Adventure is Calling: Experience New Zealand

January 18, 2022 Destinations

New Zealand is an adventure seeker’s paradise. New Zealanders are some of the most welcoming, friendly people you will ever meet, and New Zealand has so much to offer when it comes to outdoor activities and cultural experiences.  In fact, this island country has so many wonders to behold; it was difficult for us to pick just a few.

**We interrupt this broadcast for a quick geography lesson and caveat.**

New Zealand is made up of two islands with immensely different attractions, weather, and personalities.  While it is possible to see both islands in one trip, we suggest breaking it up and taking your time to explore each island individually. 

While the North Island of New Zealand is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather and serves as the cultural center for the Maori people, the South Island is known as New Zealand’s adventure playground.  With rugged mountains, glaciers that reach into turquoise green waters, clear rivers with world-class fly fishing opportunities, New Zealand has become a bucket list destination for many outdoor enthusiasts around the globe.

Here are a few of our favorites from each island.

The North Island – Maori Culture and That Beach Life

Traditional maori carving and Taranaki Mount, New Zealand
Traditional Maori carving and Taranaki Mount, New Zealand

New Zealand is home to the Maori people,  New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian people who arrived in New Zealand on canoes sometime between 1200 and 1300 AD.  The Maori are the pride of New Zealand. Their culture is celebrated through dance, song, art, language, and food. So if you are looking to immerse yourself in the Maori culture, the North Island is your jam.

With its temperate climate year-round (and a mild winter), the North Island of New Zealand is also home to beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.  If you’re looking to catch some waves, New Zealand is the place to be – it has been said that New Zealand has more surf breaks per kilometer than any other country in the world.

Auckland

Auckland City skyline at night, North Island, New Zealand.
Auckland City skyline at night, North Island, New Zealand.

The North Island is home to New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. This metropolis is full of energy and culture with Maori and modern influences. If you’re looking for an introduction to New Zealand culture, Auckland is the place to be.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Bioluminiscent Glow Worms shining in Waipu Caves, Northland, North Island, New Zealand.
Bioluminescent Glow Worms shining in Waipu Caves, Northland, North Island, New Zealand.

One of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations is just outside of Auckland – the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. These caves are home to thousands of tiny glowworms that light up the dark cave ceilings like stars.

The Coastline

Ocean Beach, New Zealand.
Ocean Beach, New Zealand.

If beaches are more your thing, the North Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and secluded coastlines. The Bay of Islands is a cluster of 144 islands in the Pacific Ocean called the “Crown Jewels of New Zealand.”

On a clear day, you can see for miles from this gorgeous coastline. In fact, you might even be able to spy New Zealand’s other major island – The South Island! And it is no wonder why New Zealanders refer to their country as God’s own.

The South Island – New Zealand’s Most Breathtaking Landscapes

South Island, New Zealand
South Island, New Zealand

The South Island is home to New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes. From picture-perfect glaciers and valleys to rich green pastures and towering mountain peaks… the landscape of The South island will leave you breathless!

Aoraki Mount Cook

Grazing sheep in glacial Rees Dart river valley with Mt Aspiring National Park, Southern Alps, vista backdrop forming an iconic New Zealand landscape
Rees Dart river valley with Mt Aspiring National Park, Southern Alps, New Zealand

New Zealand’s tallest peak is Aoraki Mount Cook. At 12,218 ft (3744 m), it towers over the surrounding glaciers and valleys, creating New Zealand’s most recognizable backdrop for movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Glaciers

The flat and barren lower valley just beneath the Franz Josef glacier on New Zealand's south island, as seen at sunset.
The lower valley just beneath the Franz Josef glacier on New Zealand’s south island, as seen at sunset.

New Zealand has the largest number of glaciers in the world per square mile. The Franz Josef Glacier is New Zealand’s most famous glacier on New Zealand’s South Island.

Franz Josef Glacier offers a wide range of activities, from short walks to multi-day hikes. However, visitors must be aware that these glaciers are moving and can change rapidly –  so make sure you check out New Zealand’s Department of Conservation site before you visit to make sure the glacier is safe.

Milford Sound

Sunrise at Milford Sound in New Zealand
Sunrise at Milford Sound in New Zealand

New Zealand’s most prominent and deepest fjord, Milford Sound, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year who travel from all over the world just to see this incredible New Zealand landmark.

The Milford Road is a spectacular drive that takes visitors through one of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes – the rainforest! Be prepared to take your camera out for plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand, is often called the “adventure capital of the world,” and for good reason. This small town is home to an abundance of adventure activities, including skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, jet boating, and paragliding. If you’re looking for a taste of New Zealand’s wild side, Queenstown is the place to be!

The Southern Alps

Stunning landscape views of Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand
Stunning landscape views of Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand

The Southern Alps are the most extensive mountain range in New Zealand and run the entire length of the South Island. New Zealand’s most popular place to ski, the Southern Alps, boasts slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels as well as beautiful mountain views during the warmer months.

The South Island’s mountains are a great place to visit year-round – whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland or an alpine escape. New Zealand has something for everyone and should be at the top of your list when planning your next international travel adventure!

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