Top Ten Locations
Love those lists and the magic number ten. Give yourself a challenge. In one year, cover off the latest list, from Trip Advisor, of top ten locations in New Zealand. Given that four of those locations are in Otago it shouldn’t be that difficult. Book your tickets or pack up the car. Make sure you have your host rewards card and go for it.
1. Sky Tower - Auckland
The tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, the Sky Tower allows for magnificent views in every direction. Glass fronted lifts, viewing platforms or if you are into the scary stuff then SkyWalk or SkyJump. You can round off the experience with coffee and a snack at the Sky Lounge or if it is chic and elegant you want then The Sugar Club. Feeling like you want to be on the move then dine at Orbit –the 360-degree revolving restaurant.
2. Waitangi Treaty Grounds – Paihia
Move on up to Northland and beautiful Paihia to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This site is where the Crown and Maori signed the Treaty that shaped New Zealand, Aotearoa. Visit treasures such as the Treaty House, Meeting House, Flagstaff and Ceremonial War Canoe. Guided tours are also available.
Waitangi is about three hours drive from Auckland and 2km from Paihia. Base yourself in Paihia and take an easy 25-minute walk or 2-minute drive to the Treaty Grounds.
Whilst up in Northland as part of your exploration of the Bay of Islands you should also check out Number 5 on the list
5. Pompallier Mission and Printery - Russell
Located only five minutes’ walk from the Russell wharf, on the waterfront, looking out over the Bay of Islands, Pompallier Mission is New Zealand’s only surviving pioneer printery and tannery in New Zealand. Here French Catholics translated Church Latin into te reo Māori at the time the country was becoming a British colony. Look back across the bay to the Treaty Grounds.
It is highly recommended that you take the guided tour in order to fully comprehend the influence of the Mission in the mid1800’s.
4. Katiki Point Lighthouse – Moeraki, Otago.
Begin your Otago road trip with a visit to Moeraki. Wander amongst the Moeraki boulders and eat at Fleurs for fresh fish and wonderful food. Replete and stocked up for the day drive out to the Katiki Point Lighthouse (built in 1878) on Katiki Point Historic Reserve/Te Raka-a-Hineatea close to the site of the old Te Raka-a-Hineatea Pa. This is the most significant breeding site for yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho in North Otago. Best viewing is before 9 am and after 3 pm but be sure to check on closing times before you drive out there. You may also see New Zealand fur seals/kekeno that haul out to rest on the rocky platforms around Katiki Point.
3 Olveston – Dunedin
After your outdoors excursion drive down to Dunedin for some indoors heritage experience.
Olveston is an authentic and original historic home depicting the life of a wealthy merchant family (The Theomin’s) in the early part of the twentieth century in Dunedin. Opened as a historic house museum in 1967, Olveston is a time capsule as little has changed inside the house since it was occupied as a family home, between 1906 to 1966.
Entry to Olveston is by guided tour only. Entry to the gardens and gift shop is free.
Six 1-hour public tours commence daily at: 9.30 am, 10.45 am, 12 noon, 1.30pm, 2.45pm and 4pm. (reservations are recommended).
And whilst you are in Dunedin check out number seven on the list –
7. Dunedin Railway Station
Set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens this is one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand. Built in Edwardian Baroque style, architect George Troup, unusually uses an experimental collaboration of Classical and Neo-Gothic imagery, which creates a grand and classically regimented structure, with an assorted and asymmetric countenance.
During the city's most prosperous years this railway station was the country's busiest, handling up to 100 trains each day. Nowadays as well as the “goods” trains, which rumble to and from Port Chalmers, the Taieri Gorge Rail Excursion train and the Seasider Rail Tour depart regularly.
On Saturday mornings the popular Farmers’ Market operates in the car park (7.30-11.30am) and just along the street is the new refurbished Toitu Museum.
After all that indoors adventure blow the cobwebs away with a drive south to
6. Nugget Point Lighthouse – Kaka Point - The Catlins
The Catlins is a gem of a route for travellers prepared to deal with whatever the weather throws your way. There are many attractions on route including Cathedral Caves, McLean Falls, Curio Bay but do not miss taking a slightly sideways swing round by the Nuggets. Nugget Point is one of the most distinctive landforms along the Otago coast. It's a steep headland with a lighthouse and a scattering of rocky islets (The Nuggets) that are home to sea lions, sooty shearwaters, shags, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills and a breeding colony of gannets with the occasional elephant and leopard seals. If you watch the water for a while, you might see Hector's dolphins and you will certainly see fur seals playing in the water at the bottom of the cliffs. Binoculars recommended. There is a penguin -watching hide at Roaring Bay.
From the northern end spend some time in Kaka Point walking along the beach and rocks. From the southern end stock up on a coffee at Owaka and then turn off the main highway, climb up over the hill and down into Wilsher Bay.
8. Old St Paul’s – Wellington
Back in the North Island visit New Zealand’s capital city with its vibrant CBD, Te Papa Museum and wharf front. Seek sanctuary and peace in Old St Paul’s, in Wellington’s heritage precinct and enjoy the beauty of this old church built entirely in native timber. This is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture. The interactive exhibition ‘Read this building’ allows you to fully engage with the glass, wood and brass story of this church.
9. St Faith’s Anglican Church – Rotorua
Think Rotorua and hot pools, boiling mud and Maori culture come to mind. St Faith’s historic timber Anglican Church in Ohinemutu village is intricately decorated with Maori carvings, tukutuku (woven panels), painted scrollwork and stained-glass windows. One window features an etched image of Christ wearing a Maori cloak, as he appears to walk on the waters of Lake Rotorua. Visitors speak of the beauty and peace of Ohinemutu and St Faith’s in particular. A living Maori village and Anglican parish, which is well worth a visit.
10. East Cape Lighthouse – Gisborne
Home to the first rays of dawn, the East Cape is another thread in the New Zealand tapestry which many visitors miss because it is off the main route. The East Cape Lighthouse stands 154m above sea level on Otiki Hill, above East Cape and is accessed by a walking track of some 700 steps. The reward is stunning views. A 22 kilometre, mostly unsealed no-exit road from Te Araroa takes you to the most easterly point on mainland New Zealand. The road clings to the eastern coastline with constant stunning views. In Te Araroa you'll find Te Waha-o-Rerekohu—New Zealand's oldest and largest pohutukawa tree - around 600 years old.
The East Cape Lighthouse figures on other lists including 101 Must Do’s for Kiwis so make it a must do journey. The lighthouse featured on the 1970’s Lighthouse series of postage stamps.