One trip to see them all.
Have you ever seen the movie Lord of the Rings? The film was shot in one of the most picturesque countries in the world, New Zealand. And just like how the film has portrayed it, the country is charming, if not magical.
New Zealand’s unspoilt scenery, from its breathtaking glaciers, lush green forests, quaint rolling hills and crystal clear lakes has attracted millions of tourists. The country is also compact and easy to travel from its northern to southern islands thanks to budget ferries.
Renting a campervan or a motorhome is a great way to explore this small country. You can pick them up in two of New Zealand’s largest cities, Christchurch and Auckland.
Whether you have been to New Zealand multiple times or a would be first time visitor, here are six reasons why this place deserves to be on your bucket list:
Relive the scenes from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in the village of Matamata. Take photos of Bag End, home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. The hobbit-sized town also has 43 other hobbit holes; some of which you can enter.
Roam the area and you will notice some familiar places from the two films like the double arched bridge, the mill, and the infamous Party Tree. Run along the green pastures and rolling hills of The Shire.
Not far from Matamata to the east, lies Wairere Falls. Plunging at a stunning height of 153 metres, it is the highest waterfall in the North Island. Wairere also has a scenic walking track and a panoramic view of the Waikato plains and valley from its lookout.
BY Tom Hall
New Zealand is famous for its snow-capped mountains and glaciers, especially in Southern Alps in the South Island. Leave your footprints in the snow while you hike through many glacial patterns.
Choose between the equally famous neighbour glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef, both in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Leave your rented motorhome at one of the many campervan sites at the base of the mountain. Book a tour to one of these informative guided helicopter walks.
Other things to do while in this area include riding cross-country in quad bikes, kayaking the mirror-like waters of the nearby glacial lake, and getting close with kiwis (the animal, not the people) at the Westcoast Wildlife Centre.
The Māori people is perhaps among the most passionate in the world. Just listening to their “haka” war dance, popularised by the All Blacks Rugby team, lets out a fire inside your heart. The film, Whale Rider, has perfectly portrayed the life and traditions of this vital Kiwi tribe.
Nowhere in New Zealand can you experience Māori culture more genuinely than in Rotorua. The indigenous people of New Zealand are welcoming and gladly let visitors in their homes in the spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality).
Grab a seat as locals perform their evening cultural dances or join classes on how to carve and weave traditional Maui patterns. Satisfy your hunger with steamy hangi food that is slowly cooked through thermal heat.
Aside from the unique local culture, Rotorua is also a haven for adrenaline-pumping extreme sports. The surrounding lush green forest has trails perfect for all mountain bikers, rushing rivers draw many kayakers and river rafters, and bush walks are perfect for all-terrain bike rides.
New Zealand is famous for its herds of sheep grazing on lush grasslands, but there is a rarely seen animal that swims in its waters- whales. Half of the world’s whale species like Blue whales, Humpback whales, Southern right whales (Tohora), Pilot whales and Sperm whales are in NZ.
The little seaside town of Kaikoura, 150 kilometres of Christchurch, is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants. Take a photo of them slapping their tails or spouting water through their blowholes.
Other places where you can catch a glimpse of whales are in Bay of Islands where there is a large population of bottlenose dolphins, Whakatane which has a sunny warm climate, and Hauraki Gulf where you can spot orca whales and Bryde’s whales.
5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Are you fond of stargazing? Now, imagine doing that inside a dark cave, and instead of stars you are looking at glowworms clinging on the roof.
Waitomo Glowworm Grotto in the Northern Island is probably the best memory you will have out of your journey in New Zealand. The cave is a quiet repose that brings a magical moment as if you are frozen in time as you gaze into the living lights.
For the more adventurous, try the nearby Lost World cave tour where you get a chance to rappel 100 metres down a cave wall, followed by a dry carving adventure. The cave has a mystical vibe because of an eerie mist amplified by the roar of the Mangapu river echoing throughout its cavern.
BY Kristina D. C. Hoeppner
6. Marlborough Region
Toast a glass of exquisite wine as you explore the wine region of Marlborough. Close to eighty-percent of wine products in New Zealand is produced in this region including the renowned Sauvignon Blanc.
There is nothing like the seafood dining experience in one of the region’s restaurants and wineries. The regional dishes in Marlborough has components of honey, wild meat, oils and nuts produced from its
Aside from wine, the region is also famous for its historic sites and serene coastline. At Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, they show old plane models from the World War I and II era. Meanwhile, the sea-drowned valleys of Marlborough Sounds offer great kayaking experiences for beginners and pro paddlers.
These six things will surely make you want to go back to New Zealand every year. Hire a campervan or motorhome if you want to explore this wonderful country in an inexpensive and convenient way.