New Zealand

Featured Video: Hiking the Steaming Volcanoes of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park, on New Zealand’s North Island, was the world’s fourth national park, established just five years after Yellowstone. Hiking its active volcanoes is a wild journey across a stark and brilliantly colorful landscape. Watch the video below about 12.1-mile loop over three of the main volcanoes and craters of Tongariro, read the story and view a gallery of photos. …

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River of Many Stories: Canoeing New Zealand’s Stunning Whanganui

By Michael Lanza

Within minutes after launching our canoe into the chocolate-brown and, at the moment, tranquil Whanganui River, in the southwestern corner of New Zealand’s North Island, I begin to get a sense of why the native Maori people believed that every bend in this striking waterway had a mauri, or “life force.” We’ve entered a nearly unbroken gorge of sheer sandstone and mudstone cliffs soaring up to 200 feet straight out of the water, draped with jungle-like foliage in infinite hues of green. Cicadas buzz and rattle almost deafeningly. Ribbon waterfalls pour in straight, pencil-thin lines down walls so oversaturated that they weep tears from every fern and leaf.

The Maori are right: this place is very much alive.

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A hiker at the rim of Red Crater in New Zealand's Tongariro National Park.

Super Volcanoes: Hiking the Steaming Peaks of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park

By Michael Lanza

We have just begun our all-day hike over some of the volcanoes of New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park when a trailside sign conveniently itemizes the life-threatening hazards awaiting us.

For starters, an eruption could eject large rocks into the air to rain onto us from the sky or release lava flows. Pyroclastic flows, which are clouds of ash, rock, and gas that can cook flesh, could come upon us at 60 mph. Just such a flow in 1975, in fact, formed the black rocks we’re standing on. Even short of a volcanic eruption, deadly volcanic gases can pool in the bottom of craters on calm, sunny days like today. And the rock on these peaks is so unstable that falling rock looms as a constant hazard.

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Off the Beaten Track in New Zealand: Trekking the Rees-Dart in Mount Aspiring National Park

By Michael Lanza

We’ve hiked just thirty minutes from the trailhead when we hit the kind of view that frequently makes you stop and take a deep breath when trekking in New Zealand. The Rees River Valley sprawls out before us, golden grasslands dissected by a braided, meandering, emerald-green river. In the middle distance, a fat and foaming Lennox Falls plunges over a cliff. Farther off and thousands of feet above us, glaciers pour off a row of sharp peaks in the Forbes Range angling into the sky.

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Sea kayakers in Hall Arm, Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

Into the Mystic: Sea Kayaking Doubtful Sound In New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park

By Michael Lanza

A light mist falls as our small adventure armada of nine sea kayaks cruises along the shore of Deep Cove, the farthest inland extremity of Doubtful Sound in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. Around us, cliffs rise straight up out of the sea to 4,000-foot summits—sheer, Yosemite-like granite walls improbably sprouting a vertical jungle of podocarp trees and other indigenous vegetation that make these forests look like something from another planet.

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