Why Exploring New Zealand Will Be a Trip of a Lifetime

Ever since I learned that my wife once lived in New Zealand, I have been itching to visit. Why, well you can thank those major movie motions pictures, such as Lord of The Rings, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia, everyone wants to visit. In fact, New Zealand is one of the most popular travel search destinations, with almost two million online searches for information each year, even beating out firm favourites such as Hong Kong and London. Why Exploring New Zealand Will Be a Trip of a Lifetime.

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New Zealand consists of two main islands, North and South about the size of Colorado. With a population of around 4 million and English as the main language, you can expect a warm welcome and a fantastic vacation experience. There is also strong, vibrant Maori culture reflected in the easy going attitude of the people and pride in their heritage.

Think Hawaii meets Switzerland.

Where else can you find so many different types of scenery and breathtaking landscapes in one country? From towering mountain peaks and glaciers to volcanoes and bubbling mud springs. And then there’s the surprise, it’s so very English too. The lush green fields and rolling hills reminiscent of the English countryside and village life never seem that far away.

Major highlights and attractions.

The Bay of Islands on the North Island.

An absolute must-see on your trip. A magnificent natural treasure for anyone who enjoys getting out on the water. Why not catch a ferry or charter boat and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere. Paddle a sea kayak in and out of island nooks and inlets, or If you have always wanted to swim with dolphins, do it here. Many operators in the region offer excellent trips to spectacular Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ on Piercy Island.

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The townships of this historical bay are alive with memories of the area’s colorful past. Take time out to see the well-preserved relics both Maori and European, in romantic Russell, Paihia, Waitangi or Kerikeri.

Rotorua. What’s bubbling you?

Known for its amazing geothermal earth forces, this fascinating region offers you more than natural beauty, it’s also a very spiritual place. “Manaakitanga” is a deep-rooted concept in Maori culture. It’s a local challenge to offer visitors the best experience possible. Voted New Zealand’s Most Beautiful City three times, Rotorua’s gardens, cobbled streets and diverse mix of Maori and English Tudor architecture, give the city a significant point of difference. Beyond the urban centre, a backdrop of geothermal steam, volcanic mountains and huge crater lakes remind you that this region rests immediately above the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Incidentally, Rotarua’s Hell’s Gate Reserve was where the “Black Gate of Morodor” was filmed for The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. How about letting off some steam, well the steam escapes from crevices in the ground, gardens bloom alongside bubbling craters and geysers shoot for the sky. 160 years after the first Europeans arrived to ‘spa’ in Rotorua, today’s visitors are still enjoying the therapeutic properties of the geothermal resources;  with the mineral pools, mud wraps and massage will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready for more adventures.

The thrill of chilling out in Glacier Country.

Nowhere in the world’s temperate zones are glaciers so accessible than in New Zealand. On the West Coast of The South Island, remnants of the ice age cascade from the vast snowfields of the Southern Alps to valley floors, almost 1,000 feet above sea level.

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You can enjoy guided excursions exploring stunning ice formations. Or take off on a scenic flight and land amidst New Zealand’s highest peaks overlooking the glaciers. The two most famous villages are Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, good bases from which to plan your days exploring the glaciers.

Milford Sound. Your eighth wonder of the world?

Legendary writer Rudyard Kipling was a well traveled man. He called Milford Sound the “eighth wonder of the world.” Still down South, Milford Sound lies at the heart of Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage area. Cruising the clear, still waters of the Fiord you’ll encounter magnificent sights, such as the awe-inspiring Mitre Peak and Stirling Falls.

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With the highest rainfall in New Zealand (think feet not inches!) so expect rain when you visit. However, when it pours, the water falls that appear all around are simply amazing. Keep a lookout for wildlife such as dolphins, penguins and seals often seen in their natural habitat. Go on a scenic cruise and gasp at the moody majesty of the Fiord in your Milford Sound Red Boat.

Another worthwhile attraction is the Milford Deep Underwater Observatory Option. Descend 30 feet below the surface and marvel at spectacular marine life, with anemones, sponges, fish and rare red and black coral in their natural habitat.

Discover Middle Earth.

According to Oscar winner Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the only landscape on the planet that could have provided the sensational locations for Tolkien’s Middle Earth. You can set off on your voyage of discovery and visit the key areas featured in the films such as The Southern Alps and Queenstown. Make sure you stop at Matamata, near Hamilton (a couple of hours drive south of Auckland) and marvel at how the landscape was transformed into the peaceful hobbit village of Hobbiton.

