Did you know that New Zealand has been named both “Adventure Capital of the World” AND “Most Peaceful Place on Earth”? Or that people are outnumbered 10 to 1 by sheep?
It’s the nation that brought us Flight of the Concords, hokey pokey, Lord of the Rings, manuka honey, keas, All Blacks, Maoris, meat pies and kiwis (not to be confused with kiwifruits)! With that in mind we took a trip Down Under to see it for ourselves... Sweet as! Here are our Top 10 places to visit in New Zealand:
Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers - How often do you get to walk along a glacier? Grab your camera, ice axe and crampons and start hiking along some of the most picturesque locations in the South Westlands. Guided walks are easily available or if you’ve got the budget get a helicopter tour to enjoy breath-taking views of the steep glacial crevasses and walls of clear blue ice.
Milford Sound is a must-see. Probably New Zealand's most famous tourist destination, Milford Sound is a fjord in the south west of the South Island, in Fiordland National Park. Take a cruise along the stunning sound – and a large memory card – and see why it has been labeled the Eighth Wonder of the World!
Queenstown - Did you know that the world's first commercial bungee jump took place in Queenstown, in 1988? Queenstown is a haven for adrenaline junkies everywhere, whether it’s skiing, whitewater rafting or skydiving. Take in the panoramic views of the city from the top of the Skyline Gondola while working up the courage to take the Canyon Swing!
Lake Wanaka is a little piece of paradise – crystal clear still waters surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks which provide perfect ski terrain and walking and biking tracks to suit whatever mood you’re in.
Mission Bay is a scenic suburb of Auckland. Full of cafés, restaurants and shops as well as a white sandy beach made for surfing or strolling, it is one of the best ways to spend a leisurely weekend.
Kaikoura is a gem of a town on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island and possibly the best location on the planet for whale-watching and swimming with dolphins. The town is surrounded by a magnificent mountain landscape with great walking treks – perfect for albatross-spotting!
Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city. Go punting on the Avon, people-watching and bargain-hunting in Cathedral Square before taking in some art (and architecture-appreciation) in the Cultural Precinct. Also worth a visit is the International Antarctic Centre, where you can get catch a ride on a Haggalund (better than any rollercoaster!) and experience a “real” snow storm in the simulator room.
Auckland - Did you know that the Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere? Hitch the lift to the top for a 360° view of the cosmopolitan city (or have dinner in the revolving restaurant if budget allows!) and if you’re still in the mood for heights you can even climb the Auckland bridge afterwards! The “City of Sails” boasts a stunning array of yachts and boats of all shapes, colours and sizes in its harbour and restaurants and shops galore.
Dunedin is a vibrant South Island city with a distinctly Scottish vibe and plenty of pubs to serve the large student population. Visit the magnificent railway station and if your chocolate supply is running low, Cadbury World is a must before enjoying the wildlife and scenery of the Otago Peninsula nearby.
Rotorua - The final Kiwi gem is the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Yes, the smell of sulphur takes a little getting used to(!) but only serves to showcase the unique geographical sights which include hot mud pools, steaming craters and geysers. The township is also steeped in Maori culture and has a majestic museum where you can pass a few hours learning about New Zealand’s history.