God must have created New Zealand in his free time. How else would you explain the staggering beauty of this island in the Pacific Ocean? The ‘Land of Kiwis’ is a magical group of islands where you will get to witness the scenes of nature you thought they existed in your imagination.
No wonder fables like Lord of the Rings, Shire, and Hobbit were filmed here. New Zealand in November makes just the right time to plan an unforgettable vacation.
The Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland in New Zealand is home to a number of roiling, bubbling geothermal sights, but possibly the most intriguing is one of its most calm. Known as the Devil’s Bath, this neon green pool of stagnant stink water is a natural wonder.
Between geysers and colorfully steaming mud bogs, the Wai-O-Tapu volcanic era offers no shortage of wondrous attractions. The Devil’s Bath may not have as many active reactions as other features in the vicinity, but it is still the most eye-catching (and the most intriguingly named). The pool sits in a slight depression likely created from a massive eruption from underground. It is well out of reach of visiting gawkers but can be seen clearly from above. The bright green water gets its color from deposits of sulphur that rise to the surface and float on top. The green identifies that active mineral while other hues found across the park such as blues, reds, and otherwise signify other volcanic elements.
The origin of the demonic monicker is unknown, but given how unnatural the pool looks, it would almost come as no surprise to see Satan himself rise from the still lake. Despite the name and almost frightening display of geothermal chemistry, the Devil’s Bath and all of the volcanic craziness in the area are a favorite attraction for traveling families looking to show their kids how bizarre and unnatural nature can look.
Milford Sound is by far the best known of all of the fiords and the only one that can be accessed by road. It is approximately 16km from the head of the fiord to the open sea, which means visitors can comfortably travel the length of the fiord to open ocean and return on one of the many Cruise Options available in 1½ to 2 hours cruising time.
Visitors to Milford Sound will not be disappointed – it is truly Spectacular, with scenery that has remained unchanged throughout the ages. In 1883 Explorer James Hingston wrote “For thousands of feet upwards the eye looks upon straight cut rocky frontages, not worn smooth by time, or by wind or water, but as sharply defined and as fresh looking in all respects as if riven asunder but yesterday by the stupendous wedges of Titanic Masons.“
The Maori were the first to attribute the creation of the fiords to a ‘Titanic mason’, Tute Rakiwhanoa who hewed out the steep sided valleys with keen edged adzes. No other explanation seems to fit, as it is impossible to comprehend the sheer breadth of geological events that created this seemingly perfect sculpture, as sheer cliffs rise vertically upward from the ocean.
The Milford Sound is one of the most incredible and frequently overlooked features of Milford Sound is the journey to get there. One of the best ways to experience it is via a Coach and cruise option with local operators who can show you all the highlights!
A stunning alpine drive, visitors need to allow plenty of time to make the trip if travelling independently as this is a steep and windy highway. Numerous viewing points and short walking opportunities present themselves en route, providing a chance to get out of the car and drink in the spectacular scenery and the sheer scale of the landscape. At 119km (approx 74 miles) from Te Anau to Milford Sound, the sealed road takes a minimum of 2 hours driving without allowing for stops. Motorists are advised to fill vehicles with petrol in Te Anau, although supplies are available at Gunns Camp in the Hollyford Valley and at Milford Sound.
Underwater World is yet another unique feature of the Fiordland environment. Beneath the water, the mountains continue to plunge down as steep rock walls until they reach the floor of the fiord at depths of 100-450m. Few visitors are aware that below the tide line there exists a fascinating and unique world. A fresh water layer that sits on top of the seawater filters light to allow normally deep water dwelling species to exist very close to the surface. A visit to the Milford Observation or a guided dive tour allows access to sights rarely revealed to human visitors – highly recommended!
unnel Beach Walk provides spectacular coastal views including a natural archway / land bridge alongside a buttress like headland covered in coastal turf. The walk includes access through a historic 1870’s tunnel to a small but beautiful beach nestled amongst towering cliffs.
From Tunnel Beach Road end, climb the stile and follow the fenced track downhill to the spectacular, rocky coastline. At the end of the track, a short tunnel with steps leads down to a secluded beach.
The track is steep in some sections and walking shoes are advised.
The coastal vegetation on the headland is special and easily damaged. Respect the vegetation by remaining behind the barrier and taking photos only.
The Pancake Rocks at Dolomite Point near Punakaiki are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes.
The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface.
- Plan Your trip to Punakaiki
Immense water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of more resistant limestone and softer, thin, mud-rich layers.
Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed where water, wind and salt spray eroded the softer layers leaving a “pancake” like stack of harder limestone.
Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
Your guided tour starts with a drive through our picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges.
Take a look at Bag End, where Frodo and Bilbo’s adventures began. Get lost among the hobbit holes and visit the Green Dragon Inn, the mill and the Party Tree. Listen to spell-binding tales of how Hobbiton came to be.
Tours depart daily from the Shire’s Rest Cafe, 501 Buckland Road Matamata and from the Matamata & Rotorua i-SITEs.