Official language: English is the official language with Maori being widely spoken by the traditional Maori people
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Kia Ora and Welcome to New Zealand…‘God’s Own Country’
Listed a one of the world’s top 10 must see places, there isn’t much in New Zealand that you won’t fall in love with. From the craggy coastlines and the sweeping beaches to the primeval forests and snowcapped mountains, the raw natural beauty on offer here is truly one of a kind. The Maori people, in their own right, are a distinct and unmissable 800 year old legacy that forms part of modern day New Zealand. While you’re exploring the land of the Kiwi, the options are literally endless and range from relaxing strolls on windswept beaches to tours through alpine passes, adventure packed skiing and sea kayaking to uncovering the indigenous fauna and flora in the massive collection of national parks. New Zealand lives up to its name - it’s a life-size adventure playground, and with more sheep than people living here, it’s not your typical metropolis destination. While the country sits right in the Ring of Fire, that’s also what makes the landscape so unique. The volcanic forces here have created some of the most breathtaking views that you’ll probably never see anywhere else. The Kiwi people are as unique as their country, which contributes to the fact that New Zealand is one of the most unique destinations you’ll ever visit. Whether you head to the North Island for the buzz of Auckland’s city life and the Sky Tower, Wellington’s cultural haunts and café culture OR you decide to explore the South Island for Queenstown’s adventure thrills, Wanaka’s spectacular scenery in Otago or Christchurch’s alpine ridges and lake-dappled country plains, New Zealand has something on offer for every traveler, and an experience unmatched anywhere else in the world. Best known for their unbeatable All Blacks rugby team, New Zealand is also famous for its pristine natural beauty (which explains why it was the destination of choice for making the film The Lord of The Rings), its exceptionally friendly people and the fact that it has been dubbed The Adventure Capital of the World.
Must see places in New Zealand
Both North Island and South Island of New Zealand are stunningly beautiful and offer different features. There are lots of things to do in both as they have a lot to offer.
The buzzing city of Auckland has an impressive 4 volcanic cones that help you get a bird’s eye view of the surrounds. Among the most popular are Mount Eden and One Tree Hill. You can also head over to the Sky Tower for a panoramic view of simply choose to relax in one of the two harbors for a sundowner while enjoying the laid-back Kiwi lifestyle. Auckland is also your base for exploring the rocky, volcanic island of Rangitoto
On offer here are some magnificent sights including boiling mud pools and explosive geysers, but it also happens to be the Maori arts and culture hub of New Zealand. Make sure to stop by Te Pua and Wai-O-Tapu, just a short distance away from the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, to visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, popular for its live kiwi bird enclose and the famous Pohutu Geyser among the 500 other geothermal sights. Find cheap hotels in Rotorua for your visit
Tongariro Alpine Crossing & National Park
This is where you’ll find New Zealand’s oldest national park and the Dual World Heritage Site. The national park is synonymous with cultural legacy and gripping natural beauty and with the Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanic peaks; the Alpine Crossing is in the league for being one of the world’s best hiking destinations. We dare you to face the challenge and feast on the adventure on offer here!
With Taupo and Rotorua being the hotbeds of geothermal activity, you can enjoy a soak in the natural pools found here that are heated by underground forces. Wairakei Terraces is one of the spots you can’t afford to miss for this experience. Then there’s also Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs and Pools that’s a must for travelers with kids. Alternatively, you can also head in to the Tongariro National Park for some eco-exploration.
Also known as the “Land of Giants”, Northland is home to the mystical Waipoua Forest where you can find the Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) tree soaring out at 50 meters tall and about 2,000 years old. But Northland is not just about the forest, it also has some pretty scenic islands and beaches to explore. Make sure you don’t miss the Bay of Islands for its stunning natural scenery and a day well worth exploring.
Wellington is a compact city center that offers the perfect example of New Zealand life. Make sure you stroll over the funky City to Sea pedestrian bride en-route to Wellington’s waterfront that’s beautifully dotted with wooden sculptures. Also worth visiting is Te Papa Tongarewa with its arts and cultural institutions.
