Truth be told, there isn’t a land more stunning and unique than New Zealand. Blessed with a wealth of breathtaking natural wonders, New Zealand is the ultimate escape into nature. Home to ‘living fossils’ that date back to the dinosaur era, unique flora and fauna not found anywhere else on the planet, thousands of years old trees, stunning fiords, gushing natural geysers, and a poignant Maori heritage, New Zealand tours will change you in ways you never imagined. And the best part, it’s so close! If you haven’t already visited this real life utopia, here are our top reasons why New Zealand tours are a must-do.
The flora and fauna
New Zealand boasts nearly 70 bird species that are unique to the country, including the endangered Kiwi. Reptiles and frogs dating back to the dinosaur era, known as ‘living fossils’, still roam the land that broke away from the supercontinent Gondwana about 80 million years ago. A trip to the Bay of Islands will take you past the ancient kauri trees in the Waipoua Forest and into the lap of the Lord of the Forest – Tāne Mahuta. This 2,000-year-old kauri tree is sacred to the Maori people and is said to move visitors to tears by its spiritual aura.
New Zealand is known for its hospitality and the warm and friendly locals. When on a New Zealand tour, it is imperative that you experience its Māori heritage as well. From the passionate haka and colourful dance performances to the intricate wood carvings and delicious hangi meals, you will find the Māori culture endlessly mesmerising. Take the time to chat with the Māori people and gain a deeper understanding of this centuries old culture.
The natural wonders
From spectacular fiords carved by ancient glaciers to natural geysers spurting water several feet high, there is no dearth of natural wonders on a New Zealand tour. Milford Sound, the breathtaking fiord formed by receding glaciers during the last ice age is famous for its dark waters, towering cliffs, stunning waterfalls and lush rainforests and was once called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by Rudyard Kipling. The fiord’s magnificence is best appreciated on board an overnight cruise when you have ample time soak in its beauty and wake up to remarkable views. You might even spot native wildlife like seals, dolphins and penguins.
If you’re on the hunt for glaciers, New Zealand has plenty of those too. Head to the Southern Alps to be amazed by views of the extraordinary Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. You could even take a helicopter flight and experience the wonder of landing in their natural alpine landscape.
Up north, the geothermal wonders of Rotorua will have you gasping in wonder. The steamy geothermal attractions, from the natural hot springs and spas to bubbling mud pools and baths, offer the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Watch in awe as the Pōhutu Geyser, the largest in the southern hemisphere, erupts in all her glory to reach nearly 100 feet high.
From adventure sports to wine tours, New Zealand is a thrill lover’s paradise. If jumping out of a plane sounds too extreme, you can always opt for a Shotover Jet ride or a 4WD Skippers Canyon trip for an equally exhilarating experience.
A ride aboard the TranzAlpine railway is a must-do on a New Zealand tour. Travelling from Christchurch to Greymouth, the journey offers grand views of the Waimakariri River, the Southern Alps and the beech forest, and is easily one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.
New Zealand is also well known for its award winning wines. If you’re a wine lover, you must embark on a wine tasting expedition. Mission Estate Winery in North Island would be a good place to start, given it is the oldest winery in the country and the birthplace of wine in New Zealand.
And finally, whether or not you’re a J. R. R. Tolkien fan, a visit to Hobbiton is always exciting. Go on your own little Tolkien adventure in ‘Middle Earth’ as you visit the colourful Hobbiton Movie Set featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. If nothing else, you will certainly come back with some awe-inspiring photographs from the trip.