Auckland skyline in New Zealand

New Zealand isn’t just for backpackers

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Hitchhiking around New Zealand and trying to relive scenes from Lord of the Rings may seem like the perfect holiday for some. But what if you like hot showers, excellent food and sumptuous sleeping arrangements? The good news is you don’t have to scratch New Zealand off your list.

New Zealand has more to offer than roughing it, and we’re here to help you to enjoy one of the world’s most beautiful countries in style.

Getting Around New Zealand

New Zealand Coastal Highway

Forget long distance buses. New Zealand is the land of the road trip, and renting a car can be one of the most rewarding ways to experience it.

Take a trip from the north island to the south island (with a ferry in between) and watch the landscape shift dramatically from beautiful beaches, and volcanic mountains, to windswept plains, glaciers and snow-capped peaks. Or simply rent a car to do short trips into the nearby countryside from wherever you’re staying.

Sleeping

Skyline of Auckland in New Zealand

With so much natural beauty to take in, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about urban life in New Zealand, which is contemporary and energetic. Nowhere is this more evident than Auckland, where skyscrapers rise up from beautiful beaches and sparkling ocean. View it all from a luxurious suite in the Sofitel Auckland.

If the city gets too much, get in your car and head to Solitaire Lodge, a leisurely three hour drive from Auckland, to experience the awe-inspiring Lake Tarawera in one of the world’s best boutique hotels.

New Zealand is also one of the greenest countries on earth, with numerous, thoughtful eco-lodges. However, the south island does it best with Hapaku Lodge, which offers 360 degree views from handcrafted, sustainably-built treehouses.

Eating and Drinking

Vineyard in New Zealand

New Zealand is in the midst of a culinary renaissance. A new generation is celebrating their country’s gloriously fresh, local produce.

Taste award-winning, cool-climate wines on the south island and immerse yourself in what looks to be wine’s next big thing. Try the sauvignon blanc from Cloudy Bay, or sample the pinot noir from Delta in Marlborough.

For delicate food in an unpretentious setting, visit Grove in Auckland. And if you’re in the market for the pinnacle of New Zealand’s fine dining scene, look no further than

The French Cafe, voted the best restaurant in the country in 2016.

Things to Do

Matiatia Bay Waiheke Island New Zealand

New Zealand, after all, is a place of adventure and excitement. Add some exploration to your holiday by taking one of the many cruises out of Auckland to The Bay of Islands and bask in the sublime beauty of New Zealand’s ocean landscapes.

While you’re on the water, New Zealand is teeming with marine life, so seize the opportunity to tangle with world-class marlin, kingfish and snapper.

For serious thrill seekers, the appeal of New Zealand is its status as one of the originators of modern bungee jumping. Start at Karawau Bridge, the first commercial bungee in the world, and build up courage for The Nevis, a 143m jump from a cabin shakily suspended in mid-air by nothing but cables.

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Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, New Zealand

10 things we love about New Zealand

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Made up of two islands, New Zealand’s vast landscape has something for everyone. Whether you visit the North Island and explore the country’s history and rich Maori culture, or take in the South Island with its awe inspiring scenery, you are guaranteed to fall in love with New Zealand. Here are just ten of the things we love about this beautiful country.

1. The Scenery

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The diversity of New Zealand’s landscapes are like no other country on earth. With white sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, glistening blue lakes, natural hot springs, vineyards and green rainforests to name a few, there really is no end to the natural beauty of New Zealand.

2. The Historic Culture

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There is a large Maori presence and influence in New Zealand, which is an important part of the country’s history. The North Island is rich with Maori history and visitors can learn about Maori culture and experience the hospitality first hand. Take a trip to Rotorua and visit a living Maori village to try some delicious Maori food and learn the traditional war dance, the Haka.

3. The Great Outdoors

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When it comes to outdoor activities, there’s not much you can’t do in New Zealand. Both islands are the perfect setting for an abundance of year round outdoor activities. There are endless trails to cycle or hike in the National Parks, and for a more relaxing option, you can kayak or take a scenic boat cruise. The climate also makes for great camping conditions in the summer months, and during the winter months New Zealand boasts world class skiing resorts on both islands.

4. World famous wine

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Famed for its wine, New Zealand has a number of vineyards to visit. The two leading areas are situated in Hawkes Bay and Marlborough, which is best known for producing Sauvignon Blanc. Taste your way through the North Island by driving the picturesque Classic New Zealand wine trail – a must do for any wine enthusiasts.

