New Zealand; few people come here without being captivated and without a sense of envy towards the people lucky enough to call it home. Though generally somewhat in the shadow of its larger, more boisterous neighbour Australia, it is full of quiet, natural charm and has an extremely high quality of life.
It has some incredibly beautiful natural landscapes, and accordingly there is a huge rural tourism scene here in which farmstays and agritourism play their part. It is also one of the world’s best places for adventure sports which prove popular with locals and tourists alike.
New Zealand’s North Island is the smaller of the two but the most populous, though there is plenty of space and plenty of opportunity to be left alone. Outside of its increasingly sophisticated cities, Auckland being the foremost, there is a great variety of landscapes to be explored. The sub tropical rain forests of the Northland and Bay of Islands, the geysers and thermal springs of volcanic Rotorua, the sulfur city, and the hauntingly beautiful solitude of Eastland being just some examples.
South Island New Zealand, Te Wai Pounamu or Water of Greenstone to the Maoris is a rough and rugged untamed jewel. Larger than the North Island but with a lot less people it has space to offer in abundance and that space holds some of the worlds most spectacular and atmospheric landscapes.
Though there is strong competition from the North Island it has probably got New Zealand’s best scenery with everything from towering mountains and glaciers to primeval forests and the cleanest of beaches.
It’s hard to choose one region over another though all down the west coast is quite spectacular. The region around Kalkoura though in the north east with its snow capped mountains looking out towards the Southern Ocean or the Arthur’s Pass National Park in the high rugged Alps have jaw dropping scenery too.
Farther south The Mount Aspiring National Park is pretty special too and you’ll find plenty of opportunity for outdoor sports; bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, rock climbing etc. etc. In the same area you’ll find the lovely lakeside towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. Wanaka particularly sees a lot of outdoorsy types coming and going in all seasons, and is a pretty nice place in itself to just hang around for a few days with plenty of restaurants, bars, craft shops and the like (For a recommended Wanaka farmstay check this one out: Criffel Station Farmstay)
The South Island, most would agree, has more of a last frontier feel than the North Island, with vast expanses of spectacular and wild terrain. The Fjordland National Park of the Southland and the Westland’s Tai Poutini National Park are two good examples, and not forgetting the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park of course, home of New Zealand’s highest mountain.
Outdoor sports are very popular all over New Zealand, as you might imagine, everything from skiing and rafting to of course one of the country’s oddest cultural exports; bungee jumping. It’s not all wild and untamed though, it has some rich farming land, some quality farmstays and some nice vineyard hotels, with the region of Marlborough, around Blenheim and the Wairau Valley particulary, producing some of New Zealand’s best wine.