Vacation New Zealand the Youngest Country on Earth
A New Zealand vacation will transport you to an unspoilt country at the bottom of the world. It’s the youngest country in the world.
It is an island nation, south east of the continent of Australia and being an island is surrounded by the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman sea.
The largest city (Auckland) and the capital city (Wellington) are both in the North Island.
The country is green, outstandingly beautiful and it offers visitors much diversity as this capstone hub will outline. New Zealand is picture postcard perfect.
It consists of two main islands conservatively named the North Island and South Island.
If you want to sail in blue waters around uninhabited islands, then you can. If you want to ski down majestic mountain slopes on virgin snow you can. If your preference is to relax and observe the countryside in a stress free way travel a tour bus, recreational vehicle (motor home) or self drive rental car - it’s all possible and easy to do.
There's a lot to see in each island but many visitors choose to spend the majority of their time in the South Island because of the majestic scenery.
Most visitors fly into Auckland. This article and video gives an idea of the scenery from the air. Scenic flights on a DC3.
How much time should you spend on your New Zealand Vacation?
Although the country is small, because of the diversity in scenery, it is advisable to spend at least 2-3 weeks on a New Zealand vacation.
Travelers generally arrive at Auckland airport after flying over amazing scenery. Before landing visitors to New Zealand get their first glimpse of the beautiful coastline, outlying islands, and verdant countryside of the farmlands and the sprawling metropolis of this, the largest city in the country. It is but a taste of things to come. There are many more treats in store.
What type of food to expect on your New Zealand Vacation?
The food is truly a fusion of the multiplicity of nations represented here.
New Zealanders are innovators and so have readily adapted the food from many nations to create innovative, tasty dishes using the abundant produce grown in the countryside.
Although, you can still find international dishes – Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Malaysian are all well represented.
The bold neon lights of many international food chains will wink alluring at you – KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Starbucks, and Gloria Jeans etc
The coffee is outstanding. New Zealander’s love their coffee and roast imported beans to perfection.
Wines too are world class. The country is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noirs in particular but many other varietals are also grown and produced in New Zealand and they tempt those on a New Zealand vacation to stop and imbibe. If you want to meet the winemaker, its possible here as many have a cellar door, some with a restaurant or café attached.
Sheep outnumber people in New Zealand!
What to do on your New Zealand Trip?
There are many varied activities to do on a New Zealand trip. From the top of the North Island here are some ideas of the most popular tourist areas:
The North Island
- Bay of Islands
Beautiful islands beckon the visitor to this region. The hopping off point to get to the islands is Paihia. Paihia is also very significant in New Zealand history as Waitangi is where the treaty was signed (establishing rights) between the indigenous Maori people and the new settlers.
The major airport is here. Enjoy city life in any one of the numerous cafes, bars and restaurants. See the many yachts and motor boats at Westhaven Marina for a reminder of just how much Aucklanders enjoy getting out onto the water whenever they can.
Public ferries make it easy for travelers to get to several islands – Waiheke (cafes, beaches and open spaces), the old extinct volcanic island of Rangitoto which is isolated except for day trippers, and further afield rugged Great Barrier to name just a few.
Bubbling mud pools, frenetic geysers and a strong Maori culture ensure Rotorua is a “must see” for any traveler. It is quite unique. Many different sites give the visitor choice. A firm favorite is Whakarewarewa and a little further south on the road to Taupo the Wai-o-tapu attraction.
Thermal pools around the Rotorua/Taupo area have special health benefits and soaking in one is recommended relaxation.
Australasia’s largest lake is LakeTaupo which was formed by a volcanic eruption in 181AD. If you enjoy fishing, try your hand here to catch a trout for dinner.
On a clear day, the backdrop of the three mountains in the distance – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruhoe forms excellent photo opportunities. Mt Ruapehu has great winter snow skiing – the main slopes being Turoa and Whakapapa. Huka falls is also a “must see” while in the area.
If you like exploring volcanoes, in this area you can visit the White Island active volcano.
