This is one of those epic holidays you will remember for the rest of your life, New Zealand will surely sweep you off your feet…
The faraway island of awe-inspiring wilderness, exhilarating activities and first-class wines will confirm your suspicion that this is the perfect destination. There is something to please each and every traveler, so check out the 10 things we love about New Zealand and start planning your next trip.
1. Mount Cook
Named after the explorer Captain James Cook, Mt. Cook is the highest mountain in Australasia and part of a UNESCO site. We love it because it is where we are truly able to unplug and be present in the moment. Set out on the endless hiking trails and cleanse your mind with breathtaking views. Wrap it up brilliantly at nightfall, for this is also where you will have a unique stargazing experience – lookout for the Milky Way and a shower of shooting stars!
On our top ten things is backpackers Mecca, Queenstown is where you go for some adrenaline game. Bungee jumping is a staple around here, yet there is a wide range of activities as well. Venture out skydiving, white water rafting or on a jet boat and share experiences afterwards with other travelers at the buzzing pubs.
Nevertheless, we highly recommend visiting in the winter, as this is a top skiing destination as well. Hit the slopes at The Remarkables if you’re taking the kids on their first snow trip or night ski in Coronet Valley, just 25 minutes away from the city.
The world class wines from New Zealand have an event of their own on South Island. Not only will you enjoy wine tastings but also unveil what makes them so unrivalled at the offered masterclasses. Savour your Sauvignon Blanc with gourmet treats and talks from the best chefs in the country and take to the entertainment stage afterwards for an eclectic range of music performances.
Seat back and cross through sheep dotted green plains, stunning gorges and misty mountains in the TranzAlpine, one of the most scenic train rides in the world. We love this South Island journey that takes you from Christchurch to Greymouth, the gateway to the stunning Franz Josef Glacier.
5. Rotorua and Maori heritage
Located in the North Island, this is the place to go if you have little time and don’t want to compromise with either an adventurous or cultural trip. Rotorua is known for its geothermal wonders, from gurgling mud cauldrons to colorful and steamy pools. Explore Wai-O-Tapu scenic thermal park, feel the thrill of rafting the Tutea Falls and visit a local Maori village. Especially if you’re traveling with kids, this is an exciting history lesson we guarantee they will actually soak in.
6. Fiordland National Park
Start your trip in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland. From here you can quickly reach Milford Sound by car, but we have a feeling that you will want to take your time. Take a tour to whimsical submerged caves at Lake Te Anau and glide beneath thousands of glow-worms hanging from the rock sculpted ceiling.
Finally, take the scenic drive to Milford Sound and be prepared for your heart to skip a beat. This truly is one of the places that helped build New Zealand’s worldwide fame. You will not believe your eyes while cruising along the towering fiords or going kayaking, diving or gazing at the valley on a scenic flight.
7. Bay of Islands
This place is a gem in the North Island for those who love sailing, fishing or spotting maritime wildlife. Take a mesmerizing dive at the HMNZS Canterbury shipwreck, encrusted with corals which an abundance of sea life now calls home. Hire a kayak and spend an exciting day among dolphins, whales and schools of fish. Otherwise, take a break from an adrenaline driven holiday and recharge at the pristine beaches along the coastline.
8. Southern Lights
From March to September it is possible to witness in New Zealand a body of light dancing gracefully in the sky. The Aurora Australis, cousin to the famous Aurora Borealis, can be seen in its entire colorful splendor from the most southern tips of the country, like Stewart Island. The region is known to the Maori people as “the land of glowing skies”, where daylight is sparse in the winter, improving your chances to behold this natural electrical phenomenon.
Travel back in time in this southern region of the South Island. The deactivated railway line from the gold rush era is today one of the most scenic for cycling enthusiasts. Ride through stone bridges, dark tunnels, picturesque townships and the ever present stunning landscapes of New Zealand. Make sure you put aside at least 4 days to complete the 152 km and don’t be put off by the extension! Its flatness and continuing maintenance make it suitable for most people with an average level of fitness.
10. Visit filming locations
Whether you are a fan of Lord of the Rings or not, if you like cinema you will surely recognize some epic sites. Wander around the misty grounds of Mordor, contemplate “The Piano” bucolic backdrop and let the enchanted sets of Chronicles of Narnia mesmerize you. Practically every corner of New Zealand does look like something out of a fairytale, so here is your chance to experience a bit of the fascinating film making world.