Any trip to New Zealand would be incomplete without exploring both the North and South Islands. After exploring the North Island, visitors should book flights to Christchurch from Auckland or Wellington to continue their exploration of this beautiful country on the South Island. Here are several highlights, starting with the North Island.
1. Take a dip at Hot Water Beach on New Zealand´s North Island. The water is heated by volcanic activity and escapes to the surface of the Pacific Ocean via two fissures just offshore. Though there are other hot springs nearby, Hot Water Beach is unique in that the springs are located on the coast, combining the beach and hot springs!
2. Go trekking along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park on the North Island. This route takes hikers past an active volcanic crater, steam vents, lava flows, and an emerald-green colored lake. Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also New Zealand´s oldest national park.
3. Go sea-kayaking on the North Island´s Lake Taupo. The views of Tongariro National Park from the lake, the Maori stone carving at Whakamoega Point, the towering cliffs at cliffs at Waikarariki Point, the white sand beaches and the extensive, crystal waters create an impressive backdrop for a multi-day kayaking expedition.
4. Visit the city of Rotorua, which is located on the North Island directly on top of an area of intense geothermal activity. Visitors can take a helicopter ride over the area of geothermal activity or bathe in the natural hot springs.
5. After visiting the North Island, visitors should book flights to Christchurch and continue their tour of New Zealand on the South Island. Adventure-seekers will not want to miss the chance to go white-water rafting on the Class 5 Rangitata River near Christchurch.
6. Take a sightseeing cruise along the South Island´s Milford Sound. Milford Sound is New Zealand´s most well-known tourist attraction, drawing as many as a million tourists per year. Sightseeing cruises take visitors to see cascading waterfalls, the sheer rock faces of the fjords, rain forests, and the habitats of seals, penguins, and dolphins. Notable landmarks seen on the cruises include Seal Point, Bowen Falls, Mitre Peak, and Stirling Falls.
7. Go glacier-trekking. The South Island is home to two glaciers, the Franz Joseph Glacier and the Fox Glacier. Enjoying superb views while trekking on an ice block and exploring ice caves is indeed an unforgettable experience.
8. Drive up to the Haast Pass in the Southern Alps of the South Island to see some truly spectacular scenery. The waterfalls gushing with glacial waters, the lush rain forest, and views of the sea are stunning.
9. Visit a Marae, the meeting place and grounds where the Maori people celebrate their traditional ceremonies and rituals. Observing Maori protocols, sharing a meal or snack with the Maori people, and attending a traditional ceremony give visitors an inside view of the rich indigenous culture of the Maori. There are Maraes open for visit on both islands.
10. Go bungee jumping! The first commercial bungee jumping site in the world was opened in Queenstown on the South Island several years AJ Hackett´s jump from Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland in 1986. Bungee jumping has become a popular activity for adventure-seeking tourists and there are now over 10 different locations to go bungee jumping in New Zealand on either island.