New Zealand is one of the most spectacular and unique tourist destinations in the world and is a wildlife and adventure holiday hotspot. The country is divided into two main islands, North Island and South Island, as well as some other minor islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is a place of contrast, with a wide variation of landscapes and extreme natural beauty, as well as some stunning towns and cities. There are hotels and hostels available in all areas of the country to suit a wide range of budgets.
Top Things about New Zealand
The variation of landscapes and wildlife environments is what draws many visitors to New Zealand. It is a remarkably diverse area, with beautiful beaches, tall mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, gorges and active volcanic features, such as hot springs and geysers. For those who are interested in nature and the great outdoors, it is a place that will really capture the imagination. It is the wild outdoors that has also inspired the love of extreme sports in New Zealand; many young travellers choose to go there in order to experience some thrills. Some of the extreme sports activities that can be undertaken include abseiling, black water rafting, bungee jumping, caving, fly by wire, kite surfing, shark cage diving, and zorbing.
These activities, plus a whole lot more, can be found in locations all over the country and are usually combined with nature trials and hikes as part of a whole day event. There is a huge variety of wildlife and flora in New Zealand, some of which is unique to the area, and bird watching, whale watching and nature tours are also very popular among tourists. This may be the only country on earth in which you can walk from a glacier to a rainforest. One thing is for certain, New Zealand's natural landscape is amazingly diverse and majestically beautiful. Indeed, over 10 per cent is World Heritage listed. The North Island is home to active volcanoes, the geysers and boiling mud of Rotorua, and massive crater lakes such as the trout-filled Lake Taupo. The South Island is blessed with the golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, the mountains and glacial lakes of Fiordland, and the famous Milford Sound, where the rainforest carpets the canyons.
Best Cities to Visit
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of around 1.5 million. It is a vibrant and relatively modern city located on the North Island, with good transport links to all other areas of the country. Auckland is sometimes referred to as the ‘City of the Sails’ due to its deep connection with the surrounding bay and its marine history. There are a number of interesting tourist attractions in Auckland, including the Sky Tower, which offers fantastic views of the city and surrounding countryside and is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and is situated on the southern tip of the North Island. It is home to many great tourist attractions and locations, and is one of the most popular destinations for people to base their trips from as it allows easy access to all areas. Queenstown is the preferred destination for thrill seekers and is a hive of activity. It is located in the mountains of the South Island and is surrounded by an area of outstanding natural beauty. Another popular city to visit on the South Island is Christchurch, which is extremely popular amongst motorcyclists who wish to tour the island.
New Zealand is famous for a number of sports teams, which play an important role in society. For visitors that are lucky enough to visit the country whilst there is a national Rugby Union or League match on, it is well worth trying to pick up a ticket to the match. On a local scale, there are annual rugby competitions, including the Super 14, and the atmosphere at these games is extremely memorable and enjoyable. Some of the most famous annual sporting events in New Zealand include the Kepler Challenge, which is an ultra marathon event; Race to the Sky, which is an international motor vehicle hill climb race; and Peak to Peak, a mountain multi-sport race.
Local Cuisine and Wine
Due to the majority of the population being derived from British roots, there is not a vast difference in the main eating habits of New Zealanders, although there are a number of local delicacies. Roast kumara is a favourite item on the menu, which is sweet potato. The kumara are used in a variety of different dishes, but are most often served as a side dish instead of traditional potatoes. Occasionally they can be fried in the same way as chips to create kumara chips. New Zealand is particularly well known for its production of wine. There are a number of large commercial vineyards in the country and a host of local producers. Different areas of the country are known for different ranges, including Hawkes Bay Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah; and Marlborough for its Sauvignon Blanc. There are also many local breweries that take pride in their unique tasting beers.
New Zealand has a large indigenous population of Maori people, who inhabited the islands long before the European settlers. The Maori traditions and lifestyles have been integrated into the main culture in the major urban areas, and in some of the more remote areas it is possible to attend Maori cultural experience trips. These trips can be extremely informative and interesting, and some communities are very welcoming to guests. There are often ritual ceremonies in which the locals entertain the visitors with dances and war chants; those who are not familiar with these practices can be left with quite an impression. The legacy of the Maori culture is ever present throughout the country and it is important for all visitors to learn a little about the social history of the place so that they can gain the most from their visit.
New Zealand Hotels
In the major towns and cities there is always a good selection of hotels available, ranging from luxurious five star hotels to more basic, low cost hotels for those on a tight budget. The hospitality industry is of a very high standard in New Zealand and even the two and three star hotels have excellent facilities and quality of service. Anyone going out into the countryside should do some research on the types of accommodation available. There are a large number of hostels, which are popular with adventure and nature holidaymakers in these areas. However, if you wish to stay in a more luxurious setting, there are grand hotels to be found.
The land today is as mystical as the stories of its origin told by the Polynesian settlers of 700 years ago. New Zealand's hotels are waiting to play host to those willing to embark on an epic journey.