4 Most Stunning Natural Sites in New Zealand

September 19, 2019

If you’re looking for some awe-inspiring experiences in nature, you’ve got to make New Zealand a destination.

Located in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand is composed of two main land masses, the North Island and the South Island, as well as hundreds of smaller islands. And throughout the many islands that compose the country, you’ll find tons of incredible nature.

Aoraki/Mount Cook

Credit: TDway / Shutterstock

Many consider Aoraki, which is also referred to as Mount Cook, as New Zealand’s mightiest mountain. The name translates as “cloud piercer,” giving some credence to this claim. At a towering 12,218 feet, its dominant peak also makes it New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

While its towering height draws climbers from around the world, the area surrounding the mountain is well worth a visit. The region is home to the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, a massive park filled with pristine alpine nature, including glaciers, mountains, and plenty of flora and fauna.

Also nearby is the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, a destination-worthy stargazing spot. To ensure that the area continues to offer excellent views of the night skies, there are limits on the area’s lighting. This ensures an uninterrupted view of the beautiful night sky. Spectacular stars abound in this famed reserve.

The Catlins

Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

The Catlins are one of the most compelling, rugged, and beautiful natural sites in New Zealand, with miles of untouched coastline, lush forests, and unforgettable sunsets.

Among the many spots to enjoy is Curio Bay. This has been a long-time destination for surfers. Its rocky shoreline also makes it enticing for hikers as there are many beautiful nature walks to explore. Keep your eyes open. You might just spot endangered creatures like Hector’s dolphins, or you might encounter one of the area’s striking, unusual yellow-eyed penguins.

Dolomite Point

Credit: Magic Earth Photography / Shutterstock

For a relatively small area, Dolomite Point offers huge rewards for seekers of natural wonders. Located in the Punakaiki Valley on New Zealand’s west coast, this incredible spot offers hiking, climbing, and some very unique rock formations.

One of the area’s biggest draws is what are called the Pancake Rocks. While they’re not edible, they are named for the breakfast food they are said to resemble.

How did they get that way? Over the years, water has come through blowholes to erode limestone rocks in such a way that they resemble huge pancakes. Visitors can see nature’s work in action at high tide, when the water comes through the blowholes to put on an all-natural show.

Waitomo

Credit: Guy Cowdry / Shutterstock

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, Waitomo is famed for its unique cave systems. While the caves would be destination-worthy all by themselves, these ones have a little something extra to offer: glowworms.

Thousands of glowworms can be found in these caves, lighting the space in the most magical way. You’ve never seen anything like it. One of the largest caves, Ruakuri Cave, even features waterfalls and limestone formations.

While you’re in the area, you may opt to check out the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, which is a naturally occurring arch over the stream of the same name.

Nature Abounds in New Zealand

Credit: Olga Danylenko / Shutterstock

New Zealand offers natural sites unlike anything you’ve ever seen. From rocks shaped like pancakes to majestic, cloud-piercing mountains, the beauty of New Zealand is sure to amaze.

Pearls of Grace – January 26

January 26

The Heart of a Champion

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

The champion is the one who has learned the unfailing and unstoppable force necessary to win every battle; love. Love is the very foundation of God’s throne and upon it every decision is made concerning the affairs of mankind. The love of God is deeper, wider, higher and mightier than any other power or force in the universe. How? Because God is Love. It’s not that God has love, acts in love or even gives love but HE IS LOVE. He is the source of love. In light of the almightiness of God then how mighty must love be if God is love. God is all that love is and because love finds its source in God then this love is endless and unexplainable. It is this knowing of this truth that gives us understanding but it is the living of this truth that gives victory! Love is the pathway to victory, the crown of the victor.

Love truly does conquer all. But this victory is no small feat because Scripture tells us that it is an overwhelming victory! Love never wins small…it always wins big. There are no small victories where God is concerned and when His love is applied there will be no defeats! Couldn’t you just shout! Love has taken many forms in order to reveal the Father’s heart for us. It took the form of light in the very beginning of time when God’s voice spoke out of the darkness saying, “let there be light” (Genesis 1:2) and there was Light. It was the beating heart of God that moved to give love immeasurable boundaries through the giving of the Light…the One who would be the Light of the world. Light cannot be contained and it cannot be captured! There is nowhere that Light cannot penetrate. Love was given to dispel our darkness.

Love was given in swaddling clothes small and helpless by clothing itself with parchments of flesh and blood. Through the darkness of night and years of silence a sound was heard piercing through the hopelessness of humanity…the cry of a baby. It was Heaven’s tenderness reaching down to the lowliness of humanity being born in a stable. The song of a mother’s lullaby cradling the holiness of Heaven. Love was given a voice. God wants your heart to see Him through the giving of Light but He longs for you to hear him through the giving of a baby. This baby would save all of mankind because its Father was love. Love was given a manager.

