Blessed with astonishing natural beauty, unique sights and attractions, and a rich Maori culture, it’s no wonder that New Zealand has a place on every tourist’s bucket list. Also known as Aotearoa (“Land of the Long White Cloud”), this small country offers a surprisingly wide variety of activities, making it the ideal destination for every type of traveler. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a keen hiker, a foodie or a film fanatic, New Zealand has an abundance of adventures to offer. Here is the ultimate guide to traveling in New Zealand:
Staying in Wellington
Even though New Zealand’s capital is known for having endless bars and restaurants, there’s so much more to experience in Wellington than delicious food and drinks. Whether you decide to take a walk around the stunning waterfront, admire the awe-inspiring views from the top of Mount Victoria, take a historic Wellington Cable Car to the Carter Observatory or visit the fascinating Te Papa National Museum, there are endless things to do in the wonderful city of Wellington.
Hanging out in Christchurch
Despite the tragedies that hit Christchurch during the last decade, this resilient city has reemerged with more creativity and spirit than ever. This innovation can clearly be seen in the city’s beautiful transitional cathedral, fondly known as the Cardboard Cathedral, which has now become Christcurch’s main landmark. Another unique attraction is Re:Start, an eccentric retail space where you can shop inside converted shipping containers. New Regent Street is filled with lively restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars, while the Christchurch Gondola offers stunning ocean and city views. As Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island, there are also many excellent day trip options to choose from.
Taking a road trip on the South Island
Taking a scenic road trip is one of the best ways to explore this wonderful country. There are many places where you can find cheap car rental in New Zealand; there’s even a counter within the airport terminal, so you can start your adventure as soon as you land. From snow capped mountains and breathtaking lakes to green rolling hills scattered with hundreds of sheep, the South Island is the ideal place to explore by car. However, be mindful of the fact that driving anywhere might take twice as long, as you will simply need to pull over at regular intervals to admire the stunning scenery.
Taking one of the Great Walks
Even though New Zealand has hundreds of hiking trails, the most magnificent ones are the Great Walks, which go through the country’s most beautiful places and iconic locations. The North Island offers some adventurous 3-4 day excursions, from the Lake Waikaremoana Track, where you can see lush rainforests and gorgeous wildlife areas, to the famous Tongariro Northern Circuit, which takes you through emerald lakes, breathtaking waterfalls and active volcanoes. The South Island has some stunning unique trails as well, including Milford Track, which guides you through the beautiful fjords of Milford Sound.
Visiting Mount Cook National Park
Home to some of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers in the country, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a must-see. From sky-scraping peaks and endless snow fields to the scenic Lake Pukaki and some of the most magnificent stargazing far from the city lights, this national park is ideal for anyone who enjoys spending time in nature. Although mountaineers regard this area to be one of the best climbing regions, there are plenty of enjoyable hikes with awe-inspiring views for less experienced adventurers.
Watching a Maori cultural show
Maori culture is an important part of New Zealand’s heritage, which is evident by the many Maori words and symbols you’ll see throughout the whole country. Traditional Maori customs still play an important role in the lives of many modern Maori in New Zealand, and are an inherent part of Kiwi culture. If you want to get a better understanding of the life and history of New Zealand’s native population, then go to see a Maori cultural show when you visit this exciting country.
Traveling to Hobbiton
If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, or you simply want to see where the movie magic happens, then taking a journey to Middle Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton might be a great idea. As this is one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand, you might expect large crowds, but admiring the stunning scenery, wandering around hobbit holes and visiting the Green Dragon Inn is a must for every LOTR enthusiast.
The number one thing most tourists wish for when visiting New Zealand is that they’d stayed longer and had more time to explore this beautiful country. So, it might be a good idea to plan for a few extra days, or perhaps see one part of the country now, and the rest when you decide to visit again.