“Everywhere you turn in New Zealand, there’s something exciting to do. It’s the gem of the world. It’s so far away from the madness, and so you get that element. It was just stunning.” – Wes Bentley
Why visit New Zealand
If you love nature, New Zealand is the country for you! You will see a lot of green (grass), white (sheep), blue (the sea) and brown (the high mountains).
Most likely you will land in Auckland, the capital of the country. You can spend a couple of days in Auckland adjusting to the time difference. Go to Mt. Eden for the spectacular city and harbor views. Tour the nearby islands and beaches.
We loved Queenstown – the best place for the outdoorsy people. The adventurous types will find numerous ways to entertain themselves with mountain biking, zip lining, paragliding, whitewater rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing.
The Lake Wakatipu is good for boating, but not for swimming because of cold water. The shoreline trails offer gorgeous views of the lake and the surrounding Southern Alps.
Hike a Tiki Trail to Bob’s Peak. It is not the easiest hike, but you will be rewarded with the splendid views of the lake when you reach the top. Just watch out for the crazy mountain bikers – some of them used the same trail as us, rushing down at high speed. More than once we had to jump to the side at the last moment.
At Bob’s Peak, you can try the Skyline luge, go ziplining or paragliding. Take the Skyline Gondola down to the lake. Or like us, stay for a while at the top, observe the activities, and absorb the festive atmosphere around you. And all this is practically within the Queenstown city limits.
Back at the lake, buy an enormous mouthwatering hamburger, sit by the water and watch people around you to your heart’s content. Not a meat eater? Get fantastic fish and chips instead. This town alone is worth at least 4 or 5 days.
Milford Fjord is world-famous and must be included in your itinerary. While driving there, you can stop to observe the ancient rainforest displaying the prehistoric ferns. Some of them are so tall that they look more like trees than ferns.
We advise you to spend a couple of days in the area. You will have enough time for a boat tour and hiking in the surrounding mountains. The fjord is about 15 kilometers long. Take a boat tour. You will see many waterfalls running down the almost vertical walls. The water is calm, but when you get closer to the mouth of the fjord, you will see and feel the swells coming from the Tasman Sea.
If you come to New Zealand in the summer, try to visit one of the farmer’s markets. We stopped at one market next to the cherry grove. After a stroll through that cherry grove, we couldn’t resist buying the New Zealand cherries. They were a treat!
In New Zealand, you can arrange for a farm stay, and exchange your labor for food and lodging. Several years ago, before returning home from a year of teaching English in China, our daughter spent two months in New Zealand traveling through both islands and working on the farms. One was an apple farm and another – miniature pony farm.
Not only do they have millions of sheep in New Zealand (the recent statistics – 10 sheep to 1 human), they even have the famous ram! Kiwi named him Shrek. This celebrated ram escaped from the sheep station and lived in the wilderness for six years. Living in the wild, he wasn’t sheared for all those years. When Shrek was discovered, he became a celebrity. The shearing of Shrek was shown on national television. His fleece weighed 60 pounds!
We visited Christchurch city before the disastrous earthquake in February 2011. Now, most of the buildings are restored. We loved the celebrated Christchurch Cathedral and the Botanic Gardens. Many areas of this city look like they were transplanted from England: canals with swans, Victorian houses, parks.
What to see in New Zealand (top trips & tours)
Queenstown – New Zealand’s adventure capital
Christchurch – one of the country’s best travel destinations
Auckland – a buzzing urban hub nestled between two contrasting coastlines
Milford Sound – take a Milford Sound cruise along the dramatic fjord
Hobbiton – take a movie set tour
Where to sleep in New Zealand
(select accommodation from the best hotel booking sites)
- HotelsCombined.com (Compare all the top travel sites in one simple search)
- Trivago.com (Find your ideal hotel and compare prices from different websites)
- Booking.com (Over 2,119,000 hotels online. Hostels. Apartments. Motels)
- Priceline.com (Find a lower price, you’ll get a refund 100% of the difference)
- Hotels.com (Book now, pay when you stay)
- Travelocity.com (The price match guarantee. Free changes & cancellations)
- Expedia.com (Sign up for member prices and you could save 10% or more)
- Agoda.com (Guaranteed lowest price on hotels, resorts,
hostels, homes & more)
- HostelWorld.com (Stay in a hostel and meet the real world, not the tourist brochure)
Book your flight to New Zealand
Best time to visit
The best times to travel to New Zealand – March, April, May
Try to see as much of nature as possible. New Zealand offers fjords, mountains, ocean, lakes, even a national park with the prehistoric ferns
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