5. Adventure activities

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If you are a thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie then New Zealand is definitely the place for you. Known as the adventure tourism capital of the world, all over the country you can find places to bungee jump, sky dive, white water raft, mountain bike and so much more. Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, and home to the world’s first bungee (so if you’re ever going to take a leap of faith, this is the place to do it!).

6. Lord of the Rings

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The stunning scenery of New Zealand was famously used as the back drop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. More than 150 real locations were used for filming, and the Hobbiton film set was created – a must for any Lord of the Rings fans.

7. Wildlife

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New Zealand is home to a number of bird species that won’t be found anywhere else in the world. Most notably the Kiwi, the small flightless bird, which is the national symbol of New Zealand. It is also an amazing place to spot whales and dolphins. Unlike their Australian neighbours, there are almost no venomous or highly dangerous animals to look out for on land.

8. Low population

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New Zealand covers more land than the UK, but with a population of under 5 million people, it is significantly less populated. It’s not uncommon to take a walk or drive and not pass anyone else for hours, making it the perfect place to escape and relax. With most of the population living in the main cities, the rest of the country is unspoiled and uncrowded.

9. Star-gazing

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With large parts of the country having little to no light pollution, New Zealand is the perfect place to go star gazing. With some of the darkest and clearest skies in the world there is the chance to see shooting stars and constellations that can be uniquely viewed from this part of the world. The South Island hosts some of the best spots such as Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo. If you visit in winter, you might even be lucky enough to experience the breath taking Southern Lights.

10. It’s the perfect place for a holiday

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There is so much on offer here that you can never get bored of New Zealand. Visitors want to come back time and time again to try and see more of the country. With easy driving conditions and friendly locals, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable time in New Zealand!

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New Zealand – North or South Island?

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New Zealand is an adventure playground with a list of endless activities. With visitors often only having the time to stay for a few weeks, it is simply impossible to see everything. Many people decide to explore one island at a time, in the hope that they can return to New Zealand a second time and explore the other island. The only issue that remains is what island to visit? We have put together some of the highlights from both islands to help try and make up your mind.

North Island

Cities

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The North Island is home to New Zealand’s largest city and transport hub, Auckland. A lively city, Auckland has a cosmopolitan atmosphere with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, as well as major tourist attractions. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, it is easy to take a ferry to one of the laid back islands and be at the beach within thirty minutes. New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is also located in the North Island and is set amongst the charming harbour and rolling hills.

Maori Culture

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Rotorua is the place to visit to discover more about Maori history and culture. This is your chance to experience a living Maori village and even spend the night here. The Bay of Islands also has significant Maori history; in particular, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is where New Zealand’s most important document was signed between the Maori people and Europeans in 1840. Overall, the North Island is a fantastic place to learn more about the heritage of New Zealand and its origins.

Beaches

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The North Island offers some of New Zealand’s best beaches by the bucket load. Try the Bay of Islands for secluded and intimate beaches, or Abel Tasman National Park for hidden treasures, like the tranquil Golden Bay. West Auckland beaches prove you don’t have to travel far from the city to find a peaceful beach. The crystal clear waters of Piha beach are only thirty minutes from Auckland and has some of the best surfing conditions in New Zealand.

South Island

Winter Activities

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With some of the best ski slopes in the Southern Hemisphere, the South Island is fantastic for exhilarating winter activities. If you don’t fancy hitting the slopes why not try a dog sledging tour or relax in the natural Hot Springs after a day in the snow. The start of the winter season is celebrated with a 10 day festival in Queenstown with fireworks, parties and lots of fun outdoor activities.

Fiordlands

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The incredible Fiordland’s National Park is located at the very South of New Zealand and has been described as the most dramatic and impressive part of the country. Visitors can explore the striking natural environment of Doubtful and Milford Sounds by boat trip, or take a flight to see the views from above. If you enjoy hiking or trekking embark on the Milford Track and make your way through the awe-inspiring wilderness. No matter what time of year you visit, this area of the South Island is simply stunning.

Queenstown

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One of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations, there is something for everyone in this vibrant mountainside town. It is the ultimate destination for adventure, with an endless amount of activities to keep adrenaline junkies content. If adventure sports are not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other activities available in Queenstown. Ride the gondola to Bob’s Peak for impressive views, take a cycling or walking tour, enjoy a scenic cruise and try the variety of eateries on offer. A unique and impressive destination with something for everyone!

What’s your favourite New Zealand island? North or South?

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