It was once said that New Zealand is like someone has taken all the best bits of Canada and squished them into a tiny island – and it’s a pretty accurate description. The land of the Kiwis has long been regarded as the most beautiful country on our little planet, and it regularly holds the top spot in such listicles. We think Scotland has a good shout too – only the weather is much better down under.
Need we say more?
So, why exactly is it considered thus? What delights are held in store should you venture the huge distance it takes to get all the way to the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Why are these two islands (and around 600 small ones) so revered as a holiday destination? Let’s take a look.
The Great Outdoors
Right, let’s get it out of the way and we’re only going to mention it once. The Lord of the Rings. New Zealand director Peter Jackson was no fool when he filmed the epic trilogy in his home country, which was basically the most expensive tourist board video ever produced. The country doubles for Middle Earth – and what an amazing job it does of it too. Visitors skyrocketed in the wake of the movies – a trend that looks set to continue for many years to come.
Description: The Hobbit village.
Landscape-wise – if you can think of it, New Zealand has got it. Beaches, volcanoes, mountains, forests, geysers, glaciers, rivers, lakes, thermal pools…the list is almost endless, all crammed into two relatively small islands and their surrounding inlets. There is arguably no better outdoor country on the planet for sheer diversity – which makes NZ a sightseeing dreamland.
Location, Location, Location
There’s something to be said for where the islands are actually situated, still nearly 2000 kilometers from Australia, across the Tasman Sea. This has the effect of instilling a very real sense of remoteness, safely closed off from the rest of the world like you’re wrapped in cotton wool. Holidaymakers visit here to literally get away from it all and forget about their worldly troubles.
Speaking of safety, New Zealand is 4th in the world when it comes to the Global Peace Index and scores very highly on international rankings in general. You should take the normal precautions everywhere you travel, but for the most part, it’s perfectly safe to wander around in the cities at night – something which is very appealing to any sightseer.
New Zealand is one of the world’s premier destinations for adventure sports, largely due to the incredibly diverse landscape (and the fact that the residents are pretty crazy themselves)! They invented commercialized bungee jumping after all. As you might expect with such a great outdoor scene, you can pretty much do any adventure sport or pursuit here your heart desires.
Description: Bungee jumping
Skydiving, scuba, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, long-distance trekking, skiing, glacier scrambling…the activities are as diverse as the scenery. You can even try something called Zorbing – where you roll down a hill inside a giant plastic ball. Not sure exactly how much sightseeing you’ll be doing though compared to actually fearing for your life!
The People and Culture
Kiwis (the people not the bird) are famed the world over for their friendliness and hospitality. This is largely connected to their ancient Māori culture – unless of course, you upset them. We’ve all see just how intimidating the haka can actually be. For the most part, so long as you’re not playing rugby, New Zealanders are extremely welcoming, and that’s a big plus for people who flock to visit the country as a result.
Sightseeing isn’t just during the day, nor is it about what’s down here on earth. Astro Tourism is becoming big business in New Zealand, as it boasts large regions devoid of light pollution, and you can get magnificent views of the galaxy.
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is a vast expanse of land from which you can enjoy unrivaled views of the stars, as well as the beautiful Lake Tekapo and the Earth & Sky observatory. Stargazers will literally be in heaven here.
As well as having an abundance of wildlife both on land and at sea, it might surprise you to note that New Zealand has virtually no harmful animals or insects at all. Only one rare species of spider is troublesome for humans, and considering their nearest neighbor is riddled with deadly creatures, this is a great factoid to impress your mates with. And with everything from penguins to tigers (which are quite deadly we suppose) New Zealand is a must for wildlife enthusiasts.
Consistently Voted #1
New Zealand bags so many tourism awards each year it’s almost unfair to any other country. Maybe it’s time to let someone else have a go? You’ll often find it sits proudly at the top of best-country lists, and there’s a high quality of life here that keeps people coming back time and time again. Even if it is all the way on the other side of the world, New Zealand is a place you should visit at least once in your lifetime. There’s a good chance you might not ever leave.