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DRAMATIC glaciers, steep cliff-bound fiords, volcanoes and crashing oceans - New Zealand certainly isn't short of stunning landscapes. Here are just some of the natural wonders worth visiting...

Whale-watching in Kaikoura

The waters off Kaikoura in the South Island are so rich in diverse marine life that they have earned the reputation as NZ's "Natural Marineland". A boat trip around this marine paradise is extremely popular and offers an enviable opportunity to see giant sperm whales, migratory humpback whales, orca, hector dolphins and dusky dolphins in their natural environment.

You could try including Kaikoura in a full-day tour from Christchurch, also including a visit to a winery.

Cape Reinga

Known as "the meeting place of the oceans", Cape Reinga, in the Northland Region near the Bay of Islands, is where the Tasman Sea crashes into the Pacific Ocean. A line where they meet is clearly visible on the surface of the sea.

Located on the northern tip of NZ, this is where the Maoris believe their spirits depart for their mythical homeland of Hawaiiki.

An 11-hour air-conditioned coach tour from Auckland to Cape Reinga includes a drive along the rugged sands of Ninety Mile Beach, which is flanked by the Aupouri Forest. Gigantic sand dunes and stunning scenery make this a trip to remember.

Rotorua: Mitai/Rainbow Springs Night-time Combo

Spiritual home to the Maori, Rotorua is the ideal place for people seeking to learn more about New Zealand's origins.

This cultural excursion enables visitors to meet the descendants of the local tribe of Te Arawa and enjoy an authentic Maori experience.

Visitors are treated to tribal stories, myths and song and dance including The Haka, made famous by the All Blacks.

A visit to their ancient village in the magical forest, together with a feast of Maori cuisine, is included.

This is followed by a nocturnal visit to the wildlife park at Rainbow Springs - a must for people keen to see kiwis and other wildlife in their natural environment.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Described by Rudyard Kipling as "the eighth wonder of the world", Milford Sound is a huge draw for visitors from all over the world.

A two-and-half-hour cruise through the crystal-clear waters of Milford Sound, set in the spectacular Fiordland national park in South Island, surrounded by its steep cliffs, makes for an unforgettable experience.

Glacier Walk

Of the 140 glaciers that flow from the Southern Alps, only two penetrate as far as the lower rainforests, reaching just 250m above sea level.

The largest one, Fox Glacier, carves an impressive path through the mountains and a half-day guided walk here gives a real taste of this spectacular, natural phenomenon.

Mountain gear is provided, and visitors will need a reasonable level of fitness to take part.

For the more adventurous...

Helicopter flights and overnight guided treks, staying in alpine huts, are also available.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Nov 7, 2009
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