7 Top Attractions in Rotorua, New Zealand

Geyser flat, Whakarewarewa © Chris McLennan

Geyser flat, Whakarewarewa © Chris McLennan

Did you know that the Frying Pan Lake near Rotorua is the world’s largest hot water spring, with temperatures reaching 200?C at its deepest point? It comes as no surprise that curious travelers are completely awed as soon as they set foot in this shimmering wonderland. The geothermal city of Rotorua is the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture with its unique volcanic landscape, living Maori culture, natural hot springs and plenty of options for family fun time.

Located in the North Island, Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, thus volcanic activity has become integral to the city’s history and character. It is also the tribal home of the Te Arawa people who settled in lakeside geothermal areas more than 600 years ago. The place delivers awe-inspiring experiences: geothermal phenomena (geysers, boiling mud pools), unique Maori culture (marae stays, hangi feasts, an authentic pre-European Maori village) and natural assets (fantastic trout fishing in one of its 16 lakes).

With a well-developed adventure culture, this sizzling place has some of the world’s best mountain bike trails, walking tracks, indulgent spa therapies), and adventure (sky diving, jet boating, zorbing).

Interactive farm fun © Agrodome

Interactive farm fun © Agrodome

1. Action and Adventure

Agrodome is an awesome theme park that everyone, no matter what age, will truly enjoy. Situated on a scenic 160-hectare sheep and beef farm, it is an educational and hands-on experience that shouldn’t be missed. It offers visitors a fun and interactive experience in Kiwi farming that includes meeting lovable animals in the flesh (including goats, cattle, deer, alpacas and ostriches) and taking part in its famed sheep shearing exercise. For thrill-seekers: try bungee jumping, zorbing, Swoop, Freefall Xtreme, Agrojet, Shweed, Helipro and more.  

Catch the Sheep Show for insight into the world of New Zealand agriculture, featuring 19 breeds of sheep, sheep shearing, cow milking, lamb feeding and dog demonstrations. There are three shows daily at 9.30am, 11.00am and 2.30pm. Join the Organic Farm Tour to interact with a variety of farm animals, and visit the Organic Orchard for honey and kiwifruit juice tasting. Farm Tours depart daily at 10.40am, 12.10pm, 1.30pm and 3.40pm.

Drop in on the Woollen Mill and Shearing Shed to learn about the process of making wool. In case you missed the Sheep Show, the Farmyard Nursery is the place where you can come up close and personal with the smallest – and cutest – baby farm animals. Now’s your chance to pet one.

2. Glowing Experience

An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Maori culture, leaving you amazed and in awe. Enter the world of Mitai. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don’t miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glowworms in their natural habitat.

Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During our cultural performance, you’ll learn about our past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art).

Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. The spine-tingling haka finale’ is astounding. The Mitai family is proud to have created a sacred and spiritual place that offers you an indigenous cultural experience like no other.

Bathing on Lake Spa © Polynesia Spa

Bathing on Lake Spa © Polynesia Spa

3. Thermal Indulgences

There’s no better way to rejuvenate both the body and mind. Polynesian Spa is New Zealand’s leading international day spa, providing a unique thermal spa experience swathed in a picturesque, tranquil setting overlooking Lake Rotorua. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing hot spring bath in any of the spa’s 26 hot spring pools, which are offered in four areas, including a choice of deluxe, adult, private or family pools.

For a more indulging experience, choose from a range of sumptuous spa and massage therapies such as hydro and dry relaxation spa treatments. Pick from an intriguing assortment of exfoliations, polishes, wraps, replenishments and massages, which are applied to the back or body, face, legs or feet. Imagine a manuka honey and lavender body polish, or thermal mud or kiwifruit soufflé body wrap!

Or go for a water-based hydro spa therapy with the popular Aix Spa Massage, introduced in France in the early 1900’s and available at Polynesian Spa for over thirty years. Enjoy this smooth flowing, fragrant coconut oil massage under jets of warm water.

4. Historical Sojourn

Discover the great stories of the Rotorua region through the museum’s innovative exhibitions and cinema experiences. Learn about the rich culture, volatile landscape and legendary figures that have shaped this fascinating region. Whether you have an hour or a day, you will find plenty of entertainment at Rotorua Museum. The stunning Bath House building can be explored from the mud bath basement to the viewing platform on the rooftop.

