A gapper’s guide to New Zealand
After almost 24 hours on a plane, almost anywhere would feel like paradise.But stepping off the runway in New Zealand is like stepping into a fairy tale.
Serenity and peace are rife; untouched forest drenched in mystery climb up the mountainous backbone of the southern island, while the active volcanic landscape at the centre of the northern island blends into lush green farmland. Ancient Maori cultures exist alongside colonial European urbanism, a mix of old and new that's individual to this part of Australasia.
So, set your sights on a Lord-of-the-Rings-style adventure.
The climate varies across New Zealand. Being a collection of islands, the conditions of the Pacific Ocean play a huge part of the weather. As with the UK, the weather is generally quite mild though the uniquely varied landscape that makes this country so beautiful has led to a mass of micro-climates. Warmer pockets can be seen in places such as Amuri Basin, Kawerau and Maniatoto whereas areas like Christchurch and other easterly facing cities can feel a lot colder due to sea breezes.
What to do and see
New Zealand is paradise to those with a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors. There are countless activities available across the islands, some to make your pulse race and others that offer a degree of relaxation unlike anywhere else in the world.
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”
The unique landscape of New Zealand (or shall we call it middle earth?) lent over 150 superlative locations to the Lord of the Rings film. Venture alone through The Shire or take one of the countless guided tours, and bring the big screen to your travels.
Utilise your time in this one-of-a-kind destination but seeing a one-of-a-kind animal! Penguins can be found in NZ and this islands that surround it. Take a look at the Erect-crested Penguin species in their natural habitat.
Despite not featuring on many ski resort lists, New Zealand's slopes are kept at their peak. The snowy plateaus that are found at The Remarkables and Coronet Peak also boast stunning vistas.
When in New Zealand, you’re never too far away from the experience of a lifetime. Where you go depends on the scenery you’d like to see on your way down!
Stretch your legs in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Perfect for a hike or stroll, is the astounding Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Nineteen mountain peaks form the rugged terrain of this national park, which is home to New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook. Towards the mountains base, the alpine brush is littered with walking and tramping trails that only take a few hours to complete. More advanced hikers can set their sights on the Mueller Hut route, to soak up the awe of the mountain range from a cabin at 1,800m above sea level.
Explore the city of Auckland
Framed by ripe, green farmland and the azure blue of the harbour; this city of Auckland has a calling that everyone will hear. You can grab a delicious Ugly Bagel, bungee jump, laze your day away at the beach, sip a cocktail at the top of Sky Tower (the largest manmade structure in NZ)… all in the space of a day!
Take a mud bath in Rotorua
The city is famous for its geothermic activity, with the main draws being hot springs, geysers and warm mud pools. Visit the Blue Baths, which first opened their doors in 1933, and take a dip in the geothermally heated pool for the ultimate relaxation experience
Food and drink
Food has come a long way in NZ. Long gone are the sad roast dinners and boiled meats of 19th century British Colonisers and Maori people. In their place is a vibrant and diverse menu, with influences of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.
Surrounded by nearly 14,000 kilometres of coastline, an obvious choice for this island destination is seafood. If you’re looking to grab a local Maori favourite then try kina (sea urchin) cooked over an open fire, but for those of you who’d like to be eased in gently, this ocean delight can be prepared in a variety of ways – such as an omelette. Taking a step further inland, another iconic NZ ingredient dish has to be lamb. If you’d like to save yourself a few pennies and cook for yourself then the farmers market, stocked with locally-grown fare is an obvious destination to visit.
When it comes to drinks, the European urbanisation of cities in ZN has also led to a rather impressive café culture, to tide your caffeine fix over. Craft beers are also becoming an increasingly big rival to the country's already impressive wines.
Remember that you don’t need a visa to reside in New Zealand for longer than 6 months, if you intend on working or staying any longer than that then you will need to apply for a visa. A stay shorter than that is covered through their visa-waiver country list, so long as your passport is valid for more than a month.
If you’re looking to stay in touch with family members via the internet, you could save yourself a bit of money by utilising the free Wi-Fi available in cities and accommodation rather than getting coverage from a host-provider. While it is a little limiting, the coverage and cost of mobile networks are a little steep and unreliable.