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natural new zealand | back to regions & attractions
The country's mild, temperate climate, its north-south axis and range of altitudes mean a wide variety of plants may be seen. These range from subtropical to subantarctic species, often within a couple of hours drive of each other.
In many places, garden tours include private as well as public gardens. Some of the large private country gardens in the Gisborne, Manawatu, Rangitikei, Wairarapa and Canterbury regions were former estates and are quite spectacular. The damp, lower slopes of Mount Taranaki are renowned for their rhododendron gardens, are best seen in bloom in October, as are gardens in Dunedin. Christchurch, known as the Garden City, is well named with its extensive leafy parks and magnificent Botanic gardens. Auckland's world class Ellerslie Flower Show is held in November and another special event is Christchurch's floral festival, held in February.
New Zealand's Southern Alps have a number of glaciers, the largest being Tasman glacier, which you can view by taking a short walk from Mount Cook village. New Zealand's most famous glaciers are the Franz Josef and Fox on the South Island's West Coast. Gouged out by moving ice over thousands of years, these spectacular glaciers are easily accessible to mountaineers and hikers. You can walk up to the glaciers or do a heli hike, where you fly up by helicopter and walk down.
Over 20 percent of New Zealand is covered in national parks, forest areas and reserves. New Zealand's 13 national parks contain an incredible variety of unspoiled landscape and vegetation. Administered and maintained by the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai, these parks provide opportunity for a wide variety of activities including hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, kayaking and trout fishing.
thermal pools & spas
Because New Zealand is located on the edge of two massive tectonic plates of the Earth's crust, it has a large amount of geothermal activity. This means there are many thermal pools throughout the country. Pools range from small spa-type natural mineral pools to large thermally heated swimming pool complexes.
Some of the best known thermal pools are to be found in Rotorua and Taupo in the North Island, and Hanmer Springs in the South Island.
volcanic & geothermal activity
New Zealand is one of the countries that make up the Pacific Rim of Fire, which consists of countries on the western-Pacific rim that are prone to volcanic activity. New Zealand's active volcanic region stretches from White Island in the Bay of Plenty to the mountains of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe in the central North Island.
In the centre of this geothermal activity is Rotorua - New Zealand's oldest tourist resort. There is a strong smell of sulphur in the area, and steam at times, escapes from cracks in the ground, pathways and sidewalks. At nearby geothermal hotspots, geysers spout skyward, mud pools bubble and belch, and warm thermal pools create a kaleidoscope of colour.
If you want to experience the thrill of standing on a live volcano, tours are available that will take you to the edge of a steaming crater. You can also explore the craters and surrounding areas of volcanoes that are no longer active.
world heritage areas
The New Zealand mainland has two World Heritage Areas, Tongariro in the
Central North Island and Te Wahipounamu in the south-west of the South
Island. Te Wahipounamu is made up of four national parks, Westland/Tai
Poutini, Mount Aspiring, Aoraki/Mount Cook and Fiordland. The area also
contains the Milford and Routeburn tracks, two of New Zealand's most spectacular walks,
as well as Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, and spectacular
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