For the ultimate holiday of a lifetime experience, few places are quite as impressive as New Zealand. This is a country that truly has it all. No matter where you go, there are amazing sights and awesome things to experience.
With this in mind, how do you go about making your New Zealand motorhome holiday a little extra special?
Creating a memorable adventure
New Zealand is a country packed full of adventure; you'll want to make the most of every opportunity you have. That means making choices about what you want to do, see and experience.
On any holiday there are, of course, the major sights and trips that everyone wants to see such as the Punakaiki Rocks or the bustling city of Auckland. There is no doubt that these are interesting places that shouldn't be missed but to make your trip truly unique you want to make sure you sample everything that New Zealand has to offer.
Here are a few of the best unique travel destinations to add to your holiday itinerary.
Castle Hill - the spiritual centre of the universe
It is no secret that New Zealand is the place to go for sublime scenery with beautiful mountain ranges, stunning beaches and dramatic scenery. On a road trip through this island nation, you will see plenty of sights that will take your breath away, but there is nothing quite like getting up close and personal with nature to experience the awe-inspiring beauty truly. So while on our South Island Discovery Tour, why not plan a trip to Castle Hill?
Castle Hill is little-known and slightly off the beaten track, but you might be able to recognise the area if you have seen The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe movie. Part of the filming took place nearby.
When you reach Castle Hill, there is a stunning set of boulders from which the hill takes its name. The Dalai Lama visited in 2002. He felt so at peace within the landscape that he commented that this was the spiritual centre of the universe - an impressive claim for a small patch of farmland on a hill!
The unusually shaped boulders make this a unique location for amateur and avid photographers alike but be aware this is a walk not for the faint of heart as the peak is at an altitude of 700 meters. This certainly isn't a trip for those not accustomed to walking or climbing.
Devil's Bath - a natural yet eerie experience
A short drive from Rotorua and well worth the visit is a natural sulphur lake. Located in the Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland, Devils Bath is a bright, almost neon green colour because of a layer of sulphur that rises to the top.
This is an area known for hot springs and geysers, and the Devils bath is one of the more interesting water features to visit.
The water is calmer than in many of the local lakes, which adds an extra layer of mystery, helping to create an atmosphere of unnaturalness. This is the perfect opportunity to marvel at the wonder of nature in all its beauty and splendour.
This is a wonder that needs adding to your New Zealand itinerary, and luckily you pass nearby Devils Lake as you traverse from Rotorua through the geothermal region on our New Zealand Discovery Tour. Make sure you plan in some time to explore the geothermal trail including Devil's Bath on your trip.
Te Wairoa - a village buried by a volcano
Nature is incredible, but it can also be terrifying. This becomes clearer if you take a trip to Te Wairoa, a village that was established by Christian missionaries back in 1848. The village was lost when the nearby volcano, Mt Tarawera erupted and buried the settlement and many of its inhabitants.
When the village was built, the landscape looked very different from how it does today - an awe-inspiring reminder that nature can take hold and change the world in an instant. Now the village has been excavated, and visitors can travel beneath the landscape to see the remaining buried village.
This is another trip you can take on our New Zealand Discovery Tour. The attraction is not far from Rotura and is a good diversion on your way to the Bay of Plenty and beyond. Those taking the Wonders Of New Zealand Tour also have ample opportunity to visit this fascinating archaeological site on their road trip too.
Split Apple Rock - a natural wonder to behold
If you need another example of unusual nature at work, then take a walk past Tokangawha, also known as Split Apple Rock because it looks, well, like a giant apple split in two sitting on a rocky formation in the sea!
As unnatural as it may look, Split Apple Rock is a completely natural rock formation made from granite, and it is thought that ice formation in a crack is the culprit of the split. Although, the Maori have a much more interesting and colourful tale to tell about it.
According to local legend, the almost perfectly round boulder was split in two during a fight between two gods. Both wanted to claim the rock as their own. They split the rock to stop the feud, and to this day, the rock sits there as a reminder.
