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Ten of the best NZ holiday spots this summer

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/12/2014
A breathtaking view of the Tutukaka coast. © brians101/Getty Images A breathtaking view of the Tutukaka coast.

New Zealand is home to beaches, glaciers, mountains, city centres and regional hubs - all of which you can enjoy at some of the country's best summer holiday spots.

NEW PLYMOUTH

There's no shortage of beaches and parks in this west coast North Island city known for it sunny climate. Swim, fish or surf at its black sand beaches, or explore the hiking trails of Egmont National Park encompassing the huge dormant volcano that is Mount Taranaki. The city's coastal walkway is a 10km promenade dotted with beaches and city attractions such as Puke Ariki museum and the gardens and lakes of Pukekura Park.

MATAKANA

About an hour's drive north of Auckland, Matakana wine region is home to boutique vineyards and a gateway to the beautiful beaches of the Hauraki Gulf.

There's two marine reserves to choose from if you want to go diving or snorkelling - Goat Island or Tawharanui - and more than a dozen nearby beaches.

KAITERITERI

This seaside resort on the South Island is famous for its golden sand beach and clear turquoise water as well as its proximity to Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman is New Zealand's only coastal national park and the country's smallest, which makes it ideal for exploring by boat, water taxi or kayak on day trips, or a three- to five-day walk along its 60km coastal track.

WAIPATIKI

This secluded sandy beach 30 minutes north of Napier is set against coastal bush and a track that leads to limestone cliffs with views over Hawke's Bay.

Other tracks connect Waipatiki to small bays and Aropaoanui beach to the north.

OHAU POINT

At this seal colony some 25km north of Kaikoura you can see seal pups swim and frolic under a waterfall. To get to Ohau Point it's a short walk alongside Ohau stream, or take a guided kayaking tour for a chance to swim with fur seals.

PUNAKAIKI

The gateway to Paparoa National Park and limestone country on the West Coast.

South of the main village you'll find the iconic Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

- rocks resembling giant stacks of hotcakes with columns of water shooting from them. A short walk along the Truman Track leads you through native rainforest to a lookout of the Tasman sea and down towards the rugged sandstone formations of Truman beach.

PUTANGIRUA PINNACLES

There's nothing bad about these badlands rock formations in Aorangi Forest Park in the Wairarapa, an hour's drive from Martinborough. The hundreds of eroded pillars that form this valley are known as hoodoos, and were used by Peter Jackson during filming of Lord of the Rings. Most of the walking tracks to the pinnacles take about two hours to three hours.

HAAST PASS

One of the walks along this mountain pass in the Southern Alps takes you to a series of clear azure blue pools which centuries of erosion have carved out of the rocks. The Blue Pools Walk within the World Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park winds through native silver beech and across Makarora River via a swing bridge with views of the South Island's Main Divide.

WHALE BAY 

Whale Bay on the Tutukaka Coast Highway near Whangarei has been voted by many as the most beautiful beach in New Zealand for good reason. The small horseshoe-shaped beach of squeaky white sand is surrounded by bush and tress with no direct access by road. The calm water is great for swimming while a left-hand point break also makes it ideal for experienced surfers. 

WAIHEKE ISLAND

A mere 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke's hippy vibe goes hand in hand with its many scenic beaches and boutique vineyards. Onetangi and Oneroa are considered two of the island's best beaches, with Oneroa village and its many cafes and restaurants just minutes away. One of the island's most pristine beaches Cactus Bay is accessibly only by boat or kayak. 

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