So you are planning your next holiday and you cannot work out where you would like to go? Have you ever thought of New Zealand as a holiday destination?
The flying time from the United Kingdom is around 24 hours, which may seem daunting, but once you arrive in New Zealand there are such a wide range of activities, attractions and accommodation on offer that you will not regret the time you spent in the air. If you have the time, arranging a stopover in Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong can break the journey and add another exciting element to your holiday.
New Zealand is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, and consists of two islands, the North Island and the South Island. The weather varies from being mainly sub-tropical in the North Island to temperate in the South Island. However, there are a lot of regional variations and the weather can change very rapidly in the space of twenty four hours. The weather in the summer tends to be more settled, and you can expect to be able to enjoy long, hot sunny days on the beach. In the winter, it can be very wet and cold, but there is superb skiing and winter sports in the mountains, with Queenstown being the main centre.
There is a wide range of accommodation available in New Zealand. This ranges from top quality hotels, to self-catering cabins and backpacker hostels. Travelling around is also very simple. Hire a car or a camper van and ‘do it yourself’. A ferry will take you and your vehicle between the North Island at Wellington and Picton on the South Island. There are several international and domestic airports, so flying is a quick way to get to your destination. There is also a rail network, and if you want to sit back and watch some of new Zealand’s stunning scenery go past, book a ticket on the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth. There are also several bus companies like the ‘Magic Bus’ who do regular routes around the most popular spots on both islands, and will even book your hostel accommodation for you and take you to local attractions.
New Zealand was originally colonised by the Maori people from Polynesia about 1200 years ago, and the first European to reach New Zealand was probably the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in the 1640s. New Zealand was rediscovered by Captain Cook in the eighteenth century and European settlers began to arrive. If you are interested in learning more about Maori culture, there are many Maori Cultural Centres across New Zealand, from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds overlooking the Bay of Islands in the North Island to the Tamaki Maori Villages in Rotorua and Christchurch.
If you like outdoors activities you have a plethora of to choose from. There are many miles of walking tracks that offer good hiking and camping. Or if you prefer to be on the water go kayaking, sailing, white water rafting, water skiing and windsurfing. If you really like to get the adrenaline pumping, Queenstown is home to the original bungy jump, AJ Hackett, and you can plunge head first into a river canyon or drop off the side of a cliff. To keep the heart rate up, there is also jet boating, sky diving, quad biking and Zorb globe riding!
New Zealand also has a lot to offer nature lovers. There are many opportunities in centres such as Pahia and Kaikoura to go out whale and dolphin watching. You can even go swimming with the dolphins. Dunedin offers visits to the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross, and there are many places on the coast where you can spot penguin and seal colonies. There are many centres where you can go and see the native wildlife such as kiwis, tuatara and kea. Visit the Southern Encounter Aquarium and Kiwi Experience in Christchurch, the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown or the Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. There are also several zoos in New Zealand; Hamilton Zoo, Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch, Wellington Zoo and Auckland Zoo. New Zealand is also a paradise for fishing; with many opportunities for fresh water and sea fishing.
New Zealand is very volcanically active and there are many geothermal parks and hot springs to enjoy. Watch the mud boiling, the steam rising from the rocks, and the geysers spewing in the Rotorua region. Even on a cold winter day, enjoy a wallow in a deliciously warm, naturally heated hot pool, maybe followed by a massage or other beauty treatment?
Farming is one of the backbones of the New Zealand economy and there are many opportunities to enjoy farm experiences or farm stays where you can see the farm in action and watch the sheep shearing and other farm activities. New Zealand is also famous for its wine; and in the major wine producing regions there are many wine-tasting tours going out where you can sample the wines and purchase those you have enjoyed.
There are many unique experiences that only New Zealand has to offer. Go black water rafting through the caves of Waitomo or enjoy a gentler trip through the magical, sparkling glow worm caves. Try sand boarding down one of the massive dunes at Ninety Mile Beach or simply find a nice spot in the sun to read and have a coffee.