Mount Maunganui:

Just a 10 kilometres from home, The Mount is one of NZ's most popular holiday spots. Excellent beach, safe swimming, pleasant cafes, restaurants and shopping, and for 6 months of the year, quite a busy cruise ship port.
Mount Maunganui is also the name of the large lava dome which was formed by the upwelling lava about two to three million years ago. It is officially known by its Māori name Mauao, but is colloquially known in New Zealand simply as The Mount.
Its 232 metres high; there are numerous walking tracks up to the top, and a base track that follows the coastline. I walk to the top each week up the 'steep track' of about 400 plus stairs. 40 minutes round the base..40 minutes up to the top and back. Excellent views along the coast and on a clear Winters days, you can see White Island volcano lurking over beyond Motiti Island. The views make the gut busting walk worth every step, no matter what the time of the day. Definitely one of the best short walks in NZ.
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The Riwaka Source:

Just outside Motueka, at the foot of the Takaka Hill, a side road takes you a few km up a valley to the source of the Riwaka River. Nowadays its called the Riwaka Resurgence, but we have always know it as the Riwaka Source. About a 10 min walk from the car park along a bush clad track, the river emerges from the limestone caves within the Takaka Hill. Cold and beautifully clear water..too cold for swimming.
Its really worth the drive & a short walk.
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Kaiteriteri Beach

Great school day memories; biking to Kaiteri & back from home in Motueka. Probably one of the nicest beaches anywhere; a bit crowded at Christmas and New Year but most other times its fine.
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Karangahake Gorge Walks

And old Gold Mining area, together with disused rail line and tunnels. Just off SH2, you can spend a couple of hours here and think you are in the middle of nowhere.
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Moeraki, Otago

Moeraki, is a small coastal township about 70km north of Dunedin in Otago. It's famous for the beach with perfectly rounded boulders - The Moeraki boulders.
Also home to an extraordinarily good restaurant cafe & bar "Fleurs Place" which is right on the waterfront. The best fresh seafood, locally caught and delivered each day from Moeraki Bay fishing boats.
Recommended by Rick Stein as one of the worlds best restaurants..he isn't wrong. Go there for lunch or dinner and buy Fleur's book..she will likely be there and sign it for you.

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Raglan

Really nice North Island west coast beachside town very popular with surfers and for fishing..a bit out of the way west of Hamilton but worth the drive. Nice cafes; a very pleasant town.
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Cook Strait Ferry
On a nice fine day, there isn't much better than crossing Cook Strait on the Ferry. Entering and leaving Wellington Harbour is great..as is Tory Channel and the Marlborough Sounds. The ferries now have passable food..better than the horrid pies and mince on toast of the 70's and 80's. Pity that the ferries themselves look quite dilapidated.
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Hawks Crag in the Buller Gorge

A marvel of roading necessity dating from the late 1800's. The road was cut as a notch into a sheer granite cliff above the river. Originally wide enough for a horse and cart; it has been widened over the years for trucks and buses; nevertheless its still a 1 way road.
Hawks Crag was always a highlight and a milestone point when I remember the drive from Westport to Nelson in the early 1960's. The Lower Buller Gorge was sealed, but the Upper Buller Gorge was not sealed and was a very narrow and winding road then. It was improved between 1965-67, just in time for the Inangahua Earthquake of 1968 to undo most of the work.
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Lake Rotoiti, Nelson

Mainly remembered for the Speedboat races held at Lake Rotoiti in the 1960's and 1970's at New Year. Great memories of attending these races; high speed & noisy hydroplane boats screaming round the lake.
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Hamilton Gardens

Best to take a few hours and visit Hamilton Gardens. Right beside the Waikato River in Hamilton you will find several theme gardens; Indian, Italian Renaissance, Chinese Scholars, Japanese Contemplation,English and many others. Plenty of walks, and its all free. Gardens as good as you will find anywhere in the world.
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Akaroa

On Banks Peninsula in Canterbury about 70km from Christchurch; a small number of French settled at Akaroa in the early 1840's and French influence remains in some Street names. Pleasant town, excellent cafes and restaurants, with a good range accommodation, some right on the waterfront. Just avoid the days the cruise ships are in the harbour during cruising season.

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Waikanae River estuary

North of Wellington in the Kapiti area the Waikanae River flows into the Tasman Sea. Great walking trails, a birdlife coastal sanctuary and excellent views of Kapiti Island & the coast.
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Buller Gorge Swingbridge and JetBoats

About 15k west of Murchison, on SH6 to Westport and the West Coast, you will find the and the Buller Gorge swing-bridge and JetBoats. If you are not scared of heights or wobbly bridges, walk across the bridge; it has wire mesh sides and an mesh walking track and is quite high over the river. Plenty of walking trails, and old gold mining areas around. A gold pan will hep you find a few specks of gold anywhere on the river banks,
The JetBoat ride would be be one of the best in NZ..in my opinion the best. The Buller River is beautiful and the ride we went on was excellent..good commentary from a guy who knows the history of the area in detail. It's also right by the faultline of the 1929 Murchison Earthquake.

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