New Zealand: Tutukaka Coast, Northland

99 Coastal Destinations Rated: Top Rated

Score: 80

Land-based and water-based ecotourism opportunities abound on New Zealand's subtropical northern peninsula. The region currently boasts "excellent environmental and ecology quality," and its Maori residents still cling to some aspects of their native culture. In a few locations, unplanned development has begun to threaten the character of the place.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Long stretches of sandy beaches alternate with intimate bays, steep cliffs, and deeply cut natural harbours. The coastal fringe has seen residential subdivisions built in recent years. Smaller accommodations still dominate, but as development of an apartment-style resort complex in Tutukaka illustrates, this tranquility may not last."

"High aesthetic appeal is virtually all natural. Offshore islands and marine environment are a major attraction for scuba divers. Tourism development is limited, protecting the natural appeal. This is mainly a divers' and bush walkers' destination, and should stay that way."

"In good condition. Physical and environmental heritage is likely to stay intact. I worry for the cultural more. Early Maori fortified villages or 'pa' should receive more conservation attention."

"Pressures of tourism development are gradually increasing. As one of the few development possibilities for local Maori, such pressures are likely to grow, given the high levels of unemployment."