Auckland. The largest city

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Wellington is actually the capital, but Auckland is where many visitors first set foot in New Zealand. Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting holiday islands, that’s Auckland. It’s located on the North Island and called the City of Sails. Know why? It has more boats per capita than any other city in the world. Almost entirely surrounded by water and covered with volcanic hills, the city boasts a superb harbor and a population of 1.3 million people. Add a background rhythm of Polynesian culture, a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping – and you’ll want to stay.

Auckland has a pleasant subtropical climate with mild winters (June, July and August) and warm, humid summers (December, January and February). Remember the seasons down here are reversed, so plan your vacation accordingly.

Accommodation to suit every taste

For visitors, Auckland has all types of accommodation. Web sites such as hotel.com.au offer a range from backpacker to budget to luxury international hotels. New Zealand’s North Island attracts more visitors than the South, so it pays to check what’s out there as you plan your trip.

Action. Adrenalin. Anticipation

Auckland is a top choice if you’re interested in wide open spaces and physical activities. Above the ground you can go bungee jumping, parachuting and skydiving.

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On the ground you can go hiking, mountain bike riding, skiing, horse riding, rock climbing, and ‘zorbing’. Underground you can go surface caving, cave rafting and hydro sliding; and on the water you can go jet-boarding, white-water sledging, rafting, boogey boarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing and scuba diving. When it deciding to choose to do less exhilarating activities, such as retail therapy, many Auckland stores are open seven days a week. Their Bars, restaurants and nightclubs welcome patrons well into the night.

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Whether you are stopping for a week, or planning to spend a month exploring everything in The Land of The Long White Cloud, New Zealand will make you feel right at home.

Wildlife Adventures

There is something about New Zealand which has been untainted by man and has been left alone for mother nature to tend and cultivate. Not too long ago, a BBC documentary team spent some time looking at wild forests of the South Islands, to the dolphin pods which swim of the not too far from outer Islands which head in to the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. I became intrigued with a bird which has the body of a Parrot and the facial features similar to that of an owl, yet this bird is incapable of flight due to its very short wing span and body weight. Which Bird am I talking about? The much loved Kakapo. A bird which is in such low numbers, it is close to extinction and is now protected by the New Zealand Government.

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Much of forests of the South Islands have remained untouched by time and therefore mankind has left these forest for mother nature to tend and cultivate. There are plenty of sights to see and visit, however, if nature really is your thing, then there are Forest and Eco tours you could take part in. Getting married and fancied a break from the big city and wish to see what life is like on the other side of the World, well there are honeymoon options too. New Zealand is not just the place where The Lord of The Rings or the Hobbit was located and filmed, but a country of outstanding beauty with a rich heritage and history.

Final Thoughts

I have been a Lord of the Rings fan since I first saw the movies back in 2002 and 2003, whereas, I missed the first movie due to work commitments as the time. There has always been something magical in my mind as to what I have always wanted to visit New Zealand. This post has been inspired mostly on what our family loves about New Zealand, its people and its culture. My in-laws mostly all live in New Zealand and therefore, we wouldn’t need to book any fancy hotels, for that we would be blessed.

There are lot of Islanders who have moved or migrated to New Zealand. Tonga, Samoa and other Pacific Islands which are within flying distance of NZ and these cultural differences have helped provide New Zealand with a lot of diversity to the already rich cultural mix of the Maori people. Ever wondered why the Kiwi’s have been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Rugby. Well Rugby is their national sport and they are VERY good at it. With UK weather currently in transition from Winter to Spring, New Zealand enjoy their Summer to our Winter. So you may need to think about the seasons and when the best times are too book your trip/journey to this last explored frontier we have within the British Commonwealth. New Zealand is a home for half our family and a rich treasure trove of photography opportunities for my self.

Cheapest Times of the Year to Fly to NZ

The Most expensive times of the year to fly to New Zealand are the UK summer holidays and Christmas holidays season (Boxing day and New Years day being the cheapest days during the holiday season). A single air faire can cost up to or around £900 per person. Other times of the year which will have cheap flights: mid to late February, September and October to be the best time for cheap air fairs or book your vacation.

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John M

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