I have always thought that going to Australia or New Zealand, if your budgets afford, is a perfect getaway from rainy, cold and miserable Denmark. Just the time that fellow Danes celebrate Christmas inside getting close to each other by drinking Aalborg Snaps, Kiwis grill sausages and have a Christmas barbeque. Sounds like something you would like to experience? Book your tickets now – and visit my beloved 4 most interesting cities in New Zealand.
New Zealand or Mãori Aotearoa is anvisland country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses ‒ that of the North and South Island‒ and numerous smaller islands. There are four big cities in New Zealand two located on the northern Island, Wellington and Auckland and two on the South Island, Christchurch and Queenstown. These are cities tourist often visit, in the south they are often visited for the snow in the winter season, and in the north they are visited for their size. But New Zealand has many small pearls to visit if you have the time and the heart of Phileas Fogg.
Art Deco, Napier, New Zealand
Napier has a Unique architecture after a 7.8 earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1931, the city was rebuild mostly in the art deco style, trendy at the time age of the 1930′s.
Napier is located in Hawke’s Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island and more importantly is has a seaport frequently used. Napier is the nexus of the largest wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere, and it has the primary export seaport for northeastern New Zealand – which is the largest producer of apples, pears, and stone fruit in New Zealand.
For a Cultural Experience visit Napier during Art Deco weekend, which is celebrated in February where the city proudly celebrates its heritage and party like it is 1930′s.
A must do while visiting this little City is take a promenade along Marine Parade, a vibrant community area and enjoy the view of the sea, the people you meet.
In terms of sight-seeing Napier has the largest display of sea life in New Zealand is located at the national museum where you can see and swim with sharks. Furthermore Cape Kidnappers, located just outside of Napier has the largest colony of gannets in the world.
Te Anau and Milford Sounds, New Zealand
Here you can explore some of the most beautiful nature throughout New Zealand: the Fiordland Te Anau and Milford Sounds, or Piopiotahi, as the Mãoris call it. A Fjord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National Park. It has been said to be the world’s top travel destination in an international survey in TripAdvisor, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Wondering how to get there? Fear not, there are not so many roads in New Zealand, so the way to get here is pretty straight forward. But why not take a few stops on the way? While driving thru Te Anau, take a pit stop and go on a horse trekking is a lovely way to spend a day enjoying the scenery. Westray Horse treks is a little company that takes people for a ride no matter experience. The cinema in Te Anau is another place where one can see the scenery, for 10 NZ they offer you 30 minutes of different scenery featuring the fiord land from one end to the other. No words are said during the movie, only peaceful music. Had you previously been unsure whether or not you wanted to take the drive all the way to Milford Sounds after watching this piece of art, there will be no doubt left.
Before going to Milford Sounds I had only seen extremely catchy and breathtaking broshures that streets sellers would offer me, realizing that I am up for some challenge. But oh well, how many of those promises turn out to be true? I was sceptical, but it was 110% more than I expected. In Milford Sounds get yourself on one of the many boat cruises and enjoy the surroundings, get a picture of a seal colony, a dolphin or maybe even a penguin if you are lucky.
As for dinner Te Anau has a little restaurant located on the main street called The Olive tree, it is a budget cafe that serves good quality food. Why dinner in Te Anau? The tunnel to and away from Milford Sounds closes at 6 pm.
Insider tip: Pre-book the hostel/motel/hotel in Te Anau. You might not get anything at the last minute.
Kaikoura, New Zealand
The Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea south of the town, and the resulting upwelling currents bring an abundance of marine life from the depths of the nearby Hikurangi Trench. This makes it an excellent place to explore the big mammals that lives in the sea. The biggest ones being the Sperm Whale. Kaikoura have a lot of different tourist options for meeting these big mammals, bigger or smaller boats or how about taking a one propeller airplane over the bay to see the sperm whales from above is a beautiful experience, it is a little expensive (145 NZ) but definitely an amazing experience. Insider tip: be careful about this option if you easily get motion sick. Other than that you can go swimming with dolphins or seals, or just watch the seals at the eastern edge of the town where a large colony of Southern Fur Seals have their home. It is about a 10-15 minute walk outside of the city. At low tide, better viewing of the seals can be had as the ocean gives way to a rocky base which is easily navigable by foot for quite some distance.
It is also one of the best reasonably accessible places in the world to see open ocean seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels and shear waters.
Kaikoura offers different experiences with all these mammals, and you can book seal and dolphin swims, watches kayaking etc, so if you are interested in these pearls of the sea, Kaikoura is the place to go.
As for accommodation being a small town, Kaikoura does have a lot of different accommodation located in this city, just turn right off the highway and drive down by the coast. The city contains of only a few street and both backpackers and motels are in fairly reasonable price ranges.
Insider tip: Try to be a morning person, since there is hardly anything going on in this city after 8 in the evening.
Wanaka, New Zealand
It is a town in the Otago region of the South Island situated at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, adjacent to the outflow of the lake to the Clutha Ricer. It is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, and if you like hiking, stunning scenery and untouched nature, Wanaka ought to be a stop on your map around New Zealand. This city has the surroundings for hiking and adventures and if you are in the mood for a beer after a long day of walking there is a bit of night life at least New Zealand small town standards.
Lake Wanaka offers some of the best hiking in New Zealand, ranging from 30 minutes to 5 days, but hiking to the majestic Rob Roy Glacier is what 80% of the tourists visit when going here. The track is an ideal entry point to Mt Aspiring National Park – an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.
A one hour drive from Wanaka brings you to the Raspberry Creek car-park. After a 15 minute valley walk you cross the West Matukituki River into beech forest as the track climbs through a small gorge along the Rob Roy Stream, then into alpine vegetation at the head of the valley, with good views of the Rob Roy Glacier. Here you can enjoy your lunch by a cascading waterfall with native alpine parrots as dinner company, while listening to the cracks of the hanging glacier high overhead. This trek is about 4-5 hours in return. Remember to check with the information center about weather conditions and walks for your fit/age/equipment before setting out to any of the big walks. If you are less of a walker there are many small tracks as well that leads to beautiful nature, such as Blue Pool Track a one hour return easy-walk starting at the car park on State Highway 6 near Makarora just north of Muddy Creek and leads through silver beech/tahina to a swing bridge overlooking the pools at the mouth of Blue River. Large brown and rainbow trout can often be seen feeding in the pools. What ever your fitness level/age/motivation are there will be a walk for you all you have to do is ask at the information center.
Insider tip: Remember no freedom camping and sleeping in your car counts as freedom camping and they will give you a 200 dollar fine.
Other than that – enjoy your warm December in New Zealand! (and don’t forget to post some pictures on Facebook to make your cold and sick friends jealous, hihi!).
Pictures made by Anne Kølner, if not stated otherwise.