Here are some thoughts about visiting New Zealand.
- Summer time
- If you want to visit when the weather is warm, and relatively pleasant then try late January to mid March. Most New Zealanders take their annual vacations between Christmas and Mid January, so you avoid the Christmas-New Year peak season. But as there are several anniversary holidays towards the end of January, different parts of the country have an extra day off on different weekends. Also, Waitangi day, on 6 February, is a national holiday - visiting the treaty grounds at Waitangi on this day is likely to be an interesting experience, as it has become a traditional occasion for protest. February is usually the warmest month with a lot of sunny days. The evenings are long as daylight saving is in effect.
- Winter time
- If you like snow sports, then July to September are generally good times to visit as the ski fields are open for skiing. However, it is also a cold and wet time of the year for the rest of the country. This is also the time when bad weather tends to make travel more difficult, with some roads closed by ice and snow. Rough seas occasionally force the Cook Strait ferries to stop sailing at this time of year too.
- Milford Sound
- Bring a rain coat - you will probably need it - Milford sound is spectacular on a sunny day and completely different but just as spectacular when it is misty and rainy. It really needs to be seen on both types of days to do it justice.
- To see the thermal wonderland visit Rotorua. (Every now and again a new one erupts around town .)
- North Island Cities
- While Auckland and Wellington are the two main cities in the North Island and a trip between them can be done in a day by bus or train, most cities and towns cater for the tourist to some extent. Other cities to see are :
- Napier - an Art Deco city rebuilt in the mid 1930's after being mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1931.
- New Plymouth - Womad music and dance festival, the windwand - a sculpture with a red light on top that moves with the wind. The city makes a good base to explore Taranaki and Mount Egmont National Park.
- Rotorua and Taupo for their lakes and themal activity.
- Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Gisborne, and Wanganui all make for good bases for exploring the surrounding country, as do many of the smaller towns.
- South Island Cities
- While Christchurch is the major city in the South Island, the streets of Dunedin were the ones paved by Otago gold. Nelson, Timaru and Invercargill are the other major population centres. Other places worth visiting, even if just passing through are:
- Oamaru, for its early 20th century architecture.
- Queenstown, lake, steamship, jetboats, gondola, casino, golf course, 3 skifields, bungy jump ... adventure tourism capital of the world. With day long bus trips to Milford Sound and an international airport - for Australians.
- New Zealand has 14 national parks and lots more nature reserves. Most of the tourists go to Fiordland, Franz Josef, Mount Cook, and Tongariro. However, my personal favourite is Arthur's Pass, because it is so accessible from the Tranz Alpine railway line. Second are the pancake rocks at Punakaiki, in Paparoa National Park.
- -- Huttite 08:49, 15 November 2006 (EST)