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The Ultimate Travel Guide to New Zealand

Embark on a journey where you can retrace the footsteps of the Fellowship, enjoy epic adventures of your own and experience legends come to life. From its active volcanoes, deep glacier lakes, unique wildlife and dazzling fjords, one thing’s for sure, in this nation of Kiwis there will never be a dull moment.

travel guide to new zealand

So travellers, are you ready? Welcome to New Zealand. Let’s start with the basics. This beautiful island nation is home to just over 4 and a half million people, many of whom go by the self-appointed nickname “Kiwi”.

This slang is derived from the country’s national symbol: a flightless bird called, you guessed it, the kiwi. The country itself is formed by two main landmasses – the North Island and the South Island, as well as about 600 other smaller islands.

New Zealand as a whole is quite modest in size, similar in land mass to Japan. Wellington is the Capital City of New Zealand and also the southernmost capital city in the world while Auckland, the original capital city, is the largest Polynesian city and goes by the name “the city of sails.”

Which makes sense when you consider Auckland has more boats per capita than any other place in the world! What else does New Zealand have more of than the entire planet? Sheep! Hopefully you’re a fan of these furry farm animals because there are about seven to every resident, which works out to nearly 30 million sheep.

Your mum won’t have to worry about you throughout your kiwi adventure either because New Zealand has remained firmly in the top 10 safest countries to call home for several years running. They’re also comfortably progressive, having been the first major nation to allow all citizens the right to vote, regardless of gender.

There are three official languages in New Zealand: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language but you’ll be able to get by just fine with English. Now whether you’re looking to uncover the Maori way of life, hit the slopes or sample delicious wine – there’s plenty of diverse adventures to enjoy – so let’s take a closer look. New Zealand is renowned for it’s world-class hiking trails.

Breathtaking views await you in Fiordland National Park, which includes four major tracks – Milford, Kepler, Routeburn and Hollyford. While Milford is perhaps the most famous, hikers of each track can expect to enjoy views of forested valleys, diverse birdlife, turquoise waters, expansive lakes and truly spectacular mountain scenery.

For Lord of the Rings fans, a visit to Tongariro National Park, where you can behold the jagged volcanic rock and eerily barren landscape, should be a considered a must. Hopefully the moody weather cooperates during your visit and you’ll be granted a view of Mt. Ngauruhoe, otherwise known as Mount Doom.

Hiking the entire Alpine Crossing takes about 7 hours and includes lava fields, tussock meadows and the neon turquoise, geothermally heated waters of the Emerald Lakes. If beaches are more your thing, New Zealand has a hike for that too! Along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, travellers can enjoy more than 40kms of golden sand beaches, subtropical bush line and granite cliffs, accented by clear azure waters and frolicking fur seals.

Keep in mind that several tidal inlets mean that you’ll be required to time your crossings with low-tide, so plan accordingly. Along New Zealand’s Otago coast you can see the mysterious Moeraki Boulders, beachfront stones formed from ancient sea sediments.

An equally mesmerizing and seemingly perplexing sight would be the famous Waitomo Caves with their legendary blue glowworms. Thrill-seekers can abseil down into this lost world, which takes about 20 minutes and provides impressive views of spagatites and gigantic flowstone formations on the way down.

Once you’ve lost yourself in the isolation and majesty of nature, grab a few of your fellow travel companions and go jet boating through Queenstown’s Shotover River, or tackle the currents of Tutea Falls along the Kaituna River in Rotorua, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.

Of course there’s also ziplining, bungee jumping, and skydiving. Each offer unique and exhilarating views of places like Rotorua, Auckland Harbour, and Queenstown respectively – though you can enjoy any one of these thrill-seeking experiences pretty much anywhere throughout the country.

If you want to take things a tad slower, hit up one of New Zealand’s countless golf courses. Enjoy the stunning greens that can be found in Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington. For the snow bunnies, strap on your skis and fly to the top of Queenstown’s mountains to enjoy a refreshingly exciting ski down
world-renowned peaks and valleys.