It just so happens that New Zealand is a producer of some excellent wines. To get the real feel for their wine industry, head on over to Marlborough, the Kiwi Wine Region. Located on the South Island, you can either take a short flight to Blenheim or opt to cruise along with the ferry from Wellington to Picton.
Hamilton & Waikato
A.K.A Middle Earth…this is where you’ll be able to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set (The Shire) at Matamata that was built for The Lord of the Rings films. The picturesque landscape is sure to take you back to a place that time forgot, and while you’re there you can enjoy the laidback local lifestyle and get a feel of the Maori cultures clearly pointed out by the visitor sights and attractions around the area.
Coromandel, Tauranga & The Bay of Plenty (Pacific Coast Highway)
These three destinations have one thing in common: a taste of coastal paradise. On offer here are visitor attractions, coastal walks, beaches and plenty of sunshine. Some of the top beaches include New Chums, Cathedral Cove, Whangamata, Waihi and Mount Maunganui. Make sure you stop by the eco-project of Driving Creek Railway and mingle in the lively Tauranga City. Head a little east and you can find the kiwifruit country of Te Puke with the sweet town of Whakatane as a pit-stop en-route to Gisborne and the beautiful Hawke’s Bay.
Fiordland National Park
Covering a massive 1.2 million hectares of land, Fiordland National Park is a haven of mountain, fiord, lake and rainforest terrain. Thanks to the size and isolation of some parts of this park, you’ll encounter plant and animal life here that is found nowhere else on earth, and a true example of evolution at its best. It’s a definite must see destination in Fiordland for the nature lovers at heart.
While you can probably explore Queenstown during any season, winter months are something spectacular altogether. Skiers and snowboarders from around the world flock to the slopes of Queenstown during the months of June through October for skiing and a lot of partying. Some of the popular ski fields include Cardrona, The Remarkables, Treble Cone, Snow Park and Snow Farm. Nearby you can also explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fiordland with its glacier-carved towering peaks and hanging valleys that outline the waterfalls, lakes and fiords.
Yet another destination on the South Island that you can’t miss is Kaikoura. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll love the fact that this is pretty much your best shot for spotting the local sperm whales that thrive alongside the other marine animals that call the 3km deep underwater canyon home. You can also swim with the New Zealand Fur Seals or Dusky Dolphins, or simply savor the delicious fresh crayfish (koura) that most restaurants and roadside “bins” dish up.
The West Coast
Abundant with mountainous wilderness, the West Coast is a nature lover’s paradise. With 6 national parks and reserves, 90% or the West Coast is primarily one big eco-project. Some of the natural wonders worth seeing include the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, the Oparara Basin limestone arches, Punakaiki that resembles stacked pancakes and Hokitika Gorge that is bluer than the heavens. If you’ve got time for a detour and a little dallying, this is one destination you can’t afford to miss.
Located in the Mackenzie District on the South Island, Lake Tekapo’ skies have been declared a gold standard Dark-Sky Reserve. Here is where you can visit the Mt John Observatory and get lost in the stunning night sky with an Earth & Sky Stargazing Tour or choose to enjoy the natural hot springs to help you kick back and relax
Things to do in New Zealand
Take a Trip around the South Island’s lower half
Aoraki (Mount Cook) is definitely the highlight of this area with its blue glacial lakes, which includes Tekapo.This should be you starting point. Next, head down to the trio of pretty lake towns; Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau where you can explore the postcard stars of Milford, Doubtful Sounds and Glenorchy.
New Zealand is home to some of the most fascinating animals, and if you want to get the real experience, you HAVE to do a couple of wildlife encounters. If you’re keen to see the Kiwi bird (New Zealand’s National Bird), you’ll sadly have to see them in captive reserves like Puka Mount Bruce. Otago Peninsula’s Royal Albatross Centre is great if you want to see one of the world’s largest seabirds, or alternatively go watch the penguins at Penguin Place or Oamaru’s Blue Penguin Colony
Take a Hike!
With trials for beginners and advanced hikers alike, New Zealand is a paradise for walkers. Any of the country’s national parks (14 in total) are good for hiking. The Department of Conservation has some awesome multi-day adventures of offer in their Great Walks packages that range from mountain passes to treks around volcanoes and beaches.
