In our opinion, New Zealand is the best place in the world for independent travel. Â It’s clean, safe, easy, English speaking, and spans the gamut from the temperate north to penguins and glaciers in the south. It’s the perfect mix of cosmopolitan cities, quaint small towns and truly backcountry wild adventure.
This year New Zealand represents a great value for European, and American travelers alike. The strength of their dollar creates opportunities in the land down under to have a fantastic adventure while stretching a buck. For Australians, New Zealand remains a no brainer. It’s close. Flights are easy and inexpensive, and it makes a great jumping off point for the beginning of a bigger ’round the world adventure.
Here are three reasons to visit New Zealand this year:
If you’re into outdoor adventures then you’re going to fall in love with the South Island. Start with the 7 Stunning Lakes of the South Island and branch out from there.
Renting a campervan and taking to the back roads and byways is, far and away, the best way to get off of the beaten path in New Zealand. You can rent, but you’ll be limited in your camping options. Buy, or arrange a private rental to maximize value and possibilities.
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Learn about the Sex Lives of Glowworms in Waitomo. Yep. Really. Plus, it’s a really cool underwater cave-boat tour. Kinda spooky!
Explore the Franz Joseph Glacier on the South Island… and the Fox Glacier too!
On the south island you don’t want to miss Queenstown. This is the place to luge down the mountain, bungee jump off of the original bridge, jet boat, screaming fast, down the river, or take a slow chug across the lake in a steamboat to visit a working sheep farm. It’s touristy, but it’s great. Be sure to have a Ferg Burger.
Christchurch is a no brainer. While it’s true that it’s not what it was before the big quakes and reconstruction is taking longer than anyone anticipated, it’s still a fantastic place to spend a few days. Check out the phoenix rising from the downtown ashes in the form of the container mall and the weekly farmer’s market.
Wellington is the country’s capital, and my favourite city of them all. Be sure to visit Te Papa. It’s a serious contender for the best museum I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to most of the world’s biggest. Tour the Parliament, it’s cooler than it sounds. Hang out in the botanical gardens and marvel at the ferns that exist nowhere else in the world.
Auckland is the place to be if you’re looking for cosmopolitan in New Zealand. It’s the big city on the North Island. The greatest concentration of population in the country, and the place you’ll find museums, tourist attractions, and the embassies of major countries. Spend some time checking out the yachts in the harbour and sampling seafood along the wharf.
New Zealand is becoming a major player in the wine world. Check out the 9 World Class Wine Regions of the island nation and sample some of their best.
The history of the first people of New Zealand, the Maori, is fascinating and an integral part of understanding the culture of the islands. Be sure to spend some time learning about the origins and traditions of the Maori, beyond Kia Ora.
Begin with the ABCs of Traveling in New Zealand and start planning for the adventure of a lifetime in 2016!
Photo by: Karen Plimmer