This is a trip that is well worth taking. In low tide, you may be able to get close to the rock itself, but even at high tide, the formation is impressive to see. The location of this attraction is perfect if you are taking the New Zealand Discovery or Ultimate New Zealand Tour. These both take you to the nearby Abel Tasman area - a place known for its beauty.
Mount Eden - crafted with the help of an elephant
Overlooking the cosmopolitan city of Auckland is Mount Eden, a luscious green platform atop a long-dormant volcano that is a popular sightseeing spot for both residents and tourists. From here you can view the whole city and the bay beyond and get a feel for just how large and beautiful this area of New Zealand is.
Mount Edens Maori name is Maungawhau which means mountain of the whau tree, and according to legend a deity called Mata'aho lives in the bowl-like crater at the top of the mountain and guards the secrets hidden within the earth.
But where does the elephant come into it all?
The stone viewing point from which you have a birdseye view of the whole area was built by prisoners and Maori men with the help of a royal elephant named Tom. Tom was the prized pet of Prince Alfred, who brought the elephant to New Zealand and the creature's strength was used to carry materials up the mountainside.
Most of our New Zealand Motorhome Tours start, end or have stopovers in Auckland so you will have plenty of time to take in the city sights and take a trip up this majestic dormant volcano and see the full beauty of the city and surrounding scenery.
Cape Reinga - discover the stunning legendary waters and tidal race
Located on the northwesternmost point of the North Island is a lighthouse from which one can look out to the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. If you are lucky, you can see the tidal race, where both seas meet, and waves clash together to form a bay of unsettled waters.
Where the sublime landscape meets the sea is the point where, according to legend, that departed spirits travel to and jump off on their way to meet passed loved ones in the spirit lands.
This is a remote site and a fantastic spectacle to see, but there is limited parking, so be careful when travelling with larger vehicles. The point is literally at the end of the road and parking isn't always easy. If you do want to take a trip, then you can travel from Auckland up to the most Northern parts of New Zealand.
The Maori and Colonial Museum - discover the fascinating culture and legends of the Maori
Not far from Misty Peaks Nature Reserve and Hickory Bay is one of the most fascinating trips through indigenous history you can take on your New Zealand holiday. It is in Okains Bay that you will find Okains Bay Museum and the most extensive collection of Maori artefacts available to the public. Some of these date back as far as the 1400s.
You can experience a range of original artefacts and replica's, including a traditional meeting house.
For more information, you can take a look at their website and see the exhibitions and attractions that are running when you take your trip.
Okains Bay is a relatively easy trip from Christchurch, so many of our tours that travel to that area are an ideal way to take a trip to the museum. You can choose from any of the following tours:
- Wonders Of New Zealand Tour
- South Island Discovery
- New Zealand Discovery
- The Grand New Zealand Caravan Tour
- Ultimate New Zealand
Brief stops and great talking points
There is far more to see and do in New Zealand than this article can possibly mention. So make sure you take a look at all our New Zealand holidays and the highlights each has to offer as well as our excursion page for those additional trips that make a holiday unique.
However, there is more to New Zealand than unique nature and fascinating culture. This is a country with a sense of fun and quirkiness too so if you want to add in a few quick stops and easy talking points then you can also visit these places.
The Tree Church - for an all-natural spiritual site, take a trip to the Tree Church located on the North Island, a short drive from Hamilton. This is an impressive project that has seen creator Barry Cox create a living church built almost entirely out of trees.
Steampunk HQ - Lovers of quirk will love experiencing how a steampunk world might be. In Oamaru, this small monument has been created to the fantasy genre known for its Victorian-style mixed with steam technology. A fun few hours can be spent exploring here!
The Shell House - Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived near to the beach, and over their years together they decorated their house with the beautiful shells picked up from their local beach and over time they adorned every wall until their home became known as the shell house. You can now visit this by taking a trip to Canterbury Museum in Christchurch.
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