New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. For that reason alone it should be on your bucket list of places to visit.
New Zealand is a year round Southern Hemisphere destination. Remotely located in the South-Western Pacific Ocean and consisting of two main islands, both marked by stunning scenery, volcanoes and glaciation. The best time to go really depends on what you would like to do there and regardless of the time of the year, there’s plenty to do.
The capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum. The dramatic Mt. Victoria, along with the South Island’s Fiordland and Southern Lakes, stood in for mythical Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s 'Lord of the Rings' films.
The country is home to the indigenous Maori people and due to its remote island location has a unique flora and fauna that has evolved through separation and speciation. The relatively low population means that alongside small and culturally diverse cities a feeling of space prevails.
Bay of islands
The Bay of Islands is the primary visitor destination in Northland. This incredibly scenic vista of azure blue ocean dotted with over 140 islands is home to innumerable white sand beaches, an array of wildlife, several little towns and a great selection of ways to enjoy it all.
Paihia is the bustling hub for the plethora of water-based activities whilst Russell, across the harbour, is a quieter proposition but an equally good base for a stay in the area.
North Island is a hotbed of geothermal activity, with bubbling mud, gushing geysers and a rather unique sulphuric smell. It is also known for its strong Maori heritage and some of the most accessible Maori experiences take place here.
Nelson looks out over beautiful Tasman Bay and on a clear day a panorama of mountain ranges fringes the skyline. It’s a relatively small city but it has a lively feel to it, with a great food and wine scene, numerous live music venues and a thriving arts and crafts community. Indeed, there are over 350 studios and galleries dotted around, with many more to discover as you travel west around Golden Bay and through Motueka.
For a glimpse of this magnificent landscape take a cruise on either Doubtful or Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Daytime boat trips are available and offer a fantastic journey along the Fiord, but for a truly magical experience join an overnight cruise. Waking up surrounded by this incredible landscape, shrouded in a striking silence is both humbling and inspiring and often the highlight of the trip.
Franz Josef & Fox glaciers
The twin glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef tumble down from the steep, Western side of the Southern Alps, fed by four alpine glaciers and following the course of deep valley floors. A number of unique climatic and geological factors means that they reach over 12 kilometres almost to sea level, making them the most accessible glaciers in New Zealand.
Indeed, many of the activities in the area revolve around the glaciers: scenic flights, guided hiking, heli-hiking and ice climbing. However, the surrounding rainforest – fed by an impressive average rainfall of five metres a year – is a haven for native birds and provides some lovely walking opportunities.
Kaikoura is set on a peninsula that just out in to the Pacific Ocean and flanked by snow-capped peak. Just offshore, a deep canyon creates sea currents that draw plant and animal nutrients to the surface, which in turn attracts some magnificent marine wildlife. There is a resident population of giant sperm whales and playful dusky dolphins along with a host of seasonal visitors such as pilot, humpback and southern right whales, and orca.