Kiwis like to say New Zealand has a bit of everything for anyone, and it’s hard to disagree. This small, relatively sparsely habited island nation has everything from beaches to snow capped mountains, rolling farmlands to modern cities. One day you can be skiing, the next you can be relaxing on a sunny south Pacific island hideaway. Yet with a country so diverse, there’s always the question, where to start?
If you don’t start your New Zealand adventure in Auckland, you’ll no doubt find yourself passing through at some point. The country’s most populous metropolis, Auckland is consistently rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities. It’s also a melange of cultures, and a bit of a foodie’s paradise. The natural environment is likewise notable, with the city being dominated by the stunning Waitemata Harbour. In the distance, you can also catch a glimpse of Rangitoto Island, an extinct volcano just off the coast. Outside the city, the countryside is riddled with volcanic hills, and outdoor opportunities such as hiking and fishing. To really get a bird’s eye view of things though, you should be sure to stop by Sky Tower. It’s the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, and offers breathtaking views of Auckland and its surroundings.
The South Island’s largest city, Christchurch is no less scenic than Auckland. On clear days, the city skyline gives way to amazing views of the snowy Southern Alps. It also has its own arsenal of great beaches, including the idyllic Sumner Beach. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the feeling of sand between your toes, and a milkshake or two at sunset. While in Christchurch, it’s also worth visiting the cathedral. This imposing Anglican cathedral was once the jewel of the city, though it was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake. Today, it remains scarred by the disaster, and is a symbol of Kiwi resilience in the face of adversity.
Beyond the Cities
New Zealand’s major cities are well worth your time, though you’ll never truly understand this unique country without venturing out into the wilderness. Geographically, New Zealand is one of the world’s most isolated places, and was likewise among the last regions to be inhabited by humans. Because of these two facts, New Zealand’s flora and fauna are unlike anywhere else in the world.
Arguably the best way to experience the real New Zealand is to hop on the TranzAlpine Express. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most epic rail journeys, the trip take you across some of the country’s most inspiring landscapes. Some of the highlights include the thrilling twists and turns of the high Southern Alps, the wild woodlands of Crimson Rata and Kahikatea, and the imposing views of the Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier itself is a great place to stop off for some sightseeing, and a bit of hiking.
It’s impossible to cover everything New Zealand has to offer here. However, any visit to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Queenstown, and its serene Lake Wakatipu. Further afield, there’s some great skiing to be had, and winter sportspeople will adore the slopes of places like Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt. Or, disappear into one of the country’s many wine growing regions such as Canterbury. You may be overwhelmed with the amount of activities to do, and because of this you can find more information here of New Zealand tours. This said, whatever your soul craves, you’ll find it in New Zealand.