Housed in the historic Bath House building (Government Gardens), the museum is the guardian of a building holding the highest classification under the New Zealand Historic Places Act. As a storehouse of the community’s treasures, the museum is responsible for several important collections.

5. Enriching Encounters

Te Puia is home to Pohutu geyser, national carving and weaving schools, and the world-famous Whakarewarewa guides. Te Pe’ is Te Puia’s evening cultural experience, a cultural feast of enriching storytelling, entertainment and Maori kai (indigenous food). Te Heketanga a Rangi (heavenly origins) comprises twelve monumental contemporary carvings reaching skywards, each representing a celestial guardian in Te Arawa culture. Step into its ancient valley where geysers, including the famed Pohutu geyser, mud pools, and boiling watersa re still attracting visitors after 40,000 years.

Kiwi Encounter, Rainbow Springs © Chris McLennan

Kiwi Encounter, Rainbow Springs © Chris McLennan

6. Colourful Theme Park

Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park has been a favourite destination of travelers to New Zealand since 1932. A natural spring of fresh water has given the place the ability to conserve a special part of New Zealand. Spread over 22 acres of parkland, it is a must-see for anyone wanting to get to know New Zealand’s wonderful environment and animals

Meet some of New Zealand’s unique animals. Marvel at the tuatara (a type of lizard that has survived over 100 million years). Call on 16 different breeds of native birds in aviaries and surrounding landscapes, including paradise ducks and the kiwi. Don’t forget to look for the long-finned eel that has been living in the park for over 60 years.

The park is also home to many rainbow, brown and tiger trout that reside in the spring-fed pools. Feed them and watch them from the underwater viewing area. Learn about the Kiwi Bird at Kiwi Encounter. The 2011/12 season anticipates the first Kiwi baby hatching on the 13th of August. Last season, Kiwi Encounter hatched over 130 kiwi chicks.

7. Lodging with a View

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua is the largest hotel in the city, sitting pretty on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. The 248-room accommodation, many with superb views of the lake, is also adjacent to the renowned Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll from the Rotorua Convention Centre and the vibrant city centre. 

Sudima Hotel offers the perfect start or end to a day with a divine meal in Lakes Restaurant that is sure to delight your taste buds; including first-class service and a fresh approach to top-quality dining. You will always find prime New Zealand meats and fresh seafood on the a la Carte menu, artfully prepared with the finest seasonal ingredients. The menu offers something for everyone, from Pacific Rim dishes to vegetarian options and international cuisine.

Meet your friends in the warm atmosphere of Mallards Bar, adjacent to Lakes Restaurant. Sample award winning wines, imported beers and spirits as well as great espresso coffee and non-alcoholic selections. Mallards Bar also has wireless broadband Internet so you can relax and catch-up with friends and family in a relaxing atmosphere.

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New Zealand – Wine Paradise

Your love of wine and food will draw you to Marlborough © Ian Trafford

Your love of wine and food will draw you to Marlborough © Ian Trafford

New Zealand is a country like no other, and its wine is an experience like no other. The special combination of New Zealand soil, climate and water, the pioneering spirit and commitment to quality all come together in every glass of New Zealand wine. These wines are known throughout the world for their purity, vibrancy and intensity. New Zealand is home to what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc, and is often called the New World’s utopia for Sauvignon Blanc, marrying old world wine-making traditions with the vibrancy of exotic aromas from the New World.

The country boasts distinct major wine-growing regions spread throughout the country, with the majority located on the East coast of the South Island. Wine lovers will find this land of the Kiwis to be ?an enchanting destination, with beautiful vineyards and enchanting landscape ?a natural backdrop to all your activities, paired with excellent food and magical wines.

Marlborough region was the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc © Ian Trafford

Marlborough region was the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc © Ian Trafford

New World’s Toast

In the 1980s, the Marlborough region was hailed as the producer of arguably the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. Now the region has strengthened its reputation as New Zealand’s premiere wine-growing region, producing some excellent Chardonnay and Riesling as well as a fast-rising reputation for high quality Pinot Noir. Located in the north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and towering mountain ranges to the north and south, Marlborough boasts a diverse landscape of spectacular natural beauty.

