Nov 26, 2019

13 Reasons to Visit New Zealand

New Zealand is one of those countries that even if you try hard, you’ll struggle to find reasons not to go there. In fact, it constantly ranks among the top 10 of the best countries in the world. However, apart from enjoying the quality of living, travelers will see breathtaking scenery, drink incredible wines, and try gut-wrenching extreme sports. While there are hundreds of reasons to explore this amazing country, here are the 13 best ones to whet your traveling appetite.

  • New Zealand has roughly five million citizens. Just over half of them live in the four largest cities: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Hamilton. Greater London, as a comparison, has a population of over eight million alone! With such a sparse population you’ll always have the feeling you’re visiting a small town — no matter where you are in the country.

    Kiwis, the people from New Zealand, are extremely welcoming as it seems they’re always enjoying life. It’s not that they don’t work, they obviously do, but it’s definitely not the main priority in their lives. As you explore the country, you’ll see them generally having fun.

  • Due to its incredible and diverse scenery, New Zealand was chosen as the location to film Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. So, if you enjoyed the books, watched all the movies, and have a penchant for warriors, orcs, and hobbits, you’ll surely feel that you’re in Middle-Earth when you explore the country.

    One of the most famous movie sets is Hobbiton, the home of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s race of small humans with furry feet known as hobbits. It’s located in Matamata and covers 14 acres.

    Other locations used for the Lord of the Rings include:

    • Snowdon Forest, which was used to depict Fangorn Forest;
    • Mount Ngauruhoe, which was used to depict Mount Doom, and;
    • Kawarau Gorge, which was used to depict Anduin River.

  • Kiwis take environmental preservation seriously. As such, not only will you find that most natural attractions are untouched by humans, but they’re also the perfect habitat for wildlife to come and thrive.

    From North to South, there are plenty of options for you to spot these amazing creatures.

    In Rotorua, you can see the iconic kiwi flightless bird, which is native to New Zealand. On the east coast of the South Island, you can go whale watching and see the vast seal colonies. At the tip of the North Island, it’s possible to spot pods of dolphins and snorkel with them.

  • It’s almost like a rite of passage for any backpacker exploring New Zealand to pick one of the many extreme sports available and conquer their fear. If you’re looking for something that gives you cold sweats, makes your heart beat faster, or reconsider your sanity, you’ll probably find it there.

    One of the most popular choices is the 134-meter Nevis Bungy Jump with its nerve-wracking 8.5-second freefall. You could also go skydiving over Lake Taupo or Franz Josef, zip-lining in Waiheke Island, canyoning in Coromandel, or even zorbing in Rotorua.

  • If you appreciate a good bottle of wine when you’re having dinner with friends, chances are you’ve probably tried one coming all the way from New Zealand. There are several wineries spread all over the country. Many of them offer wine tasting tours, where you can learn more about the production and have a few drinks.

    You can head to the Marlborough region to try some Sauvignon Blanc, which is considered by many connoisseurs to be the best in the world. Central Otago is the best location for Pinot Noir lovers. If you fancy a Syrah, make your way to Hawk’s Bay.

  • You just need to see the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team, play once to understand how the Māori culture is still very much alive. Before each game, they perform the haka. The haka is a type of war dance used on the battlefields to intimidate enemies. Additionally, it is used to honor guests and can be performed in celebration such as weddings and birthdays.

    Coming from Eastern Polynesia, Māori people have been living on the islands of New Zealand for over 1,000 years. Nowadays, the Māori represent about 14 percent of the population.

    Travelers can visit the maraes, tribal meeting grounds. While here, they’ll see traditional singing and take part in a hāngi feast, food cooked in earth ovens.

  • While New Zealand might not be one of the cheapest countries, it’s definitely one of the easiest to move around.

    Apart from domestic flights, travelers can buy bus passes from different companies. These passes allow them to hop on and off for a limited amount of time. Another option is to just rent a campervan and drive at your own pace staying at the many camping grounds and caravan parks available.

    If you’re short of money, don’t worry, you can always go to the side of the road and stick your thumb up. Hitchhiking is super common and extremely safe.

  • The majority of New Zealand’s glaciers are located on the South Island, near the Main Divide in the Southern Alps.

    While there are officially over 3,000 glaciers with an area of at least 2.5 acres, the most visited ones are the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Travelers can go on different hiking tours exploring the impressive ice walls and tunnels or take a helicopter for a scenic flight over the glacier.

    If you’re visiting Franz Josef, you can finish your day by relaxing in the hot pools and forget about your sore muscles.

  • New Zealand is part of the infamous Ring of Fire, where volcanic activity is intense, which can sometimes cause horrible earthquakes. However, it creates otherworldly scenery that makes you wonder if you’re really on planet Earth.

    One of the best places to see the geysers and hot springs is Rotorua. It’s a city with a distinct and somewhat unpleasant smell of rotten eggs from the sulfur in the air.

    Another option is going to Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel Peninsula. At Hot Water Beach, you can dig a hole in the sand and it fills up with hot water.

  • The Fiordland National Park is located in the southwest of the South Island. It is arguably one of the most visited areas in New Zealand. The region is peppered with green mountains, 1000-meter waterfalls, and massive fjords.

    Travelers tend to go there to see Milford Sound — thought to be the “eighth wonder of the world.” The boat trip takes you near the waterfalls. Plus, it’s possible to see the friendly dolphins, seals, and penguins.

  • While there are hundreds of different treks around New Zealand, the 19.4-kilometer Tongariro Crossing is possibly the most popular. It takes roughly eight hours to complete, and hikers need to be fit as it’s strenuous.

    The crossing takes you through some dramatic volcanic landscapes, including blue lagoons, icy valleys, and impressive craters. Plus, it’s where the film crew for Lord of the Rings filmed the scenes in Mordor.

  • If you’ve ever had a flat white, the double-shot stronger version of a latte, it might be interesting to know it was invented in New Zealand. In fact, it’s said that Wellington has the most cafes per capita in the world.

    The cafe culture is cherished all over the country, so it’s nearly impossible to find bad coffee. There’s nothing like going to a quirky coffee shop on a busy street, ordering your daily dose of caffeine, and spending time people-watching and resenting the fact you’ll need to eventually fly back home.

  • Due to firm environmental laws, New Zealand is an extremely green country. As soon as you leave any big city, you can see the vast forests rolling over the hills. If you want to take a closer look, it’s just a matter of following the rules and keeping to the designated paths.

    Waipoua Forest, located at the tip of the North Island, is one of the most famous forests in the country. It’s home to the kauri trees. These are gigantic coniferous trees estimated to live for around 4,000 years and have girths of over 10 meters.

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