If you have been wanting to get away and travel, New Zealand is an amazing country to travel to. Located in the Pacific, neighbours with Australia and Fiji, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries you may every get the chance to travel to. You may recognize NZ as the backdrop for the great trilogies of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, also known as Middle-Earth.
Geography & Environment
New Zealand is made up of two islands: the North island and the South island, as well as a number of smaller islands. The two islands are broken apart by the Cook Strait, which is 22 kilometres wide at the narrowest point. NZ is over 1, 600 kilometres long, and about 400 kilometres wide at it's largest width.
The southern island is the larger island, and divided along its length by mountains known as the Southern Alps. The highest peak in NZ is Mount Cook (Aoraki), at 12, 316 ft. The north island isn't as mountainous but has volcanoes.
New Zealand has many different climates. More commonly a mild and moderate maritime like climate, with annual temperatures ranging from 10° in the south and about 16° in the north. Also, a good thing to note when visiting, NZ's seasons are the opposite of ours, so their winter is during our summer and their summer is in our winter. This is important to know on when planning a trip to NZ.
Auckland -15.5° (annual) 20° (summer) 10.9° (winter)
Christchurch - 11.6° (annual) 16.8° (summer) 5.8° (winter)
Mount Cook - 13.8° (annual) 18.3° (summer) 9.4° (winter)
Queenstown - 9.5° (annual) 15.1° (summer) 3° (winter)
Wellington - 12.9° (annual) 17.9° (summer) 8.9° (winter)
Of the largest cities, Christchurch is the direst, and Auckland is the wettest. The south of the southern island is cloudy and cool, and the north part of the southern island is some of the sunniest parts of the whole country. The snowy season on the southern island starts in June, and last until about October. Snow doesn't not generally fall on the north island, but not impossible and does occur on occasion.
You may know of New Zealand's famous flightless bird, the Kiwi. NZ also is home to many other types of animals and reptiles. Because of the lack of mammalian predators in NZ's forests, birds dominated the forests and the lack of threat led the birds to become flightless. Since the arrival of humans, other species such as rats, ferrets, and other rodents led some birds to become extinct.
Others animals and species in NZ are frogs, spiders, reptiles like geckos and skinks, as well as insects, snails, and bats. The majority of NZ's wildlife comes from the ocean, with almost half the world's whales, dolphins and other water mammals and seals. Also, more penguin species are found in NZ more than any other country. On some beaches you can walk among and watch species of seals along the coastlines.
Early Maori have adapted the tropically based east Polynesian culture, but have invented their own unique, distinct culture. British and Irish immigrants have also influenced Maori culture, especially with the introduction of Christianity. Maori art is very unique, and is easily recognizable. Carvings and weavings are the more common practices. Most carvings features humans, with three fingers and either a natural or grotesque looking head. Patterns include swirls, spirals, fish scales, and ridges.
New Zealand's music has been influenced by the blues, jazz, rock, country, and hip hop. Maori developed traditional chants and songs with influence by their South East Asian origins.
Attractions In New Zealand
Now, let's get to the exciting part, what you want to do and see in New Zealand to make your experience unforgettable. When you go to New Zealand, it s recommended to go for enough time to see both islands to make it worth the trip. Anywhere from two weeks to a month and beyond should give you plenty of time to see everything you want to see and do on both islands.
New Zealand's cultural capital. Also home of infamous Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Wellington also features NZ's national museum, Te Papa, an innovative inner city nature reserve, wildlife sanctuary, and many other things.
Here is one of the best places in the world to skydive, bungee jump, jetboat, white water raft, and kayak around NZ's largest lake.
Also known as the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound is a beautiful part of NZ carved by glaciers from the last ice age. Fjord cliffs rise vertically from the water, as well as amazing mountains and waterfalls. Take a boat or kayak around to see the incredible views of Milford Sound.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
These world famous caves are a must see, as you take a boat ride through the cave and marvel at the beautiful glow worms along the ceilings and walls as they light up the cave. Being not that far from main city Auckland, this trip is a must for anyone travelling to NZ.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is located on the tip of the south island, and is great for hikers all around. Though the park is not available to get to by car, it is almost more worth it to arrive by foot or boat for all it's breathtaking views. Many rare birds can also be seen while scaling the park's mountainous terrain.
Franz Josef Glacier
Located in Westland National Park in the southwest, is one of the world's most accessible glaciers. Take a helicopter ride up the glacier and/or hike right up to the foot of this massive glacier. Definitely one of the major tourist attractions of NZ.
Rotorua is known for its numerous geysers, mud pools, and hot springs, also known as the thermal wonderland of NZ. Rotorua is also home of the Maori culture. If you're into ziplining, you can also do that here, and this city is one you won't want to miss on your trip to NZ.
Obviously, there is so much more you can see in New Zealand, but I have highlighted a few of some of the most popular ones. Other famous attractions include:
Bay of Islands
Tongariro National Park
Fjordland National Park
Te Papa National Museum
Wellington Botanic Garden
Mount Cook National Park
Auckland Art Gallery
Auckland & Wellington Zoo
And as you may know, New Zealand is the home of Lord of the Rings. There are many opportunities to visit sets of the movies, including the most famous and still intact Hobbiton, also known as The Shire. There are many tours you can take to visit sets, and even if you are not a big LOTR fan, the scenery and environment is breathtaking.
Also, NZ is also known as the backpacking capital of the world. As well, if you're a thrill seeker, NZ has much to offer in that department, including skydiving, ziplining, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, white water rafting, and much more.
Since New Zealand has two islands, with many different climates, it really is the perfect country. There are mountains, lakes, amazing wildlife, culture, forests, beaches, glaciers, and so much packed into both islands. Anything you can think of doing, you can do it in New Zealand.