This impressive crater which was caused by the explosion of a volcano more than 100 years ago, is now a local tourist destination. You actually have to go out to the outskirts of the city to find it but driving gets you there quickly. There are streams flowing here and there, hot water, often of several colors at the same time, small boiling lakes, smoke all around, really smelly and very thick, at first it's a little scary because it seems that everything is alive, anything could happen to you in a few minutes, especially if you are lucky to go up with a New Zealander, they are always hearty ..... and always willing to expain everything to you.
The most comprehensive information is at http://en.Wikipedia.Org/wiki/Franz_Josef_Glacier. The glacier known as Franz Josef (or Ka Roimata or Hinehukatere) is 12 kilometres long, less than 300 meters above sea level and only 19 kilometres from the Tasman Sea. The Waiho River, which rises from the glacier, flows into the Tasman Sea. The glacier moves back and forth in four year cycles depending on the amount of snow in the upper snowfield. There are years that the glacier can extend 100 meters and others only 30. Its neighbour, Fox Glacier, and the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, are the only glaciers in the world that are found in a rain forest, which gives you an idea of the variety of climates that exist in New Zealand.
Fox Glacier, much like its brother Franz Josef Glacier, is one of the few in the world that is still growing. While on the way to the glacier, there's a sign about 10km of the way down saying "in 1750 the glacier came up to here", so it used to be even bigger and more majestic than it is now. There is an hour walk to the base of the glacier and back, although they won't let you get as close now as there have been accidents and even deaths of people who want to touch the ice. There is also an hour and a half hike to a lookout from which there is a spectacular view of the glacier.
This park is a unique experience, definitely a destination that you should visit if you have the chance. There are white sandy beaches, wildlife and the sunset view is amazing. Here are some ecological reserves: http://mipagina.1001consejos.com/profiles/blogs/top-10-reservas-ecologicas (Kruger park and Xcaret are my favourites).
Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand and it's the fourth oldest national park in the world. This national park is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It has a mixed character, because it mixes culture, it's a sacred place to the Maori people, and its volcanic origin from Three volcanic mountains (the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro), can be found in the center of the park. And you can climb them! The easiest one is the Tongariro, which is 2000 meters tall.
Mount Cook in New Zealand is a great trip taking in the shores of the Pukaki lake. It is a privileged view and beauty takes your breath away. It's wild and untouched and you feel small sitting there, surrounded by such greatness.
Halfway between Taupo and Rotorua we found this spectacular geothermal park. It's not the most visited in the area, but is among the three most important. We can see geysers (not predictable), mud pools, but the most spectacular are the colorful terraces. Admission is just under 20 euros and the journey is supposed to take an hour and a half.
Waipoua Forest is a nature reserve in the North Island in New Zealand. It is one of the best examples of a kauri forest, a tree endemic to the region, which is in this country. Within the park, there are the two of the world's largest kauri, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere. Mahuta means the god of the forest. This protected area was created in 1952. The nearest villages to visit are Dargaville and Omapere. The visitor center is organized by the mauri, and you have to contact them to be able to organize your trip. There is easy access from the main paths, but the rest is very dense. You can stay at the edge of the park to sleep, camping is prohibited within. Most northern forests have disappeared because of fire and construction. This is one of the primeval forest of Zealand. They are protected by the DOC, the Department of Conservation. I recommend that you visit it, as it is a beautiful site to see and enjoy the nature and relaxation.
This reserve is 15 minutes from Christchurch and is the ideal place to see kiwis in New Zealand. Spotting a glimpse of them otherwise is downright difficult. It's like a zoo where you can see other animals such as kangaroos and opossums, and where you can see other New Zealand wildlife. Kiwis can see in the environment and no glass separating them from you.
Situated on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Kaikoura, is a special place. And it is for many reasons. The best known is the whales, dolphins and seals. But it also has the kindness and hospitality of its natives. We can wake up with breakfast on the top of a tree, with the people at your feet. The population was the first to achieve Green Globe distinction which is about sustainable tourism, and its work on the sighting of whales, dolphins and seals is remarkable. One can go flying the ocean to spot large cetaceans, or along the coast and enjoy watching the seals hostels. One can not just eat in a tree but also sleep in one. Www.Hapukulodge.Com. I was not lucky enough to be able to sleep in one. And is that such a unique accommodation is only available to a few (NZ $ 787.50 a nearly € 400 with breakfast). What I can say is that the kitchen smelled great!
Port Jackson is a unique place in the Coromandel Peninsula on the tip of the island. At one end, you think this is where human life ends and marine life begins! And there you will be alone, or with other travellers who are fascinated easily with being alone.
Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It reaches a height of nearly 3,800 meters, and apart from that it is a mountain of great beauty. In the park there are many beautiful trails which you can explore. There is one which is 3 hours from the parking lot to Lake Hooker, which is created by melted water from the glacier of Mount Cook, milky colored because of the minerals in the water.
This point is at the very edge of the main road between Haast and Wanaka. This rocky point houses a large colony of seals, sea lions and penguins. Unfortunately, when we went the visibility was low and little could be seen
Hill Deer Park Heights is a private nature reserve, but is accessible to the public. It has several species of wild animals (deer, llamas, goats ...), but is best known for the Lord of the Rings movies. I recognised many parts of the landscape, near Queenstown from the films. The view is really worth the trip, with the Remarkables mountain range to the south and Lake Wakatipu, which can be observed and photographed on both sides.
Located 30 kilometres west of Auckland, Waitakere Natural Park includes over 16,000 hectares of native forest and coast. It has over 250km of forest tracks, and includes fantastic beaches, stunning views, spectacular rivers and waterfalls, cliffs, and lush flora and fauna. The most popular parts are the black sand beaches like Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Te Henge / Bethells, which offer great waves for surfers. Running, walking, boating, fishing, hiking, camping, relaxing, surfing, cycling ... you're sure to find something to suit you here, and ARC's Operation ForestSave, the regulator of the natural parks of the Auckland region since 1998, has done a great job offering information to visitors.
The information centre is a must. The arrival of Europeans in 1830 led to major changes in the area. The forest industry and subsequently the implementation of farms resulted in massive logging, which even today has not been completely reset. But the Maori maintained their strong spirital ties to the land, inheriting the role of kaitiaki ('gatekeepers') from their ancestors. The history of the area is represented through "whenua pu" wood carvings scattered throughout the park. For movie lovers, some scenes of "The Piano" were shot here.
This is my favorite part of The Catlins national park, on the South Island of New Zealand. The Tasmania Sea is incredibly blue. Looking over the cliff you can see the sea lion colonies. Highly Recommended!