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New Zealand Travel: Auckland Volcanoes, Glaciers, Lord of the Rings, Trains, Ferries, Southern Alps, and Short Trips...

Updated on June 6, 2011

New Zealand Travel Can Be Fun And Adventurous!

New Zealand Travel is one of my favorite things to do... It is such a beautiful country with rugged snow capped mountains, volcanoes, coastal fishing villages, glaciers, penguins, and a variety of other differences and contradictions! They do speak English there, so if that’s your native language you should do fine as far as communicating… You’ll also enjoy the people, environment, and traditions of both the European New Zealanders and the native Maori tribes, which are the Polynesians of that country.

The Maoris’ called New Zealand “The Land of the Long White Cloud”, because of the cloud cover over the islands seen from canoes out at sea. You can imagine what it might have been like for the first Polynesians to sail or row across the Pacific searching for the next habitable location and finding these two huge islands that had a perpetual long, white cloud overhead and deciding to settle down and live here. It is a fascinating place, and if you haven’t yet been able to do any New Zealand travel it should surely be on the top of your list for places to go!

Great New Zealand Travel Destinations...

Most people will fly into Auckland for their New Zealand travel trip, which is the largest city in the extreme North Island. In fact, there are 3 cities that you should be aware of and are the largest in the islands. Auckland is in the north, Wellington is in the southern part of the North Island, and Christchurch is located toward the middle of the South Island. Wellington is the capitol of New Zealand and has all of the government buildings and so forth, and Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and is the jumping off point for flights to Antarctica and scientific expeditions there.

I would highly recommend taking at least a short train ride while enjoying your New Zealand travel, as New Zealand has a fantastic Auckland to Wellington trip that is very interesting, and you’ll get a chance to see much of the countryside. The middle part of the North Island holds a huge park called Tongariro National Park and is home to many active volcanoes. In fact, you’ll find beautiful national parks all over New Zealand to celebrate the natural wonder and scenic opportunities.

Wellington is probably my favorite city in New Zealand, it will remind you of San Francisco in the U.S., because it’s nestled right next to the coast in a beautiful bay with mountains surrounding it all around! As mentioned before, this is the capitol of the country, and has the government buildings and embassies, and is also home to the great University of New Zealand. You can enjoy a very steep railed trolley ride during your New Zealand travel trip, which includes a stop at the university! I had my most memorable meal in Wellington, and I believe it was a traditional “pork belly” with black pudding and a very dark “chocolate” beer! It was delicious, and a very pleasant experience! (For those interested, the restaurant I ate at was the “Southern Cross”.)

Great New Zealand Travel on the South Island...

After also doing a tour through the city and seeing the many incredible views and sights, I was also able to experience a wonderful seal tour! This trip took us out of the city and on a 4 wheel drive expedition up, over and through the mountains and down to the coast on the other side to take a drive on the beach where the seals hang out and lay around all day. We were within a very short distance of them, and they did not react at all to our presence. This is a highly recommended tour for all who crave a little adventure! The next day, we hopped on the ferry that leaves from Wellington and crosses the Cook Strait over to the South Island. Let me tell you, this is one experience that you do NOT want to miss! The exquisite beauty of the fjords, snow capped mountains, blue waters of the sound, and villages as you come into the south island during your New Zealand travel trip, are incredible! All I can say is WOW, and be sure to bring your camera!

Once on the South Island in the small port of Picton, we hopped on the train that was departing in a few minutes for the city of Christchurch. Luckily, we did not have to wait for our luggage as it was already transferred aboard by the ferry handlers, so we showed our tickets and took our seats. Almost as soon as we were seated, the train started moving down the track and we were soon seeing incredible scenery as we passed the rugged coastline and got to see more seals and other wildlife from the windows. We were there in August, and that makes it wintertime down under, so the weather was a little chilly. After a few hours travel we reached Christchurch, disembarked, and arrived at our hotel. The next day, we actually made it back to the train station for what may be the highlight of the New Zealand travel trip, the famous train ride through the “Southern Alps” from Christchurch to Greymouth over on the western coast. This trip was filled with majestic snow capped mountains and many dark and long tunnels as we traveled through the interior of the mountains, and it wasn’t hard to picture ourselves in some dark and adventurous story about “The Lord of the Rings” where that movie was filmed! For all we know, there were dwarves or orcs outside plotting our demise… Anyway, it was fun trip and we finally ended up over on the coast where glacier tours are popular and the atmosphere is a little more rugged.

Southern Alps New Zealand Travel...

Unfortunately, we had to turn right around and come back after a short hour long stay, since we had to depart this lovely country the next day… Still, it was a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything! The next day was spent with some Christchurch sightseeing and also a visit to the Antarctic scientific expedition departure attraction, which is where they outfit the scientists 3 days before they are sent down to that continent before working on their projects. That was a, incredibly fun experience, and I may report further on that in another article…

I hope you are now excited about planning a vacation or New Zealand travel trip, and if you do try and do more than just take a quick tour of Auckland… There is so much to experience and see down there, you won’t want to miss anything! For myself, I can’t wait to get a chance to go back and see more of New Zealand’s wonders! Enjoy!

Looking For More Travel Options?

Here are some other great travel destinations that you may be interested in:  Jamaica, Oahu, Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauai, and Atlantis Resort, in the Bahamas.


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    • scubadoggy profile image

      scubadoggy 6 years ago

      It sure is one of my favorite places, I may make it back there this year! I can't believe that earthquake devastation though, Christchurch was one of the cities that I visited...

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I would love to visit New Zealand, and your hub does nothing to quell that appetite. Maybe some day I'll make it. It is high on my priority list for travel locations.

      Nice hub, thanks.