A Kiwi’s guide to his homeland
Timaru, home of the largest collection of Maori rock drawings in the world. Take in the impressive interactive displays and a tour to a local rock-art site where the abundant limestone of the surrounding Aoraki region provided an ideal canvas for ancient artists. See teana.co.nz
One of a string of stunning, glacierblue lakes along the eastern foot of the Southern Alps, Lake Tekapo is a yearround destination for sightseeing and active pursuits. A popular stop is the Church of the Good Shepherd which has the best view around.
The real action arguably takes place at night in the Mt John observatory high above the town. The observatory is part of the UNESCO Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the first in the southern hemisphere and the world’s largest. Pollution and light-free skies make the area a stargazer’s dream. See earthandskynz.com
OAMARU VICTORIAN PRECINCT
Through a miracle of conservation, the original 19th-century part of this southern coastal town is still in action with boutiques and galleries selling secondhand books, jewellery, clothing and traditional crafts.
The exquisitely beautiful buildings are made from the local white limestone and because this is NZ there’s also Steampunk HQ, a quirky sci-fi take on 19th century technology. See victorianoamaru.co.nz steampunkoamaru.co.nz
MANAPOURI POWER STATION
Australia may have the Snowy Mountains Scheme, but it ain’t got nuthin’ like Manapouri. Considered to be NZ’s greatest engineering feat, Manapouri is the country’s largest hydro-electric power station and is built almost entirely underground.
Seasonal tours (November to April) take visitors across Lake Manapouri (part of the Fiordland World Heritage Area and awe-inspiring in itself ) to a visitor centre.
From there, a coach heads down a 2km spiral tunnel to the power station’s vast machine hall. It’s like a mad collaboration between Dr Evil from the Austin Powers movies and the MONA dude in Hobart, 200m inside a granite mountain. See realjourneys.co.nz