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HOME : Destination Guides : Article Details for NEW ZEALAND FROM NORTH TO SOUTH
Feb 25, 2018



More listings for New ZealandWhen planning your trip in New Zealand, it is a good idea to start in Auckland, on North Island, and end in Christchurch, on the South Island, from where you can catch a flight back home. Why? - There are several reasons which make the itinerary North-South more appealing than the reverse.
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Submitted by : Mark WolkARTICLE :

When planning your trip in New Zealand, it is a good idea to start in Auckland, on North Island, and end in Christchurch, on the South Island, from where you can catch a flight back home. Why? - There are several reasons which make the itinerary North-South more appealing than the reverse.

To start with, New Zealand is in the Southern hemisphere. That means that the sun shines all day from the north. Sunny houses are those north-facing. South-facing houses are dark and damp. "So how does that affect me?" you are going to say. - Well, very simple: if you drive from south to north, you will constantly have the sun in your face; if you drive from north to south, the sun will be in your back, and you will have a perfect view of the landscapes you came to see. A minor, but not negligible point.

Another point in favor of a north to south route is history and human geography. When starting from the north, you will see Auckland, a Polynesian and cosmopolitan city. Time permitting, you may have a look at Northland, where New Zealand started as a nation, and where the oldest New Zealand houses are to be found. There is lots of jungle (which the locals call 'bush') there and that will be a pleasant beginning with refreshing walks. Then you will drive down to Rotorua, its geysers and volcanic attractions - one of the highlights of any New Zealand tour. And so on.

If you start your New Zealand trip in Christchurch (the international airport for South Island is there), you will first see that very pretty city. Christchurch has a nickname: it is often called the most English city out of England, and has indeed a great charm to it. However you wanted to fly to New Zealand... not to England! After Christchurch, a logical path would take you through the Canterbury Plains and Burkes Pass to Mount Cook. These are majestic landscapes, no doubt.

Yellow Eyed PenguinThis area is one of the driest places on earth. As a consequence, there are hardly any native trees - mainly bare glaciated plains and mountains. No matter how beautiful it is, you probably expected to see something more tropical, or at least subtropical and lush, when coming to New Zealand, and you may be slightly disappointed or disconcerted. If you keep driving south on the East coast, you will reach Dunedin. Dunedin is definitely a must on your tour of New Zealand: it offers spectacular wildlife viewing on the Otago Peninsula, where you will encounter penguins, albatrosses or seals. Dunedin is also a Scottish city, made by Scots, and the local accent, with the rolling 'r', is still in the air. Maybe not what you expected to start your discovery of this exotic country.

Another very common mistake made by travelers are the underestimated distances. It is true that New Zealand appears dwarfed next to its neighbor Australia. Neighbor you said? - Australia is in fact 1,000 miles away, and both countries are as different as two countries can be. It is not New Zealand that is a dwarf; New Zealand has a normal size for a country (about the size of Colorado, or Italy), it is Australia that is a giant. The highway system in New Zealand is of reasonable quality, but there are no autobahns or auroutes here - almost all roads are small countryside roads! Keep that in mind and do not plan to travel more than 200 miles a day if you want to have enough time left for sightseeing. Grant at least 3 weeks for a fast-paced discovery of New Zealand. Anything under that would be frustrating.

The highlights of a New Zealand tour will however be out of the tracks mentioned so far. They are in more remote locations, but that is definitely not an excuse to miss them.

Almost universally recognized as the main attraction of New Zealand is Milford Sound, in Fiordland. It is a truly spectacular place, with the world's highest cliffs standing right in the sea almost 1 mile high. Fiordland and the larger area of South Island where it is located is on the World's Unesco Heritage Sites list, and not without reason. Milford Sound, is one of 13 main fiords in New Zealand, the only one accessible by road, and a host to the most unusual ecosystem; torrential rains (it rains there up to 15 times more than in New York), relative warmth (hardly any frosts at sea level) and a unique combination of saltwater and freshwater precipitate an unusual growth of underwater and land species. Not the mention the immense grandeur and solitude of that fiord... provided you have taken the precaution to arrive there before 10am or after 3pm, as in the meantime there are millions of Koreans, Australians, Germans and others coming there to see that solitude!

Another jewel of South Island is its entire West Coast, with glaciers, subtropical rainforests and wild beaches - a combination that does not seem to go together, but that's how it is there. The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks are a geological curiosity in a 'karst' landscape area, and you would not want to miss it at any price.

What to avoid in New Zealand? - Nothing much, as New Zealanders are all very friendly and peaceful, and there are hardly any undesirable areas. Queenstown, where all Asian, American our European travel agents send their customers is a pretty town by a pretty lake; but it is almost entirely created for tourism, so the main attraction you have there are... other tourists! Some even say that Queenstown is not in New Zealand, that it is somewhere between Tokyo and St Moritz. The surrounding landsdcapes are beautiful, though, if you can bear with the crowds and the night-clubs.

And one of the nicest things to do in New Zealand is to catch the ferry that connects both islands. It is a 3-hour cruise, out of which over 1 hour is in the Marlborough Sounds - a network of long and peaceful sea waterways which used to be riverbeds a few million years ago.

Milford Haven by BoatNew Zealand has the privilege of showing all her geological features as if they had just occurred. Both in geological and human terms, it is a new country. The volcanic and tectonic activity keeps shaping it every day, and glacial landscapes are preserved like in very few other locations on earth, because of the sparse population. The Maori had arrived to New Zealand only less than ten centuries ago to populate the last unconquered large mass of land on our planet; as they came to New Zealand from what is now French Polynesia, they found a virgin land with no humans, and generally speaking, no mammals at all. Mammals had not evolved in New Zealand, due to its isolation and small size. If you really want to see a new continent, where nature resembles nothing you know, and where you can find yourself again, come to New Zealand.


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