I might be a little biased, but I still rate New Zealand (New Zild to the locals) as one of the most beautiful country’s I have ever lived in or visited.
For such a small country, there is an abundance of sights, activities and stunning scenery to fill up your camera memory card several times over.
I grew up and lived most of my life in the southern suburbs of Auckland, the largest city in NZ. And while Auckland is becoming more well known for it’s traffic jams, there are so many things to do in the vibrant city.
The waterfront and viaduct host regular sporting events, shows and concerts. Grab a blanket, a picnic and some friends and head out to an outdoor movie at one of the city parks. Beaches on both the east and west coasts attract sunbathers, swimmers, surfers, bird watchers and people fishing. Walking tracks wind through bush reserves in the south and west. Islands in the Hauraki Gulf are easily reached by ferry or private boat and provide fabulous places for swimming, diving and fishing. Or you can even climb one of the 53 extinct volcanos for an impressive overview of the city.
Northern NZ is has the enviable title of the Winterless North. Ancient native forests are the home of giant Kauri trees, black sand beaches stretch further than your eyes can see and narrow gravel roads wind their way to stunning hidden beaches. Two oceans meet at the top of the North Island creating a wild stormy sea, regardless of the weather. With less traffic than the rest of NZ, I get the impression of a land largely untouched for centuries.
Heading down through the North Island, the scenery changes every hundred kilometres or so. More white sandy beaches line the Coromandel Peninsula. Old gold mining towns bear scars in the landscape from their gold mining days.
Hobbit homes are buried in the rolling paddocks. Mt Doom (aka Mt Ngaruhoe) rises proudly above the desert road.
Rivers housing brown and rainbow trout meander through farmland. While the National Cycle Rail Trail, a cycling track, stretches the length of NZ following the old railway line through the back blocks and small country villages.
With a backbone of snow-topped mountains, coastlines of rugged rocks and a plethora of hills, fields, valleys, lakes and rivers in between, you need months to do justice to all the South Island has to offer. We spent a month in a camper van, exploring several small towns dotted around the island, staying in peaceful DOC campgrounds at some of the most picturesque locations and mixing in the occasional big city visit.
New Zealand. It might be small but plan to stay for a while!