Land of Lord of the Rings! If those sweeping movie shots of the landscape didn’t sell you on New Zealand…are you crazy?
New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, roughly 4.8 million New Zealanders scattered across 268,021 sq km, and marked by volcanoes and glaciation. Capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum. Wellington’s 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 mammoth national parks, dynamic Māori culture, and world-class surfing and skiing: New Zealand can be mellow or action-packed, but it’s always epic. Because the sparsely populated country is so spread out, the tourism board has done a great job of rounding up the top things to see and do including:
- Aoraki / Mt Cook – Follow the steps of New Zealand’s most famous son to the country’s highest mountain, visit the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre and explore this beautiful Alpine region.
- Bay of Islands – Pack up a rod and follow the big fish up to the Russell peninsula. Super-size your catch with a chartered fishing trip or kick back and enjoy the surf.
- Otago Rail Trail – Follow in the tracks of steam trains from yesteryear with a leisurely cycling holiday or walking trip in the golden region of Otago.
- Punakaiki National Park – It’s always Pancake Day at Punakaiki… Here you can view stunning limestone rock formations and blowholes on the rugged and wild West Coast of the South Island.
- Queenstown – The ‘Adventure Capital’ of New Zealand offers truly great walks, as well as bungy-jumping, jet boating, horse-riding, rafting, paragliding and more.
- Rotorua – Literally a visitor hotspot, view natural geothermal waters, geysers and mud pools and indulge in activities such as cycling, zorbing, fishing and walking.
- Southern Sounds – Take scenic cruises to savour the waters and hanging valleys of Milford and Doubtful Sounds and enjoy viewing their abundant marine and birdlife.
- Waitangi – Soak up the history at the birthplace of modern New Zealand and stand in the spot where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
- Waitomo – Get ready to glow.. Explore the labyrinths of Waitomo’s many caves and be enchanted by the mesmerizing lights of thousands of glowworms.
- Whakaari – Adventure on Whakaari (White Island), home to New Zealand’s largest active volcano, walking tracks and world-famous scuba sites.
The capital of New Zealand, Wellington sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. A compact city, it encompasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. From Lambton Quay, the iconic red Wellington Cable Car heads to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Flat-bottomed punts glide on the Avon River, which meanders through the city centre. It’s unfortunately been hit by two major earthquakes in recent years, so some of the destruction is indeed visible,
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)