New Zealand Travel Guide
Blessed with fantastic nature, New Zealand is worlds apart from any experience found elsewhere and it is geographically much farther southeast than most people imagine. New Zealand is a former British colony, with fascinating cultural influences due to its location in southern Polynesia. Large swaths of rolling green meadows, churning geysers, creaking glaciers, and never-ending stretches of magical overgrown beaches encourage travelers to make the long haul across oceans to indulge in the disarming natural beauty of New Zealand year after year.
New Zealand was one of the last landmasses to be inhabited, only discovered in 800 AD by Polynesian navigator Kupe. The discovery initiated a steady stream of migration from today’s French Polynesia until Dutch Abel Tasman and finally James Cook came across the islands and claimed them for the British Crown, ruled from Australia. The native Maori people are still a considerable minority, enriching the cultural climate of the largely European (Pakeha) nation.
New Zealand’s geography is divided into two major north-south islands. Depending on where you travel and the time of year, the activities and topography will change dramatically.
Excitement is never far away in the South Island. Fast flowing rivers rush through the rocky ravines, then growl across plains washed down from the Southern Alps. The South Island’s unique relics includes the last Ice Age, the Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, which plunge just below the islands tallest peak in the Southern Alps, Mount Cook. These glaciers are particularly spectacular because they continue to flow through temperate rainforest strikingly close to sea level. Alpine lakes provide endless diversions, and the various contents that sweep along the western and eastern coasts carry food and a huge variety of dramatic sea life. Winter in the Alps region is excellent for skiing, mountaineering and film making – scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here. photo credit: geoftheref
Up in the north golden sand and countless untouched coves attract a steady line of sea kayakers and canoeists to Abel Tasman National Park.
Just around the corner, the deeply incised waterways of the Marlborough Sounds attract boaties and fisherfolk to it’s fiords and inlets. The mix of hot and cold currents and the plunging continental shelf bring sperm whales, minke, humpback and southern right whales to within a few kilometres of the Kaikoura coast, along with orcas, dolphins and other mammals. If you book a hotel in Kaikoura, enjoy all the nature around the city coast.
The shallow, braided rivers of Canterbury are stocked with sea-run trout and huge quinnat salmon, and the rivers, especially around the town of Gore, boast the finest brown trout in the land. Powerful jetboats take groups of people on thrilling rides along braided rivers and steep gorges. Some of the most spectacular rides are on the Shotover and Kawarau rivers near Queenstown, the resort known as the adventure capital of the world, where the drivers judge gaps to the metre and perform thrilling spins and turns. photo credit: geoftheref
For those after a slightly slower pace, white water rafting can bring out the same whoops and shouts of glee. And on hot summer days, the Southern Lakes are abuzz with waterskiers and sailing dinghies.
The chill currents of the Southern Ocean crash on the coast of Otago, creating excellent rides for well-insulated surfers. In the deep southwestern corner of the South Island, the formidable fiords of Fiordland have more surprises, as heavy rainfall creates a layer of dark stained fresh water, below which are a diverse range of corals, sponges and fish.
The North Island is relatively warmer during the summer and milder all year long. Put yourself ‘on edge’ with a trip to serene Lake Taupo, which also happens to fill the caldera of one of the largest super-volcanoes in the world. Extreme outdoor sports abound on both islands, as New Zealand is the original inventor of Bungy Jumping (also found at Lake Taupo) among other creatively dangerous activities. The west coasts are extremely popular for black water rafting, otherwise known as cave rafting. This exhilarating experience should not be missed, even by the beginner.
If a new heart rate is not what you are looking for, make your leisurely way to
at the very north end of the island; the name is not deceiving and the experience is absolute paradise in the summer months.
The Great Barrier Island to the east is a mind blowing underwater experience for most scuba divers and an equally sensational getaway for the sand-bound.
The Best Time for New Zealand Travel
As its location on the southeast of the globe, New Zealand’s warmer high-season months are between November to April. It is good time for outdoor exploration. While summer time (December to February) is the time for festivals, concerts and sports events. If you look for ski vacation in New Zealand, go between June to August. However, during winter time, warm-weather beach towns might be too quiet for travel. To have more relaxing vacation Avoid school holiday (mid December to early February) if possible as most places are packed with tourists and kids. So, October/November and April/May are the best time to go to New Zealand and also for getting the best travel deals.
Where to Stay
Quick links to find the best hotel deals in New Zealand :
- Finding hotels in various cities in New Zealand
- 70 hotel deals in Wellington
- 181 hotel deals in Auckland
- 97 hotel deals in Queenstown
- 160 hotel deals in Christchurch
- 53 hotel deals in Dunedin
New Zealand is a destination for all seasons, with activities spanning the elements and progressive cities to keep up with those of faster pace. Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown are all very youthful and spirited cities with the distinct eclecticism of New Zealand culture to overload the senses and invigorate the spirit. New Zealand may be far from most places in the world, but it is certainly worth any length of travel to reap the fruit of this nation’s existence. Travel to New Zealand and experience it all for yourself.