In February 2013, I am heading down under (well more like down under down under), and spending a month road tripping around New Zealand.
It is my dream destination, so now that I finally get to go, I am beyond excited.
However, when I started telling people about my travel plans, a lot of people asked me the same questions, ” Why go to New Zealand?”, and “Why not visit Australia or Southeast Asia instead?”
Apparently, my love and knowledge for the land of the long white cloud is not shared by everyone.
So here are my top ten reasons for why I am going to New Zealand.
1) It’s an adrenaline junkie’s playground
New Zealand is the birth place of bungy jumping. Chris and I have done the highest jump in
North America and now we want to try Nevis, the world’s third highest bungy jump. It is 134m (440 feet) above the Nevis River with 8.5 seconds of falling.
In New Zealand there is also a wide range of adventure activities, including white water rafting, zorbing, cliff jumping, sledging, caving, black water rafting, kayaking, and skydiving climbing glaciers to name a few.
2) You can get a view from the top
In addition to be able to hike and climb some of New Zealand’s highest peaks, including Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings), there are many options to take scenic flights by helicopter or passenger plane to see the island from a different perspective.
3) Its diverse landscapes
I can’t really think of many other countries can boost to have beautiful white beaches, impressive mountain ranges, towering glaciers, geothermal areas, lush rainforests, and dramatic coastlines. And of course, it is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. What is most impressive is that all of this is found within two small islands that have the land mass of Colorado.
4) Marine Life
If you have ever wanted to swim with dolphins in the wild, New Zealand has a number of opportunities, including swimming with the rarest and smallest breed, Hector dolphins. And the wildlife encounters do not end there. You can swim with seals, kayak by penguins, take a boat trip to see whales, and scuba dive in one of the best sub-tropical diving in world.
5) A food and wine lover’s paradise
While I don’t really consider myself a “foodie” or a wine connoisseur, the idea of spending a day touring vineyards and then ending the day eating fresh seafood certainly has its appeal. Being an island, New Zealand is known for its fresh seafood, including mussels, crayfish, salmon and oysters. However, they are most well-known for their lamb dishes (but when you live on a island with 4 million people and 40 million sheep that is pretty much assumed).
New Zealand is also famous for its wine (especially its sauvignon blanc), and has eight major wine growing regions throughout the country, and almost 700 wineries.
6) The Eighth Wonder of the World
While it does not have the official status, Milford Sound within Fiordland National Park was once claimed to be the eighth Wonder of World by Rudyard Kipling. It is the most famous tourist destination in New Zealand despite its remote location (there is only one long -and beautiful- road that leads there) and it offers some of the best kayaking, boat cruises and hikes in the country.
7) Life’s a beach
Being an island, New Zealand is covered in beaches, especially in the Northern Island. And while it has your typical “white-sand-postcard beach”, it also has many atypical beaches, including Hot Water Beach (where you can dig your own hot tub in the sand), Raglan’s black sand beaches, the wild and rugged Piha beach, and the sand dunes of Ninety Mile beach (where you can actually go sand surfing!).
8) There are some “Great Walks”
In New Zealand there are nine Great Walks (including one canoe / kayak journey) that are maintained by the Department of Conservation. The walks range anywhere from a one-day 19 km hike to a 82 km four-to-five day hike (so you do need to be in fairly good shape!). The best part is that these walks are completely free of charge (unless you use some of the huts as accommodation), and take you to some of the best scenery in the country. From hiking up the side of an active volcano (Tongariro Crossing), to incredible waterfalls and impressive mountain ranges, you can literally see almost all of the country’s highlights on foot.
9) Affordable accommodation
After experiencing all of the incredible things that New Zealand has to offer, you may be left with a limited budget at the end of the day to find somewhere to sleep. However, in New Zealand there seems to be an endless list of budget accommodations, including over 500 hostels, over 50 independently-owned camp sites, and if you have your own vehicle you can freedom camp (read camp for free) on public land. And for travellers who have their doubts about staying in a hostel, many of them include luxuries that hotels and bed and breakfasts don’t include, such as hot tubs, pools, access to bikes, kayaks and hiking gear, lounge and recreational areas, and some of the best views in the country.
10) Why would you not want to be here?