Explore Diamantina National Park
This is an absolute must, and whether you decide to take a hike, go river rafting or just soak up the tranquil atmosphere, the national park in the Bahia Mountains makes for a full day’s Brazilia eco-tourist experience. Boasting caves, underground lakes and waterfalls, there’s more than enough to ignite your inner explorer.
Get your adrenaline flowing
If you haven’t figured it out by now, New Zealand is a dream come true to the adrenaline junkie! The Kawarau Bridge Bungy has to be the most famous, but don’t think it ends there. You can also try Hackett’s near Nevis, home to the country’s loftiest bungee. If you’re into paragliding, skydiving and jet-boating, Queenstown is where you’ll find it all on offer. Then there’s also Taupo’s Tandem Sydiving, Tongariro River Rafting and zip-line Canopy Tours as well as the Ogo Zorb experience in Rotorua.
Dig into Maori Culture
Exhibitions like the one at Auckland Museum and Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington offer visitors an introduction into the fascinating Maori culture. Make sure you attend a traditional waita (singing) and kappa haka (dance) concert in Roturua at Whakarewarewa or Te Puia.
Explore Middle Earth
Tongariro National Park is where most of the scenes from the film The Lord of the Rings were filmed with the star being Mt. Ngauruhoe as Mt Doom. You also have to visit Hibbiton to explore the set made for The Shire. From there, go ahead and see the stunning sights of Queenstown’s landscapes like Lothlorien, the Ford of Bruinen and Gladden Fields that were all memorable set locations for the film.
Take a Wine Tour
Although vineyards blanket almost every region in New Zealand, Marlborough produces about 3 quarters of the country’s wine and produces a world-renowned sauvignon blanc among the other blends like pinot noir, sparkling wine and Riesling. Marlborough is loaded with cellars (40!) set among breathtaking valleys. You don’t need to stop at Marlborough though…there’s also Central Otago that produces excellent pinot noir, Hawkes Bay, Waiheke Island and Gisborne.
Let your inner Foodie out
New Zealand’s larder is packed with delectable foods to feast on such as fresh local produce found at roadside stalls or Farmers Market. Auckland and Wellington are the gastronomical hubs of New Zealand, and it’s where you’ll find high-profile chefs whip up some of the best meals in the country. Cafés are as Kiwi here as they come, and specialize in serving supreme espressos and delectable bakes, pies, cakes and biscuits.
Pick the time right
Tourists travel to New Zealand from March to May
New Zealand has summer from the months of December to February. The Northern Island sees much warmer average temperatures, but on average, temperatures range between 20-30°C during the day and cool down a bit at night. March through May is autumn, and is probably the best time to visit since the daytime temperatures are moderate with cooler evenings. We recommend visiting New Zealand during these months, especially if you’re going to be hiking and trekking, as to avoid overheating. June to August sees New Zealand’s winter months, with spring falling between September and November. Kiwi winters are cold, so make sure you’ve packed your parka, you never know when you’ll get caught in the snow. That being said, New Zealand is known for experiencing 4 seasons in one day, so always ensure that you’ve packed cooler and warmer weather clothes whenever traveling here.
Did you know?
Kia Ora is the greeting term in Maori, and we would highly recommend using it to receive a warm welcome from the locals
- Rijsttafel, a smorgasbord with 12 kinds of different meats, fish, vegetables and curry dishes
- Nasi goring, a fried spiced rice dish, considered Indonesia’s national dish
- Ayam goring, fried chicken
- Soto, a soupy broth with either chicken or beef
- Sambal, a hot chilli sauce that accompanies dishes in Indonesia
- Bakso, meatballs
- Sate, a dish consisting of either beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb that is cooked on hot coal and then dipped in peanut sauce
- Rendang, a buffalo coconut curry from West Sumatra
- Gado-Gado, is a salad with raw and cooked vegetables with a peanut and coconut milk sauce
- As we’ve mentioned before, New Zealand’s weather can change at the drop of a hat, make sure you’ve packed sufficient clothing to see you through hot and cold weather.
- If you ever get invited to a Maori celebration, be aware that nose rubbing is a custom tradition