Relaxing a cool 25km off coast of the North Island town of Tutuaka, the Poor Knights Islands serve up some of the best diving, snorkelling and fishing spots anywhere in the world. The collection of islands are embraced by crystal clear water, filled to the brim with a diverse assembly of marine life ready and waiting to greet adventurous divers. Seemingly immune to the harsh effects of modern life, the Poor Knights stand defiant, casting a watchful eye over the unique, vibrant life that exists in it's perimeter.
The islands are a reminder of the volcanoes which once graced the area, a history possibly witnessed by the 'living dinosaur' - the Tuatara, a surviving species from the time of the dinosaurs. The islands were declared strictly tapu (or sacred) following the massacre of the local Maori tribe in 1822 and they have remained untouched since - adding to the mystery and purity of them. The chance to glance upon uninhibited nature seldom comes along, so a boat trip here is a must.
A delightful walk away from Hahei Beach, Cathedral Cove is a sight that demands the attention of any camera lens in the vicinity. Taking around an hour to pass, the track leading there provides entrancing cliff-top views along the way, the stunning sights of the coastline giving you plenty of reason to stop and gawp at them. These only serve as the warm-up acts before the main event however, as huge arched cavern cuts through gleaming white rock to reveal the secluded coves.
So named for it's entrance, Cathedral Cove neighbours a soft sandy beach, complete with pohutukawa trees providing the perfect shade for a peaceful picnic. Reefs and marine life reward divers willing to venture out, whilst the 'Te Hoho' rock sits on the coastline, posing as a mighty vessel set to crash into the shore.
Mt. Aspiring National Park, or Isengard as Lord of the Rings fans may know it, provides a genuine range of different natural features within it's borders, from snowfields and glaciers to beech forest and waterfalls - there's plenty to see! Another chance to get active as you explore the world around you, a choice of short walks provides ample opportunity to enjoy wonderful views whilst gaining the sense of being right in the heart of nature.
Jetboating excursions along some of the park's winding rivers can inject some pace and excitement into your day, though the landscape with the dramatic contrasts between rock formations, colours and size really add a sense of drama to the views. You'll feel like you're in the centre of a masterpiece.
Now under the operation and ownership of Chief Tinorau's descendants, you can embark on an enlightening tour with them, as you venture through the caves, gliding peacefully in a boat, illuminated by the staggering number of glow-worms above. A tour of decadence, mystery and inspiration there's no saying how this majestic tour will impact you.
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