New Zealand – Paradise of the Pacific
New Zealand is known in its native Maori language as Aotearoa, translated as ‘land of the long white cloud’. An ever-changing maritime climate keeps the North and South islands fresh and well-watered, which contribute to its green clean appeal. The scenery is breathtaking – majestic mountains, fjords, thick rainforests and brooding volcanoes give way to glacial lakes and swathes of sandy beaches – so it’s not surprising that the islands’ fairytale landscapes were chosen as locations for The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Over a third of the landmass is classified as a park or reserve and there are approximately 15,000 km of coastline and more than 25 marine reserves. A population of just four million inhabit a country the size of the UK, spread across the North and South islands, so there’s plenty of space to stretch your legs and explore.
Go for the indigenous Maori culture, the mythical scenery, the rugby and the rugged outdoor life. Savour exquisite food and wine and join in the celebrations at a calendar-full of festivals. Swim with dolphins, go whale-watching or try dam dropping, ice climbing and bungee jumping!
When to Go?
New Zealand’s high season runs from November to April, when the weather is warmest and food and wine festivals are in full swing. Avoid school holidays in mid-December to early February if you want a quieter New Zealand holiday. Cooler weather and more accessibility can be found in the shoulder months – October/November and April/May. Skiing is best between June and August when the powder is thickest.
How to get there?
Auckland (AKL) is the busiest international airport, though New Zealand actually has seven: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Queenstown and Wellington. Depending on your airline, flights from the UK go via Asia or the US, with stopovers in either direction. Flights from the UK’s major airports are available to Auckland and Christchurch and take approximately 26 hours.
New Zealand’s scenery is amongst the most photogenic on Earth, and you’ll want to explore the National Parks, beaches, mountains and volcanoes that lend these islands their other-worldly quality. Abel Tasman, Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks are amongst the best. Go volcano- and island-hopping in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city; see centuries-old ice floes at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier; watch whales and dolphins at Kaikoura or quench your thirst in the world-famous Marlborough Wine Region.