Two Must See Places in New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of diversity, with rugged snow capped mountains, rolling green pastures, stunning weather carved coastline and wild geothermal fields. If you only have a short time to visit, in my opinion, there are two places in New Zealand that shouldn't be missed, and will show you two completely different sides to the land of the long white cloud. The first town, Rotorua on the North Island, is probably the best known and is famous for its bubbling pools of mud and shooting geysers, but has much more to offer. The second, Kaikoura on the South Island boasts the stunning combination of snow capped mountains overlooking the quaint seaside town along with the stunning rocky coastline.

The town of Rotorua is most well known for its active geothermal fields, and for good reason. People have been visiting Rotorua since the 1800s to experience the living, breathing geothermal activity and bathe in the naturally occurring hot mineral springs. There are a number of geothermal parks in the area, all with their own unique features. Hell's Gate has the reputation as being the fiercest of the geothermal areas in Rotorua with the largest active mud volcano, the largest boiling whirlpool in New Zealand, the largest hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere, hot mineral foot pools, hot spraying pools, a water and steam vent geyser and in contrast, tame native birds. The extremely fine geothermal mud from the area is used in facial masks and cosmetics and visitors to the park can immerse themselves in its healing powers in the sublime mud spa complex. Tours to the parks can be arranged from most hotels in Rotorua, or for those with their own transport there is plenty of car parking available. With the geothermal fields as a draw card, Rotorua's tourist appeal has grown greatly over the years and consequently attracted a great range of activities designed to enhance your holiday experience. The spectacular natural surroundings make the area a veritable playground for nature lovers, with numerous opportunities to explore the surroundings including extensive mountain biking trails, excellent trout fishing and myriad of forest walking tracks. Adventure seekers are equally as well catered for with a great range of thrilling activities like white water rafting, sky diving and jet boating, just to name a few. After a day full of action, take some time out to enjoy one of the many pleasures at one of the luxury day spas located throughout Rotorua. Rotorua is also the heartland of Maori culture, with a third of the local population having Maori heritage. There are historic villages to explore, native arts and crafts and traditional singing, dancing and games to take part in. The healthy tourism industry in Rotorua has seen the development of a huge range of Rotorua accommodation ranging from back packers and hostels to resorts and luxury hotels in Rotorua and surrounds.

Kaikoura, tucked on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island, offers a completely different holiday experience to that of Rotorua. Its unique mountain and seaside location boasts a range of activities and sights found in few places in the world. The picturesque coastline provides the perfect backdrop for whale watching, coastal walks, diving and snorkelling, and even swimming with the dolphins and seals, while the surrounding mountains and forests are a haven for eco activities. Bird watching, rafting, kayaking, horse riding, fishing and even llama trekking are all on offer, or you can choose something a little more adventurous like scenic flights, quad biking, 4 wheel drive tours or even a caving tour. Food and wine buffs will enjoy the excellent local produce at the cafes and restaurants and sampling the locally made wines at cellar doors. Your Kaikoura accommodation should be able to organise tours for you including cultural tours with hands on activities such as weaving and forest walks explaining the traditional use of trees in Maori medicine. Photographers will fall in love with Kaikoura and its many unparalleled photo opportunities. Field based photography tuition workshops are available for all levels of photographers, providing the local expertise needed to catch that magic shot. Kaikoura hosts a number of festivals and events from the Longboard Pro Am Surfing Competition, to the Recycled Trash Fashion Show and Seafest, the annual food and wine show held on the first Saturday in October. Accommodation in Kaikoura is plentiful and varied, although if you are planning on visiting during one of the events or festivals, you may need to book well in advance to make sure you get your preferred accommodation. Kaikoura accommodation caters for all budgets from back packers through to those looking for luxury accommodation and everything in between.

If you only see two places in New Zealand, Rotorua and Kaikoura will give you a good feel for New Zealand as a whole, while giving you a varied and unique holiday. To add to the diversity of your holiday, consider staying in one of the luxury hotels in Rotorua then choose some eco accommodation in Kaikoura.

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