If you’re stumped as to where to go on your next big vacation, why not take the vacation of a lifetime and visit New Zealand? The two islands that make up this exquisite country in the Southern Hemisphere consist of more than 1600 square kilometers divided into 27 distinct regions. That may sound like quite a lot on paper, but because the country itself is quite compact, you’ll be able to visit several breathtaking destinations that no visitor should miss. Here are just a few of the wonders that await you in New Zealand, a place of immense natural and cultural bounty.
New Zealand is comprised of two main islands, each with distinctive characteristics that show visitors manifold natural and cultural wonders. The North Island is the birthplace of the country’s modern political scene, which co-occurs with the presence of the proud and culturally sophisticated Maori people. It also boasts some exquisite landscapes shaped by intense volcanic activity throughout its geologic history, and offers visitors much food for body, mind, and spirit.
• At the northern tip of North Island, you’ll find a tale of two coasts awaiting you. The western coast offers rugged vistas and a tapestry of natural and cultural experience for every visitor, with sites such as the largest living kauri tree—Tane Mahuta—or the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the islands, one of New Zealand’s most historic spots.
• Unwind in the Coromandel, one of the most visited regions in North Island for its many miles of beautiful coastline and scenic attractions. Walk along the beautiful beaches, or let the tension slide away with a visit to the Hot Water Beach and its natural hot spring. It’s also home to many artists and craft studios, where you can drop in, pick up a unique piece of art, and take away the stories that go along with it.
• Step into Middle Earth and the Shire at Hamilton-Waikato. Not only can you visit the home of hobbits, but a short drive south will bring you to the wondrous Waimoto Caves, where you’ll see the delicate natural architecture illuminated by millions of ethereal blue glowworms.
• Rotorua is an essential destination for any visitor. It’s home to a deep history of Maori culture, boiling mud pools and natural hot springs.
• Ruapehu hosts three astounding volcanoes, main attractions in Tongariro World Heritage Park, New Zealand’s first national park. The surrounding landscape is shaped by volcanic and seismic forces to which the volcanic mountains give testament. Visitors here can ski or hike to their hearts’ content.
The South Island is a paradise of natural beauty, characterized by a tapestry extraordinarily varied, wild landscapes that will take your breath away. As well, it’s a never ending adventure for those who love the pursuits of the great outdoors, with pristine ski slopes, glacial panoramas, hiking opportunities that reveal secretive vistas of valley and peak, ten national parks, and varied encounters with New Zealand’s distinctive wildlife.
• Nelson sometimes seems to be one continuous outdoor adventure. Located at the far northern tip of Southern Island, this sunny place boasts an impressive array of activities and scenic opportunities.
• Head south along the east coast and you’ll come to a beautiful peninsula, home to Christchurch-Canterbury. A place of mountain vistas and charming villages, this is an essential destination for every visitor, whether they enjoy natural pursuits or the challenges of shopping and sightseeing.
• Turn west as you continue your drive south and visit lake Wanaka. One of the most breathtaking expanses of crystal clear water, it covers 193 square km\, is 45 km in length, and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountainous terrain. In winter, ski enthusiasts flock here from all over the country and the world.
• Trek inland through the Central Otago, feasting your eyes on the scenery of Middle Earth. You’ll come to one of the most visited cities in South Island—Queensland. With a host of highly varied outdoor adventures to pursue, it also offers some of the most sumptuous spa locations in which to pamper yourself.
• Southland offers a beautiful and peaceful last port of call on your adventure of a lifetime. Take time to check into one of the many wonderful accommodations and stroll around the world famous gardens before heading to the fishing port of Bluff for the best seafood in the region.
Then, grab your field glasses and hop a ferry across to Stewart Island, a haven for the National bird, the Kiwi. Finish your vacation off with a walk through the beech forest at Catlins, and catch glimpses of hidden waterfalls and rare indigenous birds. Of course, there are many more wonderful spots to visit, but they would take an entire book to describe.
No matter which destinations you choose in New Zealand, you are in for an unmatched experience that will linger in memory for the rest of your days. It is a place of warm and welcoming people, breathtaking natural wonders, and deep spirituality. It is a place that everyone should visit once in their lifetimes.