The city of Blenheim is the heart of Marlborough, just a short drive away from the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Most wineries can be reached easily from Blenheim, although the area of land under cultivation is rapidly spreading. Marlborough boasts more than 9000 hectares of vineyards, spreading across the landscape onto the river flats of Rapaura district, west to the Waihopai and lower Wairau and further south into the Awetere Valley.

The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is an annual showcase for the region’s bounty, drawing people from all over the world to taste and see for themselves the excellent produce. Held on the 2nd Saturday in February, the 2011 Festival sees more than 8000 wine and food lovers converge at one of the oldest vineyards in Marlborough – Brancott Estate.

Abel Tasman National Park © Ian Trafford

Abel Tasman National Park © Ian Trafford

Scenic Nelson

Located at the top of the South Island next to Marlborough, Nelson is one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand. The region is often overshadowed by its more prestigious neighbor, but Nelson boast one of the best scenic landscape and spectacular scenery in the country. Nelson enjoys a lot of sun, and is a paradise for a relaxing counterculture lifestyle – painters, artists, foodies and wine lovers.

25 boutique family-owned wineries have banded together to form Nelson WineArt, combining the experience of touring arts and crafts studios with sampling the best local produce and wine. It’s thriving cafe culture, with its al fresco dining and brilliant fresh seafood merge together to create the quintessential Nelson experience.

The wines of New Zealand © Ian Trafford

The wines of New Zealand © Ian Trafford

Canterbury Plains

Historically Canterbury was one of the first regions to attempt wine growing in the 1940s. French immigrants planted vineyards in Akaroa Peninsula, taking advantage of the warm dry north westerlies which frequents the Canterbury plains. The vast Canterbury plains sweep from the magnificent Souther Alps of New Zealand to the east coast of the South Island, providing an ideal climate for wine-growing.

The heart of Canterbury is the picturesque Christchurch, with most of the wineries located within short driving distance from the city. The major wine areas of Canterbury are the Banks Peninsula, located around the city of Christchurch, and the more recently developed valley area of Waipara, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir making up the most widely planted grape varieties here.

Central Otago's climate produces wines with a subtly different character © Gilbert van Reenen

Central Otago's climate produces wines with a subtly different character © Gilbert van Reenen

Spectacular Otago

The region of Central Otago is New Zealand’s highest and the world’s most southerly wine region. It is surrounded by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, with the spectacular Queenstown at the heart of the region. Central Otago boasts stunning scenic landscape which makes it a popular destination for all kinds of tourists.

The mountainous location provides a semi-continental climate with stark difference between the hot summers and very cold winters, hot, long summer days and dry autumn. This provides an excellent growing conditions for varieties like Pinot Noir and Riesling. The wines of Central Otago boasts a purity, intensity and vibrancy reflective of the region’s territory and pure mountain air.

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Queenstown, New Zealand Adventure Capital

March 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

One of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life occurred on a cool moonlit night in New Zealand. I gazed up from my ground-level lodge’s balcony and saw the most amazing thing: hundreds of thousands of stars radiantly shining like diamonds in the skies. In the background, the vast, snow-capped Remarkables framed an image that I would remember for all time. It was mesmerizing. I didn’t want the moment to end. As it turned out, I was able to repeatedly watch the same star-studded display in almost every place I visited in this vast country of four million people.

New Zealand was once thought of as just a lush, exotic destination somewhere down there, where there are more sheep than human beings, until Peter Jackson brought the country’s stunningly varied terrain to life on the silver screen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Filmed in more than 150 locations all over New Zealand, the trilogy won 17 Oscar awards and catapulted New Zealand into a coveted spot as one of the “must-see destinations” in the world. Its stunning landscapes left audiences so awed that Britain’s Express on Sunday wrote, “If locations were awarded Oscars, New Zealand would scoop the lot.”

But there’s more to New Zealand than movie locations and bungy jumping. The youngest country on earth is swathed in natural and man-made assets making it the perfect place for a holiday, especially during the hot and humid summer months in Asia. Autumn (March to May) and winter (June to August) are great seasons to cool off in one of New Zealand’s sensational spots.

