Showing off is easy for Kiwis

From old gold diggings to the awesome Sky Tower, our country has a wealth of sights and experiences to offer your visitors.

Maunganui Bluff on the west coast of Northland. Photo / Supplied
Maunganui Bluff on the west coast of Northland. Photo / Supplied

If you have any doubts about what a beautiful and fascinating country this is, then our competition to find the best way to show off New Zealand in a day should remove them.

There are so many great suggestions that it's difficult to know where to start, and even more difficult to pick two winners.

Browsing in the antique shops and cafes of Cambridge, marvelling at the gannet colony at Muriwai, getting a bird's-eye view of Auckland from the Sky Tower, wandering through the forests, dams and beaches of the Waitakere Ranges, enjoying the marvellous Matakohe Kauri Museum ... the options seem endless.

Here's a few more of the hundreds of suggestions put forward by readers for what they would do if a friend from overseas dropped in for the day:

June Close, from Morrinsville, likes to take her visitors to the neighbouring town of Te Aroha.

"A stroll in the Waiorongomai Valley brings to life the golden days of the area when 3000 people lived here.

But today, only an interpretative display reveals this turbulent past. Then a two-hour walk on the Piako County Tramway Loop through beautiful native bush to reveal more traces of the golden era: a tunnel where horses hauled gold wagons out of the bush, and relics of the Bendigo Battery.

"At the completion of the walk, a short drive into Te Aroha brings us to the Edwardian domain, where visitors can soak their weary limbs in one of the private soda spa pools or take a swim in an outdoor hot pool. A coffee and something to eat in the adjacent cafe completes an interesting and enjoyable day."

Hal Harding, of Dargaville, reckons there's only one place to take an overseas visitor and that's the wild west coast of Northland.

"After an early brekkie we'd head up north to the Kai Iwi lakes. Onwards to the Maunganui Bluff where we'd walk around the rocks of the ancient volcano to get our limit of mussels before heading up the walking track to take in the awesome view - north to the Hokianga and south to the Kaipara.

"Then it's south along the sand to Baylys Beach and a late morning tea or early lunch at one of the West Coast's best-kept secrets, the Funky Fish Cafe.

"Back on the beach we'd continue south, keeping an eye out for another of our best-kept secrets, the humble mullet, with our net ready in the back of the truck. Odds on we'll see patches of the plankton that mullet feed on and our visitors would be in for a treat - the fun of the netting and a catch of the best eating fish in the sea.

"We continue around the northern head of the Kaipara, past the last resting place of numerous sailing ships from the kauri timber days and on to Pouto Point where we enjoy an afternoon tea at Pouto Lodge.

"A drive up the road to home completes the round trip and it's time to enjoy the harvest over a few quiet ones."

Miriam Dunningham's "tried and true favourite day out with tourist friends" sees her heading north from her home in Glendowie, across the harbour bridge and up the coast to Warkworth to browse in the antique shops and art galleries.

"We either have coffee at The Duck's Crossing, a tranquil spot overlooking the river in Warkworth, or wait to have coffee at our next destination, Matakana. Saturday in Matakana brings the wonderful Farmers Market, always a pleasure to browse.

"Other days we head straight to Morris and James potteries to admire or buy, and to have coffee with delicious cake.

"There's usually time for a drive through the gorgeous Palm Farm at Point Wells before taking a walk along Omaha Beach. Then it is on to Ascension Vineyard for a leisurely lunch and perhaps a game of petanque.

"Our next visit is the beautiful village of Puhoi with its museum - which may be open - historic church and pub. On the way home we stop at the lookout at Orewa with its magnificent view along the beach.

"Finally, if there are any women in the group, there's the factory shops of Silverdale - overseas guests rave about the Bendon shop. Then it's back to the city and that wonderful view as we approach the bridge from the North Shore."

Chris Bishell of Mt Maunganui doesn't have to move far from home to entertain his visitors.

"First there's an early start, walking the few paces to watch the sunrise on the Main Beach, which always amazes visitors of all ages. Then home for breakfast overlooking magical Pilot Bay, watching the yachts sail by, cargo ships enter the port or the cruise ships sliding elegantly to their berths.

"Next a stroll around the base track of the Mount - achievable by both young and old. For the more adventurous, a hike to the top gives spectacular views of volcanically active White Island and the surrounding coastline.

