Is it any wonder? Since Hollywood launched New Zealand big time
onto the world's cinema screens with epic block busters such as
Lord of The Rings, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia,
everyone wants to visit.
In fact, New Zealand is one of the most popular travel search
destinations, with almost two million online searches for
information each year, even beating out firm favorites such as
Hong Kong and London.
New Zealand consists of two main islands, North and South about
the size of Colorado. With a population of around 4 million and
English as the main language, you can expect a warm welcome and
a fantastic vacation experience. There is also strong, vibrant
Maori culture reflected in the easy going attitude of the people
and pride in their heritage.
>From the West Coast of the United States, a direct flight to New
Zealand is a bearable 12 hours. Close to the Australian
continent, New Zealand shares the Australian love for sport and
having a good time.
Think Hawaii meets Switzerland.
Where else can you find so many different types of scenery and
breathtaking landscapes in one country! From towering mountain
peaks and glaciers to volcanoes and bubbling mud springs. And
then there's the surprise. It's so very English too. The lush
green fields and rolling hills reminiscent of the English
countryside and village life never seem that far away.
Major highlights and attractions.
The Bay of Islands on the North Island.
An absolute must-see on your trip. A magnificent natural
treasure for anyone who enjoys getting out on the water. Catch a
ferry or charter boat and immerse yourself in the unique
atmosphere. Paddle a sea kayak in and out of island nooks and
inlets. If you have always wanted to swim with dolphins, do it
here. Many operators in the region offer excellent trips to
spectacular Cape Brett and the 'Hole in the Rock' on Piercy
The townships of this historical bay are alive with memories of
the area's colorful past. Take time out to see the
well-preserved relics both Maori and European, in romantic
Russell, Paihia, Waitangi or Kerikeri.
Rotorua. What's bubbling you?
Known for its amazing geothermal earth forces, this fascinating
region offers you more than natural beauty, it's also a very
spiritual place. "Manaakitanga" is a deep-rooted concept in
Maori culture. It's a local challenge to offer visitors the best
Voted New Zealand's Most Beautiful City three times, Rotorua's
gardens, cobbled streets and diverse mix of Maori and English
Tudor architecture, give the city a significant point of
difference. Beyond the urban centre, a backdrop of geothermal
steam, volcanic mountains and huge crater lakes remind you that
this region rests immediately above the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Incidentally, Rotarua's Hell's Gate Reserve was where the "Black
Gate of Morodor" was filmed for The Lord of The Rings Trilogy.
Let off some steam. Steam escapes from crevices in the ground,
gardens bloom alongside bubbling craters and geysers shoot for
Spa therapy. A good wrap.
160 years after the first Europeans arrived to 'spa' in Rotorua,
today's visitors are still enjoying the therapeutic properties
of the geothermal resources. Mineral pools, mud wraps and
massage will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready for more.
The thrill of chilling out in Glacier Country.
Nowhere in the world's temperate zones are glaciers so
accessible. On the West Coast of The South Island, remnants of
the ice age cascade from the vast snowfields of the Southern
Alps to valley floors, almost 1,000 feet above sea level.
You can enjoy guided excursions exploring stunning ice
formations. Or take off on a scenic flight and land amidst New
Zealand's highest peaks overlooking the glaciers. The two most
famous villages are Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, good bases from
which to plan your days exploring the glaciers.
Milford Sound. Your eighth wonder of the world?
Legendary writer Rudyard Kipling was a well traveled man. He
called Milford Sound the "eighth wonder of the world." Still
down South, Milford Sound lies at the heart of Fiordland
National Park, a World Heritage area. Cruising the clear, still
waters of the Fiord you'll encounter magnificent sights, such as
the awe-inspiring Mitre Peak and Stirling Falls.
With the highest rainfall in New Zealand (think feet not
inches!) so expect rain when you visit. However, when it pours,
the water falls that appear all around are simply amazing.
Keep a lookout for wildlife such as dolphins, penguins and seals
often seen in their natural habitat. Go on a scenic cruise and
gasp at the moody majesty of the Fiord in your Milford Sound Red
Boat. Another worthwhile attraction is the Milford Deep
Underwater Observatory Option. Descend 30 feet below the surface
and marvel at spectacular marine life, with anemones, sponges,
fish and rare red and black coral in their natural habitat.
Discover Middle Earth.
According to Oscar winner Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the
only landscape on the planet that could have provided the
sensational locations for Tolkien's Middle Earth. You can set
off on your voyage of discovery and visit the key areas featured
in the films such as The Southern Alps and Queenstown. Make sure
you stop at Matamata, near Hamilton (a couple of hours drive
south of Auckland) and marvel at how the landscape was
transformed into the peaceful hobbit village of Hobbiton.
Auckland. The largest city.
Wellington is actually the capital, but Auckland is where many
visitors first set foot in New Zealand.
Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an
hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting
holiday islands, that's Auckland. It's located on the North
Island and called the City of Sails. Know why? It has more boats
per capita than any other city in the world. Almost entirely
surrounded by water and covered with volcanic hills, the city
boasts a superb harbor and a population of 1.3 million people.
Add a background rhythm of Polynesian culture, a passion for
outstanding food, wine and shopping - and you'll want to stay.
Auckland has a pleasant subtropical climate with mild winters
(June, July and August) and warm, humid summers (December,
January and February). Remember the seasons down here are
reversed, so plan your vacation accordingly.
Accommodation to suit every taste.
For visitors, Auckland has all types of accommodation. Web sites
such as www.hotel.com.au
offer a range from backpacker to budget to luxury international
hotels. As the North Island attracts more visitors than the
South, it pays to check what's out there as you plan your trip.
Action. Adrenalin. Anticipation.
Auckland is a top choice if you're interested in wide open
spaces and physical activities. Above the ground you can go
bungee jumping, parachuting and skydiving.
On the ground you can go hiking, mountain bike riding, skiing,
horse riding, rock climbing, and 'zorbing'. Underground you can
go surface caving, cave rafting and hydro sliding; and on the
water you can go jet-boarding, white-water sledging, rafting,
boogey boarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing and scuba diving.
If there is a difficult and challenging way to get from one
point to another you can do it in New Zealand.
If you're looking for some less exhilarating activities, such as
retail therapy, many Auckland stores are open seven days a week.
Bars, restaurants and nightclubs welcome patrons well into the
Whether you are stopping for a week, or planning to spend a
month exploring everything in The Land of The Long White Cloud,
New Zealand will make you feel right at home.