New Zealand: Why you should add this destination to your travel list
Breathtaking mountain scenery. Glaciers. Hots springs. Sub-tropical rainforests. A village for Hobbits. Stunning lakes. It might be a big claim but I’m pretty sure New Zealand has everything you could possibly want to see, all in one place.
"There's a real purity in New Zealand...It's actually not an easy thing to find in our world anymore. It's a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world. There is a sense of isolation and also being protected." - Elijah Wood
Famed for being used as the backdrop setting for many films including Lord Of The Rings, and inspiring directors such as James Cameron to create the film Avatar, New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the most stunning countries in terms of scenery.
Both the North and South islands of New Zealand host a whole load of jaw-dropping natural spectacles, with landscapes that can truly make you feel as if you’re on another planet.
In this article, we’re going to cover the top 5 things you must do when visiting
For those of you who are LOTR superfans, this should be the first stop on your tour of NZ. If I hadn’t watched Lord Of The Rings, then I’d be half convinced that this miniature village actually holds residents.
The set of The Shire is based in Matamata (North Island) and is roughly a 2-hour car/coach journey from New Zealand's capital city, Auckland.
Truth is that, whether or not you're into the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, this place is just awesome. You'll be taken on a guided tour around the whole of Hobbiton, where you guide will educate you on the history of the village's construction, which characters live in certain houses, and will even allow you to explore them!
After your tour, you’ll be taken down to the famous Green Dragon Inn, where you can get a taste of The Shire’s finest ales, pastries, and pies.
As well as the full tour of the movie set, you can also opt to dine like a hobbit with the evening banquet tour!
Whilst kids (0-8) go free, adult tickets (17+) start at $84 NZD ($55 USD), and tickets people aged between 9-16 years start at $42 NZD ($27 USD).
Located in Tongariro National Park, on New Zealand’s North Island, this alpine adventure is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country.
The crossing will take you roughly eight hours to complete, and the scenery along the way is absolutely breathtaking. When you reach the highest vantage point along the crossing, you'll be able to take in the truly awesome views, including colossal mountain ranges, Mount Tongariro, and even the National Park's very own active volcano, Mount Ngauruhoe (a.k.a Mount Doom for all of you LOTR superfans).
Your tour guides will drop you off at the start of the crossing's trail, and you'll have around eight hours to complete the trail and meet up on the other side, ensuring you catch your ride home! For all of you daredevils and Lord Of The Rings fans out there, you may want to consider climbing Mt Doom, just note that this can add hours on to your journey so make sure you give yourself enough time to get back to your rendezvous point.
I recommend a high-quality pair of hiking boots for this one as a minimum. Make sure to pack snacks for your journey as there's definitely no McDonalds along this trek. Depending on the time of year you're travelling, you may want to pack warmer clothes, as it may get colder during your ascent to the peak of the crossing.
Ancient glaciers. Colossal mountain ranges. Subtropical rainforest. The ocean. All encapsulated into one place.
The reason I wanted to include Fox glacier, located near the small town of Waiau on New Zealand's South Island, is that the place is famed to be one of the best skydiving locations in the world. This is where I took my first ever skydive, jumping from nearly 17,000 feet high. I couldn't recommend this thrill-seeking experience enough, as you'll be able to view the multitude of different terrains, during your descent above the Southern Alps.
For those of you who haven’t been skydiving before, check out our full guide of must do things to help prepare you to get the most out of your first jump.
You can book your skydive with Skydive Fox Glacier. Prices for the privilege of freefalling over this incredible landscape range between $249 - $399 NZD ($165 - $265 USD) depending on the height you wish to dive from.
Queenstown is the ultimate place for adventure sports. Based in New Zealand's South Island, on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, this lively town has everything from skydiving and bungee jumping experiences and also hosts an amazing nightlife.
This place probably deserves its very own guide, but I’ll give you a quick rundown of things you must do when visiting this place.
You can choose from multiple sites to do your jump, including the world-renowned Nevis Bungy - New Zealand's highest bungee jump, with a 134-metre drop, and nearly 9 seconds of freefall!
Climbing Ben Lomand
In comparison with other trails and climbs, such as the Tongariro Crossing, hiking to the peak of Ben Lomond is relatively easy (in my opinion). From the summit, you'll be able to view the glorious Lake Wakatipu, have an awesome view over the town, all whilst being surrounded by the spectacular Southern Alps.
This is another one for the adrenaline junkies. The Skyline Luge is an awesome experience, which seats you in an engineless cart and sees you propel yourself down and around a race track, competing against everyone to finish first.
Ferg Burger is probably the most famous eatery in Queenstown. This burger bar is world-renowned and boasts a huge selection of delicious items on the menu. Note that this place will usually have huge queues, all day, every day, so make sure you try to get in early or prepare to wait a while - but trust me, it's totally worth it!
Another good alternative to FergBurger is Devil Burger, which also has a great selection of items on the menu, and the queuing time is usually much shorter if you haven't got the patience to wait.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, you may want to treat yourself with a visit to Cookie Time, which offers a huge selection of freshly baked hot cookies, cookie dough, and shakes.
Picturesque is an absolute understatement. This literally has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Milford Sound is a fiord located in Fiordland National Park, on New Zealand’s South Island, and is around a 3-4 hour drive from Queenstown. In my opinion, Milford Sound is nearly on par with witnessing the Northern Lights - the place is truly otherworldly. It’s near this tranquil paradise where James Cameron got his inspiration for Avatar’s famous floating mountains.
You'll be able to take boat tours around the fiord for around $95 NZD ($65 USD), which usually last around 1:30hrs. If you desire, you'll be able to make a full day of it by setting sail from Queenstown and touring the Fiordland National Park along the way.
Seriously, if you’re considering booking your tickets to NZ, then don’t hesitate! I would say it’s a once in a lifetime trip, but I’m almost certain you’ll want to return!
We’d love to know how you get on with your travels around both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Let us know in the comments section below what places and experiences you’d personally recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of visiting this astonishingly picturesque country.
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