The Karawau Bridge Bungy  © AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

The Karawau Bridge Bungy © AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

It is tempting to follow the throng of holiday-makers in Asia who head to the beach for temporary relief from heat. I, however, say ditch the beach! Instead, pack some warm gear and escape to Queenstown (South Island) to chill out. Celebrated for its magnificent scenery, adventure opportunities and luxury lifestyle, Queenstown sits prettily on Lake Wakatipu. The birthplace of bungy jumping, Queenstown’s wildly exciting environment is irresistible to adventure seekers. It is for this reason that it has been dubbed the adventure capital of the world. This bustling year-round destination simply rocks with adrenalin-stirring, sanity-reducing exploits of the most extreme kind—and a few leisurely pursuits.

Autumn is a relaxing time to witness nature’s landscape transform from luscious green to brilliant red and gold. From March to May, Queenstown has stable, clear weather that allows most outdoor excursions. Every visitor to Queenstown should hike or ride to somewhere high. From the top of almost any hill, magnificent views await. Climb Queenstown Hill or Ben Lomond for fantastic views of Queenstown and beyond. Ride the Skyline Gondola for the classic postcard-perfect shot across Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. Ride a horse into the high country on a guided trek.

Queenstown’s astounding mountain scenery is even more enjoyable from the deck of a private luxury lodge © Azur

Queenstown’s astounding mountain scenery is even more enjoyable from the deck of a private luxury lodge © Azur

Queenstown is part of the Central Otago region, the fastest growing wine district in the country. Book a wine tour or hire a car and visit the vineyards in Gibbston Valley, known for its seriously good lunches and wine tasting. You can also tour Gibbston’s wine cave and cheese factory. From June to August, Queenstown turns into a winter playground, positively vibrating with snow activities and enthusiasm. With two ski areas in close proximity, this resort town is the place to escape to if you want to beat the sweltering heat in Asia.

Fancy being a part of the apres scene? Queenstown is filled with chic restaurants, nightclubs and cafes. If you’re lucky, you might even get a window seat overlooking snow-capped mountains. A cozy seat by a roaring fireplace where you can snuggle up and drink the night away is also a delightful way to spent an evening.

Head over to minus5º where you can have a drink in a bar that is made of hand-sculpted ice. The walls, the bar, the sculptures, the seats and even the glasses your drinks are poured in, are all crafted out of ice! It is a unique experience that will chill your bones and delight your senses. Let one of the ice guides take you on a tour you will never forget.

Fun in the snow © Chris McLennan

Fun in the snow © Chris McLennan

The two ski fields closest to Queenstown are Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. A mere 20-minute drive uphill, Coronet Peak probably has the most European feel of the lot. Choose a bar or restaurant to relax at and enjoy some of the love music acts on the outdoor stage. You might even see the occasional celebrity accompanied by an entourage.

If your legs are skied-out, try your hands on a gold pan or a fishing rod. There are plenty of exciting activities to choose from. Bungy jumping, horse trekking, 4×4 bike adventures, fishing, golfing, jet boating, tandem skydiving, and white water rafting are just a few of the activities on offer here. Better yet, enjoy lunch on a steam boat or soar in the air in a hot air balloon. There is also a pedestrian mall that links souvenir shops with ski stores and high fashion boutiques to satisfy your shopping itch.

Explore Skippers Canyon with Nomad Safaris. This area offers both amazing man-made and natural features. Following the Shotover River valley, the Skippers Road was carved by hand through solid rock. The road clings to sheer cliff sides with breathtaking drops into the river gorge below. This route has breathtaking views at every hairpin turn, across the spectacular Skippers suspension bridge.
 
The Ledge and Nevis Highwire Bungy sites reinforce the reputation of Queenstown as the “home of bungy”. It offers Queenstown’s only winter night-bungy—suspended 400m above the night lights of Queenstown (open from 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 pm). The Ledge Bungy is a harness jump as opposed to the traditional foot tie jump of other sites. It is accessible via the Skyline gondola making this a one-hour return trip experience. 

