Most people have a misconception of New Zealand and some even imagine it as big as Mauritius. In reality, the country occupies an area equivalent to that of the United Kingdom or two-thirds of France.
To simplify things, we have become accustomed to talking about the North Island and the South Island and we generally ignore (and wrongly) Stewart Island which offers less interest (its area being very modest).
Considering the geography of the country which is so long, you are probably wondering whether to visit the whole country, or concentrate on a single island, choosing the most beautiful if possible.
The depiction of a South Island surpassing that of the North dates back to the early 2000s. The Lord of the Rings’ release in theaters prompted travel agencies to promote the South Island for marketing reasons. And because Milford Sound (the country’s most beautiful fjord) lies to the south, the South Island has captured more attention.
The fjord landscapes are sellers, but there is not only that to see!
Twenty years later, agencies like the tourist office have completely rehabilitated the North Island.
Each traveler is free to prefer one island to another! I will not try to influence you!
The North Island is on par with the South Island for the beauty of the landscapes.
The bubbling geothermal activity
Rotorua is the birthplace of Maori culture and a health resort.
New Zealand sits at the end of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The volcanic activity made the success of the spa town of Rotorua where you can visit geothermal parks and admire geysers.
Further north, all you need to do is dig in the sand at Hot Water Beach to bring out hot water and relax.
Large modern cities
Auckland is the most populous city, but it is not the country’s capital
Auckland, the country’s largest metropolis, is famous for its Sky Tower, the tallest tower in the Pacific. Voted the second most pleasant city in the world, the city of sails is full of activities and has dozens of beaches.
Welington, the country’s capital, resembles San Francisco.
Built on a hillside, the city has the largest number of funiculars in the world.
We visit it to discover Maori culture at the Te Papa museum as well as to Zealandia, a huge nature reserve in the city center!
Paradise islands and beaches
The Bay of Islands enjoys a very mild climate all year round.
The 144 paradisiacal islands of Bay of Islands delight visitors to Paihia and Russell (the former smuggler’s port) who come to explore the ruins of Maori fortified villages or swim with dolphins
To rech the legendary Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the country, take the Ninety Mile beach, and drive on the beach to stop at Te Paki and its immense dunes that you slide down on surfboards.
Waitomo Caves is famous for its glowworm caves.
New Zealand is a young country that emerged from the bottom of the ocean a few million years ago.
The vaults of the sea caves are illuminated by glowworms and the visitor who explores the underground rivers of Waitomo by boat will have the impression of contemplating the Milky Way.
Those with energy to spare can sign up for a Black Water Rafting Company excursion.
On the program, descending rapids on inner tubes, jumping in waterfalls, abseiling, all in the middle of stalactites 70 meters below the surface. It’s adventure with a capital A!
Landscapes of the Lord of the Rings
Hobbiton is a faithful reconstruction of the village imagined by Tokien.
The Peter Jackson trilogies were filmed in New Zealand, and there are plenty of
The Hobbiton village built for production needs has been preserved. It is now carefully maintained by a whole army of gardeners
Another emblematic landscape, the Tongariro National Park represents the disturbing Mordor with its Ngauruhoe volcano which becomes the mountain of destiny where the ring of Sauron will be destroyed in the “Return of the king”.