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New Zealand is a country of rare seismic beauty: glacial mountains, fast-flowing rivers, deep, clear lakes, hissing geysers and boiling mud. There are also abundant native forests, long, deserted beaches and a variety of fauna, such as the kiwi, endemic to its shores.
Any number of vigorous outdoor activities - tramping (hiking), skiing, rafting and, of course, that perennial favorite, bungy jumping - await the adventurous. You can swim with dolphins, gambol with newborn lambs, whale-watch or fish for trout.
NEW ZEALAND TOURS AND TRAVEL:
Bay of Islands Tours,
Fox Glacier Tours,
Franz Josef Tours,
Milford Sound Tours,
Mount Cook Tours,
AUCKLAND Tours, Travel and Activities
Auckland is surrounded by more sandy beaches and attractive islands than probably any other city in the world. The city itself is splashed with green parks that include the terraced volcanic hills where Maoris once lived in pa or fortified villages.
Out west of the city are vineyards, surf beaches and a regenerating Waitakere rainforest with reservoirs, waterfalls and hiking trails.
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BAY OF ISLANDS Tours, Travel and Activities
Long famed for its stunning coastal scenery, the Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand's major attractions. The bay is punctuated by dozens of coves and when the sun is shining its clear waters range in hue from turquoise to deep blue. Although a hugely popular tourist and sailing destination, the 150 or so islands have thankfully escaped development; townships are all on the mainland.
As the site of New Zealand's first permanent English settlement, it is the birthplace of European colonization.
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CHRISTCHURCH Tours, Travel and Activities
Christchurch is often described as the most English of New Zealand's cities. But for all its self-consciously inherited charm, Christchurch should not be dismissed as simply a facsimile of somewhere else.
This is also a thoroughly modern New Zealand city, as exemplified by the Kiwi art that has pride of place in the city's newish gallery, the wildlife reserves teeming with native animals, and a multitude of great cafes, restaurants and bars.
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DUNEDIN Tours, Travel and Activities
The city of Dunedin is a fine place to spend a few days absorbing the high culture of several notable museums and galleries. Nearby castle-crowned Otago Peninsula provides a beautiful natural counterpoint, with the lives of penguins, seals, albatross and sea lions under constant tourist scrutiny.
The small hardy towns of Central Otago are historical microcosms, from the 'Art Deco in a paddock' curiosity of Ranfurly to the stately gold-mining-era hotels of Clyde and St Bathans
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FOX GLACIER Tours, Travel and Activities
New Zealand's two most famous glaciers are major attractions, mighty cascades of ice tumbling down a valley towards the sea. The heavy tourist traffic is catered for in the twin towns of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.
These small tourist villages provide accommodation and facilities at high-ish prices. Franz is busier but Fox has more of an Alpine-village charm.
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FRANZ JOSEF Tours, Travel and Activities
The Franz Josef is a glacier located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island.
Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south it is a unique in the fact that it descends from the Southern Alps to just 200 metres above sea level amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest
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MILFORD SOUND Tours, Travel and Activities
The city of Milford Sound is the most visited of all the Southland fiords and is one of New Zealand's biggest tourist attractions. The calm 13mi-long (22km) fiord is dominated by the sheer weather-scuffed cliffs and peaks that surround it, in particular the stunning 5,551-foot (1,692m) Mitre Peak.
Visitors should prepare themselves for an absence of blue sky, as Milford is synonymous with rain (an average of 6m per year). Although clear weather means crystal-clear exposure to Milford's beauty, a deluge also creates an unforgettable vista.
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MOUNT COOK Tours, Travel and Activities
The Aoraki - Mount Cook National Park is spectacular. More than one-third of the park has a blanket of permanent snow and glacial ice. Of the 27 New Zealand mountains that stretch over 10,000 ft (3,000m), 22 are in this park.
For trivia buffs: The park's mighty Mt Cook, known as the Cloud Piercer, is the highest peak in Australasia at 12,391ft (3,755m).
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QUEENSTOWN Tours, Travel and Activities
Queenstown, on the northern shore of the serpentine Lake Wakatipu, is the epitome of the big-budget resort town, awash with organised groups and plenty of hustling for the tourist dollar. The draw: great skiing in winter and plenty of summer pastimes.
Most activities are centered on the lake and many nearby rivers, with white-water rafting, sledging and jet-boating all great ways to get wet, while bungy jumping and tandem parachuting are exciting ways to fly.
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ROTORUA Tours, Travel and Activities
Rotorua is far and away the most popular and, inevitably, the most commercialised tourist destination on the North Island.
Nicknamed Sulphur City, it has the most energetic thermal activity in the country, with bubbling mud pools, gurgling hot springs, gushing geysers and evil eggy smells hovering around.
Rotorua also has a large Maori population, and this is the best place in NZ to experience a traditional hangi (meals cooked in an earth oven) and Maori concert.
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WANAKA Tours, Travel and Activities
Wanaka is a popular summer and winter resort town, known for its New Year revelries. But the splendor of the surrounding mountains and lakes, plus the long list of adrenaline-inducing outdoor activities, make it a favoured tourist destination year-round.
Wanaka is located just over 62 miles (100 km) from Queenstown, at the southern end of Lake Wanaka, and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and the Treble Cone, Cardrona, Harris Mountains and Pisa Range ski areas.
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WELLINGTON Tours, Travel and Activities
Wellington, New Zealand's capital, is on a picturesque harbor at the southeastern tip of the North Island. Nicknamed Windy Welly, you won't need to spend much time in this funky, energetic city to see that it's a well-deserved moniker.
Steep hills and spectacular views of rugged coastline, challenging walks, a thriving cafe and entertainment scene, and serious dedication to the arts make Wellington an enormously enjoyable city with much to keep you occupied and amazed.
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