Queenstown and its neighboring towns are only the tip of the iceberg. There is an abundance of places to experience and attractions to explore. Nature has bequeathed New Zealand with unrivaled beauty. This is the one place on earth that will absolutely take your breath away.

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Sunny Christmas in NZ

March 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

The extinct volcanic cone known as Mauao © Chris McLennan

The extinct volcanic cone known as Mauao © Chris McLennan

Mention Christmas and it conjures up images of kids frolicking in the snow, people wrapped in thick winter clothes and, of course, Santa Claus as he shimmies up and down chimneys bearing gifts for all. Now, picture yourself in sun-drenched New Zealand experiencing a Yuletide holiday the Kiwi way: kids romping around the beach, relaxed barbecue picnics filled with folks dressed in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. Yes, it’s summer in Kiwi country from December to February, where average temperatures range from 20-30ºC.

Christmas and New Year celebrations in New Zealand offer a summer twist on the traditional festive season. As temperatures begin to rise, December starts the countdown to the holiday period, which is marked by barbeques, outdoor music festivals, summer sports and an en masse migration to the beach. The festive focus is on the outdoors as Kiwis wind up business for the year to enjoy Christmas holidays of long, hot sunny days, when the summer days don’t often end until 9:30 at night.

The cheerful red blooms of the Pohutukawa tree appear just before Christmas © Elite Images

The cheerful red blooms of the Pohutukawa tree appear just before Christmas © Elite Images

Crimson Tree

With its crimson red flower fluttering in the wind, the Pohutukawa tree has become an established part of the New Zealand Christmas tradition. This iconic tree, unique to the New Zealand’s demographic, has become an important symbol for Kiwis at home and abroad, and are often featured on greeting cards and in poems and songs.

Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive rough terrain, the Pohutukawa is important not only to modern New Zealanders, but also to the Maoris who venerated the tree for its spirituality, strength and beauty. The Pohutukawa is considered one of the “chiefly trees”, the rakaurangatira.

Upon death, the Maori believe that the spirit travels to the Pohutukawa tree which sits on the very tip of Cape Reinga, at the top of the North Island. The spirit then slides deep underground into the roots of the Pohutukawa, before finally emerging onto Ohaua for a final farewell before rejoining the ancestors.

The Sky Tower provides a point of focus for Auckland by night © Julian Apse

The Sky Tower provides a point of focus for Auckland by night © Julian Apse

New Year Parties

New Zealand is one of the first few places in the world to welcome the New Year. Auckland’s Sky Tower traditionally has a fantastic fireworks display that doesn’t disappoint.

New Year’s Eve is party time in New Zealand and many of the country’s premier music festivals are held at popular coastal settlements. The best-known event is Rhythm & Vines, a three-day outdoor festival set in a vineyard in Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island – the first place in the world to see the sun each day. More than 20,000 people gather to hear bands from all over the world and see the New Year in at a typically Kiwi outdoor event.

This year Waiheke Island (30 mins by ferry from Auckland) has a huge party called HighLife NYE right in the sprawling Stony Ridge Vineyard. Many popular New Zealand music artists and bands also team up and spend the Christmas and New Year period touring local pubs and bars across the country. Touring information is usually available at the bars or in local newspapers.

Moke Lake Reserve © Ben Crawford

Moke Lake Reserve © Ben Crawford

Sunny Holiday Options

Do something different this year. Pack light and head to New Zealand’s many gorgeous beaches and outdoor hot spots. It’s a perfect time to go diving, surfing, sunbathing, or taking a road trip around the vineyards, fruit orchards and olive grove. If you’re still looking for adventure, try your hand at any number of adventure sports around the country.

A popular holiday option for many New Zealand families and groups of friends is to rent a house or pitch a tent in a camping spot. Bachs, found in the southern part of New Zealand, refers to structures akin to small, often very modest holiday homes or beach houses. They are an iconic part of New Zealand’s history and culture, especially in the middle of the 20th century, where they symbolized the beach holiday lifestyle that was becoming more accessible to the middle class.

