  Combine this with the fine foods,
superb wines, innovative arts and crafts and warm hospitality to see why
visitors enjoy the greater Nelson region all year round.  Nelson is the
oldest city in New Zealand (Queen Victoria signed a Royal Charter
proclaiming Nelson to be a city on 27 September 1858) and historic
buildings throughout the region reflect a bygone era.  Accommodation caters
for everyone offering luxury lodges and hotels to camping/cabin facilities
and backpackers hostels.

National Parks
The three National Parks in the region are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts
and trampers alike, offering a vast scope from coastal tracks to
mountainous terrain.  The Abel Tasman National Park can be explored by
foot, launch or sea-kayak.  Nelson Lakes National Park is a complete
contrast with alpine likes, flora and fauna.  Kahurangi is the country's
newest National Park, an unequaled wilderness experience.

Arts and Crafts
The Nelson region is home to a diverse range of visual and performing
artists and craftspeople.  Painters, potters, wood workers, textile
artists, sculptors and jewellers have studios right across the region
reflecting the area's colourful, vibrant environment.  These artists have
been co-ordinated into trails, ideal for the free independent traveller.
The Nelson School of Music is steeped in tradition and hold regular
performances.  Nelson is also home to the New Zealand Wearable Art Awards,
which attracts entrants and spectators from all over the world.

Lifestyle: Food and Wine
The relaxed atmosphere and great climate makes Nelson a sought after
holiday destination and place to live.  The extensive selection of local
beverages and fine foods, of which seafoods are a speciality, tantalise
taste buds in the many cafes and restaurants around the region.

Action
Two ski fields in the Nelson Lakes National Park offer a season extending
from July to October.  Rafting, bungy jumping, horse trekking, skydiving
and fishing operate all year round.

In the geographical centre of New Zealand, Nelson is an all season, all
age, all year visitor destination.

We are pleased to announce a new web site:    http://nelson.net.nz/

The pages consist of travel help to the region, including information on
the gateways of Marlborough and the West Coast, details of the three
national parks - Nelson Lakes, Kahurangi, and Abel Tasman, articles about
the 5 sub-regions of Nelson, Motueka/South Abel Tasman, Takaka/North Abel
Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Murchison.

Each sub district contains information on accommodation, activities,
services, eating out etc.

(end Peter Lowish's contribution)

To which Lin Nah adds:
"Perhaps a mention about the popularity of Takaka Hill for New Years eve
should be included.  I did not know about this till I got there.  It felt
like everyone wanted to be there.

"The Nelson area makes a significant contribution to the beer (hop
growing), and wine (several wineyards) industries, and of recent past,
tobacco industry (tobacco know frequently being replaced by green tea!).
Is the Riwaka Beer Fest on 2 January an annual thing or only happened this
year?

"More action:
 tramping in the National Parks
 kayaking in Marlborough Sounds
 kayaking along the Abel Tasman National Park
 hike or mountain bike (carefully!) on the Heaphy Track
 tandem sky diving (Around $170 per person)
 white water rafting on the Karamea River.

"The last can be arranged through Buller Adventure Tours at Inangahua
Junction (near Westport).  This trip consists of a helicopter ride into the
area, raft down a grade 5 river (more thrills than the grade 4 river in
Queenstown).  There are other bits you can add to it.  The basic package
that starts at Wesport and ends there is around $200 per person.  For those
in our bus, he offered a free glacier rafting trip on the Franz Josef
glacier."

-----

The hyperactive Lin then adds (hacked together from two posts):

"Spots you MUST hit in the South Island:
  Abel Tasman National Park
  West Coast:  amazing scenery
  The Glaciers
  Milford / Fiordland
  Otago Peninsula:  albatross colony, yellow eyed penguins, fur seals
various native birds, spectacular scenery

"There is a 2 day trip that may interest some.  Leave Queenstown at 9am,
taking a steam boat (The Earnslaw) across Lake Wakatipu (we were served a
Continental breakfast) to Walter Peak sheep station, then a bus on the
other side takes you along the back farm roads towards Te Anau.  You see
sheep, deer etc. along the way.  Lunch at Te Anau (provide for yourself)
then down to Milford with stops on the way including a couple of short
walks.  One was the cascade creek loop track.  The second was the chasm.
In between the two we stopped at a stream (Monkey Creek) to collect some
fresh water from the stream and went through the Homer Tunnel.  On the way
the driver makes quite a few stops.

"We were in Milford by 4:45pm and were on board a boat named the Wanderer
by 5pm.  After a trip around the firod and out towards the Tasman Sea we
were fed a very delicious meal and spent a night on the boat, anchored in
the fiord.  Sleeping bags and linen are provided in this trip.  The next
morning we were woken up very very early.  Most on the boat work up at 6am
when the boat's generator's started.  the others were politely woken up by
7am.  If you feel restless you can go kayaking at 6:15 - 7am.  Someone
tried to go for a swim.  But with water temp around 5-7 deg C, he did not
stay in very long.  (When we stopped to fish the evening before, some did
go for a swim.  Water was slightly warmer).

We were served continental and cooked breakfast.  At 9am we were back in
Milford to rejoin the bus.  Then we stopped at the start of the Routeburn
Track.  Most on the bus went on the short 3 hour return walk to Key Summit
(make sure you take good shoes).  We then headed back to Te Anau for lunch,
then it is back to Queenstown.  Best value for money IMHO - provided the
weather is good.  This is the 'Milford Overland' by Fiordland Travel.  I
think it is better than the one organised by the Intercity Bus.  If you are
short of time, then take the one by the Intercity Bus.  You leave at 7am
and come back at 7pm.  Not many stops along the way."

There is also a smaller boat called Tutuko(?) It is good for private
parties like groups of 10 - 15 people.  The Wanderer takes around 40 - 50
people and is a more stable boat.

You do not really need to book very far ahead.  I was there first/second
week of January.  I needed to book 1 week ahead.  The only problem would be
if a big tour group(s) wants to go on the same day as you.

Most of the accommodation is single bunks, 4 bunks per berth.  They tried
to segregate by gender but did not work for our lot as we were used to
mixed dorms and some of them were couples (14 of the people in the
backpackers bus was in the same trip).  There are a couple of double bunks.
I think if you want those, you should book earlier.

It is a trip I WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend to everyone provided the weather is
good.  The group before us had a partial refund because the rain was too
heavy for the wanderer to leave the dock at Milford.  Milford has 7m (SEVEN
METRES) of rainfall a year.  Be prepared.  The trip is run by Fiordland
Travel.  I think the cost is around NZ$200 per head.  I paid $176 because I
was travelling with Kiwi Experience.

(thanks Lin, sorry about the editing...)

-----

Kieron Horide invites people to read his travellogue at:
 http://www.actrix.gen.nz/users/horidek/si_hol.htm

You may find these writings useful:
 http://www.solutions.mb.ca/rec-travel/pacific/new_zealand/trip.newman.html
 http://www.cs.orst.edu/~gottfrhe/journal/nz2.html
 http://www.mgl.ca/~johnsumm/nz.html

Or search for other travellogues:
 http://www.travel-finder.com/findsite.htm

--------------------

C3.1.6  Places To Avoid

As above, only in the negative!  Start with Bulls, Dannevirke, Dargaville,
Wellington...

--------------------

C3.1.7  Temporary Attractions

January 1995 (so you've missed it!)

The Gliding World Championships held at the small town of Omarama (between
Christchurch and Wanaka/Queenstown).

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