Within 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown, you’ll be at the foot of Coronet Peak and within 35, The Remarkables, a range that lives up to its name and is a must for any snowboarder or skier out there. Once the weather warms up you can catch the surf on the curving Bay of Plenty or along the untouched beaches of Gisborne.

And if you really want to show off your surfing skills then head to Whangamata, situated on the southeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island. After all, it’s only the surfing capital of the country! But maybe you are just looking to kick back and enjoy that well-earned break? That’s certainly alright and you picked the right destination to escape to.

You can catch a kapa haka performance of the Maori people, indigenous New Zealanders, and enjoy chants and choral singing to graceful songs and ferocious war dances. Consider visiting Maori meetings grounds, called marae, and take part in a powhiri, a traditional welcoming ceremony.

Or if you wish to get literary, take a tour of Hobbiton in , Waikato and see JR Tolkien’s epic story brought to life with a wander through the heart of The Shire. You can stop by the Green Dragon Inn or visit the Bag End.

But what time of year does one journey to Middle Earth? Fall? Spring? Winter? Well just to be clear, there’s never a bad time to travel to a place like New Zealand though travellers should be ready for weather that can change unexpectedly, regardless of the time of year.

However most places throughout the country receive over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year and because of the low levels of air pollution, the sunlight is especially radiant! While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures year round.

The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. New Zealand’s Summer runs from December to February and should be considered the peak travel season, it’s also considered the perfect time for enjoying activities like hiking, scenic driving, winery tours, and surfing.

If you’re lucky, you can catch a wave alongside dolphins off the country’s long coastline. Autumn settles in from March to May and the views of fall foliage are truly something to behold. Winter lasts from June to August, and this is when you can expect the ski season to begin to flourish.

Spring temperatures are enjoyed from September through November and offer a beautiful combination of spring blossoms and snow-capped mountains. Once you’ve satisfied your desire to explore it’s time to sit down and enjoy some delicious local cuisine.

And just what is waiting for you at the dining table? Let’s find out… New Zealand’s cuisine draws on Polynesia, Asian and European inspiration and the results are staggeringly delicious. A typical kiwi breakfast consists of cereal, toast and either a cup of coffee, tea, juice or milk.

On weekends, when more time is available to prepare a cooked breakfast, locals sit down to plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns and baked beans. After a long morning outdoors, you’ll need to enjoy a quick hot pie to reenergize.

These tasty small pastries come in a variety of flavours and are typically filled with mince and cheese, bacon, egg and even steak. Once the evening rolls around, enjoy servings of roast lamb, mutton and of course battered fish and chips.

Due to New Zealand’s long coast line the selection of seafood is quite diverse: succulent oysters, mussels, shellfish, king salmon, snapper, scallops and whitebait – a true Kiwi delicacy. The most common way to enjoy these small baby fish are as whitebait fritters, essentially an omelet prepared only with egg white mixed with the delicious whitebait.

If you’re looking for a refreshing dessert to top off your day of indulging your taste buds then help yourself to pavlova, a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. But what should you wash down all these tasty foods with?

Of course you can enjoy your share of refreshing beers and ciders, but New Zealand is mainly renowned for its many exquisite wines. Sommeliers praise the country’s take on sauvignon blanc as being the best in the world. Other wines highly regarded include Cabernet/Merlot blends and Pinot Noir to name a few.

Mhmmm, spectacular. Once you’ve allowed your thirst to be both quenched and delighted by New Zealand’s unique libations, it’ll be time to begin mapping out your next adventure through this oceanic paradise. We hope these tips ensure that your next great Kiwi adventure will be a truly inspiring one.

If you still can’t get enough then check out Days to Come for more inspiration and travel tips. If you’re ready to experience the country for yourself, simply visit https://travelbooking.today. As they say in New Zealand, Kia Ora! Until next time! travelbooking.today – booking tours made easy.

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