Websites such as Bachcare, Holiday Homes, Holiday Houses and New Zealand Holiday Homes provide a network of holiday rentals, while Top 10 Holiday Parks (www.top10.co.nz) coordinate 48 camping grounds across the country. The Department of Conservation manages over 250 vehicle accessible camping grounds, providing access to more remote camping locations.

Matariki – Traditional Maori New Year

Matariki is the Maori name for the small cluster of stars that can be seen low on New Zealand’s northeastern horizon just before dawn in the last days of May or in early June. The first appearance of these stars, which are also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, heralds the beginning of Maori New Year celebrations.

All Iwi (Maori Tribes) celebrate Matariki, although they may celebrate at different times. Some tribe celebrations are held when Matariki is first seen in the dawn sky, while others celebrate after the full moon rises or at the dawn of the next new moon.

Traditionally, Matariki was an opportunity to honor the past and plan for the future. The coming season’s crop is thought to be determined by the visibility of Matariki. Many people believe that the brighter the stars, the warmer the season will be, thus ensuring a more productive crop. Today all of New Zealand celebrates Matariki. It has become a time to rejoice in the remarkable country they live in; share kai (food), stories and songs; create art and enjoy cultural entertainment.

The next Matariki Maori New Year celebration will be on 04 June 2011. For more information www.newzealand.com. This article is written by Debbie Reyes-Coloma exclusively for Unearthing Asia.


Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best cheap holidays ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of divers paradise in Indonesia.

Book one of our holidays to Rhodes – one of the most popular Greece holiday destinations. Rhodes also has the reputation of being the sunniest Greek island.

Lost Paradise

June 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, magazine, News

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Dive back into nature and uncover the beauty in the small little things that create your personal paradise. It’s time to get lost in amazing Asia.

Download PDF     Browse Online     Subscribe Now!     Past Issues

In this issue
+ Leh Ladakh
+ New Zealand
+ Yunnan
+ Puerto Princesa, the Island Life
+ Hong Kong – More than Shopping
+ Singapore Shopping Hotspots
+ Kuta Beach Getaway
+ Unusual Festivals
+ Ride Like a Khan
+ A Sense of Touch

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Seven Great Lakes in Asia

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, Feature Highlights, Nature

Who doesn’t like a great lake? No, not those great lakes, but any lake where you can see an amazing reflection or view that forces you to make your own reflection. Whether it’s a serene place or an amazing lake that has a story, these are great places to stop for a rest and think. Write in your journal. Or just relax – isn’t that what lakes are for?

Photo credit - Patrick Kiteley

Photo credit - Patrick Kiteley

Mirror Lake, New Zealand

Sunrise at the Mirror Lake in New Zealand, near Fox Village, is no mean feat. You must drive or bike a few miles from town, then trek in the darkness around the lake to get this view. But it is certainly a noteworthy goal, as a lake clear as glass and silent makes way for this surreal mirror image as light fills the sky. It is a must-see when seeing the glaciers in the area, and even during midday a walk around the entire lake is lovely.

If you’re looking for more reasons to visit New Zealand, look no further than our Dreaming of New Zealand photo blog.

Photo credit - Robert Nyman

Photo credit - Robert Nyman

Tonle Sap, Cambodia

The Tonle Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, expanding many times its size during monsoon season. Because of the incredible change in landscape between dry and wet seasons, the people who live near here stay on floating villages – complete with televisions, petrol stations, and other typical amenities. It is a surreal sight to behold, especially since the far shore of the lake cannot be seen, leaving you feeling as if you are afloat at sea. It is possible to visit as a daytrip from Siem Reap.

There is more to this Asian country than sun-baked ruins and temples galore. Retreat to the south and experience Cambodia’s shore, full of beaches and off-beat sights to be explored.

Photo credit - Susonauta

Photo credit - Susonauta

Lake Biwa, Japan

Lakek Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan; because of its location next to the historic capital of Japan, it is well known to Japanese historians, but the lake’s beaches are also popular to those not interested in history or literature. Other popular attractions include Ukimido, the floating temple, the Seta no Karahashi Bridge (especially at sunset!), and biwako Hana Funsui – the world’s largest water fountain.

