A lot of people think that New Zealand is just this far away destination that only exists in their dreams. However, you’d be surprised to find out that the flights are relatively cheap as well as most of the country (due to currency exchanges.) Also, there are a ton of direct flights from the US these days that make the travel time as nominal as possible. It’s an incredible place full of absolute natural beauty. There are lots of reasons to visit New Zealand but here are our top 7 reasons to visit New Zealand THIS year.
1) Explore Queenstown
This city is such a popular spot for travelers and it totally lives out to expectations. Everyone there is up for adventure and looking to explore the outdoors. Even though it can be crowded at times, it is surrounded by beautiful mountains, has narrow streets and pedestrian lanes filled with shops and restaurants, a stunning lake, tons of trails and parks, and Queenstown Hill (our favorite view of the city!) There is so much to do with an endless list of extreme spots, wine tours, hiking, as well as just relaxing at the beach.
2) Try an Extreme Sport
New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world! It is home to a wide range of exciting activities, from bungy jumping to skydiving to white-water rafting. There are a million activities to choose from: you can skydive basically anywhere; Queenstown is home to Shotover jets (rocket-like boats that zip on shallow rivers), ziplines, and bungy jumps; and there’s caving, zorbing, transalpine hiking, paragliding, and so much more. If it can be done outdoors, it can be done in New Zealand.
3) Glacier Trekking in Franz Josef
Everyone visits Franz Josef for one reason: the glaciers. We particularly enjoyed learning about the area from our guide and highly recommend this tour if you do nothing else! Because the glaciers have receded and are melting quickly due to climate change, the glacier caves and walks have been shut down.
Right now, the only way to trek on the glaciers now is via heli-hike (a half-day helicopter/hiking experience). They are expensive around $300 USD but the helicopter ride, trekking, and whole experience are worth it. You can also just do a helicopter tour which is a 20-30 minute ride which is a good option (and a bit cheaper) if the weather isn’t great and the hiking gets cancelled because the helicopters can get up there for a quick 20 minutes but might not go at all for days for the heli hiking.
4) Discover Unique Wildlife
New Zealand separated from the large landmass that once joined Australia & Antarctica millions of years ago. As a result, bird and plant species can be found here that exist nowhere else in the world. Forests are full of interesting plant life, from the towering kauri trees to the nikau palms. You might even see a kiwi, the small, flightless bird that is now New Zealand’s national symbol.
5) The WINE
New Zealand wine is famous around the world for its quality. This is quite amazing when you consider that the country makes less than 1% of the world’s total. We recommend a day of visiting wineries and tastings at a number of places, particularly in Hawkes Bay and Marlborough, the two leading wine regions. We also really enjoy the Queenstown Wine Tour which we’ve frequented many times.
6) Learn about the Māori Culture
New Zealand has made a big effort to preserve and respect their indigenous culture unlike most places in the world, it’s quite unique to experience. Māori is written on public street signs, in regular tv programs, and lots of other everyday occurrences. You can also experience the haka, a ceremonial Māori dance made world famous by the All Blacks rugby team. New Zealand celebrates its Māori culture in daily life and there are numerous places to experience it and also learn more about it.
7) It’s Incredibly Safe
The locals are so friendly, it’s one of those places where you can leave your doors unlocked and wander in dark alleys and people will always be around to lend a helping hand. Hitch hiking is quite common here as a way to get around the islands because it is so safe and has such a low crime rate. If you’re looking for somewhere to travel alone or somewhere for your first trip out of the country, this is a great choice.
There are so many more reasons to visit NZ like the unbeatable views everywhere you turn, the endless amount of lakes sparkling in the sun, and the unlimited activities that are available for fun! If you’re interested in learning more, send us an email to [email protected] We’re also running another camper van trip in September if you want the complete experience!