"A picnic lunch of New Zealand delicacies on the grassy beach of Pilot Bay can be followed by an afternoon soak in the relaxing hot saltwater pools or a refreshing swim in either the safe and gentle waters of the bay, or at the exhilarating main surf beach.

"As the sun sets over Pilot Bay and the lights of Tauranga twinkle before you, out comes the Kiwi barbecue on the deck with spit-roasted lamb, kumara salad and, of course, pavlova and kiwifruit. A lovely bottle of local Thornbury wine is a great finish to the magical day."

Being English by birth but "a Howick girl" by choice, Marion Jackson loves showing off her new home patch.

"Musick Point on a sunny day is high on our list, and having to drive through the middle of the golf course to get to there always surprises our guests. The views are truly breathtaking and provide a wonderful perspective of where we live in relation to the rest of Auckland.

"It's a superb spot for pointing out the various islands and watching the boats glide past us on the bright sparkling waters of the Tamaki Strait.

"Our visitors are delighted when a stroll through the bush results in a rabbit darting past them, hearing a tui's song from high up in the trees and cheeky fantails showing off just out of reach. We can sit on the benches or the lovely expanses of spongy grass to absorb our surroundings and relax in the warm sun.

"Producing a selection of delicious treats from a picnic basket never fails to impress overseas visitors and definitely adds to the whole magical experience of a visit to Musick Point."

The safe surf beach of Whangamata needs little help to promote itself, says Barbara Mcgillivray, but there's a lot more to show tourists than just the surf.

"An early morning walk along the beach takes us to the tranquil Otahu estuary. Keep a look out and you may be lucky enough to see endangered New Zealand dotterills, which nest above the high-tide line. From the harbour lookout the 360-degree views are spectacular - the Aldermans, Mayor Island and other offshore islands, the coast all the way to Mt Maunganui, the harbour entrance and the shoreline are spread out in front of you. No wonder it was a pa site.

"Grab something yummy from the bakery for lunch and head for the bush to escape the midday sun. I'll take you to hug an ancient kauri, admire regenerating rimu and tanekaha, and spot keruru eating nikau berries.

"There is a wonderful waterfall to swim beneath if you are brave, many rusty mining relics to fossick among, and an old mining shaft where a torch beam reveals cave weta.

"Watch the kids fishing from the wharf while a barbeque is sizzling for dinner. Desert is an ice cream cone eaten while walking along the beach watching the moon rise over the sea."

Christine Brown starts her tour with a visit to "the birthplace of the nation, the Kerikeri Basin, where the two oldest buildings in New Zealand - the Stone Store (1836) and Mission House (1822) - stand beside the beautiful Kerikeri River.

"We then stroll along the river bank to the spectacular Rainbow Falls, where the water tumbles into a pool surrounded by native bush, where tui call and fantails accompany us on our walk.

"A 20-minute drives takes us to the Puketi Forest, home to a grove of magnificent kauri trees that are thousands of years old. We go along the boardwalk and admire these giants of the forest standing tall in the bush.

"Heading north, we explore some of the beaches along the east coast of Northland - including Matauri Bay, where the Rainbow Warrior rests after being blown up by French terrorists 20 years ago.

"At Maungonui, the quaint little fishing village, we eat at the famous fish and chip shop before moving on to the end of the Karikari Peninsula to perhaps the most beautiful beach of all, Matai Bay, a perfect double horseshoe fringed by pohutukawa.

"At the end of a perfect day we return to Kerikeri and enjoy a wonderful meal at one of the great cafes we are lucky to have in this gem of Northland."

For Clare Scott, the place to get a feel for Auckland is the Sky Tower.

"Standing at a lofty 328m, the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere is the sentinel guarding the City of Sails. The view constantly changes from its soaring perch. After stepping into the glass-bottomed, glass-walled lift, even the ascent is spectacular, just forty seconds from ground level to above the clouds.

"The brave head for the glass floor, jumping on it and gazing with delight at ant-sized people and matchbox vehicles below. The less-brave grasp the railings and swallow often - but soon they, too, are captivated by the sprawling views.

Both sides of New Zealand are visible - the wild, unpredictable Manukau Harbour and the tranquil Hauraki Gulf dotted with rocky volcanic islands and boats.

"We go around and around, and every time we look something different is happening. If our timing is right, just on dusk, we can see the city's changing moods from daylight to twilight to starlight. Landscape, seascape, cityscape, skyscape - this bird's eye vista is an overview of my home."

- NZ Herald

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