Photo credit - Delirante Bestiole

Photo credit - Delirante Bestiole

Lake Baikal, Russia

Lake Baikal, just north of the Mongolian border in Russia, is a geological phenomenon. It is massive, containing 20% of the world’s surface freshwater and the deepest (and strangely, clearest) lakes in the world. Because of this and the hundreds of unique species that live here and nowhere else, Lake Baikal is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. The resort of Listvyanka is also a UNESCO site and popular stopping point.

Not far from there, check out as well our exploration of Kamchatka, at the far eastern edge of Russia.

Photo credit - George Lu

Photo credit - George Lu

Lake Wuhua Hai, China

Wuhua Hai, meaning ‘five flower lake’ in Chinese, is one of several of the amazing lakes in the Jiuzhaigou Valley. The name is appropriate, because just in the span of a few meters the lake changes color, from blue to black to yellow to green and back again. It is surreal, spooky, and amazing. Don’t miss the other lakes here in the valley, such as China’s version of the Mirror Lake featured above.

Photo credit - Thomas Depenbusch

Photo credit - Thomas Depenbusch

Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Would you believe the above photo was shot in Kyrgyzstan? Lakes are a popular tourist attraction in the mountainous countryside of Kyrgyzstan, and Lake Issyk-Kul is no exception. It’s hidden inside a deep valley, giving you endless views of the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan mountains. It was a popular resort destination during Soviet times, and although those resorts fell into disrepair, they are making a resurgence with foreign tourists.

Check out our recent series of posts, where we covered the four “Stans”, starting from Kazakhstan, Tajiskistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Photo credit - yeowatzup

Photo credit - yeowatzup

Inle Lake, Myanmar

Inle Lake in central Myanmar is the second largest lake in the country and one of its highest. An entire population of people, called the Intha, have built their lives and villages around this lake. Visit in September or October where you can experience Hpaung Daw U Festival, where Buddha images from the nearby Pagoda are paraded around the lake and there are dozens of boat races. This is followed by the Thadingyut festival of lights celebration.

Myanmar is also home to off-the-beaten-path Putao, a destination that is a veritable paradise on earth.

* Note: Some people seem to get held up with my definition of Asia. Asia = all of the destinations featured on Unearthing Asia, which includes places you might call “Australasia” or “Middle East.” Enjoy.


If you are planning a visit to Asia, don’t forget to check out Unearthing Asia, the best Asia travel portal focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the best Cheap Holiday Deal and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of must-try Malaysian foods.

About the Author. Andy Hayes. Andy Hayes is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not crossing the world to have his next Asian travel adventures, he is hitting the walking trails near home. To get in touch or see Andy’s other travelogues, visit his website, Sharing Travel Experiences.

New Zealand Dreaming, Part 2

March 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Attractions, Enchanting Oceania, Nature

Continuing on my Photo Friday post last week, New Zealand Dreaming, I’d like to invite to continue our photographic journeys together through New Zealand’s South Island. This week, we travel from Mount Cook through to Queenstown, and we head towards Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s premiere tourist attraction.

One of the views greeting us as we head South from Mount Cook

One of the views greeting us as we head South from Mount Cook

Another shot of that same lake

Another shot of that same lake

The view from a viewing-point at the edge of Queenstown

The view from a viewing-point at the edge of Queenstown

A view of The Remarkables mountain range

A view of The Remarkables mountain range

Queenstown, a very cozy resort-town

Queenstown, a very cozy resort-town

At the Queenstown harbor

At the Queenstown harbor

One of the stop on our way towards Te Anau

One of the stop on our way towards Te Anau

At the Mirror Lakes, a stop on the way to Milford Sound

At the Mirror Lakes, a stop on the way to Milford Sound

The 3-4 hours drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is filled with such breathtaking views

The 3-4 hours drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is filled with such breathtaking views

The ride takes us through mountaineous regions

The ride takes us through mountaineous regions

Finally, Milford Sound!

Finally, Milford Sound!

On hindsight, we would've loved to stay overnight here at Milford Sound – beautiful!

On hindsight, we would've loved to stay overnight here at Milford Sound – beautiful!

Back to Queenstown

Back to Queenstown

Queenstown, from the top

Queenstown, from the top


Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top Vietnamese noodle treats.

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