Although cannabis is completely illegal in New Zealand, the country has one of the highest usages of cannabis in the world. Therefore should you find yourself in New Zealand and experiencing a natural high here are my personal top 10 spots to enhance the vibe.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools
Ninety minutes drive outside of Christchurch through some of the most glorious wine country; you will find the tiny alpine village of Hanmer. The hot pools and spa located off the main road are consistently touted as the number one must do thing in New Zealand. Surrounded by alpine forests and mountains that are truly breath-taking, soak away your cares in a myriad of pools that range in temperatures from the bath-like 38-40 degree hexagonal pools, to the cool waters of the freshwater pool and water slide. The Aquatherapy pools are guaranteed to massage any aches or tensions and with private pools available along with the excellent treatments in the spa, this is one place you will never forget.
Just over 2 hours drive from Auckland in the Coromandel is the famous Cathedral Cove. Accessible only on foot, boat or kayak, this stunning rock archway featured in the Prince Caspian movie is well worth the walk. The enormous arched cavern passes through the pristine white headland to join two secluded and private coves. The archway which would not be out of place gracing any cathedral adds an air of hallowed sanctuary to the pristine beach and scenery that it protects. The reserve has many walks and sights such as the pumice outcrop known as ‘Te Hoho’ which has been weathered and sculpted over time by the elements so that it now resembles the prow from an old sailing ship.
If being under the water appeals to you then the Marine Reserve at Cathedral Cove will stun with its abundant sponge gardens and reef systems teaming with marine life.
30 km’s across the Foveaux Strait from the South of New Zealand’s south Island lies Stewart Island. Accessible by ferry from Bluff the island prides itself on being unspoilt, relaxing and even by New Zealand’s standards ridiculously beautiful. True it is not the warmest of places so wrap up warm as the next stop south is Antarctica, however the rugged beauty combined with the simpler, slower pace of life of the inhabitants makes it a wonderful spot to reconnect with the universe and be at peace in one’s own skin. The island is covered in lush rainforest and is a haven for birdlife which fill the air with their song during spring and summer as well as being one of the few places populated with New Zealand’s national bird, the Kiwi. The island is also home to several colours of beaches including black, red and the truly golden beaches that sparkle in the summer sun. However don’t be tricked it is Fools Gold not the real thing.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
World-renowned the Waitomo Glowworm Caves have to be seen and experienced to be believed. As visitors drift through the cave system in a barge, tens of thousands of Arachnocampa luminosa glow worms that are unique to New Zealand illuminate the structure as experienced guides inform and delight with facts and stories about the caves and its inhabitants. The caves also house an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites and visitors get to explore various caverns which depending on the company you are touring with can include the Cave of the Spirit and the fossil remains it holds.
Located 2 hours drive south of Auckland this is a destination well worth the trip.
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
Located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island Franz Josef is a 12km glacier while Fox glacier is the bigger brother at 13km long. Accessible by helicopter and then foot the glaciers are stunning and are two of the most accessible glaciers in the world. These rivers of ice plunge through the rainforests to almost sea level in frozen beauty and a range of tours are available for visitors to explore the region. Once done for the day warming up is as simple as a visit to the glacier hot pools.
Arthurs Pass and Sunset anywhere on the West Coast
Nestled in the Southern Alps between Canterbury and the West Coast is the town of Arthurs Pass and the National Park it is located in. The town is over 900 metres above sea level and is the main starting point for a myriad of walking and mountain biking trails. The area is also renowned for its stunning natural beauty and wildlife and is a unique place that mixes the alpine scenery and wildlife of the Canterbury side of the main divide with the lush rainforest environment that the West Coast is famous for. Arthurs Pass is also a spot where one can get up close and personal with the Kea, the uniquely curious and intelligent alpine parrot that is known to cause many an unwary driver a headache, when they attack cars ripping out the rubber seals to gain access to the vehicles.
Once you have enjoyed the view from the Devils Punchbowl, continue on down the highway through the Otira Gorge on to the West Coast. Stop for a pie and a Pint at the famous Jacksons watering hole and then select a spot on the coast to watch the sunset and contemplate life the universe and everything as the sun sinks beneath the waves.
Hobbiton – Matamata
If the lure of Middle Earth is what drew you to the shores of New Zealand then no experience will be complete without a visit to the places that graced the screen. Most famous is the home of the hobbits, Hobbiton, situated on a picturesque farm outside the town of Matamata. There you can visit the hobbit holes that were created and recreated for both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, as well as enjoy a pint at the Green Dragon Inn. Located in the Hamilton/Waikato region the experience of being at Hobbiton is so realistic we suggest you take a moment just to revel in the fantasy.
Fiordland is a world heritage area on the South west coast of New Zealand’s south Island that is renowned for its stunning scenery and the ability to chart the evolutionary history of our planet. Home to the Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, there is no better way to experience the majestic views than by boat. Although I concede that the area is known as the sightseeing and walking capital of the world, nothing can beat the serenity afforded from one of the many cruises that operate on the sounds. From the numerous thunderous waterfalls to the majesty of the mountains that thrust up towards the sky from beneath the ocean this area is one to lose oneself in the majesty of the planet we call home.
Of all the places in New Zealand’s South Island this is one of the most overlooked. The Port Hills to the east of Christchurch are the remnants of the Lyttelton volcano which erupted millions of years ago creating both the hills and the numerous bays and harbours. Nestled in the lush folds of the hills are numerous towns from the delightfully French Akaroa, to Barry’s Bay and its famous cheese factory and shop. The hills are littered with walking and biking tracks and are one of the best places to simply stop and enjoy the world in peace and tranquillity.
Aotearoa New Zealand – The Land of the Long White Cloud
The reality is that there is nowhere in New Zealand that is not perfect to commune with nature and the spirit of the universe. Whether you have a preference for the sea or mountains, rainforests or glaciers, city or country – New Zealand has it all. From the rich heritage of the Maori, to the colour and culture of the pacific peoples there is something here to touch everyone’s soul. No matter the weather or the season there is an activity that will thrill and excite be it winter or extreme sports, fishing or hiking, or simply sitting back in some of the most gorgeous scenery on this planet and letting the world go by New Zealand has you covered. So come enjoy the hospitality of the country that calls itself Godsown and take the opportunity to achieve a higher state of consciousness with your surroundings