Cascading down a hill, many Wellingtonians enjoy magnificent views over their harbor.
Wellington is the seat of New Zealand’s Parliament which is housed in the Beehive.
Take the ferry from Wellington to Picton (in the South Island) for a welcome change instead of flying everywhere.
The South Island
The creative hub of New Zealand. Enjoy a leisurely wander around the Saturday morning Nelson markets and buy delicious organic local food and wonderful art and crafts.
The area is also famous for winemaking and for those with an interest in wine – take a wine trail.
Kaikoura is the best place to take a boat trip to spot whales. It’s possible to see these giant beasts such as humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right as they migrate further south.
The garden city as it is nicknamed has many old buildings and has retained a tram car. This city is cute and has a sophisticated air.
Punt down the AvonRiver, which wends its way through the city, for a relaxing afternoon or evening.
8. Mt Cook/Te Anau
Enjoy clean air and walks to crystal clear waterfalls. Mt Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3754 metres (12320 ft).
Even if you are not an adventurous climber (and climbing this mountain is only recommended for very experienced climber) visitors can enjoy rambling around in the foothills.
The town of Queenstown was built on the edge of Lake Wakatipu so it has lovely views of the lake with the Remarkables (a mountain range) as the backdrop. In winter time with the mountains tinged with snow, it is picture perfect.
The famous Mitre Peak is a day trip from Queenstown and is best on a rainy day to see a myriad of waterfalls cascade down the peak.
Nearby is the area where Peter Jackson filmed some scenes from Lord of the Rings.
Skiing is a key activity in winter with several fields popular nearby – Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and over the mountain pass, Cardrona and Treble Cone.
The city of Dunedin retains much of its Scottish heritage in the old stone buildings. Imposing Lanarch Castle, with its relaxing gardens, is a classic example of the restored buildings which dominate this city.
It’s a vibrant University town and many students opt for a mid winter swim in the extremely cold surf.
This is but a snapshot of the possibilities. There are so many wonderful sites - World Heritage nature parks with pristine virgin bush, world class walks, quiet lakes tucked away in hills and more.
The country has a temperate climate so it is suitable for a New Zealand vacation all year round. However, the weather is changeable and it can get very cold depending upon the time of year and the location.
There is a marked difference between the climate in the two main islands. It's advisable to pack a jacket and a warm sweater, even in summer.
The following is an outline of the seasons:
Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November
The following site has detailed information on the weather in New Zealand.
The peak season for tourists is late January, February and March. However, outside those months, there are fewer people and the climate is great for traveling.
Because it’s an island though, the weather is changeable and the weather forecast is often a little unreliable.
The New Zealand Lifestyle
The New Zealand lifestyle is generally rather relaxed. New Zealander’s have a “can do” attitude to life, probably because of the isolation of the country.
Although businesses are open on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday), the locals generally like to have the weekend off where they will socialize over a barbeque, play sports (a very popular pastime), shop or engage in the many adventure activities.
The indigenous people are the Maoris’. The country was later settled by immigrants of (mainly) European descent. The official language is English.
These days many other nations have representation in the New Zealand population including people from nearby PacificIslands such as Tonga, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and Nauru.
Over later years immigrants from Asian countries have made New Zealand their home. There are also many representatives from numerous other countries who have chosen New Zealand as their home.
New Zealander’s are independent in spirit and despite their isolation and size (4.3 million people) have laid claim to many world firsts. They are very proud to have been the first country in the world to:
- give women the right to vote in general elections (1893),
- the first person to climb to the top of the worlds highest mountain - Everest (Sir Edmund Hilary),
- develop and market the bungy jump
- invent glad wrap (cling wrap)
- Sir Earnest Rutherford first split the atom,
- and of course Peter Jackson (producer of Lord of the Rings Trilogy) put New Zealand on the map for producing it.
This is a snaphot of New Zealand, the country, its people and its food. Follow the other links mentioned for more information.
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Beautiful New Zealand
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