Today we are on a journey to discovering a beautiful island country, New Zealand. To many, exotic, faraway New Zealand is a magical place – a wild land that is too free for mere humans to tame. It isn’t an unreasonable impression; while New Zealand is developed, its natural beauty has always remained intact. A read through the places on this list will begin to make it clear how unspoiled New Zealand is. If New Zealand is not on your travel bucket list, I’m sure it will be in a matter of a few minutes.
1. Milford Sound
The Milford Sound, a narrow, glacier-cut sea inlet, was famously called the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling. It’s easy to see why; the scenery is epic. Something about the atmosphere of wild, beautiful loneliness reminds visitors of the moment of creation. It’s a great place for people who are trying to find a true meaning of life or who simply want to relax and enjoy peace and quiet.
2. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island, a large island in the Hauraki Gulf, is a half hour by boat from Auckland. The climate and the soil make Waiheke perfect for the grapes that the local wine industry uses. With vineyards covering the island, it’s easy to spend a dreamy day exploring the vineyards and taking in the healthy atmosphere. If you’d like someone to take you around the island and explain its attractions to you, you only need to sign up with the Waiheke Island Wine Tours. You can stay overnight, too; the island has cozy hotels, lodges and restaurants.
3. The Bay of Islands
If you love water sports, sailing or fishing, the Bay of Islands is a great destination. A 3-hour drive from Auckland brings you to the Cape Reinga region, where the sea is packed with more than 100 little islands, right off the shore. You can try scuba diving, swimming with the dolphins or simply have a good time on the bars and restaurants about town.
4. White Island
While New Zealand has plenty of partially active volcanoes, White Island is the most active one of all. You can explore the volcano on foot or fly above it on a volcanic air safari helicopter ride. Going on foot can be the most exciting way, though, the volcano often has little eruptions, throwing up rocks. A hardhat is always recommended.
5. The Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
The Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley is a region of active hot water geysers. The area holds the single largest active geyser in the world. Some of the pools in the Valley are so hot that they exceed 94° C. If you want, you can walk up to the Maori Heritage Center and ask for a steam box meal, a meal cooked in the natural heat of the springs.
6. The Franz Josef Glacier
An ice climbing expedition might seem like an activity that you would need to dress up in multiple coats and sweaters for. The 7 mile-long Franz Josef glacier is nothing like this, though. It gets a lot of sunshine, it’s only somewhat cooler than what you have at ground level. After a day trekking on the glacier, a soak in the hot pools at the base can feel wonderful.
7. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo caves are called the Glowworm caves for a good reason: the walls of the caves are home to hundreds of thousands of glowworms or fireflies. The caves also have a subterranean river of safe, slow-moving water. You can rent an inner tube and lazily float down the river in pitch darkness, with nothing to light your way other than the glowworms around you. It’s unlike anything that most people are ever likely to have experienced.
The Rotorua mineral springs on the North Island are a large area of natural springs, pools and mud geysers that you can have fun splashing about in. After you’ve had your fill of them, you get to take a ride on a cable gondola for a spectacular aerial view of the area.
The Orake Korako Thermal Park is an area of spectacular caves, springs and mud pools. Lake Taupo, a part of the Thermal Park, offers excellent jet boating, skydiving and bungee jumping opportunities. You will have lots of fun here and will want to visit Taupo over and over again.
Kaikoura is a tiny fishing town on the South Island. Once you get here, you get to spend a day off the coast spotting dolphins, whales and seals. Swimming with dolphins is one of my favorite things to do in Kaikoura. Whale watching is even more interesting here. Over a million people visit this fishing town every year and I’ve never heard any negative comments about this place.
If nature created a theme park, it would be like New Zealand. Unlike anywhere else in the world, the sights and experiences of New Zealand are easy to access and simple to enjoy. There’s nothing you need to do other than to simply show up. Sure, these are only a few breathtaking places to visit. If you’ve ever visited any of these places or any other places, please let me know in the comments section. I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit!