What country boasts more sheep than humans and more adrenaline inducing thrills than anywhere else on the globe? Hint: it’s tucked away at the bottom of the world and at the top of our list - New Zealand! First we're diving into this sweet-as little slice of heaven known as the North Island, best known for its picture-perfect peaks and limitless supply of outdoor fun. There’s plenty of lazing on the sand and splashing in the natural hot springs to check off your list too.
(With 60 million sheep and 5 million peeps, who runs the world?!)
- Population: 5 million
- Capital City: Wellington
- Best time to travel: They’ve got an endless supply of seasonal activities, so all year round!
Auckland a.k.a The City of Sails. It lost out as capital city to Wellington way back in the 1800’s, but it frequently ranks in the world’s top 20 most liveable cities. This vibrant little hub has a harbour packed with superyachts, trendy cafes and plenty of bars. The food is excellent, the beers are crafted to perfection and it’s perfectly situated for pristine peninsula views. If there wasn’t enough to jump off already, daredevils can also base jump down from NZ’s tallest structure, the Sky Tower too.
(Superyachts line the lush peninsula daily - Monaco or Auckland?!)
(Caution: You may end up in wine heaven over here on Waiheke Island)
Swap the bustling city life of Auckland for wine sippin' and chillin’ with these must-do island escapes. Waiheke Island is a short and scenic 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland. With over 30 boutique wineries to choose from and the region's best beaches, spend an afternoon sipping and swirling New Zealand's finest wines with views for days. The Bay of Islands is another must. It’s your best bet for whale watching and swimming with dolphins, with plenty of cheap fishing trips, cruises and sea kayak adventures on offer!
(The smell won’t last forever, but the memories of watching volcanic action up close and in-person will!)
Celebrating what lies beneath the surface is Rotorua’s speciality. New Zealand sits firmly on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so naturally it’s a melting pot of attractions! It’s got spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools and tonnes of thermal hot springs to relax in. Although, the aroma is rather fresh - the oozing mud pools set off a permanent stench of rotten eggs (pheewwwy). There’s more adrenalin pumping activities out here too, they’ve got luging, zorbing and jet boating.
Marvelling at mother nature in the Waitomo Caves is another must-do. A little west inland, beneath the rolling hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of limestone caves. By boat, you can glide through the galaxy of twinkling lights as thousands of glow worms work their magic from above. You can raft, abseil or zip-line through the starry wonderland too. There’s always the extra extreme edition of blackwater rafting for you adventure nuts.
(A touristy pub and restaurant have been added so you film buffs can spend the whole day roaming around The Shire)
Matamata is an absolute must see for those in search of Middle Earth! Hobbiton is the most popular tourist attraction in all the land, with 350,000+ visiting every year. Peter Jackson famously came upon Hobbiton himself during an aerial search for the set. Stop here to calm your inner Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) fandom and pop into Bag End (Bilbo's crib) as you wander through the heart of The Shire.
(Just like Frodo and Sam, you can climb to the fiery depths of Mordor by walking the Tongariro Crossing!)
Powderhounds pay attention! Grab at the opportunity to ski down the side of the second largest volcano in all the land, Mt Ruapehu. Mt Tongariro also offers the chance to ski down the slopes or hike up the craters (depending on the season). The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a hike for all you LOTR fans! It’ll take you all day, but as you walk through volcanic terrain, high mountain peaks and sulfur lakes - you’ll be taken back to Middle Earth again. Taupo is a top destination for sky diving too, with the beautiful Lake Taupo as the backdrop as you plunge back to Earth.
(Famous for a vibrant creative culture fuelled by great food, craft beer, coffee and events, Wellington’s got it all!)
Way back when it replaced Auckland, it became the southernmost capital and the 'coolest little capital in the world'. You can easily taste your way around the city because its got more bars and restaurants per capita than NYC. Visit the home of hipsters on Cuba Street - a slice of bohemian heaven with some of the best coffee in town. Take a quick trip up the Mount Victoria Lookout to get your city bearings from above and Insta worthy views. Stick around, grab some fish & chips to watch as the sun sets and the city lights brighten the night sky. If it’s the season - catch a game of Rugby at Westpac Stadium to watch the All Blacks' famous haka!
No, we haven't forgotten the South Island! Keep your eyes peeled for our next Global Destination Reviews: New Zealand Part II where we're be ticking off even more adventure thrills on offer over there.
With sweeping natural beauty all over like nowhere else, NZ is a top destination for all. You can head off here yourself! Let's get you started, click that little blue button below...