It would be easy to come up with 90 great reasons a visit to New Zealand is worth the extra flight time. But, let me cut it down to my top 9 reasons to go to the far edge of the Pacific Ocean and experience New Zealand for yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Unspoilt nature at every turn
The scenery in New Zealand is spectacular and very Instagram worthy. It is not just unspoilt, it is unique and unforgettable with wildly, diverse landscapes around every bend. From glaciers, volcanoes, lakes and rainforests, to narrow canyons, and thundering waterfalls between rolling green fields, it really is a stunningly beautiful place to visit.
- Milford Sounds fjord with towering mountains, waterfalls and rainforests, and home to penguins, fur seals and pods of dolphins.
- Blue Lake, Nelson with some of the clearest water in the world
- At least one of the 150 amazing film locations from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You will see why New Zealand was the perfect place for Middle Earth.
The people are awesome
Warm, friendly and engaging, your interaction New Zealanders will be a highlight of your trip. They are a great mixture of European, Polynesian and Maori people, and all speak English with a fun accent. They will easily chat with you while waiting for your fish and chips or give you directions on the side of the road and happily tell where to go to avoid the expensive “touristy spots” and enjoy New Zealand like a local.
Language must knows:
- Kia-ora : the Maori word for hello, thanks, and good bye. You will hear it everywhere.
- Jandals: the New Zealand word for flip-flops or thongs
- Kiwi – refers to the bird or the people of New Zealand. The fruit is called a kiwifruit.
- Togs – swimwear
- Dairy – the local corner store or 7/11
Remote and safe
New Zealand is a pretty laid-back culture with a low crime rate and low gun use. The police don’t even carry guns. But best of all, there are no dangerous animals, nothing that will bite or sting or poison you. As an island that has been isolated from other landmasses, New Zealand luckily avoided all the poisonous snakes and crocodiles that inhabit Australia. This means you can walk through bush and swim in the lakes and streams without worrying about dangerous wildlife.
With only 4 million people in a landmass slightly bigger than the UK, there is a lot of space. There are also a lot of sheep, more than 60 million! So in terms of animal population, humans make only 5% of the total in New Zealand!
While winemaking is only a few decades old in New Zealand, the climate and the locals have taken to it like natives. From fresh, bright, tropical Sauvignon Blanc wines to rich, full-bodied Merlots, the 10 major New Zealand wine regions offer world-class wines best tasted in the spectacular locations of the vineyards.
- Drink wine at one of the vineyards on Waiheke Island. The island is only a short ferry ride from Auckland harbour and is home to many boutique vineyards, offering tastings with views out over the ocean.
Being an island inhabited by a wide range of nationalities the local food also reflects this. If you have a chance to try any of these local foods give them a go.
- Hangi – Traditional Maori meal cooked with hot stones underground
- Pavlova – large meringue dish served with lots of cream and fruit
- Lolly cake – as the name suggests
- Hokey Pokey ice cream – New Zealander’s favourite ice cream flavour,
- ANZAC biscuits – type of oatmeal biscuit.
- Fish and Chips – best bought and eaten on the beach wrapped in paper
- Bluff oysters – probably the best in the world. Fresh from the sea and onto the plate they are heaven.
- Paua fritters – Type of shellfish made into fritters with cream and onions
New Zealand is the place if you are an adrenaline junkie. There is an extreme sport for everyone from water-based thrills to alpine sports and extreme cross-country expeditions. Expect to be thrilled.
- Heli-skiing: Extreme skiing in locations only accessible by helicopter
- Hike on a glacier
- Bungee jump in Queenstown (home of bungee jumping)
- Ride a jet boat along the river through the high canyons in Queenstown.
Wellington is the capital city and is the city with the most vibrant arts scene, and lively nightlife. Located on a beautiful harbour at the base of the North Island, this is an excellent place to spend a few days before heading across to the South Island.
- Visit Cuba Street: this is a most interesting street in town, pop into one of the cafes and experience the best coffee.
- Ask for a flat white coffee: the kiwi version of a latte with a little less milk. Jump on the cable car and ride to the top of the botanical gardens then meander your way down through the gardens and back into the city.
One of the most surprising things about travelling around New Zealand is how often you see the local wildlife. You do not need to go to a zoo to see penguins, dolphins, whales or seals, they are all just there in their natural habitat doing their thing.
- Whale watching in Kaikoura
- Swimming with dolphins in Akaroa
- Cage diving with Great White Sharks on Stewart Island,
- Visit Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms
The list could go on, but better to visit and see for yourself this unique and unforgettable country.