For the amateur astronomer, there are also plenty of astronomical observatories and planetariums where you can investigate the cosmos via telescope or attend educational shows and exhibits that both entertain and enlighten, exploring the mysteries of the universe around us. Our very own rocket scientist, William Pickering, headed up NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for over 22 years, and New Zealand continues to harbour a passion for space exploration and rocketry. Rocket Lab, the first private company to reach space in the Southern Hemisphere launches their Electron rockets from our shores. While the facility is not open to the public, if you’re visiting Hawke’s Bay at just the right time you might be lucky enough to catch the spectacle of a launch from the complex on the Mahia Peninsula.
Unique ecosystems: biology, zoology and ecology
New Zealand’s’ remote location and volcanic past has created a unique and diverse natural landscape; thirty per cent of which is set aside as publicly protected land, from conservation areas to reserves to national parks.
Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll or are keen on a multi-day hike, there is a multitude of trails where you can experience the country’s unique ecosystems. Wander through native bush beneath the iconic silver ferns as sunlight filters down through the canopy. Tackle the Tongariro Crossing or admire the peaks rising above the desert as you investigate the tussocks and scrub of the North Island Volcanic Plateau. Learn about the medicinal properties and cultural significance of local plant life, or visit the massive majesty of the Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, New Zealand’s oldest living kauri tree.
This diverse biosphere is home to a multitude of wildlife. There are plenty of opportunities to head out into nature and encounter New Zealand wildlife first hand, from our more iconic species such as the elusive kiwi, the curious kea, or the one-of-a-kind tuatara to those that visit our shores and waters. Take a cruise to watch for whales and dolphins or visit the colonies of seals, gannets, and penguins that dot the coast and enjoy their antics in their natural habitat.
Alternately, if you prefer not to go so far afield, there are plenty of opportunities to explore, even in a more urban setting. Visit the wildlife sanctuary and encounter the bird and wildlife on Tiritiri Matangi Island off the coast of Auckland, explore the expansive urban eco-sanctuary of Zealandia in Wellington, or experience the mysteries of Antarctica as you investigate the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch.
From coast to coast, north to south, and land to sea, New Zealand prides itself on its commitment to sustainability and dedication to preserving our unique environment.
Pique your curiosity
So, when Visiting New Zealand, by all means, indulge in the stunning beauty, thrilling adventures, and famous activities that we are known for and do oh so well.
…but bring along your passion, sense of wonder, and thirst for knowledge. Look for the unexpected gems and subtle wonders that may lie off the beaten track. Take the path less travelled, open your mind to the possibilities, and truly explore the depth breadth of this amazing country.