If you haven’t figured it out yet, I kind of love New Zealand. It reminds me of Scotland, but it’s also kind of a microcosm of the US. New Zealand is a country of jagged mountains, lush green hills, captivating beaches, and iridescent waters. There are thousands of reasons to visit this fascinating island nation, but I’ve culled from the best of the best to give you only ten reasons to visit New Zealand.
ten reasons to visit New Zealand
this impressive peak
Milford Sound is the top destination for New Zealand tourists, and has been since before the Homer Tunnel opened in the 1930s, allowing road access. Today, you can kayak, cruise, fly, helicopter, or scuba dive around the Sound.
this winding road
The road to Glenorchy has long been listed among the world’s best drives, and it really is no wonder. After leaving Queenstown, the road winds through forest before returning to the shores of Lake Wakatipu where it winds its way over the hills into Glenorchy. The mountains beyond Kinloch and Paradise, those that divide Central Otago from Fiordland, are visible at the top end of the lake.
these weird boulders
The Moeraki boulders are a geological phenomenon on the beach at Moeraki, near Oamaru. Not from the sea, as many people think, but rather stripped from the cliffs through erosion, the boulders are almost perfectly round and appear to have been placed by a giant hand.
this stunning vista
Aoraki/Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, standing an impressive 3,724m above sea level. Its accessible as well – thousands of people hike in the region each year, some summiting the difficult ascent – but the views from the Hooker Valley track in the glacial valley below the mountain are the ones for the picture books.
these crashing waves
What did one ocean say to the other? Nothing, it waved!
At the farthest northern point on the North Island lies Cape Reinga. Famous in Maori legend for being where the spirits left the land, it is also the meeting point for two major bodies of water: the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
these emerald lakes
Lying at the heart of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the North Island, the Emerald Lakes are only one of the highlights of the eight-hour hike. Another highlight is the conical volcano that we all know and love as Mordor, known to the Maori as Ngauruhoe.
Where else in the world can you dig your own natural hot pools on a beach, for free? Hot Water Beach, near Hahei in the Coromandel, is a flurry of activity during low tide, when tourists come armed with spades and buckets ready to dig a spa pool. Bonus: you can take beer.
When in New Zealand, why not tackle a Great Walk? The list of Great Walks is compromised of hikes from all across the country, and recently the Department of Conservation added a canoeing trip to the compilation. Whether you prefer a rugged mountain hike or a leisurely stroll along a golden sand beach, there is a hike in New Zealand for anyone. It’s too hard to pick just one to consider one of the ten reasons to visit New Zealand, so you get all nine of them (choose your own adventure;)).
this petrified forest
At the very bottom of the South Island is the Catlins National Park. Here, along gravel roads and lush green farmland, lies an underwater petrified forest. Visible at low tide, Curio Bay is beyond gorgeous for the way that the waves crash up on to the shelf and for the rarest species of penguin that shuffles out of the sea here.
this vibrant city
Wellington has long been considered the capital of cool by people in the know, and its finally being broadcast worldwide. Don’t miss the breweries, the coffee roasteries, or the fascinating food scene. Also noteworthy is the national museum, Te Papa, and the colourful Oriental Parade.
Have you been to New Zealand? What do you think of this list? Add your favourites in the comments below!
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