Christmas is a great time for tourists to visit and explore our amazing country. Here's a unique way to do it: The Kiwi 12 Days of Christmas. Starting on Christmas Day, and spanning a 12 day period until January 5th, try these activities suggested by newzealand.com
Day one: White Christmas Kiwi
In the Wairarapa region, the folks at Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Reserve take care of a precious and very rare white kiwi called Manukura - the first all white kiwi hatched in captivity in the world.
Day two: Hug a giant
Get some friends together, link hands and wrap your arms around one of the big green trees in the Northland kauri forests. The kauri is a giant of the forest, and Northland has the biggest and most ancient specimens of this native tree species that once covered much of the North Island’s northern coastal regions.
Day three: Soak your cares away
Soak your cares away in steaming mineral waters at Rotorua’s iconic Polynesian Spa. Rotorua - in New Zealand’s volcanic central North Island - has long been attracting tourists looking for a relaxing and therapeutic experience in the legendary hot springs and bubbling pools of sulphurous mud.
Day four: Stars in your eyes
Turn your eyes to the heavens for a world-beating star-gazing experience at Mount John Observatory, Tekapo - in the South Island’s Mackenzie Country. Lake Tekapo’s pollution and cloud-free night skies are recognised as an international dark sky reserve because the region offers some of the world’s best star gazing conditions in an easily accessed location.
Day five: Chill out
Chill out with the penguins at the International Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport - gateway to Canterbury and Antarctica. Deep freeze experiences like the penguin encounter, rides on the Hagglund all-terrain vehicle, a 4D movie adventure that includes a blizzard, and the chance to play in snow and on ice, make this a popular family destination.
Day six: Savour the moment
Discover the sun soaked Marlborough terroir where New Zealand’s now world famous sauvignon blanc varietal was pioneered. The spectacular new Brancott Estate Heritage Centre is a unique destination for cellar door wine tastings or a complete restaurant experience matching top regional produce with premium New Zealand wines.
Day seven: Dip your toes
If you like to dip your toes in the water, it’s hard to go past the Blue Lake - an oasis of pure clear water in Nelson Lakes National Park, near the top of New Zealand’s South Island. Blue Lake has some of the clearest water in the world, according to a scientific study conducted by NIWA (New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) which found that it was almost as 'optically clear' as distilled water.
Day eight: Hunt a Hobbit
Pssst … there are Hobbits about, and with Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opening in cinemas around the world during December 2014, the place to be is Hobbiton - mythical home of Hobbits - on the green hills just outside Matamata.
Day nine: Pick a shady tree
For the ultimate Kiwi beach experience, find a grove of native pohutukawa trees and settle yourself into a comfy position below its crimson blooms. A native of the northern coasts, the prolific red blooms of the pohutukawa and the closedly related rata that inhabits southern coastal regions are an iconic symbol of the Kiwi Christmas and summer holiday memories.
Day ten: Downhill thrills
Queenstown - a year-round resort town - is a cycling mecca with tracks for every thrill level from downhills for serious mountain bikers to long stretches of gentle well formed trails for leisurely jaunts. vineyards and along the waterside.
Day eleven: Cruise about
Cruise about the Otago Peninsula - just east of Dunedin - and discover some of New Zealand’s unique and fascinating wildlife.
Day twelve: Spin into New Year
Pull on the big red suit, zip up and spin into New Year with a high-speed adventure on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. The Auckland Adventure jet will have you hanging on tight as you head into a 360-degree turn under the Harbour Bridge.