Many tourists will agree that New Zealand is stunningly beautiful. For this reason, outdoor activities are extremely popular among locals as well as tourists. There is no lack of activities to choose from. Here are some of the best.
Tongariro National Park
At the top of the list is a visit to the Tongariro National Park. Considered to be a World Heritage site, it is known for its distinct peaks; Ruapeha, Ngauruhoe, and of course, its namesake Tongariro peak. The park's many tracks are popular among hikers, with the most widely used track being the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. One reason this hiking trail is so popular is that it contains terrains with active volcanoes.
Though the hike can last as long as eight hours, many feel it is worth it for the sites they will see. This includes its lakes of emerald waters, as well as craters, flowing lava, and steam vents.
During the winter months the nearby town of Ohakune, on the outskirts of Tongariro National Park, is a hotspot for skiers. The Southwestern slopes of Ruapehu attract snowboarders as well. Visitors flock to the Turoa ski field every winter.
To experience glacier hiking, one of New Zealand's best outdoor activities is run by Franz Josef Glacier Guides. They offer the following tours:
- Heli Hike
- Valley Walk
- Heli Ice Climb
- Glacier Overnighter
- scenic flights
The Heli Hike is a three-hour trek led by a qualified, local guide. The tour includes glimpses of some of New Zealand's most famous ice formations. This hike is moderately physical and usually has participants on the ice for as many as two of the three hours the hike lasts.
The Valley Walk is one of the best ways to view the bed of the Waiho River. The guided tour includes information on the history of the glacier as well as what remains of it today. It also includes the telling of the legend of Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere.
Heli Ice Climb
The Heli Ice Climb is led by an experienced hiker who can assist everyone from beginners to hiking experts. This activity keeps participants on the ice for as long as four hours.
The Glacier Overnighter is a camping expedition with a tour of between three and four hours. All equipment and food are provided to participants for the duration of the overnighter. This experience is only offered between November and March.
To view the glaciers from above the best way to do it is taking a great scenic flight. Vantage Helicopters takes visitors up for some stunningly unforgettable panoramic views. Highlights of the scenic flights include the Aoraki Mount Cook, and the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The flight also includes glimpses of the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps. Participants can choose among three different flights, all of which land in the snow.
White Water Rafting
With so many bodies of water in New Zealand, white water rafting is a popular activity. One of the most well-known places for rafting is the Kaituna River, where the Okere Falls are found. White water rafting here affords participants views of the native scenery of New Zealand, It also includes a lesson on the history of Maori. Led by highly trained guides, this one outdoor experience that New Zealanders love.
Maruia Hot Springs
One relaxing choice for spending time outdoors is the Maruia Hot Springs. Guests can enjoy a mineral bath or simply unwind in a sauna. Maruia Hot Springs offers its guests views of a river and nearby mountains. There are also many hiking trails that guests can choose to navigate. With a day spa and on-site dining, many New Zealanders flock to the hot springs for comfort.
New Zealand has a lot to offer those who take the time to visit. Its many outdoor activities provide fun ways to see the sites of the country and soak in the local culture and ambiance. For many people, this is the only motivation they need to plan a visit to the country.