Love was given a cross, sturdy, shameful and despised. Two rugged beams of wood nailed together that the One Who is love might be crucified upon it. Love would be nailed to each pillar of pain spilling the blood of the spotless Lamb of Glory for the sins of the world. Love would be pierced in its side that waters of life might pour forth for every thirsty soul. Love would struggle for every as the canopy of darkness enveloped the land. Love would be stripped of all dignity and given a crown of thorns upon its brow and in the bowels of pain and suffering Love would lift its voice and cry out to its Father “Daddy, forgive them…forgive them”! Love was given a cross.

Love was taken to a tomb and laid in the chamber of darkness…But love has seen this darkness before. It has no fear because love knows its Father will look down into the depths of His darkness and cry out once more…”let there be light”. Love conquered the darkness! Therefore…we overwhelmingly conquer through Him Who loved us! Queen Victoria said, “We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist.” Love cannot fail, it simply cannot surrender.

Have no fear for love has risen.

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Time with God – January 26

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Psalm 46:10

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Am I rushing, anxious, stressed about it?

Learning to recognize God’s voice means coming to a place of quiet patience, based on our trust in him!

Charles Stanley has said, “God’s voice is still and quiet and easily buried under an avalanche of clamor.” How true that is!

The world and our own human nature say, “Now! Hurry!” We live in an activistic society that influences us to say, “If it is going to happen, it is up to me!” But God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

It goes against our nature, doesn’t it? It is natural to trust in ourselves, but God wants us to “know that I am God.” He wants us to rest in that knowledge and stop struggling. Striving is fueled by fear, not faith.

For that reason, God wants you to learn to wait on him. When you learn to get quiet and trust in God, that is so often when he speaks into your heart. What reason could there be for him to speak to you when you are too busy and anxious to hear him?

Make a decision today to commit every detail of your life to God. See him for who he is. And then trust him!

For the iPhone app and more from John North and Ambassadors For Christ International, click here.Browse All Ministries  

Can I Have a Different Story Please? – Girlfriends in God – January 26, 2021

January 26, 2021
Can I Have a Different Story Please?
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1, 3 NIV).

Friend to Friend
“Mommy,tell me a story.”

That was a common request when my son was a little guy. Whether riding in the car, getting a haircut, or being tucked in at bedtime, Steven loved for me to tell him a story. The one requirement for my made-up tales was that Steven had to give me the first line. “Okay, buddy,” I’d say, “What’s the first sentence?”

“Once upon a time there was a leaf . . .”

“Once upon a time there was a snail . . .”

“Once upon a time there was a tree . . .”

“Once upon a time there was a dragon . . .”

And so, the tale would begin.

Everybody loves a good story, but not everybody loves their own story. Mistakes pile high like weeks-old laundry. Shame whispers, “If they only knew.” Tear-stained pages warp and cause the volume to fall open to unwanted pages. Dog-eared corners mark traumatic happenings we keep going back to in order to make sense of it all. Some pages have spots worn thin from rubbing a mental eraser over words that won’t go away. Lines we’ve tried to cross out instead stand out and taunt us. We’ve all got them—unwanted pages. Yes, I’d like a different story, please.

For most of us, it is not the whole of our stories that we don’t like, but just certain parts. Our tragedies, traumas, and too-dark-to-tell memories may be different, but the pain is the same.

A husband left.

A boyfriend cheated.

A friend betrayed.

A parent abused.

A boss misused.

A disease ravished.

A steering wheel jerked.

A gunshot fired.

A child died.

I don’t know the difficulties you’ve been through, but I do know your story didn’t end there. There is more to be written, and God is even now dipping his pen into the inkwell of wholeness, writing your story and mine into His larger story. God turns broken stories into beautiful prose and unwanted pages into stunning narratives of victory. That’s not just a promise; it’s a bedrock truth—one I know from personal experience.

But God never intends for us to say stuck in our past pain. He longs to heal the broken place and fill the empty spaces. The Bible says this about Jesus through the prophetic words of Isaiah:

The Lord has anointed me to proclaim

     good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair. (61:1-3 NIV)

Isn’t it amazing that God can take our darkest chapters and turn them into our greatest victories? He can, you know. But He does require our cooperation. Great beauty can come from our marred and tattered stories. Immense light can emerge from our darkest and desperate days. It was only when I turned the broken pieces of my life over to God that He showed me how to have a better story.

I want to encourage you today. Don’t get stuck in the pain place or the shame place. Keep moving ahead and pray for God to show you how to turn your mourning into dancing.

Let’s Pray
LORD, sometimes I just don’t like my story. However, I know that You can use every single page to bring glory to Your name. Show me how I can move from mourning to dancing and from ashes to beauty in each chapter of my story.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
What is one chapter in your life that you long for God to redeem—to turn it around and use it for good?

Read Luke 4:14-21. What did Jesus say about Isaiah’s prophetic words in Isaiah 61?

More from the Girlfriends
Today is release day for Sharon’s has a new book. When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? Click here for details.

Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. My new book,  When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?

What has been done to you and what has been done through you does not disqualify you from God’s best for your life. It qualifies you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever known without it. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.

© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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