The two islands of New Zealand are both spectacular in very different ways. The North Island is home to most of the population; its cosmopolitan cities and green, rolling hills offer a wealth of activities for your New Zealand holiday. The South Island is starker, more mountainous and more rugged. The sparse population is spread out in small towns on the coast and around the vast lakes of the Southern Alps. This breathtaking country has achieved a new level of fame in recent years, with high-profile films such as the Lord of the Rings shot in its diverse landscapes.
The natural wonders of the North Island have plenty of surprises in store for people on holiday in New Zealand. From the geothermal hot springs of Rotorua to the limestone caves filled with eerie glow-worms in Waitomo, this area is one big natural playground. It is also home to most of the Maori population, which is now integrated with the white population for the most part. However, their exuberant culture lives on, with many groups exhibiting their proud heritage for interested visitors.
Enthusiastic walkers should also make the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of the most renowned day hikes in the world. The Bay of Islands is an untouched area where you can relax on the beach or explore endless islands, and watch out for dolphins in whichever type of boat takes your fancy.
Auckland is the capital city of New Zealand, and this modern and vibrant city occupies a unique location between the coasts of two seas and on top of an extinct volcano field. The waterfront in central Auckland offers seafood restaurants and lively bars, while the individual character of the other neighbourhoods in the city means you can enjoy a different vibe every night. A scenic boat trip across the bay takes you to the dormant volcano, Rangitoto, and you can climb to the crater amid piles of solidified lava.
Wellington, on the southern tip of the North Island, is a smaller city and even more culturally liberal than Auckland. The music and arts scene in Wellington is fresh and vibrant, thanks to the high proportion of students and young professionals. The stunning Art Deco architecture is well preserved, so be sure to look up as you stroll through the streets.
The vast peaks and dramatic coast of the South Island attract adventurers seeking a more exciting holiday to New Zealand. Many of the Great Walks are on the South Island and these multi-day hikes cross some of its most stunning National Parks.
Nature-lovers should not miss Kaikoura, where a deep canyon just offshore attracts marine species that would normally only be found far out to sea. Whale-watching tours, dolphin swimming, albatross encounters, and more fur seals than you can shake a stick at, are all on offer in this small coastal town.
Queenstown, in the Southern Alps, is touted as the adventure capital of the world. Bungee-jumping was invented there, and its stunning vistas offer some of the best places to skydive. Every form of adrenaline activity can be tried in Queenstown, including skiing in the winter. After a full day of thrills, come back to earth in one of Queenstown’s many, many bars.